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Hero's Journey

Model Presentation of Archetypes and Universal ideas across myths. Texts of study: "Theseus and the Minotaur" (Greece) "The Story of Princess Savitri" (India)
by

David Kraus

on 31 July 2013

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Transcript of Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey
an exploration of universal ideas across mythical texts
A mythical text is a traditional story that can serve an allegorical purpose or explain naturally occurring phenomena.

The Hero’s Journey, or Monomyth, is a narrative structure that has been created globally by cultures throughout history.

The Hero's Journey is marked by key events and patterns, most universally, a main character who leaves home and overcomes obstacles before returning home as a changed person.
These story patterns occur across cultures and time!

Texts of Study...

"Theseus and the Minotaur"
(Greece)

"The Story of Princess Savitri"
(India)
"Theseus and the Minotaur"
Greek Myth
The Story of Princess Savitri
Indian Myth
Stages of Hero's Journey
Departure
Road of Trials
Innermost Cave
Return
Theseus is a

hero

of unusual birth
,
his father is King of Greece and lives in Athens, but Theseus is raised far away in the city of Troezene by his mother. His mother is the archetypal
herald and guide/mentor

in Theseus' journey, and she tells him that when he is strong enough to lift a great boulder from the ground, he may travel to Athens to be reunited with his father. When Theseus succeeds in lifting the rock, he finds underneath of it a

talisman
,
a gold hilted sword and a pair of sandals, left there for him by his father, King Aegeus. Having passed this initial test, Theseus goes to meet his father,
crossing the threshold
.
Princess Savitri, the
hero

of the story, is born as a blessing to her father, King Aswapati, who was married with no children for a long time, and prayed for a son. The King was

visited by a goddess (supernatural aid)
who foretold the birth of his beautiful daughter, Savitri. Though she is beautiful and kind, no man is courageous enough to seek her hand in marriage. The King serves as a

Herald and Guide/Mentor
to his daughter, calling her to seek out a proper husband for herself. Savitri sets off in a gold chariot accompanied by her father's wise ministers in order to find a man suited to marry her.
Road of Trials
Theseus and the Minotaur
The Story of Princess Savitri
Theseus takes the more dangerous route to Athens, which brings him across several robbers and monsters, and even an enormous sow (all
Threshold Guardians
). When Theseus arrives at Athens he meets with his jealous nephews, betray him by telling the King Theseus is an unknown youth arrived it Athens to kill King Aegeus (
Brother Battle
). Furthermore, the king has married a wicked enchantress Medea (
Shapeshifter
), who plots to poison Theseus as soon as he meets with the king. Fortunately for Theseus, the King recognizes the boy’s Sandals (
Talisman
), and the two are reconciled (
reconciliation with father figure
).
Princess Savitri returns to her father and tells him that she has selected a man she wishes to marry. The man is the son of a blind king, whose family was exiled to the forest. Though the family lives a humble existence, Savitri is in love with the son. Wise Narada, consultant to Savitri's father, serves as a
threshold guardian
, warning Savitri that though the young prince is indeed generous, handsome, kind, and honorable, he is fated to die in exactly one year. Princess Savitri faces a
test

of her character, but remains true to her heart, and she follows through on her intent to marry Satyavan.
Innermost Cave
Theseus and the Minotaur
Princess Savitri
Theseus faces his
greatest challenge
when he is thrust into conflict with the titular Minotaur. The Minotaur is a
shadow
to Theseus, a
monster
that resembles both a human and a bull, hideous and full of hate, wanting to destroy all of mankind. Princess Ariadne recognizes Theseus' bravery when he willingly challenges her father and vows to defeat the Minotaur, and she serves as an
ally
to him, retrieving his sword and sandals (
Ultimate Boon)
and then leading him into the labyrinth where the Minotaur dwells. Theseus holds a small silken thread as he journeys through the labyrinth, so he does not get lost. When he defeats the Minotaur,
prevailing in achieving his ultimate goal
, the he is led out of the labyrinth by Ariadne, who holds the other end of the thread.
Savitri lives happily with Satyavan's family, but as the end of their year together approaches she grows sad. She fasts for three days before the day wise Narada predicted her husband would leave the earth. On that fateful day, she follows her husband into the forest, and he falls ill. As he lies down in Savitri's lap, Death, the archetypal

shadow
,
appears to take Satyavan away. Savitri is greatly troubled as she sees her husbands life removed from his body by Death

(rescue from without)
,
and she follows the figure through the woods. Along the way, Savitri does not mourn her husband, but rather charms death with several statements of the importance of wisdom. So moved by her beautiful words, Death offers to grant Savitri any wish, other than the return of her husband to life. Savitri makes several wishes, each of them granted by Death following her eloquent speech, until finally she wishes for 100 sons with her husband. She then asks Death to restore life to her husband, as without granting this he cannot fulfill his earlier promise to give them 100 sons
(
magic elixir)
.
Through her persistence and wisdom, the
Hero

overcomes her greatest obstacle
,
and the fate of the

star crossed lovers

is resolved.
Theseus and
the Minotaur
Princess Savitri
Return
Theseus' father, upon seeing black sails above the ship, believes that Theseus was eaten by the Minotaur. The King throws his crown and scepter into the sea and dies. Theseus

returns home
and succeeds his father as king, having succeeded in slaying the Minotaur who has terrorized the Athenians and earning the

right to live
.
Savitri and her husband
return home

to see that Death has granted all of Savitri's wishes. Satyavan's father has regained his eyesight and the family is allowed to return to their kingdom from the woods. The couple is blessed with 100 sons and they both live an additional 400 years
(
apotheosis/ deification
).
Big Ideas
Big Ideas
Universal Idea
Persistence and Faith are essential characteristics of a hero, if he or she is to succeed
"Persistence and faith are essential characteristics of a hero, if he or she is to succeed."

The hero Theseus demonstrates persistence and faith at multiple points during his journey. Were he to be without these qualities, it is quite possible he never would have even made it to Athens where he was reunited with his father. Theseus worked resolutely every day to lift the stone his mother set before him as a task to prove his strength. He refused to accept the idea that he would not return to Athens and meet his father the King, and ultimately he put all of his faith in his abilities to lift the stone, or else die trying. The text says, "He heaved, he lifted, he resolved now to succeed, or else to perish there, and let the rock be his monument forever!"
Furthermore, his ultimate battle with the Minotaur could never have happened if he did not have great faith in his abilities. The city of Athens had lost a war with neighboring island Crete, and as punishment they were forced to send 7 young men and 7 young women to the island of Crete to be sacrificed to the Minotaur each year. Theseus knew that the Minotaur was a dangerous, horrible creature, but he volunteered to be sent to Crete in place of one of the young men, and vowed that he would slay the Minotaur. His faith in his own abilities and persistence are what allowed him to prevail as a hero, and ultimately to return home as a King.
"Persistence and faith are essential characteristics of a hero, if he or she is to succeed."

Princess Savitri was possessed of both faith and persistence, and that allowed her to prevail as a hero and defy the fate of losing her husband to an early death. The Princess showed great faith when she accepted the circumstances of her marriage. Though she was warned that Satyavan would not be long on this Earth, Savitri was stolid in her decision to marry him, trusting her own instincts over the advice of her elders. She says to her father, "Death can fall but once, a daughter can be given away but once, and only once can a person say 'I give this away'. Whether this prince is short-lived or long-lived, I have chosen him for my husband. I will not choose again."
Savitri shows more faith in her commitment to her husband. Even as his soul is being carried away by Death, Savitri says, "Wherever my husband is carried, or goes of his own accord, I will follow." She is loyal to her husband, even in the face of Death. Death is moved by her faith, and her words of wisdom, and she beguiles this force into granting her several wishes, though none of them were to restore life to her husband. Four times she charms Death, each time maintaining that she would not leave her husband and instead wished to carry on a friendly conversation with Death. The fifth and final time she is granted a wish she says, "Without my husband I do not wish for happiness, without my husband I do not wish for prosperity; without my husband I have no wish to live." Death is ultimately persuaded by her persistence, and the two are granted long and happy lives together as a reward. Faith and persistence allowed her to marry the man she loved, and ultimately defy Death in achieving her own happiness.
Real World Connection

These myths stress the importance of a hero's faith in his or her own abilities and decisions. Any act of bravery requires a certain willingness to risk failure. Heroes will take these risks because they believe in themselves.

Another idea these myths stress is that the hero must be persistent. Not everyone meets with success when they first begin a task, particularly a noteworthy work of greatness. Persistence, coupled with faith in one's own abilities and decisions, can allow real life heroes to reach their goals, as it helped the characters in these mythological stories.
Theseus and the Minotaur
The Story of Princess Savitri
Departure
Full transcript