In Pathways to Bliss Mythology and Personal Transformation, Joseph Campbell said” The hero journey is one of the universal patterns through which that radiance shows brightly.
What I think is that a good life is one hero journey after another. Over and over again, you are called to the realm of adventure, you are called to new horizons. Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There’s always the possibility of a fiasco. But there’s also the possibility of bliss” (Campbell 54). After reading this quote, one will have a clear idea of monomyth is the patterns that he observes in the myth that what makes a person into a hero. He had divided the monomyth into seventeen states which not all myth contains all the states.
Some Myth may contain only one or few state and the state in the myth may in a different order. Joseph Campbell organized the seventeen states into three acts: Departure, Initiation, and Return. As for the hero of the journey, I am talking about is Heracles. Heracles or the name that people are more familiar with Hercules was a divine hero in Greek mythology.
Hercules is well known because of the cartoon, The Mighty Hercules, from the 1960’s and a Disney movie, Hercules, from 1997. To the world, people are more familiar Hercules and the story of him but the Journey I am about to tell is Heracles Journey. In this Essay, I will analyze the state that Heracles been through in act Departure, Initiation and return. In the first act, Departure is where a hero lives in the normal world and get the call to the adventure. The first state of the first act is the call to adventure which from the normal there is some information that calls the hero head into the unknown.
The first sign of the call would be the death of Heracles tutor. “This linos was a brother of Orpheus but was killed by Heracles with a blow from his lyre, (Apollodorus 68). In this event of Heracles kill his tutor he shows that he chooses to have a life of adventure instead of a normal life.
The second state is refuse of call where the people no willingly to go on the adventure. Heracles marriage Megara, daughter of King Creon, and had three children. He tried to form a family and settle down, but Hera made Heracles mad and faces his own family. Heracles lost in his own way and wrestles not know what to do. The third state is supernatural aid where a guide would lead the hero way. Pythia from Delphi is the guide lead Heracles to settle in Tiryns and serve twelve years for Eurystheus. She gives the first trial, the twelfth labor, to Heracles to expiate his sin. The fourth state is Crossing the First Threshold where the hero leaving the known world behind and start to enter the unknown.
Heracles leave the home and start the adventure to Tiryns and to finish the twelfth labor to atone his sin. The fifth state and the last state of departure is the belly of the whale. This state represents the hero separation from the world he known. “He then must go through “all the trials and revelations of a terrifying night-sea journey” before being reborn, having incorporated his new knowledge into his consciousness.” (Robbins 1997). I think this is the most important state in the first act because it is the state where the hero really separates from the normal and become the hero. Heracles has been through the belly of the whale at the Twelfth labor where he had to go to the underworld and bring back Cerberos. He comes back with Cerberos and finishes the labor which set him free and reborn as a new hero.
The first act departure is about thinking of the person and preparation of the person been though to become a hero. In the second act Initiation is where hero been though serial of tasks that help him to get to the goal that the journey. The first state is road of trials where hero face many tests and may even fail some of it.
Heracles had many tests on his journey. For example, the twelfth labor, an expedition to Troy, rescue Prometheus, kill centaur with the poison arrow that he dipped in the blood of Hydra and so much more that he had done. There are some tests that he fails like Hera make him mad and kill his friend Iphitus, prince of Iole, accidentally killed a cupbearer and some other failure but it did not stop him to become a hero. The second state is the meeting with the Goddess where the hero experiences true love. Heracles fall in love with Deianira and he wrestle the river-god and won her.
The third state the woman as temptress is about temptation the set him off from the path. “life, the acts of life, the organs of life, woman in particular as the great symbol of life, become intolerable to the pure, the pure, pure soul. The seeker of the life beyond life must press beyond her, surpass the temptations of her call, and soar to the immaculate ether beyond.” (Campbell 102). The quote clearly explains what temptation is but in Heracles journey the temptation is the family. After Heracles married Deianira, he lived with her and had children until he accidentally kills a cupbearer and continues his journey. The fourth state is atonement with the father where the hero confronts and be initiated by the ‘father’.
The father in this state may not be the father it could be anyone or things that with power. Before Heracles died, he climbed on to Mount Etna and there he atonement with Zeus, his father. The fifth state is apotheosis where hero die in the mortal and become the divine.
Deianira, wife of Heracles, fear that Heracles will change his heart and fall in love with princess of Iole. She gave Heracles a shirt the soaked in the blood of Nessus which contain poison of Hydra that slowly kills him. Heracles climbed Mount Etna and built his own funeral pyre where Zeus help him to separate his mortal and divine.” So when the flames had consumed the mother’s share of Hercules, the diviner part, instead of being injured thereby, seemed to start forth with new vigour, to assume a more lofty port and a more awful dignity. Zeus enveloped him in a cloud, and took him up in a four-horse chariot to dwell among the stars” (Bulfinch 1882 P.
181). The final state is the ultimate boon where the hero achieves what they want on the journey. At first, I think Heracles goal was to atone his sin for killing his child then after he finish his twelfth labor he could move on and his goal is to find his family. Heracles father is Zeus so he is united with his family when he become a god. In this act the hero been through a lot of tasks and finally achieve his goal. The last act Return is where hero returns to the dies world. As mention by Joseph Campbell that not all myth had all states and in Heracles stories there is some part of this act is missing. The first missing state is the magic flight where hero adventure back to the normal.
The second state is Rescue from without where the hero gets a guide to bring them back to everyday life. The last missing state is the crossing of the return threshold where hero share what he gains from the journey to the rest of the world. There is some state that will fit Heracles story like refusal of the return. Heracles was dead and become a god and he refuses to return to the normal world because Heracles was poison by the one he loved, and he does not want to return. The next state is master of two worlds where hero balances the material and spiritual worlds. Heracles master the material world by Zeus rises him up to the Olympus and make him a god. He masters the spiritual world by forgiving his enemy, Hera.
In Heracles journey, there is some event that really hurt Heracles in the emotion way like kill his own children and friends and which is caused by Hera. He able to master the spiritual world by forgiving Hera and married her daughter. The last state is freedom to live where hero turns the fear of death to the freedom to live. Heracles had become a god and he had the becomes to live the life he wants. Though out the journey of Heracles, he been driven mad by Hera a few times and did something wrong but when he becomes god none of the power can change him and he is free. The last act is a hero back to the ordinary world and possible to the other journey again.
The story of Heracles is famous I think it is because everyone saw some part of our self in it. “The Greeks were fascinated by the spectacle of man and the world, and their fascination is seen not only in their formal philosophy. Of their poets to it may be said that they were born to see the world and human life—not to moralize or to indulge in sentiment or rhetoric or mysticism about it, but to see it.” (Gilbert, Burnet, Heath, Thompson, Singer, Livingston, Toynbee, Zimmern, Gardner, Blomfield 2007 p271). Heracles was not the perfect hero, he did something wrong in his life and struggle through it and it makes us more relate to him. When Heracles can go through all the suffering with a happy ending, so can we.