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Heroic tradition in literature

             Heroism cannot be discussed detached from a hero. "Heroes originate in the mists of time and myth" (Jokinen 1996). The quote could not be more true, heroes and their valorous deeds are wrapped in the mists of time and myth. The deeds are so valorous as to seem mythical, unreal and unattainable. Joseph Campbell in his book, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, traced the images of heroes throughout the world of vast mythologies, legends religious texts and literature examining their various "faces". Throughout his quest he discovered not only characteristics of their journeys but also their heroic conduct. .
             He concluded that "whether presented in the vast, almost oceanic images of the Orient, in the vigorous narratives of the Greeks, or in the majestic legends of the Bible the adventure of the hero normally follows the pattern of the nuclear unit a separation from the world, a penetration to some source of power, and a life enhancing return" (1973:35). The hero leaves the ordinary world, engaging in life threatening activities to attain the desired end and returns, or is brought back, enriched to the ordinary reality. The hero's adventure starts with a call, "the awaking of the self" (Underhill in Campbell 1973:51).
             The quest is ultimately "inward - into depths where obscure resistances are overcome, and long lost, forgotten powers are revivified, to be made available for the transfiguration of the world" (Campball 1973:29). It may be said that the quest is of the rediscovering nature consistent with the motto "know thyself" to allow for better understanding of the world, his place in it, and to develop. .
             While on an "inward" quest the mythological hero displays courage in accepting the "call" to venture on a journey, bravery in his confrontation with the darker side of human nature. The quest within is to reveal the personal limitations, which are accepted with the stoical composure, because "the agony of breaking through personal limitations is the agony of spiritual growth" (Campbell 1973:190) and it needs to be lived through and requires a calm evaluation.

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