Campbell theories and Mythical heroes
The Hero with a thousand faces which was first published in the year 1949 and was written by Joseph Campbell to this day remains one of the biggest assets and storehouses where writers and authors from different origins base their supernatural and mythical stories on.
Some of the salient features that have been described by Campbell in his story accentuate upon the rudimentary principles that comprise the hero of a mythology.
According to Campbell the fundamental structure and organization of all supernatural stories is based upon a common thesis which he terms as monomyth. The monomyth can further be described as the conventional pattern or a sequence of events through which every hero of a supernatural myth passes through in order to accomplish his heroism which can either be in performing the impossible or in accepting a call for adventure. The hero starts from an ordinary world which becomes extraordinary when he receives a call to enter the supernatural world.
This marks the beginning of the adventure as he is then exposed and introduced to practice supernatural powers. Furthermore these supernatural powers are also filled with innumerable troubles and toils that the hero accomplishes with utmost success, manifesting his power and heroic abilities every time.
In the case of survival which occurs almost all the time the hero is then awarded with a boon or supreme gift in return for the triumphant accomplishment of the assigned tasks. The boon that is provided to the hero is then used in the case of making the world a better place. (Campbell, 2003)
Campbell theories and Gilgamesh
The foundational structure and constituents that have been laid down by Campbell in his theories can most appropriately be applied to Gilgamesh, but before moving into these details it is important to have a brief introduction of this mythical character.
Gilgamesh was the ruler of the pre-historic Sumerian civilization and used the power granted to him to oppress and persecute his people until he meets a divine friend Enkidu. With his help and assistance both of them accomplish various impossible tasks through which they earn the displeasure of gods and Gilgamesh then has to repatriate in the form of loosing Enkidu.
The loss of Enkidu brings a prominent transformation in Gilgamesh and he starts to feel the pain and discordance that his nation and people have been going through primarily because of his atrocious and repressive attitude. From that time he commences to make policies that are in the favor of his people and through which he can prove his concern for his people.
The pattern of the epic of Gilgamesh and the different sequence of events that mark his journey are to a substantial extent in correspondence to the multitude stages and phases that had been discussed by Campbell. At the initial stage Gilgamesh enters from a real world where he is seen as an oppressive ruler to a supernatural world where he is introduced to the divine creature Enkidu.
With the help of Enkidu he transits to the stage which Campbell refers to as the call of adventure. With the help and companionship of Enkidu both of them accomplish various difficult and tedious tasks. The road to trial stage arrives with the loss of Enkidu in the life of Gilgamesh and this was precisely the phase which provided Gilgamesh the opportunity to graduate to a phase where he achieved the goal or boon.
The goal and boon was in the form of realizing the pain and harshness that his people had been suffering at his hands coupled with a process of self-evaluating himself in becoming a better leader and savior for his people and nation.
The Epic and Heroism
The epic of Gilgamesh sheds light upon the various dimensions of heroism. It makes us understand that a hero is not just a person who performs the acts of bravery or life saving for people. The term heroism is within itself a complete process of transformation that takes place at physical as well as mental level.
This process motivates a person to self-evaluate and analyze himself at various levels in making him understand the loopholes and shortcomings that are within a person, acknowledges the fact that the problems that are within him need to be addressed and subsequently rectified, and with this vision and objective in mind he makes progress and steps into a phase through which he anticipates to reform and refine his life for benefiting not himself but also the people who are dependent upon him either directly or indirectly.
The epic tale of Gilgamesh emphasizes upon these dimensions of heroism through which the formation of a natural hero is made possible.
In conclusion it would be appropriate that the theory that has been presented by John Campbell as monomyth applies to various mythical and epic adventure supernatural tales that have been created in the past for the sheer reason of entertainment, but apart from the entertainment component there are also a couple of other morals that can also be easily derived from these tales.
For example once again applying the situation and case of Gilgamesh we will come to know that God or any divine entity in which one may believe in provides every person with more than once chance to drift from the path to destruction and perdition to the track which leads to ultimate safety and security in all capacities.
Similar was the case and situation that was encountered by Gilgamesh. After oppressing and persecuting his people for an extensive period of time God tests him by sending a divine creature and then taking it back. The loss of a loved one proved to be a turning point in bringing a revolution in the life of Gilgamesh which made him an upright and just rule. Hence to some extent claiming the fact that myths and epics are also accompanied with a touch of realism may not be completely inaccurate.