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The Myth of the Birth of the Hero

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Author Topic: The Myth of the Birth of the Hero  (Read 811 times)
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« Reply #135 on: December 29, 2009, 05:47:00 am »

TRANSLATORS' NOTE: The author has endeavored to explain the psychological relations of the exposure myth, the flood legend, and the devouring myth in his article on the "Overlying Symbols in Dream Awakening, and Their Recurrence in Mythical Ideation"--"Die Symbolschichtung in Wecktraum and ihre Wiederkehr im mythischen Denken," Jahrbuch für Psychoanalyse, V (1912).

75:1 Interpretation of Dreams. Compare the same reversal of the meanings in Winckler's interpretation of the etymology of the name of Moses, on page 16, footnote 7.

75:2 The same conditions remain in the formation of dreams and in the transformation of hysterical fantasies into seizures. See p. 238 (and the annotation on that page) of Freud's Traumdeutung (the German edition of Interpretation of Dreams); see also his "Allgemeines über den hysterischen Anfall"("General Remarks on Hysterical Seizures") in Sammlung kleiner Schriften . , 2d series, pp. 146 ff.

75:3 According to a pointed remark of Jung's, this reversal in its further mythical sublimation permits the approximation of the hero's life to the solar cycle. Carl G. Jung: "Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido," Jahrbuch für Psychoanalyse, V (1912), p. 253.

76:1 The second item of the schedule here enters into consideration: the voluntary continence or prolonged separation of the parents, which naturally induces the miraculous conception and virgin birth of the mother. The abortion fantasies, which are especially distinct in the Zoroaster legend, also belong under this heading.

76:2 The comparison of birth with a shipwreck, by the Roman poet Lucretius, seems to be in perfect harmony with this symbolism: "Behold the infant: Like a shipwrecked sailor, cast ashore by the fury of the billows, the poor child lies naked on the ground, bereft of all means for existence, after Nature has dragged him in pain from the mother's womb. With plaintive wailing he filleth the place of his birth, and he is right, for many evils await him in life" (De Natura Rerum, V, 222-7). Similarly, the first version of Schiller's Robbers, in speaking of Nature, says: "She endowed us with the spirit of invention, when she exposed us naked and helpless on the shore of the great Ocean, the World. Let him swim who may, and let the clumsy perish!"

77:1 Compare the representation of this relation and its psychic consequences, in Freud's Interpretation of Dreams.

78:1 Some myths convey the impression that the love relation with the mother had been removed, as being too objectionable to the consciousness of certain periods or peoples. Traces of this suppression are still evident in a comparison of different myths or different versions of the same myth. For example, in the version of Herodotus, Cyrus is a son of the daughter of Astyages; but according to the report of Ctesias, he makes the daughter of Astyages, whom he conquers, his wife, and kills her husband (who in the rendering of Herodotus is his father). See Hüsing, op. cit. Also a comparison of the saga of Darab with the very similar legend of St. Gregory serves to show that in the Darab story the incest with the mother which otherwise precedes the recognition of the son is simply omitted; here, on the contrary, the recognition prevents the incest. This attenuation may be studied in the nascent state, as it were, in the myth of Telephus, where the hero is married to his mother but recognizes her before the consummation of the incest. The fairy-tale-like setting of the Tristan legend, which makes Isolde draw the little Tristan from the water (i.e., give him birth), thereby suggests the fundamental incest theme, which is likewise manifested in the adultery with the wife of the uncle.

TRANSLATORS' NOTE: The reader is referred to Inzestmotiv, in which the incest theme, which is here merely mentioned, is discussed in detail, picking up the many threads which lead to this theme, but which have been dropped at the present time.

79:1 The mechanism of this defense is discussed in Freud's "Hamlet Analysis," in his Interpretation of Dreams. Ernest Jones has also discussed this in an article (1911) in the American Journal of Psychology.

80:1 I regard to further meanings of the grandfather, see Freud's "Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy," Jahrbuch für Psychoanalyse, I (1909); also the contributions of Jones, Abraham, and Ferenczi in the March, 1913, issue of Internationale Zeitschrift für ärtzliche Psychoanalyse.
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« Reply #136 on: December 29, 2009, 05:47:57 am »

80:2 See Chapter xi, Inzestmotiv.

80:3 Detailed literary references concerning the wide distribution of this story are found in R. Köhler: Kleiner Schriften, Vol. II, p. 357.

81:1 A similar identification of the father with God ("Heavenly Father," etc.) occurs, according to Freud, with the same regularity in the fantasies of normal and pathological psychic activity as the identification of the emperor with the father. It is also noteworthy in this connection that almost all peoples derive their origin from their god (Abraham, op. cit.).

81:2 An amusing example of unconscious humor in children recently appeared in the daily press: A politician had explained to his little son that a tyrant is a man who forces others to do what he commands, without heeding their wishes in the matter. "Well," said the child, "then you and Mama are also tyrants!"

82:1 See Max Müller, op. cit., pp. 20 ff. Concerning the various psychological contingencies of this setting, compare pp. 83 ff. of Inzestmotiv.

83:1 Compare Eduard Meyer: "Die Mosessagen and die Lewiten," in Sitzungsberichte der königlich preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, XXXI (1905), p. 640: "Presumably Moses was originally the son of the tyrant's daughter (who is now his foster mother), and probably of divine origin." The subsequent elaboration into the present form is probably referable to national motives.

84:1 This idea, which is derived from the knowledge of the neurotic fantasy and symptom construction, was applied by Professor Freud to the interpretation of the romantic and mythical work of poetic imagination, in a lecture entitled "Der Dichter and das Phantasieren" ("Poets and Imaginings"), reprinted in Sammlung kleiner Schriften . . ., 2d series.

85:1 Per ethno-psychologic parallels and other infantile sexual theories which throw some light upon the supplementary myth of the hero's procreation, compare the author's treatise in Zentralblatt für Psychoanalyse, II (1911), pp. 392-425.

85:2 Rank: Die Lohengrin Saga.

85:3 Concerning the water as the "water of death," compare especially ibid., Chapter iv.

86:1 Loc. cit., p. 356.

86:2 The fairy tales, which have been left out of consideration in the context, precisely on account of these complications, include especially: "The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs" (Grimm, No. 29), and the very similar "Saga of Emperor Henry III" (Grimm, Deutsche Sagen, Vol. II, p. 177); "Water-Peter," with numerous variations (Grimm, Vol. III, p. 103); "Fundevogel," No. 51; "The Three Birdies" (No. 96); "The King of the Golden Mountain" (No. 92), with its parallels; as well as some foreign fairy tales, which are quoted by Bauer, at the end of his article (loc. cit.). Compare also, in Hahn: Greek and Albanese Fairy Tales (Leipzig, 1864), the review of the exposure stories and myths, especially No. 20 and No. 69.
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« Reply #137 on: December 29, 2009, 05:48:24 am »

88:1 A connection is here supplied with the theme of the twins, in which we seem to recognize the two boys born at the same time--one of which dies for the sake of the other, be it directly after birth, or later--and whose parents appear divided in our myths into two or more parent-couples. Concerning the probable significance of this shadowy twin brother as the afterbirth, compare the author's discussion in his Inzestmotiv (pp. 459 ff).

88:2 The early history of Sigurd, as it is related in the Völsungasaga (compare Rassmann, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 99), closely resembles the Ctesian version of the Cyrus saga, giving us the tradition of another hero's wonderful career, together with its rational rearrangement. For particulars, see Bauer, loc. cit., p. 554. Also the biblical history of Joseph (Exodus 37-50)--with the exposure, the animal sacrifice, the dreams, the sketchy brethren, and the fabulous career of this hero--seems to belong to this type of myth.

89:1 In order to avoid misunderstandings, it appears necessary to emphasize at this point the historical nucleus of certain hero myths. Cyrus, as is shown by the inscriptions which have been discovered (compare Duncker, op. cit., p. 289; and Bauer, loc. cit., p. 498) was descended from an old hereditary royal house. It could not be the object of the myth to elevate the descent of Cyrus, nor must the above interpretation be regarded as an attempt to establish a lowly descent. Similar conditions prevail in the case of Sargon, whose royal father is also known (compare Jeremias: The Old Testament . . . , p. 410 n.). Nevertheless a historian writes about Sargon as follows (Ungnad: "Die Anfänge der Staatenbildung in Babylonien," Deutsche Rundschau, July 1905): "He was evidently of noble descent, or no such saga could have been woven about his birth and his youth." It would be a gross error to consider our interpretation as an argument in this sense. Again, the apparent contradiction which might be held up against our explanation, under another mode of interpretation, becomes the proof of its correctness, through the reflection that it is not the hero but the average man who makes the myth and wishes to vindicate himself in it. The people imagine the hero in this manner, investing him with their own infantile fantasies, irrespective of their actual compatibility or incompatibility with historical facts. This also serves to explain the transference of the typical motifs, be it to several generations of the same hero-family, or be it to historical personalities in general (concerning Caesar, Augustus and others, compare Usener, Rhein. Mus., LV, p. 271).

89:2 This identification of the families is carried through to the minutest detail in certain myths, as for example in the Oedipus myth, where one royal couple is offset by another, and where even the herdsman who receives the infant for exposure has his exact counterpart in the herdsman to whom he entrusts the rescue of the boy.

90:1 Compare Gubernatis: Zoological Mythology (London, 1872); and Hartmann: Die Tiere in der indogermanischen Mythologie (Leipzig, 1874). Concerning the significance of animals in exposure myths, see also the contributions by Bauer (loc. cit., pp. 574 ff.); Goldziher (op. cit., p. 274); and Liebrecht: Zur Volkskunde, Romulus and die Welfen (Heilbronn, 1879).

90:2 Compare Freud's article on the infantile recurrence of totemism, in Imago, Vol. II (1913). Concerning the totemistic foundation of the Roman she-wolf, see Jones's writings on nightmares (Älptraume). The woodpecker of the Romulus saga was discussed by Jung (loc. cit., pp. 382 ff.).

91:1 The stork is known also in mythology as the bringer of children. Siecke (Liebesgeschichten des Himmels, p. 26) points out the swan as the player of this part in certain regions and countries. The rescue and further protection of the hero by a bird is not uncommon; compare Gilgamesh, Zal, and Cycnus (who is exposed by his mother near the sea and is nourished by a swan, while his son Tennes floats in a chest upon the water). The interpretation of the leading motif of the Lohengrin saga also enters into present consideration. Its most important motifs belong to this mythical cycle: Lohengrin floats in a skiff upon the water, and is brought ashore by a swan. No one may ask whence he has come; the sexual mystery of the origin of man must not be revealed, but it is replaced by the suggestion of the stork fable; the children are fished from the water by the swan and are taken to the parents in a box. Corresponding to the prohibition of all inquiries in the Lohengrin saga, we find in other myths (for example, the Oedipus myth), a command to investigate, or a riddle that must be solved. For the psychological significance of the stork fable, compare Freud: Infantile Sexual Theories. Concerning the hero myth, see also the author's Die Lohengrin Saga.

92:1 Compare Freud: "Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy," loc. cit.

92:2 Usener (Stoff des griechischen Epos, p, 53) says that the controversy between the earlier and the later Greek sagas concerning the mother of a divinity is usually reconciled by the formula that the mother of the general Greek saga is recognized as such, while the mother of the local tradition is lowered to the rank of a nurse. Thero may therefore be unhesitatingly regarded as the mother, not merely the nurse, of the god Ares.

93:1 Abraham, loc. cit., p. 40; Riklin, op. cit., p. 74.
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« Reply #138 on: December 29, 2009, 05:48:37 am »

93:2 Brief mention is made of a case concerning a Frau von Hervay, because of a few subtle psychological comments upon the same by A. Berger (Feuilleton der Neue Freie Presse, Nov. 6, 1904), which in part touch upon our interpretation of the hero myth. Berger writes as follows: "I am convinced that she seriously believes herself to be the illegitimate daughter of an aristocratic Russian lady. The desire to belong through birth to more distinguished and brilliant circles than her own surroundings probably dates back to her early years; and her wish to be a princess gave rise to the delusion that she was not the daughter of her parents, but the child of a noblewomen who had concealed her illegitimate offspring from the world by letting her grow up as the daughter of a sleight-of-hand man. Having once become entangled in these fancies, it was natural for her to interpret any harsh word that offended her, or any accidental ambiguous remark that she happened to hear, but especially her reluctance to be the daughter of this couple, as a confirmation of her romantic delusion. She therefore made it the task of her life to regain the social position of which she felt herself to have been defrauded. Her biography manifests the strenuous insistence upon this idea, with a tragic outcome."

The female type of the family romance, as it confronts us in this case from the asocial side, has also been transmitted as a hero myth in isolated instances. The story goes of the later Queen Semiramis (in Diodorus, II, 4) that her mother, the goddess Derceto, being ashamed of her, exposed the child in a barren and rocky land, where she was fed by doves and found by shepherds, who gave the infant to the overseer of the royal flocks, the childless Simnas, who raised her as his own daughter. He named her Semiramis, which meant "dove" in the ancient Syrian language. Her further career and autocratic rulership, thanks to her masculine energy, is a matter of "history."

Other exposure myths are told of Atalanta, Cybele, and Aërope (see Röscher, op. cit.).

94:1 Freud: Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex; also Psychopathologie des Altagslebens; and Hysterische Phantasien and ihre Beziehung zur Bisexualität.

95:1 This is especially evident in the myths of the Greek gods, where the son (Cronus, Zeus) must first remove the father, before he can enter upon his rulership. The form of the removal, namely through castration--obviously the strongest expression of the revolt against the father--is at the same time the proof of its sexual provenance. Concerning the revenge character of this castration, as well as the infantile significance of the entire complex, compare Freud: "Infantile Sexual Theories," and "Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy (loc. cit.).

95:2 Freud: Traumdeutung (German edition of Interpretation of Dreams), 2d edition, p. 153.
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« Reply #139 on: December 29, 2009, 05:48:48 am »

95:3 "Belege zur Bettungsphantasie," Zentralblatt für Psychoanalyse, I (1911), p. 331; also "Die Rolle des Familienromans in der Psychologie des Attentäters," Internationale Zeitschrift für ärtzliche Psychoanalyse, I (191,3).

95:4 Compare the contrast between Tell and Parricida, in Schiller's Wilhelm Tell, which is discussed in detail in the author's Inzestmotiv.

96:1 Compare in this connection the unsuccessful homicidal attempt of Tatjana Leontiew, and its subtle psychological illumination, in Wittels: Die sexuelle Not (Vienna and Leipzig, 1909).
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