Orion's Guiding Stars: The Myth of the Hero and the Human Instinct for Story

Orion's Guiding Stars: The Myth of the Hero and the Human Instinct for Story

Orion's Guiding Stars: The Myth of the Hero and the Human Instinct for Story

Orion's Guiding Stars: The Myth of the Hero and the Human Instinct for Story

Synopsis

The myth of the hero, the grand motif of folklore, is a three-part story that is found in human cultures across time and terrain, ever since we were hunter-foragers. Here, a veteran teacher shows that The myth of the hero best reveals itself through a jewel of many facets rather than a single clear lens. You have to stand back at the proper distance from the painting in order to see the myth of the hero pop out.

He explores the essential features of the myth, where these stories came from and what they are really about and analyzes how regular people see these stories, revealing an unexamined dimension.

Excerpt

A book about mythology should begin with a hero. Maybe with a story about someone who risked it all and went somewhere or did something that nobody else ever did. Perhaps someone to emulate. But Filippo Sassetti never made it back to Italy from his travels in India. So did dying far from home make this hero an explorer or a mere adventurer?

Out of the plague years when perhaps thirty percent of the people in Western Europe died, the Renaissance flowered. the vigorous Irish clergy had preserved and spread lost Latin works throughout the continent wherever they built a new monastery. the conquering Moors in Spain had translated many works of Aristotle from Arabic into Latin and other European languages. Refugee Greeks fleeing the Turkish conquest of Byzantium had brought copies of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey with them to Italy. Everyone was obsessed with the reemerging literature of the ancients.

The imaginations of young Europeans were fired by Vasco da Gama’s discovery of a sea route around Africa that led to India. With the drawing of a single map, the long, expensive and dangerous overland route on the Silk Road from the Far East was no longer the only way to caravan goods through hostile Arab lands to European markets. With the drawing of a single map, Italy surrendered her privileged position as the middle man for all Far Eastern trade with Europe to the new kingdom of Portugal, which lay beyond the old Mediterranean world on the Atlantic Ocean, the new global highway of its day. Da Gama’s voyage proved that sailing around Africa was a faster and easier route to India than plying the pirate haunted Mediterranean and caravanning pestilential deserts. An appetite for silks and spices, perfumes and precious gems had sprung up in Europe. With this also came a burning curiosity, a hunger for the world based upon scientific thinking . . .

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