HOME

TheInfoList




A culture hero is a
mythological Myth is a consisting of s that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or s. The main characters in myths are usually non-humans, such as , s, and other figures., and , eds. 2003. "Myths." In ''A Dictionary of English ...
hero File:Wilhelm Tell Denkmal Altdorf um 1900.jpeg, upWilliam Tell, a popular folk hero of Switzerland. A hero (heroine in its feminine form) is a real person or a main fictional character who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through f ...
specific to some group (
cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior among two or more organisms within the same species, and encompasses any behavior in which one member affects the other. This is due to an int ...

cultural
,
ethnic An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups. Those attributes can include common sets of traditions, ancest ...
,
religious Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; however, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion. Different religions may or may not contain v ...

religious
, etc.) who changes the world through
invention An invention is a unique or novel A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, typically written in prose and published as a book. The present English word for a long work of prose fiction derives from the for "new", "news", or ...

invention
or
discovery Discovery may refer to: * Discovery (observation) Discovery is the act of detecting something new, or something previously unrecognized as meaningful. With reference to sciences and academic disciplines An academic discipline or academic fi ...
. Although many culture heroes help with the creation of the world, most culture heroes are important because of their effect on the world after creation. A typical culture hero might be credited as the discoverer of fire,
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...

agriculture
,
songs A song is a musical composition intended to be performed by the human voice. This is often done at melody, distinct and fixed pitches (melodies) using patterns of sound and silence. Songs contain various song form, forms, such as those includi ...

songs
,
tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of conscious ...

tradition
,
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its boundari ...
or
religion Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; however, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion. Different religions may or may not contain v ...
, and is usually the most important legendary figure of a people, sometimes as the founder of its ruling
dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press 200px, The Pitt Building in Cambridge, which us ...
.


Culture heroes in mythology


History of a culture hero

The term "culture hero" was first brought about by historian
Kurt Breysig
Kurt Breysig
; however, he used the German word ''heilbringer,'' which translates to 'savior'. Over the years, "culture hero" has been interpreted in many ways. Older interpretations by Breysig, Paul Ehrenreich, and Wilhelm Schmidt thought that the journeys of culture heroes were ways in which humans could attempt to understand things in nature, such as the rising and setting of the sun, or the movement of the stars and constellations. Their interpretations eventually got rejected and replaced with newer interpretations by scholars such as Hermann Baumann, Adolf E. Jensen,
Mircea Eliade Mircea Eliade (; – April 22, 1986) was a Romanian Romanian may refer to: *anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern ...
, Otto Zerries, Raffaele Pettazzoni, and Harry Tegnaeus which evolved as a result of having more access to ethnological data, creating the present day and famously known version of the culture hero.


Creation of a culture hero

Culture heroes are able to perform unbelievable tasks in life because they are different from the normal human. It is often believed that the culture hero is not from this world. All of a culture hero's power originates from birth. Culture heroes are rarely born regularly. When their mothers get pregnant, it is not because of a man but instead is the result of the wind, or a drop of water. Once culture heroes are born, they are either very powerful babies or even come out of the womb as already full grown. The main point this makes is that the culture hero is not from this world.


Characteristics of a culture hero

A culture hero generally goes on an adventure (often called the
hero's journey In narratology and comparative mythology Comparative mythology is the comparison of myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main c ...
) that in turn does one of the following: * Saves humankind from a dangerous monster * Shapes the world (rivers, mountains, etc...) * Creates distinction between humans and animals * Makes economic life possible for humans (teaching the humans) * Sets the origin of death Culture heroes often have more than one form, such as having the ability to transform from human to some form of animal, such as a fish or bird. A culture hero has many good qualities about him/her but also bad ones, which is why they must go on their journeys. In some journeys the hero is known as a
trickster In mythology Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that som ...

trickster
. They act in their own selfish way and the benefits of their actions end up being shared with humans as a side effect.


Disappearance of a culture hero

Once culture heroes have finished their task, they usually end up disappearing. In many stories, the hero is transformed back to his origin. Other times the place of death will be marked with a stone, tree, or body of water. The end of a culture hero's life will lead to the creation of something else, such as a river, constellations, food, animals, and the moon and sun. Culture heroes are the
etiological Etiology (pronounced ; alternatively: aetiology or ætiology) is the study of causation or origination. The word is derived from the Greek (''aitiología'') "giving a reason for" (, ''aitía'', "cause"; and , '' -logía''). More completely, et ...
explanation for many humans about the things occurring in their daily lives.


Examples

In many
Native American Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans in the United States * Indigenous peoples in Canada, the indigenous p ...
mythologies and beliefs, the
coyote The coyote (''Canis latrans'') is a species of canis, canine native to North America. It is smaller than its close relative, the wolf, and slightly smaller than the closely related eastern wolf and red wolf. It fills much of the same ecologica ...

coyote
spirit stole fire from the gods (or stars or sun) and is more of a
trickster In mythology Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that som ...

trickster
than a culture hero. Natives from the Southeastern United States typically saw a
rabbit Rabbits, also known as bunnies or bunny rabbits, are small mammal Mammals (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication ...

rabbit
trickster/culture hero, and Pacific Northwest native stories often feature a
raven A raven is any of several larger-bodied bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kin ...

raven
in this role: in some stories, Raven steals fire from his uncle Beaver and eventually gives it to humans. The
Western Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjac ...
n trickster spider Ananse is also common. In Norse mythology,
Odin Odin (; from non, Óðinn, ) is a widely revered god in Germanic mythology Germanic mythology consists of the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundat ...

Odin
steals the
mead of poetry , Odin Odin (; from non, Óðinn, ) is a widely revered god in Germanic mythology. Norse mythology, the source of most surviving information about him, associates Odin with wisdom, healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, war, battle ...
from Jotunheim and is credited as the discoverer of the
runes Runes are the letters Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing ...

runes
.


See also

*
Folk hero A folk hero or national hero is a type of hero File:Wilhelm Tell Denkmal Altdorf um 1900.jpeg, upWilliam Tell, a popular folk hero of Switzerland. A hero (heroine in its feminine form) is a real person or a main fictional character who, ...
*
Founding myth An origin myth is a myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually gods, demigods, or supernatural humans. ...
* List of culture heroes


References

{{Reflist Culture Heroes in mythology and legend Literary motifs Mythological archetypes