Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

Living Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • David A. Leeming
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27771-9_554-4

In the cultural dreams that are our myths, heroes serve as our personae – representatives of our collective psyches – first as cultures and then as a species. Gilgamesh reflects a Mesopotamian physical and psychological experience, and Odysseus could not be anything else but Archaic Greek. But when we compare the heroes of these various cultures, Joseph Campbell’s heroic monomyth pattern emerges, and we discover a hero who belongs to all of humanity. “The Hero,” writes Campbell, “is the man or woman who has been able to battle past his personal and local historical limitations to the generally valid, normally human forms” (1949/1973 Hero, pp. 19–20).

The central event in the universal hero myth, the heroic monomyth, is the quest, in which a hero – the representative of a culture – seeks some significant goal or boon for his or her people. Often the voyage involves archetypal stages such as the search for truth or riches or a lost loved one, a struggle with monsters, and the descent to...


Psychological Experience Human Form Round Table Eternal Life Significant Goal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Campbell, J. (1949/1973). The hero with a thousand faces. Princeton: Bollingen.Google Scholar
  2. Leeming, D. (1998). Mythology: The voyage of the hero (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ConnecticutStorrsUSA