Type: Literary Analysis
Pages: 5 | Words: 1400
Reading Time: 6 Minutes

In “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, the author explores a variety of myths and elucidates the fundamental structure that most of them share. In most cases, the heroes adopt the true picture of heroism, where the heroic personalities make painful personal sacrifices in order to save situations that are dear to them. In addition, most heroic figure appears humbled by the respect accorded to them by the society and always acts in a selfless manner to defend the society. However, there are a few instances when the heroes assume a status way above average humans and using that status to hoard all the social benefits for themselves. This is the argument that Joseph Campbell puts forward regarding Minotaur, the tyrant monster. According to literature, Minotaur was a monster that had quite intimidating body, half of it man and half of it a bull. The monster basically personified ego unlike typical monsters that showed humility and self annihilation. The only food that the monster ate was human flesh and none of the strongest heroes would dare challenge him. It is the reason why fourteen children would be sent to it every year from Greece to the Island of Crete, where it lived. The people believed that this was the only way to prevent the society from experiencing some of the worst calamities.

Campbell’s argument that Minotaur was a typical tyrant monster is very true. His story correlates with that of Sherlock in the Merchant of Venice. In this story, Sherlock appeared to be using the religious animosity that existed between Christians and Jews for self gain. Although he purported to have been championing for the rights of his people, his keenness on extorting money from Antonio betrayed him. In addition, when he says that he has a long time grudge against Antonio, it appears that the issues he raised about racial segregation were mere excuses and that he was not entirely executing Antonio on behalf of his religion. In the same manner, the monster in Campbell story used his extraordinary powers to benefit himself instead of the people who gave him the heroic title, human beings. According to literature, Athenians would send seven girls and seven young boys to King Minos every year. King Minos was a powerful ruler who was greatly feared by all the neighboring territories. He has such a strong army that was impossible to defeat and that was the reason other rulers would rather remain submissive to him than risk a war against him. The King of Athens, for instance, feared his army so much that he would not dare default in sending young citizens of his land to Crete. Young people like Prince Theseus, wondered why people feared King Minos that much. Little did he know that there was a legendary figure behind the military power of King Minos, Minotaur. In most myths or legends, the persons regarded as heroes use their extraordinary power to benefit the general populace. However, Minotaur and King Minos appear quite unique as they use this opportunity to seek favors from their neighbors. Prince Theseus, in his conversation with his dad, blankly referred to Minotaur as a tyrant monster. Indeed, it was not incidental considering that nature of demands that the monster made to neighboring territories. Whenever the monster demanded for goods to be sent to him as tribute, their neighbors were forced to be submissive as this was the only realistic way to avoid a conflict with their army (Pearson and Pope 1981). It was this perpetual submission that Prince Theseus decided to challenge the monster. He offered himself as one of the fourteen young citizens to be sent to Minotaur as food. He intentionally used this as an opportunity to try to kill Minotaur. According to him, his country could not afford the tyrannical nature of the rule of King Minotaur, especially with regards to the demands by Minotaur. In “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, the author portrays Minotaur as a unique kind of a monster. While he portrays other heroes as having the courage to face danger and sacrifice their lives for the benefit of humanity, he depicts Minotaur as a monster who lacks the moral excellence of a hero. He ate of human flesh rather than save humanity (Manganaro 1992).

The author also depicts Minotaur as a hoarder of social benefits that are due to his immense powers. Although they have managed to intimidate neighbouring rulers into submission, the Monster is using the opportunity to benefit himself at the expense of the general populace. This is evident from the fact that he demands goods to be brought to him as tribute and incredibly demands for human flesh. This is quite uncharacteristic of a heroic figure that the people of Crete placed on Minotaur. The same scheme appears in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”, where the green knit had extraordinary powers to remount his head after being cut off. In spite of his extraordinary powers, he doesn’t seem keen to use these powers for the good of humanity. Instead, he is hoarding them for himself, betting with powers that humanity desperately needs. In “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, Campbell uses the monomyth of Christ to explain the concept of sacrifice for humanity. According to the Biblical story of Christ, he got a lot of respect from the people due to his immense powers to perform miracles. However, he did not use that respect to solicit for goodies like Minotaur did. Whenever there was anything beneficial about his miraculous powers, like the miracle of fish and bread, Christ gave all the benefits to the people (Moyers and Campbell 1991). In addition, Christ gave up his life on the cross when he realized that the only way to save humanity was by shedding human blood, instead of the blood of a lamb as had been the case before. Actually, by the time of his death people had started thinking of him as the new King. It would have been possible for him to resist death so that he could finally rise to the throne of the land. However, he chose to die on the cross so that humanity could be salvaged. By contrasting the two stories, it is quite obvious that Minotaur was a legend of his own kind because he hoarded all the benefits to himself and never shared them with the people (Rauch 2003).

Minotaur was basically a personification of ego in demanding goods and human flesh. By accepting to live alone in the Labyrinth, Minotaur assumed a life that is larger than human. He just could not relate with average humans. In fact, it appears that the only time he encountered humans was when he had been sent his “presents” from the neighboring territories. In addition, the fact that he only loved human flesh was definitely designed to sooth his ego. He wanted to appear way above human beings in the social hierarchy, something he could use to intimidate people into submission. By including the story of Moses in The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, Campbell managed to reveal the ego power behind Minotaur’s operations. According to the Biblical story of Moses, he always showed enormous amount of humility right from the time God called him at Mt Sinai to the time of his death. Instead of taking the fastest horses to drive ride on throughout the journey to Canaan, he chose to walk with the people. In fact, he remained with them even when it was evident he would not reach Canaan. This was a perfect exemplar of humility and a complete contrast to the ego power of Minotaur. If Moses had been driven by shear ego, he would have opted to take the best horses to rush him to the Promised Land so that he could see the place before his death. However, he chose not to do that because the journey was not about him, but the people of Israel. Essentially, the inclusion of this story and the obvious contrast depicts Minotaur’s hoarding of benefits as product of shear ego (Campbell 1968).

In conclusion, Minotaur lacks the moral excellence of a true hero. Instead, he exemplifies a figure of a tyrant monster and a personification of ego in trying to hoard the general benefits for him. He is definitely a different kind of hero because he shows no personal sacrifices or gestures self annihilation.

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