The Myth of the Birth of the Hero, by Otto Rank, , at sacred-texts.com
A CURSORY review of these variegated hero myths forcibly brings out a series of uniformly common features, with a typical groundwork, from which a standard saga, as it were, may be constructed. This schedule corresponds approximately to the ideal human skeleton that is constantly seen, with minor deviations, on transillumination of figures that outwardly differ from one another. The individual traits of the several myths, and especially the apparently crude variations from the prototype, can be entirely elucidated only by myth interpretation.
The standard saga itself may be formulated according to the following outline: The hero is the child of most distinguished parents, usually the son of a king. His origin is preceded by difficulties, such as continence, or prolonged barrenness, or secret intercourse of the parents due to external prohibition or obstacles. During or before the pregnancy, there is a prophecy, in the form of a dream or oracle, cautioning against his birth, and usually threatening danger to the father (or his representative). As a rule, he is surrendered to the water, in a box. He is then saved by animals, or by lowly people (shepherds), and is suckled by a female animal or by an humble woman. After he has grown up, he finds his distinguished parents, in a highly versatile fashion. He takes his revenge on his father, on the one hand, and is acknowledged, on the other. Finally he achieves rank and honors. 1
Since the normal relations of the hero toward his father and his mother regularly appear impaired in all these
myths, as shown by the outline, there is reason to assume that something in the nature of the hero must account for such a disturbance, and motives of this kind are not very difficult to discover. It is readily understood--and may be noted in the modern imitations of the heroic age--that for the hero, who is exposed to envy, jealousy, and calumny to a much higher degree than all others, the descent from his parents often becomes the source of the greatest distress and embarrassment. The old saying that "A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country and in his father's house," has no other meaning but that he whose parents, brothers and sisters, or playmates, are known to us, is not so readily conceded to be a prophet. There seems to be a certain necessity for the prophet to deny his parents; the well-known Meyerbeer opera is based upon the avowal that the prophetic hero is allowed, in favor of his mission, to abandon and repudiate even his tenderly loving mother.
A number of difficulties arise, however, as we proceed to a deeper inquiry into the motives which oblige the hero to sever his family relations. Numerous investigators have emphasized that the understanding of myth formation requires our going back to their ultimate source, namely the individual faculty of imagination. 1 The fact has also been pointed out that this imaginative faculty is found in its active and unchecked exuberance only in childhood. Therefore, the imaginative life of the child should first be studied, in order to facilitate the understanding of the far more complex and also more handicapped mythological and artistic imagination in general.
Meanwhile, the investigation of the juvenile faculty of imagination has hardly commenced, instead of being sufficiently advanced to permit the utilization of the findings for the explanation of the more complicated psychic activities. The reason for this imperfect understanding of the psychic life of the child is traceable to the lack of a suitable instrument, as well as of a reliable avenue, leading into the intricacies of this very delicate and rather inaccessible domain. These juvenile emotions can by no means be
studied in the normal human adult, and it may actually be charged, in view of certain psychic disturbances, that the normal psychic integrity of normal subjects consists precisely in their having overcome and forgotten their childish vagaries and imaginations; so that the way has become blocked. In children, on the other hand, empirical observation (which as a rule must remain merely superficial) fails in the investigation of psychic processes because we are not as yet enabled to trace all manifestations correctly to their motive forces; so that we are lacking the instrument. There is a certain class of persons, the so-called psycho-neurotics, shown by the teachings of Freud to have remained children, in a sense, although otherwise appearing grown-up. These psychoneurotics may be said not to have given up their juvenile psychic life, which on the contrary, in the course of maturity has become strengthened and fixed, instead of modified. In psychoneurotics, the emotions of the child are preserved and exaggerated, thus becoming capable of pathological effects, in which these humble emotions appear broadened and enormously magnified. The fancies of neurotics are, as it were, the uniformly exaggerated reproductions of the childish imaginings. This would point the way to a solution of the problem. Unfortunately, however, access is still much more difficult to establish in these cases than to the child mind. There is only one known instrument which makes this road practicable, namely the psychoanalytic method, which has been developed through the work of Freud. Constant handling of this instrument will clear the observer's vision to such a degree that he will be enabled to discover the identical motive forces, only in delicately shaded manifestations, also in the psychic life of those who do not become neurotics later on.
Professor Freud had the kindness to place at the author's disposal his valuable experience with the psychology of the neuroses; and on this material are based the following comments on the imaginative faculty of the child as well as of the neurotic.
The detachment of the growing individual from the authority of the parents is one of the most necessary, but also
one of the most painful achievements of evolution. It is absolutely necessary for this detachment to take place, and it may be assumed that all normal grown individuals have accomplished it to a certain extent. Social progress is essentially based upon this opposition between the two generations. On the other hand, there exists a class of neurotics whose condition indicates that they have failed to solve this very problem. For the young child, the parents are, in the first place, the sole authority and the source of all faith. To resemble them, i.e., the progenitor of the same sex--to grow up like father or mother--this is the most intense and portentous wish of the child's early years. Progressive intellectual development naturally brings it about that the child gradually becomes acquainted with the category to which the parents belong. Other parents become known to the child, who compares these with his own, and thereby becomes justified in doubting the incomparability and uniqueness with which he had invested them. Trifling occurrences in the life of the child, which induce a mood of dissatisfaction, lead up to a criticism of the parents; and the gathering conviction that other parents are preferable in certain ways is utilized for this attitude of the child toward the parents.
From the psychology of the neurosis, we have learned that very intense emotions of sexual rivalry are also involved in this connection. The causative factor evidently is the feeling of being neglected. Opportunities arise only too frequently when the child is neglected, or at least feels himself neglected, when he misses the entire love of the parents, or at least regrets having to share this with the other children of the family. The feeling that one's own inclinations are not entirely reciprocated seeks its relief in the idea--often consciously remembered from very early years--of being a stepchild, or an adopted child. Many persons who have not become neurotics very frequently remember occasions of this kind, when the hostile behavior of the parents was interpreted and reciprocated by them in this fashion, usually under the influence of storybooks. The influence of sex is already evident, in so far as the boy shows a far greater tendency to harbor hostile feelings
against his father than his mother, with a much stronger inclination to emancipate himself from the father than from the mother. The imaginative faculty of girls is possibly much less active in this respect.
These consciously remembered psychic emotions of the years of childhood supply the factor which permits the interpretation of the myth. What is not often consciously remembered, but can almost invariably be demonstrated through psychoanalysis, is the next stage in the development of this incipient alienation from the parents, which may be designated by the term "family romance of neurotics." The essence of neurosis, and of all higher mental qualifications, comprises a special activity of the imagination that is primarily manifested in the play of the child, and which from about the period preceding puberty takes hold of the theme of the family relations. A characteristic example of this special imaginative faculty is represented by the familiar daydreams, 1 which are continued until long after puberty. Accurate observation of these daydreams shows that they serve for the fulfillment of wishes, for the righting of life, and that they have two essential objects, one erotic, the other of an ambitious nature (usually with the erotic factor concealed therein). About the time in question, the child's imagination is engaged upon the task of getting rid of the parents, who are now despised and are as a rule to be supplanted by others of a higher social rank. The child utilizes an accidental coincidence of actual happenings (meetings with the lord of the manor or the proprietor of the estate, in the country; with the reigning prince, in the city; in the United States, with some great statesman or millionaire). Accidental occurrences of this kind arouse the child's envy, and this finds its expression in fancy fabrics which replace the two parents by others of a higher rank. The technical elaboration of these two imaginings, which of course by this time have become conscious, depends upon the child's adroitness and also upon the material at his disposal. It is likewise a factor
whether these fancies are elaborated with more or less claim to plausibility. This stage is reached at a time when the child is still lacking all knowledge of the sexual conditions of descent.
With the added knowledge of the manifold sexual relations of father and mother--with the child's realization of the fact that the father is always uncertain, whereas the mother is very certain--the family romance undergoes a peculiar restriction: it is satisfied with ennobling the father, while the descent from the mother is no longer questioned, but accepted as an unalterable fact. This second (or sexual) stage of the family romance is moreover supported by another motive, which did not exist in the first (or asexual) stage. Knowledge of sexual matters gives rise to the tendency to picture erotic situations and relations, impelled by the pleasurable emotion of placing the mother, or the subject of the greatest sexual curiosity, in the situation of secret unfaithfulness and clandestine love affairs. In this way the primary or asexual fantasies are raised to the standard of the improved later understanding.
The motive of revenge and retaliation, which was originally to the front, is again evident. These neurotic children are mostly those who were punished by the parents to break them of bad sexual habits, and they take their revenge upon their parents by their imaginings. The younger children of a family are particularly inclined to deprive their predecessors of their advantage by fables of this kind (exactly as in the intrigues of history). Frequently they do not hesitate in crediting the mother with as many love affairs as there are rivals. An interesting variation of this family romance restores the legitimacy of the plotting hero himself, while the other children are disposed of in this way as illegitimate. The family romance may be governed besides by a special interest, all sorts of inclinations being met by its adaptability and variegated character. The little romancer gets rid in this fashion, for example, of the kinship of a sister who may have attracted him sexually.
Those who turn aside with horror from this corruption of the child mind, or perhaps actually contest the possibility
of such matters, should note that all these apparently hostile imaginings have not such a very bad significance after all, and that the original affection of the child for his parents is still preserved under their thin disguise. The faithlessness and ingratitude on the part of the child are only apparent, for on investigating in detail the most common of these romantic fancies--the substitution of both parents, or of the father alone, by more exalted personages--the discovery will be made that these new and highborn parents: are invested throughout with the qualities which are derived from real memories of the true lowly parents, so that the child does not actually remove his father but exalts him. The entire endeavor to replace the real father by a more distinguished one is merely the expression of the child's longing for the vanished happy time, when his father still appeared to be the strongest and greatest man, and the mother seemed the dearest and most beautiful woman. The child turns away from the father, as he now knows him, to the father in whom he believed in his earlier years, his imagination being in truth only the expression of regret for this happy time having passed away. Thus the overvaluation of the earliest years of childhood again claims its own in these fancies. 1 An interesting contribution to this subject is furnished by the study of dreams. Dream-interpretation teaches that even in later years, in the dreams of the emperor or the empress, these princely persons stand for the father and the mother. 2 Thus the infantile overvaluation of the parents is still preserved in the dream of the normal adult.
As we proceed to fit the above features into our scheme, we feel justified in analogizing the ego of the child with the hero of the myth, in view of the unanimous tendency of family romances and hero myths; keeping in mind that the myth throughout reveals an endeavor to get rid of the parents, and that the same wish arises in the fantasies of the individual child at the time when he is trying to
establish his personal independence. The ego of the child behaves in this respect like the hero of the myth, and as a matter of fact, the hero should always be interpreted merely as a collective ego, which is equipped with all the excellences. In a similar manner, the hero in personal poetic fiction usually represents the poet himself, or at least one side of his character.
Summarizing the essentials of the hero myth, we find the descent from noble parents, the exposure in a river, and in a box, and the raising by lowly parents; followed in the further evolution of the story by the hero's return to his first parents, with or without punishment meted out to them. It is very evident that the two parent-couples of the myth correspond to the real and the imaginary parent-couple of the romantic fantasy. Closer inspection reveals the psychological identity of the humble and the noble parents, precisely as in the infantile and neurotic fantasies.
In conformity with the overvaluation of the parents in early childhood, the myth begins with the noble parents, exactly like the romantic fantasy, whereas in reality adults soon adapt themselves to the actual conditions. Thus the fantasy of the family romance is simply realized in the myth, with a bold reversal to the actual conditions. The hostility of the father, and the resulting exposure, accentuate the motive which has caused the ego to indulge in the entire fiction. The fictitious romance is the excuse, as it were, for the hostile feelings which the child harbors against his father, and which in this fiction are projected against the father. The exposure in the myth, therefore, is equivalent to the repudiation or nonrecognition in the romantic fantasy. The child simply gets rid of the father in the neurotic romance, while in the myth the father endeavors to lose the child. Rescue and revenge are the natural terminations, as demanded by the essence of the fantasy.
In order to establish the full value of this parallelization, as just sketched in its general outlines, it must enable us to interpret certain constantly recurring details of the myth which seem to require a special explanation. This demand would seem to acquire special importance in view of the
fact that no satisfactory explanation of these details is forthcoming in the writings of even the most enthusiastic astral mythologists or natural philosophers. Such details are represented by the regular occurrence of dreams (or oracles) and by the mode of exposure in a box and in the water. These motifs do not at first glance seem to permit a psychological derivation. Fortunately the study of dream-symbolisms permits the elucidation of these elements of the hero myth. The utilization of the same material in the dreams of healthy persons and neurotics 1 indicates that the exposure in the water signifies no more and no less than the symbolic expression of birth, The children come out of the water. 2 The basket, box, or receptacle simply means the container, the womb; 3 so that the exposure directly signifies
the process of birth, although it is represented by its opposite.
Those who object to this representation by opposites should remember how often the dream works with the same mechanism. 1 A confirmation of this interpretation of the exposure, as taken from the common human symbolism, is furnished by the material itself, in the dream by the grandfather (or still more convincingly by the mother herself) 2 in the Ctesian version of Cyrus before his birth; in this dream, so much water flows from the lap of the expectant mother as to inundate all Asia, like an enormous ocean. 3 It is remarkable that in both cases the Chaldeans correctly interpreted these water dreams as birth dreams. In all probability,
these dreams themselves are constructed out of the knowledge of a very ancient and universally understood symbolism, with a dim foresight of the relations and connections which are appreciated and presented in Freud's teachings. There he says, in referring to a dream in which the dreamer hurls herself into the dark water of a lake: Dreams of this sort are birth dreams, and their interpretation is accomplished by reversing the fact as communicated in the manifest dream; namely, instead of hurling oneself into the water, it means emerging from the water, i.e., to be born. 1 The justice of this interpretation, which renders the water dream equivalent to the exposure, is again confirmed by the fact that precisely in the Cyrus saga, which contains the water dream, the theme of the exposure in the water is lacking, while only the basket, which does not occur in the dream, plays a part in the exposure.
In this interpretation of the exposure as the birth, we must not let ourselves be disturbed by the discrepancy between the succession of the individual elements of the symbolized materialization and the real birth process. This chronological rearrangement or even reversal has been explained by Freud as due to the general manner in which recollections are elaborated into fantasies; the same material reappears in the fantasies, but in an entirely novel arrangement, and no attention whatsoever is paid to the natural sequence of the acts. 2
Besides this chronological reversal, the reversal of the contents requires special explanation. The first reason for the representation of the birth by its opposite--the life-threatening exposure in the water--is the accentuation of the parental hostility toward the future hero. 3 The creative
influence of this tendency to represent the parents as the first and most powerful opponents of the hero will be appreciated when it is kept in mind that the entire family romance in general owes its origin to the feeling of being neglected--namely, the assumed hostility of the parents. In the myth, this hostility goes so far that the parents refuse to let the child be born, which is precisely the reason of the hero's lament; moreover, the myth plainly reveals the desire to enforce his materialization even against the will of the parents. The vital peril, thus concealed in the representation of birth through exposure, actually exists in the process of birth itself. The overcoming of all these obstacles also expresses the idea that the future hero has actually overcome the greatest difficulties by virtue of his birth, for he has victoriously thwarted all attempts to prevent it. 1 Or another interpretation may be admitted, according to which the youthful hero, foreseeing his destiny to taste more than his share of the bitterness of life, deplores in a pessimistic mood the inimical act which has called him to earth. He accuses the parents, as it were, for having exposed him to the struggle of life, for having allowed him to be born. 2 The refusal to let the son be born, which belongs especially to the father, is frequently concealed by the contrast motif, the wish for a child (as in Oedipus, Perseus, and others), while the hostile attitude toward the future successor on the throne and in the kingdom is projected to the outside--it is attributed to an oracular verdict, which is thereby revealed as the substitute of the ominous dream, or better, as the equivalent of its interpretation.
From another point of view, however, the family romance shows that the fantasies of the child, although apparently estranging the parents, have nothing else to say concerning them besides their confirmation as the real parents. The exposure myth, translated with the assistance of symbolism, likewise contains nothing but the assurance: this is my mother, who has borne me at the command of the father. But on account of the tendency of the myth, and the resulting transference of the hostile attitude from the child to the parents, this assurance of the real parentage can only be expressed as the repudiation of such parentage.
On closer inspection, it is noteworthy in the first place that the hostile attitude of the hero toward his parents concerns especially the father. Usually, as in the myth of Oedipus, Paris, and others, the royal father receives a prophecy of some disaster, threatening him through the expected son; then it is the father who causes the exposure of the boy and who pursues and menaces him in all sorts of ways after his unlooked-for rescue, but finally succumbs to his son, according to the prophecy. In order to understand this trait, which at first may appear somewhat startling, it is not necessary to explore the heavens for some process into which this trait might be laboriously fitted. Looking with open eyes and unprejudiced minds at the relations between parents and children, or between brothers, as these exist in reality, 1 a certain tension is frequently, if not regularly revealed between father and son, or still more distinctly a competition between brothers. Although this tension may not be obvious and permanent, it is lurking in the sphere of the unconscious, as it were, with periodic eruptions. Erotic factors are especially apt to be involved, and as a rule the deepest, generally unconscious root of the dislike of the son for the father, or of two brothers for each other, is related to be competition for the tender devotion and love of the mother. The Oedipus myth shows plainly, only in grosser dimensions, the accuracy of this interpretation, for the parricide is here followed by
the incest with the mother. This erotic relation with the mother, which predominates in other mythological cycles, is relegated to the background in the myths of the birth of the hero, while the opposition against the father is more strongly accentuated. 1
The fact that this infantile rebellion against the father is apparently provoked in the birth myths by the hostile behavior of the father, is due to a reversal of the relation, known as projection, which is brought about by very peculiar characteristics of the myth-forming psychic activity. The projection mechanism--which also bore its part in the reinterpretation of the birth act, as well as certain other characteristics of myth formation, to be discussed presently--necessitates the uniform characterization of the myth as a paranoid structure, in view of its resemblance to peculiar processes in the mechanism of certain psychic disturbances. Intimately connected with the paranoid character is the property of separating or dissociating what is fused in the imagination. This process, as illustrated by the two parent-couples, provides the foundation for the myth formation, and together with the projection mechanism supplies the key to the understanding of an entire series of otherwise inexplicable configurations of the myth. As the motor power for this projection of the hero's hostile attitude onto
the father, there stands revealed the wish for its justification, arising from the troublesome realization of these feelings against the father. The displacement process that begins with the projection of the troublesome sensation is still further continued, however, and with the assistance of the mechanism of separation or dissociation, it has found a different expression of its gradual progress in very characteristic forms of the hero myth. In the original psychologic setting, the father is still identical with the king, the tyrannical persecutor. The first attenuation of this relation is manifested in those myths in which the separation of the tyrannical persecutor from the real father is already attempted, but not yet entirely accomplished, the former being still related to the hero, usually as his grandfather, for example in the Cyrus myth with all its versions, and in the majority of all hero myths in general. In the separation of the father's part from that of the king, this type signifies the first return step of the descent fantasy toward the actual conditions, and accordingly the hero's father appears in this type mostly as a lowly man (see Cyrus, Gilgamesh, and others) . The hero thus arrives again at an approach toward his parents, the establishment of a certain kinship, which finds its expression in the fact that not only the hero himself, but also his father and his mother represent objects of the tyrant's persecution. The hero in this way acquires a more intimate connection with the mother--they are often exposed together (Perseus, Telephus, Feridun)--who is nearer to him on account of the erotic relation; while the renouncement of his hatred against the father here attains the expression of its most forcible reaction, 1 for the hero henceforth appears, as in the Hamlet saga, not as the persecutor of his father (or grandfather) but as the avenger of the persecuted father. This involves a deeper relation of the Hamlet saga with the Persian story of Kaikhosrav, where the hero likewise appears as the avenger of his murdered father (compare Feridun and others).
The person of the grandfather himself, who in certain sagas appears replaced by other relatives (the uncle, in the Hamlet saga), also possesses a deeper meaning. 1 The myth complex of the incest with the mother--and the related revolt against the father--is here combined with the second great complex, which has for its contents the erotic relations between father and daughter. Under this heading belongs, besides other widely ramified groups of sagas, 2 the story which is told in countless versions of a newborn boy, of whom it is prophesied that he is to become the son-in-law and heir of a certain ruler or potentate, and who finally does so in spite of all persecutions (exposure and so forth) on the part of the latter. 3 The father who refuses to give his daughter to any of her suitors, or who attaches to the winning of the daughter certain conditions difficult of fulfillment, does this because he really begrudges her to all others, for when all is told he wishes to possess her himself. He locks her up in some inaccessible spot, so as to safeguard her virginity (Perseus, Gilgamesh, Telephus, Romulus), and when his command is disobeyed he pursues the daughter and her offspring with insatiable hatred. However, the unconscious sexual motives of his hostile attitude, which is later on avenged by his grandson, render it evident that again the hero kills in him simply the man who is trying to rob him of the love of his mother; namely, the father.
Another attempt at a reversal to a more original type consists in the following theme: The return to the lowly father, which has been brought about through the separation of the father's rôle from that of the king, is again nullified through the lowly father's secondary elevation to the rank of a god, as in Perseus and the other sons of virgin mothers (Karna, Ion, Romulus, Jesus) . The secondary character of this godly paternity is especially evident in those myths where the virgin who has been impregnated by
divine conception later on marries a mortal (Jesus, Karna, Ion), who then appears as the real father, while the god as the father represents merely the most exalted childish idea of the magnitude, power, and perfection of the father. 1 At the same time, these myths strictly insist upon the motif of the virginity of the mother, which elsewhere is merely hinted at. The first impetus is perhaps supplied by the transcendental tendency, necessitated through the introduction of the god. At the same time, the birth from the virgin is the most abrupt repudiation of the father, the consummation of the entire myth, as illustrated by the Sargon legend, which does not admit any father besides the vestal mother.
The last stage of this progressive attenuation of the hostile relation to the father is represented by that form of the myth in which the person of the royal persecutor not only appears entirely detached from that of the father, but has even lost the remotest kinship with the hero's family, which he opposes in the most hostile manner, as its enemy (in Feridun, Abraham, King Herod against Jesus, and others) . Although of his original threefold character as the father, the king, and the persecutor, he retains only the part of the royal persecutor or the tyrant, the entire plan of the myth conveys the impression that nothing had been changed--as if the designation "father" had been simply replaced by the term "tyrant." This interpretation of the father as a "tyrant," which is typical of the infantile ideation, 2 will be found later on to possess the greatest importance for the interpretation of certain abnormal constellations of this complex.
The prototype of this identification of the king with the father, which regularly recurs also in the dreams of adults,
presumably is the origin of royalty from the patriarchate in the family, which is still attested by the use of identical words for king and father, in the Indo-Germanic languages (compare the German Landesvater, "father of his country," = king). 1 The reversal of the family romance to actual conditions is almost entirely accomplished in this type of myth. The lowly parents are acknowledged with a frankness which seems to be directly contradictory to the tendency of the entire myth.
Precisely this revelation of the real conditions, which hitherto had to be left to the interpretation, enables us to prove the accuracy of the latter from the material itself. The biblical legend of Moses has been selected as especially well adapted to this purpose.
Briefly summarizing the outcome of the previous interpretation-mechanism, to make matters plainer, we find the two parent-couples to be identical, after their splitting into the personalities of the father and the tyrannical persecutor has been connected--the highborn parents are the echo, as it were, of the exaggerated notions the child originally harbored concerning his parents. The Moses legend actually shows the parents of the hero divested of all prominent attributes; they are simple people, devotedly attached to the child, and incapable of harming him. Meanwhile, the assertion of tender feelings for the child is a confirmation, here as well as everywhere, of the bodily parentage (compare the overseer in the Gilgamesh legend, the charioteer in the story of Karna, the fisherman in the Perseus myth, etc.) . The amicable utilization of the exposure motif, which occurs in this type of myth, is referable to such a relationship. The child is surrendered in a basket to the water, but not with the object of killing him (as, for example, the hostile exposure of Oedipus and many other heroes), but for the purpose of saving him (compare also Abraham's early history, page 17). The danger-fraught warning to the exalted father becomes a hopeful prophecy for the lowly father--compare, in the birth story of Jesus, the oracle for Herod and Joseph's dream)--entirely corresponding
to the expectations placed by most parents in the career of their offspring.
Retaining from the original tendency of, the romance the fact that Pharaoh's daughter drew the child from the water, i.e., gave it birth, the outcome is the familiar theme (grandfather type) of the king whose daughter is to bear a son, but who, on being warned by the ill-omened interpretation of a dream, resolves to kill his forthcoming grandson. The handmaiden of his daughter (who in the biblical story draws the box from the water at the behest of the princess) is charged by the king with the exposure of the newborn child in a box, in the waters of the river Nile, that it may perish (the exposure motif, from the viewpoint of the highborn parents, here appearing in its original disastrous significance). The box with the child is then found by lowly people, and the poor woman raises the child (as his wet nurse); when he is grown up, he is recognized by the princess as her son. Just as in the prototype, the fantasy concludes with the recognition by the highborn parents.
If the Moses legend were placed before us in this more original form, as we have reconstructed it from the existing material, 1 the sum of this interpretation-mechanism would be approximately what is told in the myth as it is actually transmitted--namely, that his true mother was not a princess, but the poor woman who was introduced as his nurse, her husband being his father.
This interpretation is offered as the tradition, in the reconverted myth; and the fact that this tracing of the progressive mutation furnishes the familiar type of hero myth, is the proof of the correctness of our interpretation.
It has thus been our good fortune to show the full accuracy of our interpretative technique through the material itself, and it is now time to demonstrate the tenability of the general viewpoint upon which this entire technique is
founded. Hitherto, the results of our interpretation have created the appearance that the entire myth formation started from the hero himself, that is, from the youthful hero. At the start we took this attitude in analogizing the hero of the myth with the ego of the child. Now we find ourselves confronted with the obligation to harmonize these assumptions and conclusions with the other conceptions of myth formation, which they seem to contradict directly.
The myths are certainly not constructed by the hero, least of all by the child hero, but they have long been known to be the product of a people of adults. The impetus is evidently supplied by the popular amazement at the apparition of the hero, whose extraordinary life history the people can only imagine as ushered in by a wonderful infancy. This extraordinary childhood of the hero, however, is constructed by the individual myth-makers--to whom the indefinite idea of the folk-mind must be ultimately traced--from the consciousness of their own infancy. In investing the hero with their own infantile history, they identify themselves with him, as it were, claiming to have been similar heroes in their own personality. The true hero of the romance is, therefore, the ego, which finds itself in the hero, by reverting to the time when the ego was itself a hero, through its first heroic act, i.e., the revolt against the father. The ego can only find its own heroism in the days of infancy, and it is therefore obliged to invest the hero with its own revolt, crediting him with the features which made the ego a hero. This object is achieved with infantile motives and materials, in reverting to the infantile romance and transferring it to the hero. Myths are, therefore, created by adults, by means of retrograde childhood fantasies, 1 the hero being credited with the myth-maker's personal infantile history. Meanwhile, the tendency of this entire process is the excuse of the individual units
of the people for their own infantile revolt against the father.
Besides the excuse of the hero for his rebellion, the myth therefore contains also the excuse of the individual for his revolt against the father. This revolt has burdened him since his childhood, as he has failed to become a hero. He is now enabled to excuse himself by emphasizing that the father has given him grounds for his hostility. The affectionate feeling for the father is also manifested in the same fiction, as has been shown above. These myths have therefore sprung from two opposite motives, both of which are subordinate to the motive of vindication of the individual through the hero: on the one hand the motive of affection and gratitude toward the parents; and on the other hand, the motive of the revolt against the father. It is not stated outright in these myths, however, that the conflict with the father arises from the sexual rivalry for the mother, but is apparently suggested that this conflict dates back primarily to the concealment of the sexual processes (at childbirth), which in this way became an enigma for the child. This enigma finds its temporary and symbolical solution in the infantile sexual theory of the basket and the water. 1
The profound participation of the incest motif in myth formation is discussed in the author's special investigation of the Lohengrin saga, which belongs to the myth of the birth of the hero. The cyclic character of the Lohengrin saga is referred by him to the fantasy of being one's own son, as revealed by Freud. 2 This accounts for the identity of father and son, in certain myths, and for the repetition of their careers; it explains the fact that the hero is sometimes not exposed until he has reached maturity, and also the intimate connection between birth and death in the exposure motif. 3 Jung, who regards the typical fate of the hero as the portrayal of the human libido and its typical
vicissitudes, has made this theme the pivot of his interpretation, as the fantasy of being born again, to which the incest motif is subordinated. Not only the birth of the hero, which takes place under peculiar symbolic circumstances, but also the motif of the two mothers of the hero, are explained by Jung through the birth of the hero taking place under the mysterious ceremonials of a rebirth from the mother consort. 1
Having thus outlined the contents of the birth myth of the hero it still remains for us to point out certain complications within the birth myth itself, which have been explained on the basis of its paranoid character, as "splits" of the personality of the royal father and persecutor. In some myths, however, and especially in the fairy tales that belong to this group, 2 the multiplication of mythical personages--and with them, of course, the multiplication of motifs, or even of entire stories--are carried so far that sometimes the original features are altogether overgrown by these addenda. The multiplication is so variegated and; so exuberantly developed that the mechanism of the analysis no longer does it justice. Moreover, the new personalities here do not show the same independence, as it were, as the new personalities created by splitting, but they rather present the characteristics of a copy, a duplicate, or a "double," which is the proper mythological term. An apparently very complicated example, namely, Herodotus’ version of the Cyrus saga, illustrates that there doubles are not inserted purely for ornamentation, or to give a semblance of historical veracity, but that they are insolubly connected with myth formation and its tendency. Also, in the Cyrus legend, as in the other myths, a confrontation
occurs. The royal grandfather, Astyages, and his daughter, with her husband, are confronted by the cattle herder and his wife. A checkered gathering of other personalities which move around them, are readily grouped at sight: Between the highborn parent-couple and their child stand the administrator Harpagos with his wife and his son, and the noble Artembares with his legitimate offspring. Our trained sense for the peculiarities of myth structure recognizes at once the doubles of the parents in the intermediate parent-couples and all the participants are seen to be identical personalities of the parents and their child; this interpretation being suggested by certain features of the myth itself. Harpagos receives the child from the king, to expose it; he therefore acts precisely like the royal father and remains true to his fictitious paternal part in his reluctance to kill the child himself--because it is related to him--but he delivers it instead to the herder Mithradates, who is thus again identified with Harpagos. The noble Artembares, whose son Cyrus causes to be whipped, is also identified with Harpagos; for when Artembares with his whipped boy stands before the king, to demand retribution, Harpagos at once is likewise seen standing before the king, to defend himself, and he also is obliged to present his son to the king. Thus Artembares himself plays an episodal part as the hero's father, and this is fully confirmed by the Ctesian version, which tells us that the nobleman who adopted the herder's son, Cyrus, as his own son, was named Artembares.
Even more distinct than the identity of the different fathers is that of their children, which of course serves to confirm the identity of the fathers. In the first place, and this would seem to be conclusive, the children are all of the same age--not only the son of the princess, and the child of the herder, who are born at the same time; but Herodotus specially emphasizes that Cyrus played the game of "Kings" (in which he caused the son of Artembares to be whipped) with boys of the same age as Cyrus. He also points out, perhaps intentionally, that the son of Harpagos, destined to become the playmate of Cyrus, whom the king had recognized, was likewise apparently of the same age as
[paragraph continues] Cyrus. Furthermore, the remains of this boy are placed before his father, Harpagos, in a basket; it was also a basket in which the newborn Cyrus was to have been exposed, and this actually happened to his substitute, the herder's son, whose identity with Cyrus is obvious and tangible in the version of Justin given on page 36. In this report, Cyrus is actually exchanged with the living child of the herders; but this paradoxical parental feeling is reconciled by the consciousness that in reality nothing at all has been altered by this exchange. It appears more intelligible, of course, that the herder's wife should wish to raise the living child of the king, instead of her own stillborn boy, as in the Herodotus version (page 30); but here the identity of the boys is again evident, for just as the herder's son suffered death instead of Cyrus in the past, twelve years later the son of Harpagos (also in a basket) is killed directly for Cyrus, whom Harpagos had allowed to live. 1
The impression is thereby conveyed that all the multiplications of Cyrus, after having been created for a certain purpose, are again removed, as disturbing elements, once this purpose has been fulfilled. This purpose is undoubtedly the exalting tendency that is inherent in the family romance. The hero, in the various duplications of himself and his parents, ascends the social scale from the herder Mithradates, by way of the noble Artembares (who is high in the king's favor), and of the first administrator, Harpagos (who is personally related to the king)--until he has himself become a prince; so his career is shown in the Ctesian version, where Cyrus advances from the herder's son to the king's administrator. 2 In this way, he constantly
removes, as it were, the last traces of his ascent, the lower Cyrus being discarded after absolving the different stages of his career. 1
This complicated myth with its promiscuous array of personages is thus simplified and reduced to three actors--the hero and his parents. Entirely similar conditions prevail in regard to the "cast" of many other myths. For example, the duplication may concern the daughter, as in the Moses myth, in which the princess-mother (in order to establish the identity of the two families) 2 appears among the poor people as the daughter Miriam, who is merely a split of the mother, the latter appearing divided into the princess and the poor woman. In case the duplication concerns the father, his doubles appear as a rule in the part of relatives, more particularly as his brothers, as for example in the Hamlet saga, in distinction from the foreign personages created by the analysis. In a similar way, the grandfather, who is taking the place of the father, may also appear complemented by a brother, who is the hero's granduncle, and as such his opponent, as in the myths of Romulus, Perseus, and others. Other duplications, in apparently
complicated mythological structures--as for example in Kaikhosrav, Feridun, and others--are easily recognized when envisaged from this angle.
The duplication of the fathers (or the grandfathers) by a brother may be continued in the next generation, and concern the hero himself, thus leading to the brother myths, which can only be hinted at in connection with the present theme. The prototypes of the boy (who in the Cyrus saga vanish into thin air after they have served their purpose, the exaltation of the hero's descent), if they were to assume a vitality of their own, would come to confront the hero as competitors with equal rights, namely, as his brothers. The original sequence is probably better preserved through the interpretation of the hero's strange doubles as shadowy brothers who, like the twin brother, must die for the hero's sake. Not only the father (who is in the way of the maturing son) is removed, but also the interfering competitor (the brother), in a naïve realization of the childish fantasies, for the simple reason that the hero does not want a family.
The complications of the hero legends with other myth cycles include (besides the myth of the hostile brothers, which has already been disposed of) also the actual incest myth, such as forms the nucleus of the Oedipus saga. The mother, and her relation to the hero, appear relegated to the background in the myth of the birth of the hero. But there is another conspicuous motif: the lowly mother is so often represented by an animal. This motif of the helpful animals 1 belongs in part to a series of foreign elements, the explanation of which would far exceed the scope of this essay. 2
The animal motif may be fitted into the sequence of
our interpretation, on the basis of the following reflections. Much as the projection onto the father justifies the hostile attitude on the part of the son, so the lowering of the mother into an animal is likewise meant to vindicate the ingratitude of the son who denies her. As the persecuting king is detached from the father, so the exclusive rôle of wet nurse assigned to the mother--in this substitution by an animal--goes back to the separation of the mother into the parts of the child-bearer and the suckler. This cleavage is again subservient to the exalting tendency, in so far as the childbearing part is reserved for the highborn mother, whereas the lowly woman, who cannot be eradicated from the early history, must content herself with the function of nurse. Animals are especially appropriate substitutes, because the sexual processes are here plainly evident also to the child, while the concealment of these processes is presumably the root of the childish revolt against the parents. The exposure in the box and in the water asexualizes the birth process, as it were, in a childlike fashion; the children are fished out of the water by the stork, who takes them to the parents in a basket. 1 The animal fable improves upon this idea, by emphasizing the similarity between human birth and animal birth.
This introduction of the motif may possibly be interpreted from the parodistic point of view if we assume that the child accepts the story of the stork from his parents, feigning ignorance, but adding superciliously: If an animal
has brought me, it may also have nursed me. 1
When all is said and done, however, and when the cleavage is followed back, the separation of the childbearer from the suckler--which really endeavors to remove the bodily mother entirely, by means of her substitution through an animal or a strange nurse--does not express anything beyond the fact: The woman who has suckled me is my mother. This statement is found directly symbolized in the Moses legend, the retrogressive character of which we have already studied; for precisely the woman who is his own mother is chosen to be his nurse (similarly also in the myth of Hercules, and the Egyptian-Phoenician Osiris-Adonis myth--where Osiris, encased in a chest, floats down the river and is finally found under the name Adonis, by Isis, who is installed by Queen Astarte as the nurse of her own son). 2
Only a brief reference can here be made to other motifs which seem to be more loosely related to the entire myth. Such themes include that of playing the fool, which is suggested in animal fables as the universal childish attitude toward grownups. They include, furthermore, the physical defects of certain heroes (Zal, Oedipus, Hephaestus), which are meant perhaps to serve for the vindication of individual imperfections, in such a way that the reproaches of the father for possible defects or shortcomings are incorporated into the myth, with the appropriate accentuation--the hero being endowed with the same weakness which burdens the self-respect of the individual.
This explanation of the psychological significance of the myth of the birth of the hero would not be complete without emphasizing its relations to certain mental diseases. Even readers without psychiatric training--or these perhaps more than any others--must have been struck with
these relations. As a matter of fact, the hero myths are equivalent in many essential features to the delusional ideas of certain psychotic individuals who suffer from delusions of persecution and grandeur--the so-called paranoiacs. Their system of delusions is constructed very much like the hero myth, and therefore indicates the same psychogenic themes as the neurotic family romance, which is analyzable, whereas the system of delusions is inaccessible even for psychoanalytical approaches. For example, the paranoiac is apt to claim that the people whose name he bears are not his real parents, but that he is actually the son of a princely personage; he was to be removed for some mysterious reason, and was therefore surrendered to his "parents" as a foster child. His enemies, however, wish to maintain the fiction that he is of lowly descent, in order to suppress his legitimate claims to the crown or to enormous riches. 1 Cases of this kind often occupy alienists or tribunals. 2
This intimate relationship between the hero myth and the delusional structure of paranoiacs has already been definitely established through the characterization of the myth as a paranoid structure, which is here confirmed by its contents. The remarkable fact that paranoiacs will frankly reveal their entire romance has ceased to be puzzling, since the profound investigations of Freud have shown that the contents of hysterical fantasies, which can often be made conscious through analysis, are identical up to the minutest details with the complaints of persecuted paranoiacs; moreover, the identical contents are also encountered as a reality in the arrangements of perverts for the gratification of their desires. 1
The egotistical character of the entire system is distinctly revealed by the paranoiac, for whom the exaltation of the parents, as brought about by him, is merely the means for his own exaltation. As a rule the pivot for his entire system is simply the culmination of the family romance, in the apodictic statement: I am the emperor (or god). Reasoning in the symbolism of dreams and myths--which is also the symbolism of all fancies, including the "morbid" power of imagination--all he accomplishes thereby is to put himself in the place of the father, just as the hero terminates his revolt against the father. This can be done in both instances, because the conflict with the father--which dates back to the concealment of the sexual processes, as suggested by the latest discoveries--is nullified at the instant when the grown boy himself becomes a father. The persistence with which the paranoiac puts himself in the father's place, i.e., becomes a father himself, appears like an illustration to the common answers of little boys to a scolding or a putting off of their inquisitive curiosity: You just wait until I am a papa myself, and I'll know all about it!
Besides the paranoiac, his equally asocial counterpart must also be emphasized. In the expression of the identical
fantasy contents, the hysterical individual, who has suppressed them, is offset by the pervert, who realizes them; and just so the diseased and passive paranoiac--who needs his delusion for the correction of the actuality, which to him is intolerable--is offset by the active criminal, who endeavors to change the actuality according to his mind. In this special sense, this type is represented by the anarchist. The hero himself, as shown by his detachment from the parents, begins his career in opposition to the older generation; he is at once a rebel, a renovator, and a revolutionary. However, every revolutionary is originally a disobedient son, a rebel against the father. 1 (Compare the suggestion of Freud, in connection with the interpretation of a "revolutionary dream.") 2
But whereas the paranoiac, in conformity with his passive character, has to suffer persecutions and wrongs which ultimately proceed from the father--and which he endeavors to escape by putting himself in the place of the father or the emperor--the anarchist complies more faithfully with the heroic character, by promptly himself becoming the persecutor of kings, and finally killing the king, precisely like the hero. The remarkable similarity between the career of certain anarchistic criminals and the family romance of hero and child has been elsewhere illustrated by the author, through special instances. 3 The truly heroic element then consists only in the real justice or even necessity of the act, which is therefore generally endorsed and admired; 4 while the morbid trait, also in criminal
cases, is the pathologic transference of the hatred from the father to the real king, or several kings, when more general and still more distorted.
As the hero is commended for the same deed, without asking for its psychic motivation, so the anarchist might claim indulgence from the severest penalties, for the reason that he has killed an entirely different person from the one he really intended to destroy, in spite of an apparently excellent (perhaps political) motivation of his act. 1
For the present let us stop at the narrow boundary line where the contents of innocent infantile imaginings, suppressed and unconscious neurotic fantasies, poetical myth structures, and certain forms of mental disease and crime lie close together, although far apart as to their causes and dynamic forces. We resist the temptation to follow one of these divergent paths that lead to altogether different realms, but which are as yet unblazed trails in the wilderness.
65:1 The possibility of further specification of separate items of this outline will be seen from the compilation given by Lessmann at the conclusion of his "Die Kyrossage in Europe" (loc. cit.).
66:1 See also Wundt, who interprets the hero psychologically as a projection of human desires and aspirations (op. cit., p. 48).
69:1 Compare Freud: "Hysterical Fancies, and their Relation to Bisexuality," with references to the literature on this subject. This contribution is contained in the second series of Sammlung kleiner Schriften zur Neurosenlehre (Vienna and Leipzig, 1909).
71:1 For the idealizing of the parents by the children, compare Maeder's comments (Jahrbuch für Psychoanalyse, I (1909), p. 152, and Zentralblatt für Psychoanalyse, I, p. 51) on Varendonk's essay, "Les idéals d’enfant."
71:2 Interpretation of Dreams.
73:1 Compare the "birth dreams" in Freud's Interpretation of Dreams, also the examples quoted by the author in Die Lohengrin Saga (Vienna, 1911), pp. 27 ff.
73:2 In fairy tales, which are adapted to infantile ideation, and especially to the infantile sexual theories (compare Freud in the December, 1908, number of Sexuelle Probleme), the birth of man is frequently represented as a lifting of the child from a well or a lake (Thimme, op. cit. p. 157). The story of "Dame Holle's Pond" (Grimm: Deutsche Sagen, Vol. I, p. 7) relates that the newborn children come from her well, whence she brings them forth. The same interpretation is apparently expressed in certain national rites; for example, when a Celt had reason to doubt his paternity, be placed the newborn child on a large shield and put it adrift in the nearest river. If the waves carried it ashore, it was considered as legitimate, but if the child drowned, this was proof of the contrary, and the mother was also put to death (see Franz Helbing: History of Feminine Infidelity). Additional ethnological material from folklore has been compiled by the author in Die Lohengrin Saga, pp. 20 ff.
73:3 The "box" in certain myths is represented by the cave, which also distinctly symbolizes the womb; aside from statements in Abraham, Ion, and others, a noteworthy case is that of Zeus, who is born in a cave on Mount Ida and nourished by the goat Amalthea, his mother concealing him for fear of her husband, the Titan Cronus. According to Homer's Iliad (XVIII, 396 ff.), Hephaestus is also cast into the water by his mother, on account of his lameness, and remains hidden for nine years in a cave surrounded by water. By exchanging the reversal, the birth (the fall into the water) is here plainly represented as the termination of the nine months of the intra-uterine life. More common than the cave birth is the exposure in a box, which is likewise told in the Babylonian Marduk-Tammuz myth, as well as in the Egyptian-Phoenician Osiris-Adonis myth (compare Winckler: Die Weltanschauung des alten Orients, Ex Oriente Lux, Vol. I., p. 43; and Jeremias, Die Babylonisches . . . , p. 41). Bacchus, according to Pausanius (III, 24), is also removed from the persecution of the king through exposure in a chest on the Nile, and is saved at the age of three months by a king's daughter, which is remarkably suggestive of the Moses legend A similar story is told of Tennes, the son of Cycnus (Siecke: "Hermes . . ." loc. cit., p. 48) and of many others.
The occurrence of the same symbolic representation among the aborigines p. 74 is illustrated by the following examples: Stucken (op. cit.) relates the New Zealand tale of the Polynesian Fire (and Seed) Robber, Mani-tiki-tiki, who is exposed directly after his birth, his mother throwing him into the sea, wrapped in an apron (chest, box). A similar story is reported by Frobenius (op. cit., p. 379) from the Betsimisaraka of Madagascar, where the child is exposed on the water, is found and raised by a rich, childless woman, but finally resolves to discover his actual parents. According to a report of Bab (Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, 1906, p. 281), the wife of the Raja Besurjay was presented with a child floating on a bubble of water-foam (from Singapore).
74:1 Compare Freud: Interpretation of Dreams.
74:2 Abraham (op. cit. pp. 22-3) contains the analysis of a very similar although more complicated birth dream, corresponding to the actual conditions: the dreamer, a young pregnant woman awaiting her delivery, not without fear, dreamed of the birth of her son, and the water appeared directly as the amniotic fluid.
74:3 This fantasy of an enormous water is extremely suggestive of the large and widespread group of the flood myths, which actually seem to be no more than the universal expression of the exposure myth. The hero is here represented by humanity at large. The wrathful father is the god; the destruction and the rescue of humanity follow each other in immediate succession. In this parallelization, it is of interest to note that the ark, or pitched house, in which Noah floats upon the water is designated in the Old Testament by the same word (tebah) as the receptacle in which the infant Moses is exposed (Jeremias: The Old Testament . . ., p. 250). For the motif of the great flood, compare Jeremias, p. 226, and Lessmann, at the close of his treatise, "Die Kyrossage .," loc. cit., where the flood is described as a possible digression of the exposure in the water. A transition instance is illustrated by the flood saga told by Bader, in his Baden folk legends: When the Sunken Valley was inundated once upon a time by a cloudburst, a little boy was seen floating upon the waters in a cradle, and was miraculously saved by a cat (Gustav Friedrich, op. cit., p. 265).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).