Study Guide

The Hero with a Thousand Faces Analysis

  • Tone

    Matter-of-Fact

    Campbell's here to enlighten rather than entertain us; the stories he's discussing can do plenty of entertaining on their own (as proven by the box-office returns on sagas like Harry Potter, Star Wars, and The Hunger Games).

    So he sticks to the facts and presents his evidence as objectively as possible. Campbell basically says: "Here are the myths, here's the purpose they serve, and this is what they're supposed to achieve from a standpoint of life, the universe, and everything."

    The only real point where he breaks from that is when he talks about the modern world, and how we're all too obsessed with the individual to realize the oneness of the universe:

    It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal —carries the cross of the redeemer—not in the bright moments of his tribe's great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair. (362.1)

    Beyond that, it's detachment and objectivity, the kind of tone that educators use when passing the details on to their students. It's a little dry, but it does the job… and there's too much going on in what he's discussing to get unduly cute with the tone.

  • Genre

    Philosophical Literature

    Put on your best serious-scholar black turtleneck and your studious wire-framed glasses: we're getting philosophical.

    The Hero with a Thousand Faces is straight-up philosophy, demonstrating a keen way of looking at the universe and presenting something that teaches us to look at the world in a brand-spankin' new way. But since it does that by studying stories, it becomes a weird kind of philosophical literature by default.

    That comes about in two ways.

    The first is by the sheer amount of examples that Campbell floods us with: Irish legends, Christian fables, Hindu religious text, native America folklore… the guy covers it all.

    But more important, Campbell's philosophy actually serves as a blueprint for literature, by demonstrating how a story can be told and inviting aspiring authors to fill in the blanks. Making it really resonate may be tough—Luke, Harry and Katniss are hard to top—but if you want a first-rate road map to point you in the right direction, Campbell's your man.

  • What's Up With the Title?

    Any book called The Hero with a Thousand Faces is likely going to conjure up some kind of Voltron-on-steroids image of a giant monster dude with a thousand little heads making up one big one.

    Luckily, Campbell's big into symbols, so we don't need to take such freakiness literally.

    The title's a nice shorthand to explain what Campbell's talking about. The countless stories he cites in the book—the avalanche of examples that accompanies each and every point he makes—are all variations on a theme. Every hero in every story ever told is different, and yet he or she still represents the same basic story underneath. It's all the same skeleton. The surface details are different just to match the time and the culture, and to help people better understand the underlying message.

    So, there is really only one hero. S/he simply wears a thousand different faces…with new faces cropping up every time someone tells a new story.

  • What's Up With the Ending?

    The ending actually comes as…a bit of a downer. You get some sweet heroic returns and happily-ever-afters in heroic sagas, but not in a heroic academic saga about heroic sagas.

    After expounding upon the cosmic significance of the Hero's Journey, and the way it can put us all in touch with the divine, Campbell laments that the modern world just isn't as in touch with the transcendent as society used to be. We've gotten so sophisticated that we've forgotten what it means to be filled with wonder. It's not a condition he thinks is healthy.

    It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal —carries the cross of the redeemer—not in the bright moments of his tribe's great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair. (362.1)

    Wow, Campbell. If you're lamenting the demise of society, why can't you just grumble "Kids these days" like the rest of the oldsters?

    It's kind of a bring-down moment for a book that's all about finding the bliss and happiness of life. But at the same time, you might be able to look at it as a rallying cry: to reconnect with the sides of ourselves that have been lost, sides that can maybe look past the school year, the rat race, and our obsession with money.

    Maybe we can all find something more meaningful out there.

  • Setting

    Everywhere

    Call it Middle Earth or Panem. Call it Hogwarts or Gotham City. Call it the Merry Old Land of Oz, or a galaxy far, far away. Call it the corner bodega at 4:30 next Tuesday.

    Wherever it is, it's less about a place than what happens in it.

    The Hero's Journey can be anywhere and everywhere, and you'll never see it presented quite the same way twice. The specifics are less important than the basic purpose of the landscape.

    Generally speaking, it's divided into three basic stops: the known world, the unknown world and the universe beyond. Listen to it straight from the horse's (the horse in question is named Campbell) mouth:

    The adventure of the hero normally follows the pattern of the nuclear unit above described:
    a separation from the world, a penetration to some source of power, and a life-enhancing return.
    (33.1)

    From there, we get a pretty good 1-2-3 punch covering each of these pit stops on the road of creation.

    As long as the hero perceives it as a life-changing adventure, it can be anywhere from the house next door to the far side of the universe. We'll talk about each one by one…but we need to stick to the blueprint rather than the specifics. Otherwise we're just going to get buried by examples.

    Because if there's one thing Campbell loves, it's his examples.

    The Known World

    The first part—the known world—is the world the hero is accustomed to, where he or she grew up. It's fine, but usually a little boring, and things tend to go on there as they have for a long time. Campbell doesn't spend much time on it, except as it relates to the hero or heroine at the heart of it all.

    This first stage of the mythological journey—which we have designated the "call to adventure" —signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown. (53.4)

    The "zone unknown" part is coming, but you can't have an unknown unless there's something known, and something known tends to be super-boring.

    It's the small town blues multiplied by a thousand. It's every dusty bus stop and one-light street corner you've ever seen. It holds nothing of interest and sometimes the hero is just going to go bust unless he can get out of there. (Don't believe us? Ask Mr. Potter about how much he loves his residence under the stairs of 4 Privet Drive.)

    So we've got two things here: a get-me-outta-here mentality from the hero, and a problem in desperate need of solving. That takes the hero out of his or her sphere of comfort and perhaps makes that mundane old world a little shinier and new by the end of our hero's journey.

    The Unknown World

    The call to adventure gets the hero off his butt and into the larger world—going into the unknown to stop a threat to his safe little known part of it—and sending him to part two: the unknown world.

    This can get pretty dark and scary, but turning back isn't an option, and as the hero moves forward, he or she gains new powers and devices to help overcome the obstacles in the way. Again: these new powers and devices can run the gamut from "spidey-senses" to "figuring out how to use the bus in a new city."

    But first, let's talk about the dark and scary part (because we just love the dark and scary part). If the hero's going to grow and change into the figure she needs to become, she's going to be tested…and you can't really be tested if someone tells you the answers in advance.

    Because that's just cheating.

    Which brings us to the unknown world, whether it be a haunted forest, the far reaches of the universe, or crossing the railroad tracks into a different part of town. As the hero moves through it he faces challenges and tests that help him gain skills and knowledge and wisdom. Every step takes him closer to the ultimate goal.

    Campbell refers to it as kind of descent: the unknown world swallowing the hero whole (yikes):

    The idea that the passage of the magical threshold is a transit into a sphere of rebirth is symbolized in the worldwide womb image of the belly of the whale. The hero, instead of conquering or conciliating the power of the threshold, is swallowed into the unknown, and would appear to have died. (83.1)

    Death, we soon learn, isn't a literal thing. It's a surrendering of the self: a humility before creation and a general notion of he truly important things instead of fleeting evils like pride and money. It all takes place in the unknown world… and by the end of it, it's not such an unknown world any more.

    The World Navel

    The road back isn't necessarily any different than the road there, but the hero walks it much more easily. You know this sensation—it's why the return journey of a family trip always seems somehow so much shorter:

    If the hero in his triumph wins the blessing of the goddess or the god and is then explicitly commissioned to return to the world with some elixir for the restoration of society, the final stage of his adventure is supported by all the powers of his supernatural patron. (182.2)

    But before we get to that, there has to be a mojo infusion: the place where the hero faces a final challenge. (Because, you know, the poor hero hasn't had enough challenges already.)

    The darkness usually just gets bigger and scarier until a final point is reached. Campbell called it the World Navel—does that mean that there's World Bellybutton Lint?—but it's really just the point where the whole thing began: some inner core at the center of all creation.

    Again, it can take on almost any form, but the idea beneath it is very straightforward: it bestows anything the hero needs…but most importantly the wisdom and understanding of the universe.

    The effect of the successful adventure of the hero is the unlocking and release again of the flow of life into the body of the world. The miracle of this flow may be represented in physical terms as a circulation of food substance, dynamically as a streaming of energy, or spiritually as a manifestation of grace. (37.3)

    That's the World Navel: the heart of it all and the point the hero has been fighting to reach for the entire adventure. Once the World Navel's reached, the hero sees that, as the Beatles sang, I am he and you are we and we are all together: that all three worlds are one and the same, and the people in them are all collective parts of a beautiful universe.

    Again, there are usually specifics to lend some snazziness to that blueprint. But setting is just as important to Campbell as character, and once you understand the role that every setting in every story plays, it's really as simple as 1-2-3.

    Although we still can't get over how nasty and unhygienic crawling inside the World Navel sounds.

  • What's Up With the Epigraph?

    "To My Father and Mother"

    We get a heavy dose of Freud in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, with gods, goddesses and monsters all representing some kind of grappling with the gifts and anxieties we all get from our parents. Like it or not, Campbell seems to be saying, we all have some mommy and daddy issues.

    The Hero's Journey in part is about how to navigate our relationship with our parents, and how we use the lessons they teach us to become our own people independent from them.

    Campbell certainly isn't shy about it when he cites examples in the book:

    The hearth in the home, the altar in the temple, is the hub of the wheel of the earth, the womb of the Universal Mother whose fire is the fire of life. (39.2)

    and

    And the testings of the hero, which were preliminary to his ultimate experience and deed, were symbolical of those crises of realization by means of which his consciousness came to be amplified and made capable of enduring the full possession of the mother-destroyer, his inevitable bride. With that he knows that he and the father are one: he is in the father's place. (111.2)

    So the epigraph kind of has a double meaning. On the one hand, Campbell wants to give a shout-out to dear ol' Mom and Dad. But he also wants to acknowledge the symbolic importance of mothers and fathers, and the way they function within the context of the Hero's Journey.

    It's a clever twist, but then again, Campbell is a clever guy; we probably should have expected it.

  • Tough-o-Meter

    (9) Mt. Everest

    We're going to level with you: this is not an easy read.

    For starters, it can seem like Mr. Campbell really needed the timely services of a good editor and a lot of red pens. Sometimes the book gets so concerned with providing examples for each point that we almost lose track of the points he's trying to make.

    Plus, the book goes to some seriously heavy places: you know, the place where you think about fundamental questions of the universe and how they relate to our own little lives here on Earth.

    It's not for the timid, which is ironic since so many of the movies and books inspired by the model are pretty accessible (and frankly, a lot of fun). You can parse what it all means—and we hope this guide helps—but you better be ready for some serious reading.

  • Writing Style

    Formal

    Again, think university lecture here. Campbell wants to deliver the information as expediently as possible, and dude doesn't have time to worry about getting all flowery or poetic.

    He dips heavily into the three-dollar words in order to be specific (and probably to show people he's extra-smart), and he wanders into a lot of cul-de-sacs with his examples, but he isn't trying to convey a specific emotion or states of mind. He wants to illuminate the purpose of all those myths and fairy tales.

    Formal expression is the name of the game. The more personal style belongs to the stories he's analyzing:

    And we know that the choral songs (dithyrambs) and dark, blood-reeking rites in celebration of the god—associated with the renewal of vegetation, the renewal of the moon, the renewal of the sun, the renewal of the soul, and solemnized at the season of the resurrection of the year god—represent the ritual beginnings of the Attic tragedy. (131.1)

    Pretty heavy, isn't it? Ironically, none of the examples helps much in that department: they make the point…but easy reading this ain't.

  • Universal Symbols

    Most of the time, we latch onto specific symbols from the book in question—a certain white whale, a certain colorful capital letter—and grapple with what they mean right here.

    But Campbell kind of defies "most of the time."

    This dude has some very specific thoughts on symbols…which, ironically, makes it impossible to analyze any one specifically. In fact, Campbell was a little leery of doing so, since he thought people shouldn't get tripped up in the symbols themselves.

    God and the gods are only convenient means—themselves of the nature of the world of names and forms, though eloquent of, and ultimately conducive to, the ineffable. They are mere symbols to move and awaken the mind, and to call it past themselves. (239.2)

    In that sense, The Hero with a Thousand Faces covers every symbol ever put in a piece of fiction (phew, we're exhausted just thinking about it), and counting all of them would be like counting grains of sand at the beach. There's just no point.

    That said, there are still a couple of places where he talks about symbols and meaning in a more concrete—if very, very general—sense. Click through to see our take on some of the biggies.

  • The Cycle

    Break out your best Lion King impression—we're talking about some serious circles of life.

    Er—make that cycles. Because Campbell is less about 2D spheres and more about loop-de-loops.

    Everywhere you go in Campbell—from the Hero's Journey itself to the beginning and end of the universe—you find the cycle. Something new (a person, a species, a whole dang reality) comes into being. It grows and thrives, expands, and eventually decays and is swallowed back up by the cosmos, which promptly starts the whole thing all over again.

    Yeah, we know. Campbell can sound a lot like your friend who's really into blacklight posters and wants nothing more than to go to Burning Man. But Campbell's also a crazy-smart guy, so keep listening.

    This cycle, according to Campbell, is the universe's natural state of being, and as we go through life, our own cycle of birth, growth, death, and rebirth takes place over and over again.

    As the consciousness of the individual rests on a sea of night into which it descends in slumber and out of which it mysteriously wakes, so, in the imagery of myth, the universe is precipitated out of, and reposes upon, a timelessness back into which it again dissolves. (242.2)

    The easiest example of this symbol to understand is day turning to night and then back to day again…both because a) we live it so often and b) because it shows up everywhere in literature. You can see it in the Book of Genesis, for instance. But you can also see it with heroes growing old and dying (think Han Solo in The Force Awakens—sniff), and with civilizations rising and falling in both fiction and history.

    It's all part of the big cycle, and the only time any real evil comes from it is when someone or something tries to stop that big wheel from turning.

  • The Power

    Campbell is fascinated by people who seek power—both the kind of do-gooders who belt out "I've Got the Power" when they're on the top of their game, and bad baddies who want nothing more than a very starched suit and a white cat to stroke while pondering the downfall of their enemies. Because Campbell knows that power is as good or bad as the people who possess it.

    Evil arises when people misuse it, like King Minos of Crete does:

    Society has blamed the queen greatly; but the king was not unconscious of his own share of guilt. The bull in question had been sent by the god Poseidon, long ago, when Minos was contending with his brothers for the throne. Minos had asserted that the throne was his, by divine right, and had prayed the god to send up a bull out of the sea, as a sign; and he had sealed the prayer with a vow to sacrifice the animal immediately, as an offering and symbol of service. (12.2)

    That kind of power becomes misdirected, and creates monsters, f horrible things that the hero has to stop. In order to do that, he needs to quest and reach the World Navel, where power can be granted by the goddess or wrested from a father figure, but which—in a surprise twist right out of an inspirational TED talk—may actually lie within the hero the whole time.

    We and that protecting father are one. This is the redeeming insight. That protecting father is every man we meet. And so it must be known that, though this ignorant, limited, self-defending, suffering body may regard itself as threatened by some other—the enemy—that one too is
    the God.
    (148.2)

    Power can take on all kinds of forms: a magic ring, a lightsaber, or those various antique goodies that Indian Jones goes after. But in the end, it's just a stand-in for either the corrupting power that makes everything do wrong, or the healing power that sets it all right again.

    The hero has to go out and find it…and the finding is what gives him the power: not to grab like a kid taking the TV remote away, but to understand that that symbol is just a way of understanding where real power lies.

    It can take quite a bit to wrap your head around it. But when you do…whoa.

  • Narrator Point of View

    Authorial/Third-Person Omniscient

    This is nonfiction, so the question of the narrative technique doesn't play the kind of role that it would in a novel about, say, a boy named Harry (hero!) meeting an old fogey named Dumbledore (mentor!).

    Instead of getting the story of Harry Potter, we're getting a book that breaks down Harry Potter (and basically every other book) into bite-sized analytical pieces.

    Campbell writes the same way he might give a lecture in a university: making his point and then backing it up with examples as evidence. We definitely jump around as needed—mostly from one myth or story to the other—and that serves the same basic purpose as third-person omniscient narrative (getting us the info we need to understand what's going on).

    But it's not a formal narrative, just an analysis of a narrative, so we can hear it all coming from just one guy and his (pretty crazy-genius) point of view.

    • Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

      All of Them

      Normally we'd break this down according to one of the handy-dandy plot devices provided by Mr. Booker.

      But the thing is, all of them come from the same place: this very book.

      If you squint a little, you can place every type of story squarely within the realm of Campbell, with a few tics and tweaks here and there, but definitely patterns on the same thing. This is the book that showed Booker how to put down those seven plot types. Campbell was the guy who handed him the map. (Source)

      Seriously, it's kind of a big deal. And by "kind of," we mean "mind-blowingly."

    • Plot Analysis

      Exposition (Initial Situation)

      Goin' on a Trip

      The book doesn't conform to typical narrative forms; it's just a long and kind of rambling discussion about mythology. But the discussion itself focuses on a framework for storytelling that fits the classic plot analysis perfectly.

      There's a society in a state of… well, if not decline, at least stuck-in-a-rutness, and it needs some shaking up. Maybe with a dragon, or a plague, or an invading army.

      Maybe it's just a dying queen who needs a magic flower to be well again. Whatever the reason, there comes a call, and someone – either a chosen one or just some ordinary shmoe in the right place at the right time – has to answer it. That usually means leaving the safe confines of the home community and venturing into the great unknown.

      Rising Action (Conflict, Complication)

      Fightin', Winnin', Learnin'

      Once that great unknown is hit, the hero faces all kinds of challenges and obstacles. Some are big, like dragons in the road. Others are small, like being brave enough to tell your dad off.

      Sometimes the hero has help from mystic objects or good buddies she's found on the road. Sometimes, she's gotta do it alone. But every time, the hero learns more, gains more skills, and experiences new parts of the world that she has never seen before.

      Climax (Crisis, Turning Point)

      The Big Prize

      Having faced the final challenge and overcome the final obstacle, the hero finally finds the Big Cheese – the thing that he or she was after the whole time. More often than not, this means dying – or at least symbolically dying – only to be reborn in the light of whatever Awesome the end of the quest has unleashed.

      Falling Action

      Heading Home

      Armed with his fabulous prize (whatever it might be), the hero then zips home – sometimes chased, sometimes not – to make the wrong things right. The path back is a heck of a lot easier than the path forward, since the hero has himself a magic doodad and a whole passel of new skills.

      Resolution (Denouement)

      Golden Bliss for All!

      Returning home, the hero shares the prize with the community he left behind. Sometimes, it's not all bliss. The truth hurts after all, and not everyone may be down with whatever cosmic wisdom the hero has brought back. They may even drive the hero away. But he or she understands both worlds now and can move between them easily.

      Maybe someday the squares back home will learn to listen…

    • Three-Act Plot Analysis

      Act I

      If the Hero's Journey follows classic plot analysis, then the cosmogonic cycle follows the three-act structure. So we're going to give this section over to it.

      The first part of it – or the first Act – is the waking cycle. This is the time when we're aware and our thoughts are given concrete form. It's kinda like the normal world in the Hero's Journey – the place that the hero leaves in order to go on his or her adventure – except it's much more intimate.

      According to Campbell:

      The first plane is that of waking experience: cognitive of the hard, gross, facts of an outer universe, illuminated by the light of the sun, and common to all. (246.3)

      It's not an especially interesting place, in and of itself, but it's where we can try to make sense of the stuff we see in the other parts. We all have to start somewhere, and "fully awake" is a pretty good spot to do it in.

      Act II

      Now we go down the the rabbit hole, into the world of dreams.

      This is where the conscious mind shuts down for a while, and the subconscious gets to come out and play. Campbell loves him some Sigmund Freud, so it's no wonder this is the part where all of the interesting stuff happens.

      The second plane is that of dream experience: cognitive of the fluid, subtle, forms of a private interior world, self-luminous and of one substance with the dreamer. (246.3)

      Dreams are where creativity and imagination come from. They're places where our hopes and fears and desires take on a form that we can understand. Granted, it might be weird – that three-headed rhino-chicken with the head of your Uncle Milton is definitely not something from a normal part of your mind – but at least it appears in a way you can understand and articulate.

      Artists and writers have used the weirdness of dreams to create some entertaining stories. Mary Shelley, for instance, first conceived of Frankenstein's monster in a sort of "waking dream," while author Stephen King admits that many of his books are inspired by his own worst fears. (Source)

      Heroes come from there too, whenever we need someone to comfort us when things look rough. (Can't tell us this guy isn't a little bit out of a dream.)

      It all takes place here, in the realm of dreams. Better fasten your seatbelt; the ride gets a little bumpy.

      Act III

      Below the dream level is the third and final level: deep sleep. This is the part that we have no memory of, and have not yet fully understood: the place where we lose all sense of self and merge back with the cosmos.

      Or, to put it Campbell's way:

      As in the actual experience of every living being, so in the grandiose figure of the living cosmos: in the abyss of sleep the energies are refreshed, in the work of the day they are exhausted; the life of the universe runs down and must be renewed. (247.1)

      That helps explain why deep sleep is peaceful: we're back in the womb of everything, remembering how serene and peaceful it is. After a few hours there, our mojo is recharged and we can deal with whatever the world's gonna throw at us next. So we move from deep sleep up through dream, into awakening, only to head back to dream and deep sleep every night for a recharge.

      Kind of profound, isn't it?

    • Allusions

      Literary and Philosophical References

      Hoo boy. Campbell gives us a lot of them, so don't hold it against us if a few slip through the cracks.

      Campbell loves specific examples, and any chance he gets to include one will be doubled down upon as fast as possible.

      We've got a list of the big ones below, presented alphabetically for your edification and amusement. Shmoop's got a pretty big list of myths and legends just a couple of clicks away, so we'll provide some shortcuts for you, too.

      Big breath. Here we go….

      • Abraham, one of the mythic founders of Judaism.
      • Acteon, a Greek hunter who spotted the goddess Artemis nude and got turned into a stag.
      • Aeneas, who fled from Troy and founded Rome.
      • Amaterasu, Japanese Goddess of the Sun.
      • Attis, a figure from the land of Phrygia, in what is now Turkey.
      • Bodhisattva, mythic figure of Asia.
      • Buddha, founder of Buddhism.
      • Cuchulainn, Irish hero.
      • Cupid and Psyche, the god of love and his lover.
      • Daphne, the nymph who fled Apollo and was turned into a laurel bush.
      • Dionysos, Greek god of partying down. (Yes, really.)
      • The Divine Comedy, Dante's epic poem of Heaven and Hell.
      • The Dragon of the Kast, a Chinese deity who brings the sun into the world every day.
      • Edshu, an ancient African deity
      • Exodus, the story of Moses leading the Hebrews out of Egypt.
      • Faust, the original story of the man who sells his soul to the devil.
      • Finn MacCool, a mythological Irish hero.
      • Fu Hsi, legendary Chinese Emperor.
      • Gaia, the Greek version of Mother Nature.
      • Genesis, the story of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from Paradise.
      • Gilgamesh, the Sumerian king.
      • The Golden Bough, a work along similar lines to this one, by James Frazier.
      • Gwion Bach, a Welsh hero.
      • Hamlet, Shakespeare's hero who just couldn't bring himself to act.
      • Heracles, lunkhead hero of Greek mythology.
      • Huang Ti, legendary Chinese Emperor.
      • Inanna, a goddess from Sumerian mythology.
      • Izanagi, a figure from Japanese mythology.
      • Jason and his quest for the Golden Fleece
      • Jemshid, Persian mythic figure.
      • Jesus Christ
      • Job, the Biblical figure tested by God.
      • Kashyapa, a prominent figure from Hindu mythology.
      • King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.
      • King Ghazar, a figure from Chinese legend.
      • Krishna, Hindu god.
      • Kyazimba, a poor man on a journey thanks to the Wachaga people of East Africa.
      • Marduk, the Babylonian sun god.
      • "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell," a poem by William Blake
      • Maui, the Polynesian god.
      • The Metamorphosis, a famous collection of Greek myths.
      • Minos, another Greek king, whose wife gave birth to the Minotaur
      • Morgon-Kara, mythic Siberian shaman.
      • Muchukunda, a Hindu king.
      • Odin, the Norse king of the gods (and prominent paycheck for Anthony Hopkins).
      • Oedipus, the Greek king who killed his father and married his mother.
      • Old Man, a figure from the Blackfoot Indians of Montana.
      • Orpheus, the Greek hero who ventured into the underworld to save his lover.
      • Osiris, the Egyptian God of the Dead.
      • Pajana, a mythic figure from ancient Siberia.
      • Pan, the Greek god of chasing nymphs around fountains.
      • Perseus, Greek hero and one-time Harry Hamlin paycheck.
      • Phaethon, the Greek hero.
      • Prince Five-Weapons, a figure from Asian mythology.
      • The Prince of the Lonesome Isle, another Irish hero.
      • The Princess and the Frog, a famous fairy tale.
      • Prince Kamar, a tale from the Arabian Nights.
      • Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods and gave it to man.
      • Quetzalcoatl, Aztec god.
      • Raven, a figure in Native American mythology.
      • Rip Van Winkle, the famous hero from Washington Irving.
      • Sargon, mythic Sumerian hero.
      • Shen Nung, legendary Chinese Emperor.
      • Shiva, the figure of Hindu mythology.
      • Siegfried, the epic Nordic hero.
      • Sirens, seductive figures who tried to lure the Greek hero Odysseus to his death.
      • Sleeping Beauty, who we suspect you're familiar with.
      • The Song of Hiawatha, an epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
      • The Sons of Eochaid, another Irish myth.
      • Spider Woman myths of the Native Americans.
      • St. Augustine, the notable, um, saint.
      • St. Bernard, the saint, not the dog.
      • St. Peter, of Christian theology fame.
      • Ta'aroa, a god from Tahiti.
      • Tiamat, Babylonian dragon goddess.
      • The Twin Heroes, notable figure from Navajo legends.
      • Va'inamoinen, a hero of Finnish mythology.
      • Viracocha, ancient god of Peruvian mythology.
      • Vishnu, the Hindu god.
      • Water Grandfather, a figure from Russian mythology.
      • Water Jar Boy, a Pueblo Indian hero.
      • The White Youth, Siberian mythic hero.

      Historical References

      Historical references aren't nearly as common as mythic figures, but the same deal applies. These are figures as legends, rather than historical folks.

      • Chandragupa, founder of the Hindi Maurya dynasty.
      • Charlemagne, the European king
      • Columbus, who sailed the ocean blue in 1492.
      • Cotton Mather, Puritanical writer who scared the bejesus out of, well, everyone.
      • Ramakrishna, Indian mystic and yogi.
      • Jonathon Edwards, another Puritanical writer who published Wonders of the Invisible World
      • Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic saint.
      • Pope Gregory the Great, noted pope.

      Pop Culture References

      Campbell is concerned with timelessness, not timeliness, so he doesn't make any noticeable pop culture references. Pop culture, of course, has gone ahead and showered him with love anyway. Good job, pop culture.