The hero cycle is not a rubric created for storytellers; it is the primal urge of all people—across ALL cultures—to experience within their own lives the transformation of being a hero. Every ancient culture that has had its history recorded has some epic poem or story to guide its people. The heroic cycle represents the power of hope over despair; it gives us all the chance for redemption—even in the hardest of times. It is a recognition that without agnos (pain) there is no aristos (glory), and, in that sense, it validates even the most common and hard-bitten of lives by making the lives of every man, woman and child that has ever lived uncommon, unique, and worthwhile.
It is not an absurd idea to recognize the greatness and possibilities of our own lives. It is not absurd to think we have an epic tale worth telling, and it is certainly not absurd to examine every experience through a reflective lens and to start to appreciate the implications of transformation which heroic poetry represents. As human beings, we are hard-wired to need this epic poetry. We can’t just read the epic as a story and move on. We have to know the story and build and incorporate the allegory into our own lives; otherwise, we will run from the battles of life; we will avoid the straits of Skylla and the lair of the Cyclops; we will shun the Gods who come disguised to us and coddle the children given to us; we won’t shed tears for common friends, and we will lock out every stranger and blame our mishaps and misdeeds on the gods.
In short, we will not be remembered, and no songs will be sung about us. The saddest part is that you may think this is all exaggeration and hyperbole. But, it is not! Our lives are full of stories that use and embody the heroic cycle. In fact, I have a hard time trying to think of any “great” movie, book, or story that in same way, shape or fashion
Try to come up with a book or movie that you feel is a meaningful and powerful story that follows this heroic cycle. Fill in the blank boxes with a brief description of the scenes that best illustrate the use of the hero cycle in the story.
The assignment will be posted on iTunes U. If you have any problems, you can use this rubric. Open it in Pages.
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