Archetypes In Odysseus

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Hermes, Odysseus, and an Examination of the Trickster Archetype
Jia Lu
It is not unsurprising to encounter a myth from another culture whose plot or characters seems almost identical to a story from one’s own culture. Creation story is one of them—how ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Greeks, and Chinese all envisioned the world to be born out of chaos, and a god figure would put things in order; flood narrative is another—even in Chinese myths there is explicit mentioning of the Great Flood of the Yellow River, and (here the story deviates from the western narrative) how the ancient Chinese were able to build canals to mitigate the problem under the command of emperor Yu. According to psychologist Carl Jung, these recurring motifs in myths across times and cultures exemplify what he coined as the human species’ collective unconscious; and Jung believed that those recurring ideas and characters, or archetypes, are deeply embedded in every human mind.
Of all character archetypes, the “Trickster” is probably the most interesting. In myths, tricksters …show more content…

If Achilles, Ajax and Diomedes all represent the Hero archetype with their supernatural strength, indomitable courage and unquenchable thirst for battle glory, Odysseus is more. He is just as virile and courageous as the other heroes—ties Ajax in boxing and wrestling—but in Homer’s depiction of Odysseus we see a focus on intelligence, eloquence, and rationality. Compared to Achilles who would rather die young for his “kleos aphthiton”, Odysseus is much more concerned about how to win the war and return home safely; if the former represents muscle, impulse, and id; the latter stands for brain, calculation, and ego. By killing Achilles the hero and having Odysseus the trickster come up with the ultimate solution, the Trojan War story evidences the human understanding that intelligence rather than brutal force solves

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