Quotes from The Hero With a Thousand Faces

Joseph Campbell ·  416 pages

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“Regrets are illuminations come too late.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“Instead of clearing his own heart the zealot tries to clear the world.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“Not all who hesitate are lost. The psyche has many secrets in reserve. And these are not disclosed unless required.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“The agony of breaking through personal limitations is the agony of spiritual growth. Art, literature, myth and cult, philosophy, and ascetic disciplines are instruments to help the individual past his limiting horizons into spheres of ever-expanding realization. As he crosses threshold after threshold, conquering dragon after dragon, the stature of the divinity that he summons to his highest wish increases, until it subsumes the cosmos. Finally, the mind breaks the bounding sphere of the cosmos to a realization transcending all experiences of form - all symbolizations, all divinities: a realization of the ineluctable void.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“Wherever the poetry of myth is interpreted as biography, history, or science, it is killed.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces



“Perhaps some of us have to go through dark and devious ways before we can find the river of peace or the highroad to the soul's destination.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“The usual hero adventure begins with someone from whom something has been taken, or who feels there is something lacking in the normal experience available or permitted to the members of society. The person then takes off on a series of adventures beyond the ordinary, either to recover what has been lost or to discover some life-giving elixir. It's usually a cycle, a coming and a returning.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“Dream is the personalized myth, myth the depersonalized dream; both myth and dream are symbolic in the same general way of the dynamic of the psyche. But in the dream the forms are quirked by the peculiar troubles of the dreamer, whereas in myth the problems and solutions sown are directly valid for all mankind”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“The latest incarnation of Oedipus, the continued romance of Beauty and the Beast, stand this afternoon on the corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, waiting for the traffic light to change.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“As Freud has shown, blunders are not the merest chance. They are the result of suppressed desires and conflicts. They are ripples on the surface of life, produced by unsuspected springs. And these may be very deep - as deep as the soul itself. The blunder may amount to the opening of a destiny.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces



“Wars and temper tantrums are the makeshifts of ignorance; regrets are illuminations come too late.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“The multitude of men and women choose the less adventurous way of the comparatively unconscious civic and tribal routines. But these seekers, too, are saved—by virtue of the inherited symbolic aids of society, the rites of passage, the grace-yielding sacraments, given to mankind of old by the redeemers and handed down through millenniums. It is only those who know neither an inner call nor an outer doctrine whose plight truly is desperate; that is to say, most of us today, in this labyrinth without and within the heart. Alas, where is the guide, that fond virgin, Ariadne, to supply the simple clue that will give us courage to face the Minotaur, and the means then to find our way to freedom when the monster has been met and slain?”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“He must put aside his pride, his virtue, beauty and life and bow or submit to the absolutely intolerable.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“It is only when a man tames his own demons that he becomes the king of himself if not of the world.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“Once we have broken free of the prejudices of our own provincially limited ecclesiastical, tribal, or national rendition of the world archetypes, it becomes possible to understand that the supreme initiation is not that of the local motherly fathers, who then project aggression onto the neighbors for their own defense. The good news, which the World Redeemer brings and which so many have been glad to hear, zealous to preach, but reluctant, apparently, to demonstrate, is that God is love, the He can be, and is to be, loved, and that all without exception are his children. Such comparatively trivial matters as the remaining details of the credo, the techniques of worship, and devices of episcopal organization (which have so absorbed the interest of Occidental theologians that they are today seriously discussed as the principal questions of religion), are merely pedantic snares, unless kept ancillary to the major teaching. Indeed, where not so kept, they have the regressive effect: they reduce the father image back again to the dimensions of the totem. And this, of course, is what has happened throughout the Christian world. One would think that we had been called upon to decide or to know whom, of all of us, the Father prefers. Whereas, the teaching is much less flattering: "Judge not, that ye be not judged." The World Savior's cross, in spite of the behavior of its professed priests, is a vastly more democratic symbol than the local flag.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces



“Full circle, from to tomb of the womb to the womb of the tomb, we come”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“How teach again, however, what has been taught correctly and incorrectly learned a thousand thousand times, throughout the millenniums of mankind's prudent folly? That is the hero's ultimate difficult task.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: The hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“The psychological dangers through which earlier generations were guided by the symbols and spiritual exercises of their mythological and religious inheritance, we today (in so far as we are unbelievers, or, if believers, in so far as our inherited beliefs fail to represent the real problems of contemporary life) must face alone, or, at best with only tentative, impromptu, and not often very effective guidance. This is our problem as modern, "enlightened" individuals, for whom all gods and devils have been rationalized out of existence.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“Mythology, in other words, is psychology misread as biography, history, and cosmology.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces



“The hero of yesterday becomes the tyrant of tomorrow, unless he crucifies himself today.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“But the makers of legend have seldom rested content to regard the world's great heroes as mere human beings who broke past the horizons that limited their fellows and returned such boons as any man with equal faith and courage might have found.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“I had to climb a mountain. There were all kinds of obstacles in the way. I had now to jump over a ditch, now to get over a hedge, and finally to stand still because I had lost my breath.

This was the dream of a stutterer.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“..enlarge the pupil of the eye, so that the body with its attendant personality will no longer obstruct the view. Immortality is then experienced as a present fact...”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“The battlefield is symbolic of the field of life, where every creature lives on the death of another. A realization of the inevitable guilt of life may so sicken the heart, that like Hamlet, or like Arjuna, one may refuse to go on with it. On the other hand, like most of the rest of us, one may invent a false finally unjustified image of oneself as an exceptional phenomenon in the world--not guilty as others are, but justified in one's inevitable sinning, because one represents the good. Such self-righteousness leads to a misunderstanding, not only of oneself, but of the nature of both Man and the Cosmos. The goal of the myth is to dispel the need for such life-ignorance by affecting a reconciliation of the individual consciousness with the universal will, and this is affected through a realization of the true relationship of the passing phenomena of time to the imperishable life that lives and dies in all.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces



“For the bliss of the deep abode is not lightly abandoned in favor of the self-scattering of the wakened state,”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“It has always been the prime function of mythology and rite to supply the symbols that carry the human spirit forward, in counteraction to those that tend to tie it back.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


“الرواية الحديثة تحتفي كما التراجيديا الإغريقية بلغز التمزق الذي هو الحياة في الزمن. وليس من الخطأ أن نواجه النهاية السعيدة بالرفض الذي يرى فيها موقفاً غير حقيقي. العالم كما نعرفه وكما عشناه لا يسمح إلا بنهاية من مثل: الموت، الانهيار، التمزق وصلب القلب، مع زوال الأشكال التي أحببناها.”
― Joseph Campbell, quote from The Hero With a Thousand Faces


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About the author

Joseph Campbell
Born place: in White Plains, NY, The United States
Born date March 26, 1904
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