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Culture hero

A culture hero is a historical or mythological hero who changes the world through invention or discovery. A typical culture hero might be credited as the discoverer of fire, or agriculture, songs, tradition and religion, and is usually the most important legendary figure of a people, sometimes as the founder of its ruling dynasty. The hero is sometimes said to be still living, but is often instead a star, constellation or purely spiritual in nature.

In many cultures, particularly Native American, the mythical figure of the trickster and the culture hero are combined. To illustrate, Prometheus, in Greek mythology, stole fire from the gods to give it to humans. He is more of a culture hero than a trickster. In many North American Indian mythologies, the coyote spirit stole fire from the gods (or stars or sun) and is more of a trickster than a culture hero. Natives from the Southeastern United States typically saw a rabbit trickster/culture hero. The Greek Prometheus is especially famous as the bringer of fire, while the African trickster spider Ananse is also widely-disseminated.

The term is sometimes used to describe great authors or artists in a metaphorical sense (i.e. Mzwakhe Mbuli , a South African poet [1] ).

A partial list of culture heroes from various mythologies

External links


Last updated: 02-08-2005 11:51:18
Last updated: 02-25-2005 01:04:06