The Hero’s Quest and the Cycles of Nature

An Ecological Interpretation of World Mythology


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About the Book

This examination of the heroic journey in world mythology casts the protagonist as a personification of nature—a “botanical hero” one might say—who begins the quest in a metaphorical seed-like state, then sprouts into a period of verdant strength. But the hero must face a mythic underworld where he or she contends with mortality and sacrifice—embracing death as a part of life. For centuries, humans have sought superiority over nature, yet the botanical hero finds nothing is lost by recognizing that one is merely a part of nature. Instead, a cyclical promise of continuous life is realized, in which no element fully disappears, and the hero’s message is not to dwell on death.

Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Rachel S. McCoppin is a professor of literature at the University of Minnesota Crookston. She has published in the areas of mythology, comparative literature, and multicultural pedagogy in scholarly books and journals.

Bibliographic Details

Rachel S. McCoppin
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 232
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6201-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2575-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 3
1. From Seeds and Sprouts to Branching Out 13
2. Caves and the Underworld 70
3. Death and Sacrifice 134
4. Natural Apotheosis and the Resurrection of the Botanical Hero 161
Conclusion 208
Chapter Notes 213
Bibliography 215
Index 221

Book Reviews & Awards

“Will make the reader think deeply about both myths that are familiar to them and those that are not. I recommend it as an interesting review of old stories in a fresh way that points out their relevance (or lack thereof) to our current ecological state.”—Mythlore