Primitive Mythology: The Masks of God, Volume I


The author of such acclaimed books as Hero With a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth discusses the primitive roots of mythology, examining them in light of the most recent discoveries in archaeology, anthropology, and psychology

An exploration of Eastern mythology as it developed into the distinctive religions of Egypt, India, China, and Japan.

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The author of such acclaimed books as Hero With a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth discusses the primitive roots of mythology, examining them in light of the most recent discoveries in archaeology, anthropology, and psychology

An exploration of Eastern mythology as it developed into the distinctive religions of Egypt, India, China, and Japan.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A monument of learning, wonder, and wisdom, daringly conceived and brilliantly written by a man who is at home in the Eastern and the Western universe of spirit.… In temporal span and spatial scope and in relevance to the needs of its own day, it is unexampled."
—Henry A. Murray, Harvard University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140194432
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/28/1991
  • Series: Masks of God Series, #1
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 215,831
  • Product dimensions: 8.34 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph Campbell was interested in mythology since his childhood in New York, when he read books about American Indians, frequently visited the American Museum of Natural History, and was fascinated by the museum's collection of totem poles. He earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees at Columbia in 1925 and 1927 and went on to study medieval French and Sanskrit at the universities of Paris and Munich. After a period in California, where he encountered John Steinbeck and the biologist Ed Ricketts, he taught at the Canterbury School, then, in 1934, joined the literature department at Sarah Lawrence College, a post he retained for many years. During the 1940s and '50s, he helped Swami Nikhilananda to translate the Upanishads and The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. The many books by Professor Campbell include The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Myths to Live By, The Flight of the Wild Gander, and The Mythic Image. He edited The Portable Arabian Nights, The Portable Jung, and other works. He died in 1987.
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Table of Contents

Primitive Mythology Foreword: On the Completion of The Masks of God
Prologue: Toward a Natural History of the Gods and Heroes:
I. The Lineaments of a New Science
II. The Well of the Past
III. The Dialogue of Scholarship and Romance
Part One: The Psychology of MythIntroduction: The Lesson of the Mask
Chapter 1. The Enigma of the Inherited Image
I. The Innate Releasing Mechanism
II. The Supernormal Sign Stimulus
Chapter 2. The Imprints of Experience
I. Suffering and Rapture
II. The Structuring Force of Life on Earth
III. The Imprints of Early Infancy
IV. The Spontaneous Animism of Childhood
V. The System of Sentiments of the Local Group
VI. The Impact of Old Age
Part Two: The Mythology of the Primitive PlantersChapter 3. The Culture Province of the High Civilizations
I. The Proto-Neolithic: c. 7500-5500 B. C.
II. The Basal Neolithic: c. 5500-4500 B. C.
III. The High Neolithic: c. 4500-3500 B. C.
IV. The Hieratic City-State: c. 3500-2500 B. C.
Chapter 4. The Province of the Immolated Kings
I. The Legend of the Destruction of Kash
II. A Night of Shehrzad
III. The King, and the Virgin of the Vestal Fire
Chapter 5. The Ritual Love-Death
I. The Descent and Return of the Maiden
II. The Mythological Event
III. Persephone
IV. The Monster Eel
V. Parallelism or Diffusion?
VI. The Ritual Love-Death in Pre-Columbian America
Part Three: The Mythology of the Primitive HuntersChapter 6. Shamanism
I. The Shaman and the Priest
II. Shamanistic Magic
III. The Shamanistic Vision
IV. The Fire-Bringer
Chapter 7. The Animal Master
I. The Legend of the Buffalo Dance
II. Paleolithic Mythology
III. The Ritual of the Returned Blood
Chapter 8. The Paleolithic Caves
I. The Shamans of the Great Hunt
II. Our Lady of the Mammoths
III. The Master Bear
IV. The Mythologies of the Two Worlds
Part Four: The Archaeology of MythChapter 9. Mythological Thresholds of the Paleolithic
I. The Stage of Plesianthropus ()
II. The Stage of Pithecanthropus ()
III. The Stage of Neanderthal Man (c. 200,000-75,000/25,000 B. C.)
IV. The Stage of Cro-Magnon Man (c. 30,000-10,000 B. C.)
V. The Caspian-Microlithic Style (c. 30,000/10,000-4,000 B. C.)
Chapter 10. Mythological Thresholds of the Neolithic
I. The Great Serpent of the Earliest Planters (c. 7500 B. C.?)
II. The Birth of Civilization in the Near East (c. 7500-2500 B. C.)
III. The Great Diffusion
Conclusion: The Functioning of Myth
I. The Local Images and the Universal Way
II. The Bondages of Love, Power, and Virtue
III. The Release from Bondage
Reference Notes
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2006

    The Roots of Our Disquiet

    ¿The Masks of God¿ is a four-volume set of books (I ¿Primitive Mythology¿, II ¿Oriental Mythology¿, III ¿Occidental Mythology¿, and IV ¿Creative Mythology¿) by the eminent scholar of myth and human philosophy: Joseph Campbell. These books singularly or in totality ARE not for the faint of heart. If anyone thought Dan Brown¿s fictional work ¿The Da Vinci Code¿ caused a stir it is only in view of the fact that none of Brown¿s antagonists seemed to have read the nonfiction version of our collective human mythoi! While the books do not have to be read in sequence (because Campbell is such a brilliant wordsmith, building and re-visiting succinctly each key concept by volume that even the lay person keeps up) for one¿s own intellectual sanity, and ease of rational transition, it is best if the volumes are read I, II, III, IV! In Volume I: ¿Primitive Mythology¿ Campbell explores the collective roots of myth and the links to the great Mother Goddess cults of early humans. His work combines psychological theory, philosophical thought with large measures of current data, and recent finds in the arenas of archaeology as well as anthropology. Volume I moves one from the first dark surges of collective human spiritual quest, the internal questions of our ancestors into the realm of ritual shamanism and early codifications of ¿religious' practice. Eclectic and interdisciplinary, Campbell¿s work reveals a fascinating journey. This is a fascinating book and a phenomenal series of books. Must have reading for every lay- philosopher!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2001

    Excellent background information

    Joseph Campbell provides a wonderful treasury of information for anyone interested in early mythology. This book is prologue for his subsequent Masks of God books, and anyone wanting to learn about various myths from around the world, should start with this book. As always, Campbell is thorough and lucid, and able to keep the reader motivated. This book is a MUST for any serious thinker.

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    Posted January 13, 2011

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    Posted April 28, 2010

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