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A culture hero is a "mythological "hero specific to some group ("cultural, "ethnic, "religious, etc.) who changes the world through "invention or "discovery. A typical culture hero might be credited as the "discoverer of fire, or "agriculture, "songs, "tradition, "law or "religion, and is usually the most important legendary figure of a people, sometimes as the founder of its ruling "dynasty.

In some cultures, there are dualistic myths, featuring two culture heroes arranging the world in a complementary manner. "Dualistic cosmologies are present in all inhabited continents[1] and show great diversity: they may feature culture heroes, but also "demiurges (exemplifying dualistic "creation myths in the latter case), or other beings; the two heroes may compete or collaborate; they may be conceived as neutral or contrasted as good versus evil; be of the same importance or distinguished as powerful versus weak; be brothers (even twins) or be not relatives at all.[2]

In many cultures the "trickster and the culture hero are combined.[3] To illustrate, "Prometheus, in "Greek mythology, stole fire from the gods to give it to humans as did "Māui in "Polynesian mythology.

In many "Native American mythologies and beliefs, 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, and "Pacific Northwest native stories often feature a "raven in this role: in some stories, Raven steals fire from his uncle Beaver and eventually gives it to humans. The "Western African trickster spider "Ananse is also widely disseminated. In Norse mythology, "Odin (yet another trickster deity) is said to have stolen the "mead of poetry from "Jotunheim and is credited as the discoverer of the "runes.


See also[edit]



  1. ^ Zolotarjov 1980: 54
  2. ^ Zolotarjov 180: 40–43
  3. ^ Long 2005, p. 2090.


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