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THE MASKS OF GOD, VOL. 3 by Joseph Campbell


Occidental Mythology

by Joseph Campbell

ISBN: 014019441X
Publisher: Viking

The third volume in Professor Campbell's projected four-volume study of mythology. Like the first two, which considered the Primitive and Oriental worlds, the current one, which concerns the Occident, is saturated in scholarly splendors. Its understanding of the cross-fertilization of cults and religious and historical events is far-ranging and, for those with the proper equipment, fascinating to follow. It draws upon recent archaeological activities, on linguistics and literature (Hesiod, Homer, Ovid, Virgil, Milton, etc.). It is cognizant of art and architecture and employs the disciplines of philosophy and modern psychology to decided advantage. Unfortunately, unlike the other volumes, it is also a little tired, a little out-of-tune, a state of affairs rather surprising since the subject matter- the conflicts and confluence of Levantine and European myths- is dynamic enough and certainly is part and parcel of our civilization. Of course, maybe that's the tip-off; familiarity breeding a well-read boredom of sorts. But all carping aside, the professor's labors are large and illuminating, summing up the pietism of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, along with the humanism of the Greeks, Romans, Celtic and Cermanic tribes, and the interplay of the religious and the pagan, the diffusions and absorptions, the relationship of God to Man and Man to God. The piece-de-resistance centers on the New Testament and a sterling study of the meaning of the Messiah. The work concludes with the Battle of the Cross with the Crescent and the dawn of the Renaissance. When the final volume arrives, we'll have a remarkably rewarding quartet.