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A Comparison Between Celtic Myth and Korean Myth: With Emphasis On Hero Cuchulain and Jumong

Suh Hye Sook

Abstract

This essay is a comparison between Celtic myth and Korean myth withemphasis on hero Cuchulain and Jumong. Cuchulain is a Celtic Irish mythologicalhero who appears in the stories of the Ulster Cycle. In this study the main text ofCuchulain is Lady Gregory’s Cuchulain of Muirthemne. Jumong, whose birth namewas Dongmyeongseongwang(東明聖王), was the founding monarch of Goguryeo.The best known version of the founding myths of Goguryeo is theDongmyeongwangpyeon of the Dongguk I Sanggukgip(Collected Works of MinisterYi of Korea) by Yi, Gyu Bo.
According to Jeseph Campbell’s idea of monomyth the standard path of themythological adventure of the hero is a magnification of the formula represented inthe rites of passage: separation?initiation?return. A hero ventures forth from theworld of common day into a region of supernatural wonder, fabulous forces arethere encountered and a decisive victory is won, and the hero comes back from thismysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.Cuchulain and Jumong’s hero-journey show the nuclear unit of the monomyth. Theirstories exhibit with extraordinary clarity all the essential elements of the classicaccomplishment of the impossible task.
Cuchulain is the son of the sun god Lugh and Deichtire(a daughter of Maga,the child of the love god of Angus). Jumong is the son of Hae Mosu(解慕漱: theson of heaven) and Yuhwa(柳花:daughter of the river god Habaek(河伯). Cuchulainand Jumong are the child divine yet born of human mather. They are sons of sunand abandoned by their divine father. The characteristic adventure of Cuchulain iswinning of the bride, Emma. The adventure of Jumong is going to succeed to his father-the father is the invisible founder of Buyeo.
Cuchulain’s adventure had given him the capacity to annihilate all opposition.At the age of seventeen Cuchulain single-handedly defends Ulster from the army ofConnacht in the Tain Bo Cuailnge. Jumong’s adventure had given him the capacityto rule his subjects. At the age of twenty-two, in 37 BC, Jumong establishedGoguryeo, and became its first “Supreme King.” Goguryeo considered itself asuccessor to Buyeo.
Cuchulain, the Irish Achilles, is the symbol of all those who fought forindependence of Ireland. Jumong, the korean Achilles, is the symbol of the pride ofKorean. The aim of this essay is that my comparative analysis contribute to thesense of universal understanding of the human condition.

켈트 신화와 한국 신화의 비교 연구: 영웅 쿠훌린과 주몽을 중심으로*

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