In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell talked about the monomyth, and the overarching structure of the Hero's Journey: the hero is called on an adventure, may have a helper, goes through various trials, passes thresholds, goes through a death and rebirth, eventually succeeds and transforms, and returns to the starting point with new knowledge.

Campbell originally wrote in 1949, with access to thousands of years of comparative culture and a literate, open, secular, post-Enlightenment society. Did any ancient scholars (let's define "ancient" as "pre-Gutenberg press") draw similar conclusions about various religions and myths? That is, was Campbell really the first to step far enough back to see all the similarities?

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Well, this assumes that Campbell is accurate! Campbell is playing fast, loose, and vague with the evidence, but that's a different story.

The ancients as far as I am aware did not recognize Campbell's "monomyth." They did, however, recognize a few things. First, at least with Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures, they all engaged in a process of interpretatio, through which various heroes and deities were seen as the same. Heracles was Melqart, though the Greeks called both "Heracles", one "Tyrian" and the other "Greek." (Herodotus, 2.43–45, Cicero, De Natura Deorum, 3.43)This was very common.4

Another process common especially during the Hellenistic era was something called "Euhemerism," named after Euhemerus, a Greek philosopher who thought e.g. the gods were once kings and mighty men who subsequently were worshiped as gods. This presumes an interpretation of similarities, though not of journeys, but of kingship.5

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