Dissertation Title:

Death, a Love Story: A Comparative Study of Mythical Encounters Between Love and Death


Maryam Sayyad

Date, Time & Place:

July 26, 2022 at 1:00 pm


This dissertation is an inquiry into the problem of death. It begins with the premise that death alone is not a problem. Rather, it takes love to transform the cool fact of death into the heated psychological event of loss. Death would have no sting and nowhere near the meaning it has in our lives if we did not love in the first place. It may be said that the tragic effect of death is born from love, that death is problematic because of love. This dissertation, therefore, is not about death alone but about the encounter between death and love.

To the extent that this encounter takes place in the unconscious psyche and unfolds into the universally felt experience of tragic loss, it is an archetype of the collective unconscious. In order to study this archetype this dissertation turns to the study of myths which display this archetype including the Greco-Roman tales of Adonis and Aphrodite, and Eros and Psyche, the Egyptian Isis and Osiris, and the mythos of Rumi.

The research uncovers and compares the eschatological claims within each myth. While each myth begins as a tragic story of love and death, it reverses mysteriously into a tale about immortal life and eternal love. And with this reversal, it solves the problem of death. These myths offer a consolatory insight about the end of life and the fundamental ground of being out of which life arises and into which it returns. The ground appearing to be one of impermanence and separation opens to reveal another one undergirding it: this secret ground is a land of eternal union accessible only by death, initiation, and mystical union.

This dissertation’s thesis is that these myths arrive at the same insight because they are informed by the same underlying mythic complex. Their paradisial eschatology is traceable to a figure many mythologists call the Goddess, and identify as representing the feminine principle of the cosmos. Ultimately, this dissertation formulates and articulates the eschatology of the feminine principle.

  • Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies, I, 2015
  • Chair: Dr. Safron Rossi
  • Reader: Dr. David Odorisio
  • External Reader: Dr. Jenny Yates
  • Keywords: Aphrodite, Adonis, Eros, Psyche, Isis, Osiris, Rumi, Feminine Principle, Death