Today on Uncommon Knowledge, philosopher René Girard on the principle that animates nearly every ancient myth: the scapegoat mechanism.
If you look at myths, they all have the same shape. It is always the story of a man who was killed by an entire community. Take Oedipus – Oedipus is killed, therefore the community gathers around Oedipus because he has solved the problem [of the plague that was afflicting Thebes]. The death of Oedipus unites the community. They have a moment where they say, “This man divided us, but in order to reconcile us. Therefore he is a god.”