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The Micronesian hero. In the Caroline Islands Olofat, or Olofad, was the son of Lugeilan, a deity identified with the trickster god Luk. His mother was a mortal woman who experienced a magical conception.

According to legend, Olofat decided to visit heaven on a column of smoke in order to claim recognition of his celestial relatives. The upshot was a long and eventful war against the sky gods and his own death. But Lugeilan felt sorry for Olofat. He resuscitated the presumptious son and obliged the gods to make room for him in the sky. One tradition suggests that he became the fire god. After this elevation, however, the daring and playful side of Olofat's character was in no way diminished. While he interpreted the commands of his father to men, he could not resist tricking and deceiving them, so that a number of his jokes led to unforeseen consequences. For instance, he outfitted the shark with teeth.

Olofat is a contradictory figure. Throughout the cycle of myths about his exploits there runs a basic theme—the divine inheritance dwelling in the mortal body. Olofat is torn between two worlds: like the Sumerian hero Gilgamesh, he cannot accept the reality of death, though he seems to have been more successful in his personal quest to escape from its toils.

Subjects: Religion.

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