[Loyola University Chicago]

CLST 271: Classical Mythology

Pattern of the Hero

based on Baron FitzRoy Richard Somerset Raglan,
The hero; a study in tradition, myth, and drama (London, Methuen & co., ltd, 1936, following Lord Raglan's Presidential address to section H of the British association, 1933)

  1. The hero's mother is a royal virgin.
  2. His father is a king, and
  3. Often a near relation of his mother, but
  4. The circumstances of his conception are unusual, and
  5. He is also reputed to be the son of a God.
  6. At birth an attempt is made, usually by his father or maternal grandfather, to kill him, but
  7. He is spirited away, and
  8. Reared by foster-parents in a far country.
  9. We are told nothing of his childhood, but
  10. On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future kingdom.
  11. After victory over the king and/or a giant, dragon, or wild beast,
  12. He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor, and
  13. Becomes king.
  14. For a time he reigns uneventfully, and
  15. Prescribes laws, but
  16. Later he loses favor with the Gods and/or his subjects and
  17. Is driven from the throne and city, after which
  18. He meets with a mysterious death,
  19. Often at the top of a hill.
  20. His children, if any, do not succeed him.
  21. His body is not buried, but nevertheless
  22. He has one or more holy sepulchres.
Three rites of passage: Birth, Initiation, Death.

How well does the pattern work out for
Heracles, Oedipus, Pelops, Jason, Theseus, Perseus, Zeus, Apollo, Dionysos, Aeneas, Romulus, Moses, Elijah, Jesus, Gilgamesh, Siegfried, King Arthur, Robin Hood...
... and who else?

BACK to CLST 271 homepage

Loyola Homepage Classical Studies Department Search Loyola Find Loyolans New on Loyola's Web Loyola Site Index

Loyola University Chicago

Revised 18 October 2000 by jlong1@orion.it.luc.edu