The Hero

Perseus defeats Medusa

Perseus defeats Medusa

FitzRoy Somerset, the fourth Baron Raglan, was a man of many interests and talents. One of his accomplishments was the publication, oft cited amongst historians and others, of a list of characteristics typical of a hero. The list is most often applied to figures of Greek mythology, but can as easily apply to many, or even most, modern literary characters. Raglan’s theory was that the higher a person scores, the less likely it is that the person was historical or that their exploits really happened.

Here it is:

1. Hero’s mother is a royal virgin;
2. His father is a king, and
3. Often a near relative 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 his maternal grand father 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 a 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. And becomes king.
14. For a time he reigns uneventfully and
15. Prescribes laws, but
16. Later he loses favour 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.

My challenge for today is to apply that list to the main character of your favourite book or movie, and let me know how they go!


3 thoughts on “The Hero

  1. Paul says:

    Hmm…nope, none apply to The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle. That’s my favourite novel.

    A few apply to Aragorn in LOTR, but he’s not strictly the main character…

    Now I feel really unhelpful. :\

  2. Andrew says:

    Gatsby and Vimes are real and Heathcliff isn’t!
    (though not my favorite books)

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