- Series: Dover Books on Literature & Drama
- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Dover Publications; Reprint edition (February 17, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0486427080
- ISBN-13: 978-0486427089
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #994,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama (Dover Books on Literature & Drama) Paperback – January 20, 2011
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and heroic stories are based on ancient religious ceremonies, he gets much weaker; the evidence he presents against other theories is stronger than the positive evidence he can present in favor of his own. I wonder if he ever considered that stories might be told for entertainment, because they are good stories; his discussion gives me the impression he considered that irrelevant.
The basic premise is that the hero journey, which forms the basis for all western stories, myths and legends, is a remnant of an ancient ritual drama enacted at the coronation of a priest-king (probably in ancient Mesopotamia).
A definition: A ritual, according to Raglan, is an specific act performed for a magical purpose. A dramatic ritual is a ritual performed for an audience, and a ritual drama is a dramatic ritual where the participants play specific roles. In order to play roles a story/plot was needed and this story forms the myth. The myth of the priest-king outlived the ritual and became the many myths and folktales we are familiar with, from Hercules to Robin Hood to Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter (my additions).
Raglan argues that at one time kings were more than kings, they were priests, even gods, and replaced on a regular basis. The ritual surrounding this replacement involved sacrificing the old king (in reality or ritually) and raising up a suitable substitute. Raglan says there are at least twenty-two aspects to this mono-myth and the closer the legend fits these aspects the less likely the hero was a historical personage at all.
His argument is that all historical persons that we know of from actual evidence have differed greatly from these twenty-two points. However all purely legendary heros curiously share most of them.
(1)Born of a royal virgin.
(2)His father a King and
(3)Often a near relative of mother, but
(4)The circumsatnces of his conception are unusual and
(5)He is reputed to be the son of a god.
(6)An attempt is made to kill him at birth(often by father or father-figure) but
(7)He is spirited away and
(8)Raised by foster parents in a far country.
(9)We are told nothing of his childhood.
(10)On reaching manhood he journeys to his future kingdom.
(11)Faces trials and tests.
(12)Marries a princess and
(16)Loses favor with the Gods or his subjects and
(17)Is driven away where
(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, however
(22)He has one or more holy resting places.
Curiously Raglan neglected, while covering several legendary figures who fit this prototype, to mention Jesus Christ. Perhaps it was the time he wrote in (the 1930s).
Lord Raglan makes an excellent argument for his thesis.
I can't believe I am the first to review this amazing book.