The Hero Pattern

This pattern is based upon The Hero: A study in Tradition, Myth and Dreams by Lord Raglan

Incidents which occur with regularity in hero-myths of all cultures:

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 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.

Click on the name to see the pattern applied to the life of :

Mithradates VI of Pontus (22) / Krishna (21) / Moses (20) / Romulus (19) / King Arthur (19) / Perseus (18) / Jesus (18) / Watu Gunung of Java (18) / Heracles (17) Mohammad (17) / Beowulf (15) / Buddha (15) / Czar Nicholas II (14) / Zeus (14) / Nyikang, a cult-hero of the Shiluk tribe of the Upper Nile (14) / Samson (13) / Sunjata, the Lion-King of Ancient Mali (11) / Achilles (10) / Odysseus (8) / Harry Potter (8) 

Individuals are listed in the order in which they fit the pattern. Numbers in parentheses indicate the number of pattern points which apply.

See also  Women and the Hero Pattern.

This document was placed on the web by Professor Thomas J. Sienkewicz for his students in CLAS230 Classical Mythology at Monmouth College, Monmouth, Illinois. It is based upon material he has used in mythology classes for many years, first at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and then at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois. If you have any questions, you may contact him at