Lord Raglan hero scale
Is Jesus just a copy of other gods?
Major FitzRoy Richard Somerset, 4th Baron Raglan (10 June 1885–1964), a.k.a. Lord Raglan, was a British soldier, beekeeper, farmer and student of mythology. Raglan was educated at Eton and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, before entering the British Army. He joined the Grenadier Guards, serving in Hong Kong, North Africa and Palestine, and eventually rising to the rank of major. Raglan published his first book, Jocasta's Crime, in 1933, and The Hero in 1936. He worked independently of the academic establishment, carrying out little original research but synthesizing existing scholarship into provocative new lines of reasoning. He corresponded widely with scholars and participated in many professional associations, although he never pursued nor was awarded any academic degree. He served as president of the Folklore Society, Section H of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Royal Anthropological Institute, and many other organizations.
Characteristics of ‘The Hero’
Raglan's best-known work, The Hero, A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama, was published in 1936. The book's central thesis is that hero figures of mythology had their origin in ritual drama, not historical fact. In the book's most influential chapter, he outlined 22 common traits of god-heroes which he called the "mythic hero archetype".
The 22 traits are:
- The hero's mother is a royal virgin;
- His father is a king, and
- Often a near relative of his mother, but
- The circumstances of his conception are unusual, and
- He is also reputed to be the son of a god.
- At birth an attempt is made, usually by his father or his maternal grandfather, to kill him, but
- He is spirited away, and
- Reared by foster parents in a far country.
- We are told nothing of his childhood, but
- On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future kingdom.
- After a victory over the king, and/or a giant, dragon, or wild beast,
- He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor, and
- Becomes king.
- For a time he reigns uneventfully, and
- Prescribes laws, but
- Later loses favor with the gods and/or his subjects, and
- Is driven from the throne and city, after which
- He meets a mysterious death,
- Often at the top of a hill.
- His children, if any, do not succeed him.
- His body is not buried, but nevertheless
- He has one or more holy sepulchers.
This average biography must be interpreted rather loosely, or else hardly anyone will fit. "A god" can be one of several polytheist gods or a single monotheist one. A "king" can be any sort of great leader. "A far country" can be some very different community in the same nation. Etc.
Hero Scores using Raglan's scale
- Mithradates (Mithra) VI of Pontus 22
- Krishna 21
- Oedipus 21
- Jesus 20
- Theseus 20
- Moses 20
- Dionysus 19
- King Arthur 19
- Romulus 18
- Watu Gunung (of Java) 18
- Perseus 18
- Mohammad 17
- Heracles 17
- Llew Llawgyffes 17
- Bellerophon 16
- Jason 15
- Zeus 15
- Beowulf 15
- Buddha 15
- Nyikang (Shiluk cult hero) 14
- Czar Nicholas II 14
- Pelops 13
- Robin Hood 13
- Samson 13
- Asclepius 12
- Joseph (in Genesis) 12
- Sigurd or Siegfried 11
- Sunjata the Lion-King of Ancient Mali 11
- Apollo 11
- Achilles 10
- Elijah 9
- Odysseus 8
- Harry Potter 8
Raglan was careful to avoid scoring Jesus Christ, to avoid conflict with the original publisher. However, folklorist Alan Dundes gave Jesus Christ a score of 20. Monmouth University gives Jesus an 18.