The Applicability Of Lord Raglan's Hero Pattern To Helen And Aeneas

1971 words - 8 pages

Lord Raglan's hero pattern certainly rings true for all of the heroes that he discusses in chapter 16 of The Hero, and it is easy to see how he came to draw the similarities that he did. The questions being addressed in this analysis are: does the formula apply to heroes other than those which he chose to include in that chapter, and how far must we diverge from the traditional idea of an ancient "hero" before it no longer applies?I will assess the applicability of Raglan's theory to two mythical figures, Aeneas and Helen.In the initial assessment of each figure Raglans' technique will be applied, that of briefly outlining applicable parts of their story with the number of the relevant "hero element" from Raglan's list bracketed (this list is found in Raglan's The Hero, chapter 16). The comparison will then be discussed in more depth.AeneasAeneas' mother is not a royal virgin, but instead the goddess Aphrodite. His father is not a king, but a prince, Anchises from Mt. Ida. His father and Aphrodite did not know one another before the day he was conceived, and afterward he was taken away to be raised by nymphs and returned to his father several years later. Therefore, there was no attempt on his life by a father figure, and he was not spirited away to avoid it. One could argue that he was spirited away by Aphrodite pre-emptively to avoid the attempt itself from occurring, but in terms of fitting with the hero pattern he gets no marks for (6) or (7). However, the circumstances of his conception are certainly unusual, the result of Zeus giving Aphrodite a taste of her own medicine and forcing her to fall in love with a mortal (4), and as a result he is the son of a goddess (5). He is raised by nymphs away from his home (8) and little is known of his childhood (9) before he is returned to Ascanius in his adolescence. After the fall of Troy, the now adult Aeneas leaves to seek his future kingdom in order to found the Roman race (10). When he finally reaches Italy, the situation escalates to the point of a series of bloody battles, culminating in Aeneas slaying Turnus (11), his rival for the Italian princess Lavinia whom he then marries (12). He goes on to found and rule over the city of Lavinium (13). There is nothing remarkable described about his reign (14), and three years later he is struck down in a battle against a local people. His body is not found (21), but he is later worshipped at small shrines (22). His son Ascanius succeeds him.This leaves Aeneas with 11 out of 22 points for Raglan's pattern.Where does Aeneas fall short of the formula? His mother is not a royal virgin, and in fact he does not have an archetypal mother figure separate to his divine mother Aphrodite. His father is royal, but not a king. No attempts are made on his life as a child, as he is kept apart from the father figure, Ascanius, for his early life and there is no opportunity for one. The reason Aeneas' early life does not fit well with the pattern seems to be that he...

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