THE EPIC HERO: Common Elements In Most Cultures

1. Mother: royal virgin.

2. Father is a king.

3. Father is a near relative of the mother.

4. Circumstances of conception is unusual.

5. Reputed to be the son of a god.

6. At birth, an attempt by the father or paternal grandfather or uncle to kill him. He may be kidnapped or sent away for his protection or that of his parents.

7. Reared by foster parents in a distant land.

8. Told almost nothing of his childhood.

9. At manhood, he returns or goes to a future kingdom.

10. After victory over a king, dragon, giant, or wild beast; he marries a princess (sometimes the daughter of the king).

11. He then becomes the king.

12. For a time he reigns uneventfully.

13. He proclaims laws, bestows blessings, or gifts on the community.

14. Later: he loses favor with the gods or his subjects.

15. He is driven from the throne, power, or city.

16. After which he meets a mysterious death (most often at the top of a hill).

17. If he had children, they don't succeed him.

18. His body is not buried.

19. He has one or more holy sepulchers.



1. Circumstances of Conception are unusual. Miracle of Birth: each human being to live up to the miracle of his birth (divine). Great Beginning of the Heroic adventure. i.e. life.

2. Initiation: entry into a greater fullness of life. Realization of forces greater than himself. i.e. Heracles killing of the serpents.

Outside Help: sign or assistance from the divine. Overcoming the external forces, the hero.

3. Withdraws for Meditation: searching for his personal destiny (intellect and emotion), subjected to temptation by the world (the devil), losing yourself to find yourself.

4. Trials and Quests: which must be overcome. Ability to face the external from inner element gained in part 3 (inner strength/moral maturity).

5. Culmination of Death or In Death:

Miraculous or unusual death: sometimes dismemberment - scapegoat - dying for the whole society, a reminder to society that they will die.

6. Continues his role as scapegoat, quester, laborer: becomes representative that death could be known or understood. He visits the forces of death in the underworld, maybe death itself or only a descent. Promise of a new life. i.e. the descent.

Reascends: many times by the help of a woman, symbol of fertility, birth, and life.

7. Actual rising from the dead. By doing this, the hero acts out man's desire of overcoming death. The Hero is then reunited with the natural cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.

8. The Hero reflects a latter desire to be removed from the cycle and became a permanent part of the cosmos. i.e. father-god, creator. Man's longing for immortality. Thus the Hero ascends to Heaven and receives atonement, becomes a god receiving immortality.

JUNG: Basic urge of the unconscious mind, to gain wisdom and to help in leading their lives through these symbols.