Probationary Martyr/Heroic Theory/Lord Raglan

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Major FitzRoy Richard Somerset, 4th Baron Raglan (1885–1964) was a British soldier, farmer and independent scholar. He is best known for his book The Hero, where he systematises hero myths. In the MMO City of Heroes, his influential text The Hero has become mandatory reading in the ficticious school of Heroic Theory.

Lord Raglan is an actual person, though his involvement in the MMO is ficticious. This page was taken from Lord Raglan's actual Wikipedia page.

Lord Raglan in front of Raglan Castle in Wales



Raglan, the great-grandson of FitzRoy Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan of Crimean War fame, attended Eton and 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.

From 1913 to 1918, he served in Southern Sudan, where he became interested in cultural anthropology, particularly of the Lotuko people. An accomplished linguist, he became fluent in Arabic and produced the first Lotuko-English dictionary. A serious illness in 1914 prevented his assignment to the dangerous Western Front in World War I; he remained instead in the Middle East.

Following the death of his father in 1921, he retired from the service and returned to his ancestral home, Cefntilla Court in Monmouthshire. He ran the estate as a working farm, and was a proficient carpenter, bricklayer, and beekeeper. He became active in local affairs and began studying and writing in areas as varied as anthropology, political science, and architecture.

He 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, though he never pursued nor was awarded any academic degree. He served as president of the Folk Lore Society, Section H of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Royal Anthropological Institute, and many other organizations.

Lady Raglan's lone foray into folklore was a notable success. In a 1939 article in the journal Folklore, she coined the term "Green Man" to describe the foliate heads found in English churches. Her theory on their origin is still debated.

Raglan's outspokenness and relentless skepticism earned him both admirers and detractors. An aristocrat himself, he often stated that there was "no such thing as a Norman pedigree," and was fond of pointing out cherished local legends that could not be historically true. He believed Shakespeare was actually a syndicate of a half-dozen writers, with Shakespeare himself writing only the comic parts of the plays. In 1934, he created a stir at a British Association meeting by declaring that black and white Americans would eventually merge into one race. In 1959, he aroused the fury of the Welsh Nationalist Party by declaring Welsh "a moribund language" and accused nationalists of trying to create a "fictitious druidical past." He ignored ensuing calls for his resignation as Lord Lieutenant of Monmouthshire and president of the National Museum of Wales.

Until his death at 79 in 1964, he remained an imposing figure, with a military bearing and gait. He was buried in the family plot in Llandenny.


He married Hon. Julia Hamilton, daughter of Lt.-Col. Robert Edward Archibald Udney-Hamilton, 11th Lord Belhaven and Stenton and Kathleen Gonville Bromhead, on 9 April 1923. They had five children, one of whom died as an infant.

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 heroes: the hero's mother is a royal virgin, his father is a king, and so forth. Awarding points based on the scale (with Oedipus the high-scorer at 22), he calculated the likelihood that these protagonists were actual historical figures. Unlike Joseph Campbell, who published The Hero with a Thousand Faces in 1943, Raglan was not interested in the psychological or personal aspects of hero myths, only their factual basis.

The Hero established Raglan as a leading proponent of the "myth-ritual" theory of the origin of religion, whose antecedents included Sir James Frazer and the Cambridge Ritualists. Both specific and general aspects of The Hero have since been challenged and in many cases discredited. Some of the heroes analyzed by Raglan, notably Leif Ericson, are now almost universally considered to be historical personages. The myth-ritual theory is regarded as a narrow and oversimplified view of the complex relationship between myth and ritual.

The myth-ritual theory had a profound influence on literature and subsequently on literary criticism, reaching its height in the 1960s. Because of its succinct presentation of the theory, Raglan's scale is still frequently used as a teaching tool in cultural anthropology and comparative literature.

Although Raglan omitted Jesus from enumeration (later citing a desire to avoid conflict, especially with its original publisher), the scale is sometimes used by both sides in the debate over the historicity of Jesus.[1][2]

Lord Raglan's Scale

Lord Raglan, in THE HERO (1936) has classified the parallel life-patterns of the mythical hero of tradition into twenty-two archetypal incidents, as noted below. The higher a particular hero scores, the closer he is to the UR-archetype of the sacred hero-king of prehistoric religious ritual; a historical hero is likely to share rather few of the mythical characteristics.

Undoubtedly historical personages always score lower than six, although Alexander the Great might be said to exceed that figure with a possible score of seven, depending on how one interprets some aspects of his life history. Here is how some other people you might have heard of scored.

How Some Heroes Scored


Though less well known today as a political commentator, Raglan applied the same deductive reasoning to political science as to anthropology, with similarly controversial results. In The Science of Peace (1933), he denounced nationalism as an artificial construct independent of linguistic, racial or economic divisions, and a leading cause of war. At the same time, he opposed disarmament and the League of Nations and believed imperialism was an effective antidote for rampant nationalism. He advocated the "civilization of women," including access to education, and believed that people of African descent were just as capable of developing advanced civilization as Europeans.

In 1934, publishing house Methuen invited a number of prominent intellectuals to write on what they would do if granted dictatorial power in England. In If I Were Dictator, Raglan responded in typically idiosyncratic and sometimes inflammatory style. The book was written as a thought exercise and not, as it has sometimes been represented, a descriptive or prescriptive formula for being a dictator.[3]



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