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Virgin Birth and Hero Archetype

Guest Ryan Murtha

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Guest Ryan Murtha

Bacon's unorthodox biography (Elizabeth being his mom) fits the mythological hero archetype outlined in Otto Rank's Myth of the Birth of the Hero (1909). That was really the seminal book which prefigured the more famous work of Carl Jung (archetypes) and Joseph Campbell (hero's journey or monomyth). Royal birth, conception in secret, adoption by those of a lesser station, fears that the child will be a danger to the state. These similarities are the more striking, as the myths deal with an abandoned prince who returns to overcome his father; Bacon gave us modern science, the tool with which humanity challenges our common Father. 

How many heroes are born to virgins? usually royal virgins, the list includes Jesus, Heracles, Perseus, Romulus, Sargon, Theseus, Apollo, Dionysus, Asclepius, Karna, Ion, and Llew Llawgyffes.  

Rank begins:

The prominent civilized nations—the Babylonians and Egyptians, the Hebrews and Hindus, the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans, as well as the Teutons and others—all began at an early stage to glorify their national heroes—mythical princes and kings, founders of religions, dynasties, empires, or cities—in a number of poetic tales and legends. The history of the birth and of the early life of these personalities came to be especially invested with fantastic features, which in different nations—even though widely separated by space and entirely independent of each other—present a baffling similarity or, in part, a literal correspondence.

After laying out many different examples, he sums up p.65:

The standard saga itself may be formulated according to the following outline: The hero is the child of most distinguished parents, usually the son of a king. His origin is preceded by difficulties, such as continence, or prolonged barrenness, or secret intercourse of the parents due to external prohibition or obstacles. During or before the pregnancy, there is a prophecy, in the form of a dream or oracle, cautioning against his birth, and usually threatening danger to the father (or his representative). As a rule, he is surrendered to the water, in a box. He is then saved by animals, or by lowly people (shepherds), and is suckled by a female animal or by an humble woman. After he has grown up, he finds his distinguished parents, in a highly versatile fashion. He takes his revenge on his father, on the one hand, and is acknowledged, on the other. Finally, he achieves rank and honors.



From Wikipedia:

Lord Raglan, in 1936, developed a 22-point myth-ritualist Hero archetype to account for common patterns across Indo-European cultures for Hero traditions, following myth-ritualists like James Frazer and S. H. Hooke:

1. Mother is a royal virgin 2. Father is a king 3. Father often a near relative to mother 4. Unusual conception 5. Hero reputed to be son of god 6. Attempt to kill hero as an infant, often by father or maternal grandfather 7. Hero spirited away as a child 8. Reared by foster parents in a far country 9. No details of childhood 10. Returns or goes to future kingdom 11. Is victor over king, giant, dragon or wild beast 12. Marries a princess (often daughter of predecessor) 13. Becomes king 14. For a time he reigns uneventfully 15. He prescribes laws 16. Later loses favor with gods or his subjects 17. Driven from throne and city 18. Meets with 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 22. Has one or more holy sepulchers or tombs

Edited by Ryan Murtha
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