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(DV) Salisbury: Apollo, Robin Hood Deemed More Likely as Historical Figures than Moses or Jesus







Apollo, Robin Hood Deemed More Likely
as Historical Figures than Moses or Jesus

by Lee Salisbury
December 29, 2005

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In the recent War on Christmas hullabaloo, the question was asked, ďIs there nothing sacred anymore?Ē My answer: Yes, there is something sacred. Most sacred is our innate curiosity, our ability to reason, and a determination to know truth.  Any attempt to hinder human thought processes is great sacrilege. 

Last century, Lord Raglan, a student of mythology, studied all the myths and legends that influenced Western civilization in his 1936 book entitled The Hero. His basic premise is that the mythical heroís life is a remnant of ancient ritual drama enacted at the coronation of priest-kings.

According to Raglan, rituals involved specific acts performed for magical purposes.  Ritual dramas required participants play specific roles. A quasi-boilerplate plot always determined the characterís role. Eventually, myths of priest-kings outlived the ritual and became the many myths and folktales from which we derive many legendary heroes such as Hercules, or Moses, or Robin Hood. 

Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter continued this archetypal tradition of mythical characters. They affirm inherited patterns of thought derived from past collective experiences of humanity. Freud believed these archetypes to be present in our subconscious psyches. Thus, their popularity, as well as opposition from adherents of competing myths, continues today.  

Raglan concludes there are at least twenty-two standard archetypal characteristics of this duplicated singular myth. The closer the legendary character fits these characteristics the less likely the hero is a historical personage. Historical persons dramatically differ from Raglanís twenty-two characteristics are as follows:

1.   He is born of a virgin mother.
2.   His father is a King.  
3.   The father has a unique relationship with the mother.
4.   The circumstances of the childís conception are unusual, often humble. 
5.   He is reputed to be the son of a god.
6.   There is an attempt to kill the child/god shortly after birth.
7.   He is spirited away, escaping a premature death.
8.   The child is raised by foster parents in a far country.
9.   We are told virtually nothing of his childhood years.
10.  On reaching manhood, usually at age 30, he commences his mission in life.
11.  He successfully overcomes the most severe trials and tests.
12.  He marries a princess.
13.  He is acknowledged as a king.
14.  He rules.
15.  He prescribes laws.
16.  He loses favor with the Gods or his subjects.
17.  He is forcibly driven from authority.
18.  He meets with a violent death.
19.  His death occurs on the top of a hill.
20.  His children, if any, do not succeed him.
21.  His body is not buried conventionally.
22.  He has one or more holy resting places.

Lord Ragan counted each heroís archetypal event. Alexander the Great received the most points for a historical personage, seven. Here is how some people you might have heard of scored.

Oedipus scores 21
Theseus scores 20
Moses scores 20
Dionysus scores 19
Jesus scores 19
Romulus scores 18
Perseus scores 18
Hercules scores 17
Llew Llaw Gyffes scores 17
Jason scores 15
Robin Hood scores 13
Pelops scores 13
Apollo scores 11

Following are some thoughts on Lord Raglanís analysis:

A score of six or less qualifies one as a historical figure. This is not definite proof that the person existed, since most cartoon characters score low too. 

A score of more than six indicates the hero does not represent a historical figure. This does not mean that the hero is totally fictitious. Rather it does indicate that many aspects of the heroís life have been replaced by the archetypal fiction. 

Some may ask why do humans seem compelled to revere their heroes as sacred.  Humans need hero figures to compensate for their own disappointments, disillusionments, and lack of meaning in life.  Some make heroes of Tiger Woods, George Bush, or Billy Graham.  Others make heroes of Jesus, the prophet Muhammad, Buddha, Joseph Smith, or even L. Ron Hubbard (Church of Scientology).

Now that we have survived the War on Christmas, maybe we can turn to what is truly sacred, the freedom to think and reason and then let the facts speak for themselves.  Lord Raglanís analysis is not the final word on our heroes, but it certainly merits serious consideration. Yes, admitting such may hurt some Christianís feelings. Nevertheless, considering what and why the things we hold sacred from anotherís perspective may generate some much-needed tolerance. What could be a better resolution for the New Year than tolerance?

Lee Salisbury is a former evangelical preacher, founder of the Critical Thinking Club of Minnesota, and writes for www.axisoflogic.com and www.dissendentvoice.org.

Other Articles by Lee Salisbury

* The War on Christmas II
* The War on Christmas
* Schizophrenia Pandemic, George Bush and His Fundamentalist God
* Religion May Be Dangerous to Our Health
* Fundamentalist Christianity: A Dangerous Force When it Denies Rational Scientific Thinking
* Monkeys are Preferable as Ancestors Over the Bibleís God Anytime!
* America's Most Insidious, Immoral Movement
* The Fundamentalist Christian Mindset and the Problem it Presents for America
* Common Sense is Anathema to Bible-believing Creationists
* Santa Claus, Jesus, and the Solstice
* Do You Condemn Gays Because the Bible Tells You So?
* History's Troubling Silence About Jesus

Any Ole God Will Do