The Monomyth, or the Hero Cycle, is a mythological pattern found in most stories concerning heroes of one sort or another. The Hero Cycle follows the pattern of a call to adventure that leads the hero to a strange and foreign world, a road of trials that tests the hero and prepares him for a severe challenge, and a boon at the end of the challenge that in some way betters the world.
The Monomyth can be seen in any number of popular stories, including Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter. While prominent in fantasy, it can also be found in any other number of genres. In The Elder Scrolls series, the Hero Cycle can be seen in the main quests of the games, where the player is the hero.
More information on the Monomyth, including the various versions of the Cycle, can be found here. Here is a basic summary of the Cycle (note that these steps may not happen in exact order):
The cycle layoutEdit
- Call to Adventure
- Refusal to the Call
- Acquisition of a Mentor
- Magical Aid, Gifts
- Cross the Threshold, First Success
- Road of Trials
- Belly of the Whale, Finds Themselves
- Seduction, Meeting the Goddess
- Atonement of the Father
- Departure of the Mentor
- Apotheosis, World is Balanced
- Ultimate Boon
The Hero of Arena (Eternal Champion)Edit
- Call to Adventure: imprisonment in the Imperial Dungeons, Ria Silmane's first vision
- Training: Escaping the Imperial Dungeons
-Mentor: Ria Silmane
- Cross the Threshold: escaping the dungeons, discovering the location of the first staff piece
- Road of Trials: the quest for the pieces of the Staff of Chaos
- Belly of the Whale: the multiple journeys into the dungeons housing the Staff pieces
- Seduction: Jagar Tharn's attempts to sway the Champion to his side
- Atonement of the Father: the uniting of the Staff, Ria Silmane's final message
-Mentor Departure: Ria's final "death"
- Apotheosis: the final battle with Jagar Tharn, releasing Uriel Septim VII
- Ultimate Boon: being named Eternal Champion
Hero of Daggerfall (Uriel Septim's Agent)Edit
- Call to Adventure: Uriel tasking the Agent with going to the Iliac Bay
- Training: the escape from Privateer's Hold
- Cross the Threshold: reaching Daggerfall and speaking with Brisienna
- Road of Trials: the Agent's tasks for all the powers of the Iliac Bay, the quest for the Totem
- Belly of the Whale: fighting Lord Woodborne, freeing King Lysandus, learning about the Totem
- Seduction: all the Iliac Bay powers trying to tempt the Agent to give them the Totem
- Atonement of the Father: the Agent delivers the Totem to one of the powers
- Apotheosis: the journey to Aetherius to recover the Heart of Numidium, the Warp in the West
- Ultimate Boon: peace comes to the Iliac Bay due to the Warp
Hero of Morrowind (Nerevarine)Edit
- Call to Adventure: reporting to Caius Cosades; being attacked by the Dark Brotherhood; hearing about Solstheim
- Training: Caius' early quests; hunting the Dark Brotherhood; aiding at Fort Frostmoth
- Cross the Threshold: the Urshilaku's first tests; entering the political arena between the Royal Court and the Temple; the first Werewolf attack
- Road of Trials: the Trials of the Incarnate; Almalexia and Helseth's quests; the Skaal quests
- Belly of the Whale: Cavern of the Incarnate; re-forging Trueflame; in the Mortrag Glacier
- Seduction: Dagoth Ur's repeated attempts at allying with the Nerevarine; Almalexia leading the Nerevarine into a false sense of trust; the curse of Lycanthropy
- Atonement of the Father: Vivec aiding the Nerevarine; Helseth acknowledging the Nerevarine as worthy; finding Tharsten and Carius in the Mortrag Glacier
-Mentor Departure: Caius Cosades recalled; Almalexia's betrayal; the kidnapping of Tharsten Heart-Fang and Captain Carius
- Apotheosis: The final battle with Dagoth Ur, the destruction of the Heart of Lorkhan; the duel against Almalexia; the battle against Hircine
- Ultimate Boon: The Nerevarine recognized as the Hero and Defender of Morrowind
The Hero of Oblivion (Hero of Kvatch)Edit
- Call to Adventure: Uriel Septim's assassination, Septim gives the Hero the Amulet of Kings
- Training: The delivery of the Amulet
- Cross the Threshold: Breaking the Siege of Kvatch, rescuing Martin
- Road of Trials: the Oblivion Crisis and the Paradise ritual quests
- Belly of the Whale: Dagon Shrine, the Great Gate
- Seduction: Mankar Camoran's speeches in Paradise
- Atonement of the Father: Martin agreeing to become the Emperor and receiving the Amulet
-Mentor Departure: Uriel's death
- Apotheosis: killing Mankar Camoran, defeating the Mythic Dawn, aiding Martin in the Battle of the Imperial City
- Ultimate Boon: the Hero is proclaimed Champion of Cyrodiil
- Call to Adventure: The Prophet's call for a champion
- Training: walking the Pilgrim's Way
- Cross the Threshold: Pelinal's vision, recovering the Helm of the Crusader
- Road of Trials: the quest for the Crusader's Relics
- Belly of the Whale: the resting places of the relics
- Seduction: the Hero sees how evil influenced Sir Berich
- Atonement of the Father: The Prophet gives the Hero the Blessing of Talos
-Mentor Departure: The Prophet's disappearance, the departure of the ghost Knights
- Apotheosis: fighting and slaying Umaril in the physical and spiritual planes
- Ultimate Boon: the Hero is proclaimed the Divine Crusader, the church is saved from destruction
Madgod of the Shivering IslesEdit
- Call to Adventure: the door in Niben Bay, Haskill's invitation
- Training: fighting the Gatekeeper, traveling to Sheogorath
-Mentor: Sheogorath, Haskill
-Magical Aid: Dawnfang/Duskfang
- Cross the Threshold: reactivating Xedilian, fighting the Knights of Order
- Road of Trials: Sheogorath's tasks
- Belly of the Whale: the Hero fights his shadow in the Grove of Reflection (note that this is arguably the best example of step 3 in the entire Elder Scrolls series), speaking to Dyus
- Seduction: Syl and Thadon's betrayals, Sheogorath in fact tempts the Hero to greater power throughout
- Atonement of the Father: the Hero learns everything about Sheogorath and Jyggalag and his own role in events
-Mentor Departure: Sheogorath transforms into Jyggalag
- Apotheosis: in this case a kind of half-literal apotheosis where the Hero gains the Staff of Sheogorath and defeats Jyggalag
- Ultimate Boon: the Hero is declared ruler of the Isles and the new Madgod
The Hero of Skyrim (Last Dragonborn)Edit
- Call to adventure: escaping Helgen, being sent to Dragonsreach, killing the dragon attacking Whiterun.
- Training: being summoned by the Greybeards, learning to shout as the dragons do.
- Crossing the Threshold: retrieving the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller in Ustengrav.
- Road of Trials: the Dragonborn meets Delphine, and begins to realize their destiny as Dragonborn.
- Belly of the Whale: The Dragonborn again encounters Alduin at the Kynesgrove Dragon Burial Site.
- Seduction: the Blades and Greybeards attempt to sway the Dragonborn to join them. Paarthurnax guides them through and leads the Dragonborn to an Elder Scroll.
- Atonement of the Father: the Dragonborn learns Dragonrend, Alduin escapes to Sovngarde from the Throat of the World, the Civil War is temporarily stopped, and Odahviing is captured at Dragonsreach.
Mentor Departure: the Dragonborn reaches Skuldafn alone.
- Apotheosis: the Dragonborn reaches Sovngarde and slays Alduin.
- The Ultimate Boon: Skyrim and all of Nirn, as well as Sovngarde itself, is safe, the dragons begin to learn the Way of the Voice from Paarthurnax, and the Dragonborn's Thu'um is proclaimed the strongest.
- Call to adventure: going to Stros M'kai to find his sister Iszara.
- Training: spars and fights pirates and The Forebears, meets up with Tobias.
- Mentor: Tobias
- Crossing the Threshold: retrieving N'Gasta's amulet.
- Road of Trials: gets thrown in the Catacombs.
- Belly of the Whale: after escaping and completing multiple tasks, Cyrus joins the Restless League and takes down N'Gasta.
- Seduction: Cyrus makes a deal with Clavicus Vile.
- Atonement of the Father: Cyrus saves his sister.
- Mentor departure: Tobias leaves the island.
- Apotheosis: Cyrus kills Nafaalilargus and attempts to resurrect A'Tor, but later leads an attack on Amiel Richton and saves Stros M'kai.
- The Ultimate Boon: Cyrus becomes a hero of the Crowns while he leaves Stros M'kai and his sister becomes the new governor.
The Hero of Battlespire (The Apprentice)Edit[?]
The Hero of Stormhold (Master Tunnel Rat)Edit[?]
The Hero of DawnstarEdit[?]
The Hero of Shadowkey (Hero of Azra's Crossing)Edit[?]
- Call to Adventure: being freed from The Wailing Prison with the aid of The Prophet and Lyris Titanborn.
- Training: being summoned by The Prophet to learn of the events that lead up to the Planemeld.
- Mentor: The Prophet
- Cross the Threshold: breaking Lyris and Sai out of Coldharbour.
- Road of Trials: aiding the Five Companions in searching for the lost Amulet of Kings.
- Belly of the Whale: battling Mannimarco and foiling his dark plot in the depths of Sancre Tor.
- Seduction: choosing who to sacrifice in order to power the Amulet.
- Atonement of the Father: being imbued with the divine power of the Amulet in order to do battle with Molag Bal.
- Mentor departure: after the Battle of Heart's Grief, the Prophet is never seen again.
- Apotheosis: climbing to the summit of Heart's Grief, the personal fortress of Molag Bal, and battling the Daedric Prince himself, finally cutting him in half with a blade of light.
- The Ultimate Boon: the Planemeld is thwarted and Molag Bal and his minions are a threat to Nirn no longer - but some other Daedric Princes have kept an eye on the Vestige.