King in the mountain
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A king in the mountain, king under the mountain or sleeping hero is a prominent motif in folklore and mythology, that is found in many folktales and legends. The Antti Aarne-classification system for folktale motifs classifies these stories as number 766, relating them to the tale of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus.
 General features
King in the mountain stories involve legendary heroes,
often accompanied by armed retainers, sleeping in remote dwellings,
including caves on high mountaintops, remote islands, or supernatural
worlds. The hero is frequently a historical figure of some military consequence in the history of the nation where the mountain is located.
The stories gathered by the Brothers Grimm concerning Frederick Barbarossa and Charlemagne
are typical of the stories told, and have been influential on many told
variants and subsequent adaptations. The presence of the hero is
unsuspected, until some herdsman
wanders into the cave, typically looking for a lost animal, and sees
the hero. The stories almost always mention the detail that the hero
has grown a long beard, indicative of the long time he has slept
beneath the mountain.
In the Brothers Grimm version, the hero speaks with the herdsman.
Their conversation typically involves the hero asking, "Do the eagles (or ravens)
still circle the mountaintop?" The herdsman, or a mysterious voice,
replies, "Yes, they still circle the mountaintop." "Then begone! My
time has not yet come."
The herdsman is usually supernaturally harmed by the experience: he ages rapidly, he emerges with his hair turned white,
and often he dies after repeating the tale. This occurrence is
well-known from many stories about people entering caves and
experiencing a different time scale than on Earth, suggesting a parallel dimension.
The story goes on to say that the king sleeps in the mountain,
awaiting a summons to arise with his knights and defend the nation in a
time of deadly peril. The omen that presages his rising will be the extinction of the birds that trigger his awakening.
The motif combines the idea of a supernatural national defender with the concept of conservation. A number of kings, rulers, and fictional characters and religious figures have become attached to this story. They include:
- Csaba, the son of Attila the Hun (Hungary) who is supposed to ride down the Milky Way when the Székelys are threatened.
- King Matthias Corvinus (Hungary)
- Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (Germany)
- King Henry the Fowler (Germany)
- Emperor Charlemagne (Germany, France)
- William Tell (Switzerland)
- King Arthur (England, Wales)
- Thomas the Rhymer is found under a hill with a retinue of knights in a tale from Scotland
- Sir Francis Drake (England)
- Fionn mac Cumhaill (Ireland)
- Ogier the Dane (Danish: Holger Danske, Denmark)
- Sebastian I, (Portugal) (it is said by Sebastianists that the king will return in a hazy morning in time of need)
- Emperor Constantine XI of the Eastern Roman Empire, a.k.a. the Immortal Emperor turned to marble (Greece) (a similar story, although Constantine was said to be turned into a statue, not to be resting in a mountain.)
- Bran the Blessed (Wales)
- Owain Lawgoch (Wales)
- An unnamed giant is supposed to sleep in Plynlimon in Wales.
- Marko Kraljević (Serbia)
- King Olaf I (Norway)
- Väinämöinen, the protagonist of the Finnish national epic Kalevala. At the end of Kalevala, he leaves on a boat, promising to return when he is most needed.
- Merlin of the Arthurian legend, who is imprisoned in an oak tree by Nimue.
- Kralj Matjaž (Slovenia)
- Giewont massif which is said to be a sleeping knight (Poland)
- The remains of the Golem of Prague are said to be in the attic of the Old-New Synagogue in Prague, and that it can be brought back to defend the Jewish people. (Jewish mysticism)
- Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare (Ireland)
- Theseus (Athens)
- The Pueblo hero-god Montezuma — believed to have been a divine king in prehistoric times, and suspended in an Arizona mountain that bears his image.
- St. Wenceslas (Václav) of Bohemia (Czech Republic). He sleeps in the Blanik mountain and will emerge to protect his country at its worst time, riding on his white horse and wielding the legendary hero Bruncvík's sword.
- The legendary Moravian king Ječmínek will, according to a prophecy, return to save his country from enemies.
- St. Stephen the Great (Sfântul Ştefan Cel Mare) Prince (Voievod) of Moldova (Romania)
 The sleeping hero in popular culture
- J. R. R. Tolkien uses the king in the mountain in various places in his legendarium: the form of the Dead Men of Dunharrow, the armies and king of Númenor who are trapped by the Valar when Númenor is destroyed, and in the Second Prophecy of Mandos which states that the dead heroes Túrin and Beren would return to help to defeat Morgoth at the end of times.
- A similar story appears in the 1989 movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where the sleeping hero is a knight from the Crusades, made immortal by the Holy Grail.
- A version of the sleeping hero legend is included in several entries in the Nintendo game franchise 'The Legend of Zelda', most explicitly in the Gamecube version, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
- American comic book icon Captain America fell into suspended animation at the end of World War II, only to be awakened in the modern era.
- American comic book super hero Captain Marvel
from Fawcett Comics, after having been cancelled in 1953, was given a
story where he (and most of his friends and his arch foes) was trapped
in suspended animation for 20 years to explain his revival in 1973 by
- British author Susan Cooper makes use of the return of King Arthur as a plot element in The Dark Is Rising Sequence.
- Neal J. Iacono's 2001 novel Dracula: Son of the Dragon applies the King in the mountain motif to Vlad Ţepeş.
- In music, a single by Kate Bush released on 24 October 2005 is named "King of the Mountain". This song connects popular beliefs about Elvis Presley's death to the king of the mountain motif.
- After his death in 1984, rumours arose that comedian Andy Kaufman
would return from seclusion. These rumors were fueled by Kaufman
himself, who joked about faking his death, only to return 20 years
- In the book "Marauders of Gor" (Book Nine of the Gor Series) by John Norman, the hero Torvald is supposed to return in times of need for a Viking-like civilization.
- In The Books of Magic Timothy Hunter sees the mystical King in the mountain and talks to a minstrel who is guarding his grave.
- In Robert Jordan's the Wheel of Time Series, heroes from ages past
reside in the world of dreams until they are called forth to fight the
- In Robin Hobb's
Farseer series, skilled coteries from the past have used their own
lives to create dragons that sleep in a mountain glade, to be awakened
in times of need.
- ^ Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Deutsche Sagen (1816/1818), no. 23.
- ^ Kaiser Karl im Untersberg (German)
- ^ Alois Jirásek, Old Bohemian Legends (1894, Staré pověsti české)
- ^ Alois Jirásek, Old Bohemian Legends (1894, Staré pověsti české)
- The Sleeping Giant mountain in Connecticut, USA was said by the local Quinnipiac Indians to be the demon Hobbomock, sealed by the Great Spirit. One day he would supposedly awaken and destroy the world.
 See also
 External links
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