Understanding Argrath


At a very fundamental level, Greg’s Argrath IS Arkat and fully experiences and participates Orlanth myths as a mortal. Now that doesn’t mean that he is trying to repeat the deeds of Arkat or Orlanth – in fact, very much not trying to repeat their deeds. Rather he is confronting new situations as if he was Arkat or Orlanth, if that makes any sense. Not only does he accept he will do something new, he intends to do something new! This makes Argrath more in tune with Orlanth than most any other Orlanthi hero, Harmast Barefoot included.

That is likely the secret to his success. Argrath discovered that not only is repetition of the myth unnecessary, but it is often undesirable. What matters is the participation with the raw powers and archetypes of the world, and a willingness to cause change in order to preserve the cosmos.It is worthwhile to look how much Argrath’s life experiences parallel those of Orlanth. Exile to the Strange Gods of the Wastelands. Communication with spirits and dragons. Marriage and kingship. And so on. His life parallels that of his god. No wonder that the post-Hero Wars cultures often viewed them as the same entity!

This is also tied with the idea that Argrath=Arkat. Like Arkat, Argrath fought Gbaji and was transformed in the process. In the end, the Red Moon was broken and the world changed. Like Arkat, Argrath embraced monsters to carry forth his task – Arkat with trolls, Argrath with dragons. And like Arkat, it is possible to view Argrath as purifying the Moon Goddess, removing its Chaos taint so that Glorantha’s cycles might no longer threaten existence but become fully a part of it.

At a very basic level Argrath and Arkat were the SAME ENTITY. In Greg’s earliest stories, a hero named Argat (Aragat, etc.) fought against Gbaji to end the age of legends and begin history. This character was then put into White Bear and Red Moon by Greg as Argrath, the Prince of Sartar. Later he was put into Gloranthan history as Arkat Chaosbane. But ultimately they had the same source.

Artist, Anna Orlova

Artist, Gene Day
Artist, William Church

Didn’t he have a beard? Here’s the original counters. Greg said he viewed him as clean-shaven (and the pic in Dragon Pass is supposed to be him). My assumption is he shaved his beard during his circumnavigation and kept that look. Or maybe it was a simple way to signal how much he planned to embrace change.

I have the original drawings. I wouldn’t read too much into that. Especially since it has Argrath riding a horse, which we actually know is wrong.

Why does he not ride a horse? if you think about it you should easily figure out what Argrath Whitebull rides.

Although this is my favorite early depiction of Argrath:

He’s probably about the most-spot on Orlanthi imaginable. Especially the more he breaks what you expect from an Orlanthi.

Arkat was a rational materialist who needed to embrace his irrational monster in order to confront Gbaji. Argrath was a exiled outsider who needed to find his community to confront Gbaji.To overcome the Deceiver, we need to confront and deal with our own Shadow.

Now to the Arkat-orlanth mix, I add for my own understanding Alexander and Bowie. He’s the romantic adventuring hero, the magical rock star who reinvents himself whenever you think you got him figured out.