The Tale of Prince Five Weapons

I first came across this story while reading The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.  I’ll give you one guess as to how many weapons the prince had!  The answer may not be as straightforward as you would think…

As I researched the story, I found that there are subtle variations, depending on the source.  However, the overall meaning seems to remain the same.  It is a particularly powerful story.  The symbolism is very rich and meaningful.  I find it particularly enjoyable to discuss with children and teenagers who may be struggling with self-confidence in sports, school, or with making friends.  I also sometimes like to tell it to my oldest son at bedtime.  He calls it the “Ogurt Story,” or Ogre Story:

Once upon a time, there lived a prince.  When he was very young, he was sent off to study under a great warrior. His parents hoped that through this training he too would become great.  He studied and worked very hard for many years.  When he had learned everything he could from the great warrior, it was time for him to go out into the world.

Because he had been such a gifted student before he left, his teacher presented him with five powerful weapons.  So the prince forever after became known as Prince Five Weapons.

On the road home, Prince Five Weapons came to the edge of a forbidding forest. A wise man who lived near the forest begged him: ‘Beloved prince, do not go into the forest for in there lives a monster called Sticky Hair and he kills all that come across him.’

But Prince Five Weapons was brave and fearless, confident not only in his skill as a warrior, but in the five powerful weapons his teacher had given him.

So into the forest he went and as you can imagine he ran into the monster Sticky Hair.

Sticky Hair was three stories tall.  He was very nasty looking, with huge fangs and yellowed eyes peering out from his long, tangled hair. ‘You have dared come into my forest and now your days are at an end’ he said ‘Today, I will have you as my dinner!’

‘I am not afraid!’ cried Prince Five Weapons.  With that, he took out the first of the weapons that his teacher had given him, a powerful bow and arrow.  With expert skill he launched the arrow at Sticky Hair, but the arrow stuck directly into the hair of the monster.

He drew his next weapon, a fearsome sword.  He struck Sticky Hair with its blade. Instead of cutting the monster down, the sword simply got stuck like it was suddenly glued to the hair of Sticky Hair.

Prince Five Weapons hurled his spear, his sling, and his axe.  One by one, the prince’s weapons met the same fate.  Neither the quality of the weapons, nor his acute skill, seemed to be able to harm the monster. But Prince Five Weapons was not afraid.

Sticky Hair started to laugh a horrible laugh.  Having exhausted his weapons, the prince rushed toward him, ready to fight with the only weapons that he had left: his own body. Can you imagine what happened next? His fists and feet got stuck to Sticky Hair.

All that he had left now for a weapon was his head and this he used to strike at the monster.  But this too became stuck. Now he was entirely stuck to the monster and could move no more, but still he was not afraid.

Now Sticky Hair started to feel something he had never felt before: fear. In all his life, he had never encountered someone as calm and brave as Prince Five Weapons. In turn, he was now starting to feel fear himself.

‘Why are you not afraid of death?’ asked Sticky Hair with a slight quiver in his voice.

The prince replied, ‘Why should I be afraid? All who are born will surely die.’

This was a kind of thing that Sticky Hair had never heard before.  He hesitated to act, as fear started to grip him.

‘There is one more weapon I have that you do not know about,’ the Prince explained. ‘Inside my belly is a powerful weapon, a weapon with the light of a thousand diamonds that will tear you apart if you eat me. There is no need for me to be afraid.’

By this time Sticky Hair had such an impression of Prince Five Weapons’ character that he believed every word the Prince spoke about his hidden weapon. Sticky Hair released the prince and allowed him to continue on his journey.

At the end of the story, I often ask the listener the following question:  “What do you think the ‘light of a thousand diamonds’ represents?”  It is fascinating to me how different the answers are:  confidence, family, love, compassion, creativity (and the list goes on and on).  Although the answers and interpretations of the weapon vary, it is evident that we could all use an internal sense of power, meaning, and strength in our lives.

Even though it’s helpful to gain tangible skills and abilities, it is our inner weapons that are the most powerful.  Those are the ones that can slay the monsters.  If I could do one thing as a therapist, father, or human being in general, it would be to help people feel their inner self-worth.

I hope you enjoyed the story.

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