Rags to riches

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For other uses, see Rags to riches (disambiguation).

Rags to riches refers to any situation in which a person rises from poverty to wealth, and in some cases from absolute obscurity to heights of fame—sometimes instantly. This is a common archetype in literature and popular culture (for example, the writings of Horatio Alger, Jr.).

Criticism[edit]

The concept of "Rags to riches" has been criticised by social reformers, revolutionaries, essayists and statisticians, who argue that only a handful of exceptionally capable and/or mainly lucky persons are actually able to travel the "rags to riches" road, being the great publicity given to such cases causes a natural Survivorship bias illusion,[1] which help keep the masses of the working class and the working poor in line, preventing them from agitating for an overall collective change in the direction of social equality.[2][3]

Pre-20th-century fictional examples[edit]

Historical examples[edit]

  • The Roman Emperor Diocletian, born in poverty and whose father was a former slave (by some sources, the emperor himself was born in slavery).[4]
  • Genghis Khan, who was homeless with just his mother and his siblings. He went on to create the largest land empire in history (however, Genghis was the son of a Mongol chieftain).
  • Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici, born in poverty, founded the Medici bank, the Medici were a common family.
  • Pope Leo III was of commoner origin and attained the high position in spite of violent opposition from the nobility, who considered the papacy as their preserve.
  • Pope Gregory VII, Hildebrand, was a commoner, perhaps the son of a blacksmith. His bad reputation was partially due to horror at his high social mobility.
  • Chandragupta Maurya of India, who from a humble beginning founded the Maurya Empire.
  • Mahmud of Ghazni, son of a Turkic slave, who founded the Ghaznavid Empire.
  • Baibars, a slave who rose to become the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt through his military prowess.
  • China's Emperor Gaozu of Han and Hongwu Emperor who were both born into peasant families, but eventually founded two of the nation's most illustrious imperial dynasties.
  • Emperor Xuan of Han brought up a commoner despite royal blood, later rose to become a capable ruler.
  • Emperor Guangwu of Han lived life as a peasant at one point in his life despite being a distant royal. He eventually restored the Han dynasty.
  • Emperors Justin I and Justinian the Great came from peasant families. Later became Emperors of the Eastern Roman Empire.
  • Nader Shah, founder of the Afsharid dynasty, was the orphaned son of a goat-herder who established the most powerful empire in modern Persian history.
  • Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a famous example in late medieval times, helped unify pre-modern Japan.
  • Wei Zhongxian of Ming Dynasty China, a gambler who castrated himself and entered the Imperial Palace where he ended enormous power under the reign of the Tianqi Emperor. He was eventually banished by the Chongzhen Emperor.

Pre-Modern and Modern times[edit]

Thousands of people have risen from poverty to riches; some are:

Use in art and media[edit]

T.V. and films[edit]

Computer gaming[edit]

Song[edit]

Print[edit]

Sport[edit]

  • A term used in many team sports when a team goes from a poor finishing position one season to a strong finishing position the following season.[12]

Bibliography[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Taleb, 2001. "Part II: Monkeys on typewriters; Survivorship and other Biases"
  2. ^ Peña, 2012. Chapter 5 "From Rags to Riches"
  3. ^ Weiss, 1969. P.35
  4. ^ Diokletian U.tetrarchie
  5. ^ a b c i100 staff. article. published by The Independent 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Huffington Post. article. published by Huffington Post 14 January 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2015. 
  7. ^ Crowell, Merle (December 1922). "The Amazing Story of Martin W. Littleton". The American Magazine. Springfield, Ohio: The Crowell Publishing Company. pp. 16, 78–88. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  8. ^ Imbd - bio [Retrieved 6 December 2015]
  9. ^ Data-page published by Forbes magazine magazine 6 December 2015 [Retrieved 6 December 2015]
  10. ^ The Pursuit of Happyness - Rotten Tomatoes
  11. ^ Suskin, Steven (2010). Show Tunes: The Songs, Shows, and Careers of Broadway's Major Composers (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 243. ISBN 978-0-19-531407-6. 
  12. ^ Roosters storm into NRL grand final - www.smh.com.au

External links[edit]