THE STORY: (40 minutes) A miraculous child survives not only the homicidal raging of an angry demi-god, but also an icy immersion in a magic river and the venomous bite of a deadly snake. Then the child turns two, and his real adventures begin.
THE COMMENTARY: ACHILLES & THE HERO ARCHETYPE (14 minutes; begins at 40:00) I begin this episode of post-story commentary by discussing the reasons for the popularity of “Achilles stories” in the Bronze Age and Classical Greek world. I briefly review some of the stories that I chose to “leave out” of my account of Achilles’ early life. Following that, I review one particular point of difference between Achilles as I present him in my story, versus Achilles as Homer chooses to portray him in The Iliad. This leads to a discussion of what “Achilles stories” were actually available and known to Homer when he wrote his epic, circa 700 BCE.
Our conversation then moves on to a broader exploration of the “Hero Archetype” as it appears in stories. I highlight a number of recurring patterns in the archetype, including: Miraculous Childhood Deeds; Dead or Absent Parents; and Non-Human Mentors. In a broad ranging, playful (but always respectful) discussion, I explore how these recurring patterns appear in stories about Achilles, but also in stories about Luke Skywalker, King Arthur, Moses, Joseph, Jesus, Harry Potter, Frodo, Peter Parker (Spiderman) and Simba (the Lion King), to name but a very few. I cite Joseph Campbell’s classic work The Hero With A Thousand Faces (1949), as an excellent starting point into further exploration of hero archetypes across cultures and traditions. Finally, if you listen carefully, you’ll note that in my enthusiasm, I get my wizards confused (sorry Merlin, my bad). Have fun!