Would I venture into Hades as had Odysseus? Of course not, is the response. Would I venture into Hades as had Orpheus? I would like to think so. I might conclude that I do not need the answers to these questions, but I couldn’t conclude that the answers would be useless or fruitless. In spite of multiculturalism’s attitudes towards our Roman-Greco metaphysical heritage, Odysseus is one of our prototypal seekers–at least he is one of mine, and he remains valid as such; and as such, he has lessons to teach, although the primary purpose of myth is not didactic. Odysseus is an archetypal trickster, and as such, provides us with the kind of exemplary model that every trickster provides for the culture, part of what could be called, in terms expressed by Mircea Eliade, “a complex system of coherent affirmations about the ultimate reality of things, a system that can be regarded as constituting a metaphysics.” All of this is managed through symbols, myth and rites.
We have to remember, though, that mythology does not provide us with a list of characters from which we choose one to be like or discover is like us, singular to singular; we must understand that mythology is a stage of representation for human psychic reality and the entirety of the mythology is relevant to an individual person, and that this individual person who is a Self of many selves, one who plays many pats on the stage we know the world is, the characters of mythology are masks for us to wear, or masks we can wear in situations, or exemplary models for the many slings and arrows or everyone’s unique and outrageous fortune.
I am Orpheus and Theseus and Achilles and Eurydice and Orestes and Electra, as Hamlet is both Orestes and Electra, mutually and reciprocally and determinedly each in contrast and conflict. And I am Hamlet and MacBeth and Igo and Othello and of curse Falstaff . . . the ultimate reality of my life has been informed by Odysseus? Can I say that in earnest today? Why would I try to singularize my identity–and do not forget as I have said many times over in one or another piece of writing that identity spells ID Entity. Monsters from the ID notwithstanding a discussion of mythology and literature and character building character . . .