“What would have become of Herakles do you think if there had been no lion, hydra, stag or boar – and no savage criminals to rid the world of?” asks Epictetus in his Discourses. “What would he have done in the absence of such challenges? Obviously, he would have just rolled over in bed and gone back to sleep. So, by snoring his life away in luxury and comfort he never would have developed into the mighty Herakles. And even if he had, what good would it have done him? What would have been the use of those arms, that physique, and that noble soul, without crises or conditions to stir into him action?”
Epictetus wrote these meaningful and eternal questions on the issue of manhood, and, of course, on the issue of power: Power, understood under the scope of the Primordial Tradition, not as the misconstrued, politically-correct caricature of power as tyranny, corruption, or misogyny.
Power is a ‘Call of Duty’. Manhood is more about traits than simply being a human male. Chivalry, then, is exerted after earning it – for it is the Don Quixotesque calling for men.
Manhood and Chivalry are akin. Nevertheless, the balanced man will recognize that some traits, skills, and functions, traditionally seen as the purview of men, are desirable also for women. The ‘training’ of young girls is pretty much fashion, music trends, and social media. It is superficial and doesn’t build the person. Instead, girls could be taught self-defense, partly to help them develop confidence, and partly to enable them to fight off any potential attacker. Notably, after high-profile gang rapes in India, women there began learning self-defense. Am I saying women are less confident than men? Absolutely not. It is just naturally different. This confidence though also boosts their possibilities in the job market, a widely politicized matter these days; go out there and ‘hunt’ as a Hercules would.
But, if women might want to develop some “masculine” traits, so men can also develop within themselves what Goethe calls das Ewig-Weibliche (“eternal feminine”). It is possible that the archetypal feminine – Kali, for example — has descended to raze all of us to the ground, and to violently shake up our dormant demi-god. The extreme forms of feminism might help to that end although not intended as such at face value. This is often how we experience a new relationship. It shakes us, exposes us to the feminine (both outwardly and within, in regard to characteristics that we have neglected but need to develop), and, yet, makes us more masculine.
It is then the call of duty of men to rise to the challenge, to be powerful and to make his inner-female archetype (representing intuition, contemplation, strategy, etc.) powerful as well.
Though the way may be different for women, both genders can become more balanced and, as a result, more powerful.
Unfortunately, there are obscure forces weaponizing “feminism” and turning it into a male-hating creed that rales against the “heteropatriarchal” and “phallocentric” threat allegedly posed by “angry white men.” Likewise, there is its mirror image: MGTOW (“men going their own way”), the movement that warns against “gynocentric” society and that believes committed romantic relationships are biased against men (in terms of legal responsibilities, etc.).
This is a poor answer to an inner and sacred call.
Nietzsche, upon reading about one of the latest astronomical findings of his days for the Northern sky, declared: “I hear with pleasure that our sun is moving rapidly towards the constellation Hercules: and I hope that the men on this earth will do like the sun.”
Those that politicize gender also shrink from it, claiming that one or other is oppressing them or that it is a mere social construct. Manhood is to move toward the light, toward the blazing Sun. For most men, that light is woman, and its heat and fire is what molds us, exposing us to the feminine, to our own weaknesses and our strengths, and that remodels us as our own Hercules.
2 thoughts on “Modernity And The Dormant Demi-Gods of Manhood”
Great food for thought. The body of your article reminds me of a passage I recently read from a book called ‘The Occult’ by Colin Wilson: “I have argued in this book that man was not really made for civilization. As an aggressive, highly energetic creature, he finds it difficult to adjust himself to its restraints. He responds to lack of challenge with boredom and a tendency to become slack and demoralized.” He goes on to argue that when ‘men’ in a society do not have a clear sense of purpose and aren’t challenged with responsibilities (conquests they can strive toward) then they resort to simpler and less soul filling conquests: women and sex. Which are only temporarily satisfying, yet still fill a certain rush of accomplishment. But not the long term accomplishment one feels from living with a purpose and contributing to something greater than oneself.
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Thank you MJDorian for your observations. I do appreciate your deference. One could say that, if not faced with challenges always meeting destiny half way, there is a certain incognizance of a pre-programmed ‘apoptosis’ either at the individual or at the social level. Homo Sapiens’ trap is her/his self-awareness, as an individual whole or a social ‘cell’. Thermodynamics will have its way, let’s try to circumvent it.