The Quest, the Hero, and the World

A Comparative Table of Some European Epics

The Quest, the Hero, and the World Homer:
Don Quixote
The Starting Point Alienation from home imperial destinyGod purpose experience
Entrapment in Kalypso’s island burning Troy the dark wood the real world learning
The Summons memory destruction of past spiritual confusion books of chivalry the spirit that denies
The Initial Impulse immobility directionlessness the three beasts the broken helmet the earth-spirit
The Journey Transport single ship, raft fleet foot (body), flight (soul) horseback flight
The Guide Athena Anchises, Palinurus Virgil, Beatrice, Saint Francis Rozinante Mephistopheles
The Companion shipmates compatriots ibid. (as above) Sancho Panza ibid. (as above)
Obstacles on the Journey Enemies Kyklopes et al. Juno devils enchanters Valentine, Menelaus
Physical Barrier sea storm walls of Dis bars of the cart [none]
Weapons arrows, spears chariots, swords faith lance “Three Mighty Men”
Style of Warfare single combat, on foot organized warfare self-control single combat, mounted demoniacal
The Underworld shore of the dead lower world Hell Cave of Montesinos “the Mothers”
Temptations Woman Kalypso/Kirke Dido “false pleasures” Maritornes witches
Mental State will to plunder inertia pride belief in senses satisfaction
Physical State immortality sensuality lust all bodily functions stasis
The wrong Place Phaiakia Aeneadae, Pergamum, Carthage exile Duke and Duchess’ castle everywhere
The Hero the resourceful the pious the faithful soul the knight of faith he who strives
The Sustaining Virtue loyalty pietas faith imagination will to act
What Must Be Accepted mortality destiny humility reality care
The Counter-Example Condition betrayal furor recalcitrance lack of faith pedantry
Person Agamemnon Ulysses/Turnus the noble damned (Brunetto Latini, et al.) Anselmo, Claudia Wagner
The Goal The Woman Penelope Lavinia Beatrice Dulcinea penitent Gretchen
The Place Ithaka site of Rome Heaven Saragossa/Barcelona? [none]
Social State family, kingship triumphant empire universal monarchy kingdom as reward freedom to strive
Obstacles to the Goal Enemies suitors Italians Dante’s pride Quixote’s audience devils
Political Barrier suitors’ families Amata; weakness of Latinus corrupt church and state political reality Baucis and Philemon
The Test the bow the final duel repentance the pastoral fantasy death of Euphorion
The Resolved State the rooted bed the law “In his will is our peace” sanity eternal ascent
Range of Obligations In Space island world city and universe La Mancha small world, then great world
In Time lifetime imperial history lifetime and eternity illusory past passing moment
In Society family, slaves citizens Florence Spain [variable]
Family Father Laertes found Anchises lost God the Father [none] lost assurance
Mother Antikleia lost Venus inaccessible Virgil/Beatrice [none] [none]
Child Telemakhos maturing Ascanius in waiting Dante [none] Gretchen’s dead child, Euphorion dead
Relation to Past memory, restoration loss knowledge nostalgia rejection
Relation to Future acceptance limited understanding responsibility anticipation of being remembered anxiety, eagerness
The Future the inland voyage Rome the future of Florence; the second coming the publication of Don Quixote continuing struggle
Forms of Energy Hero individual muscle power group muscle power divine love imaginative transformation mental energy
Opponents water fire ice enchantment denial
Characteristic Action sailing, swimming building conversing fighting experiencing
Theory of Government local kingship world-empire universal church, universal monarchy Sancho’s governorship urban renewal
Political Slogan “Keep the home fires burning” “What’s good for General Motors is good for America” “For God, for Country, and for Yale” Ich kann nichts anders “Liberty or Death”
Economics gifts gold usury, barratry, simony [none] paper money
Communications travelers’ reports rumor direct speech books [none]
Primary Symbol sea city Beatrice windmills [none]
Primary Sense touch hearing sight [none] [blindness]
Order objects dissociated hierarchy hierarchical unity-in-differences dissociated multiplicity identity
Relation to Self self-sufficiency self-negation completed self-realization self-deception incomplete self-realization
Relation to Others familial civil responsibility and love service encroachment or desertion
Love spousal passionate-illegal spiritual chaste-courtly seductive or familial
Religion True just gods universal spirit Catholicism Catholic doctrine the eternal-feminine
False arbitrary gods individual gods all others Catholic hierarchy organized doctrine
Time circular return linear world-time history in eternity linear personal time spiral
Audience listeners literate Romans Florence literate Europeans posterity
Concept of Person focus of family roles focus of civic roles citizen; image of God name and personality focus of choice

Edward Mendelson fecit 2009