The wise old man (Theseus, Brave, the Great Adventurer)
Have someone’s lessons ever inspired you to start a mission or to overcome a challenge? If the answer is “yes”, you may be a hero on your unique heroic journey and remember those lessons because they may be the key to success. A hero must overcome many difficulties and challenges on his arduous quest, and the hero can only successfully achieve their ultimate goal with the teachings of the wise old man. In the three iconic stories comprising Theseus, the Brave, and the Great Adventurer, only with the support of the corresponding wise old man along the way could the heroes Theseus, Merida, and Odysseus succeed.
Theseus, the son of the mortal king and the child of the heavenly god, slew numerous monsters on his journey, the most powerful being the mythical Minotaur. Without the inspiration from his fabled hero, Heracles, and the generous support of his father, Poseidon, Theseus would have never become the legendary hero everyone knows and loves today. On his way to reunite with his father, “He wanted to emulate his boyhood hero, Heracles, so he took the difficult coast road which ran through lands ruled by giants and brutal outlaws. Theseus defeated them one after the other”(Plutarch 99). Theseus was able to slay the Minotaur because of his practice on his journey. Without the inspiration of Heracles, Theseus might have never taken the difficult coast road. Resulting in him being killed while fighting the Minotaur. Theseus was also able to get help from his father, Poseidon. Although never stated, it was strongly hinted that Poseidon directly aided Theseus. For example, “The oracles said this dark one of the earth could never die until the gods sent one to kill him”(Plutarch 101). Here, only the warrior that the gods sent could kill the Minotaur. Theseus was the chosen one to slay the Minotaur sent by his father. It was clear that Poseidon wanted to give Theseus hope and help. As a result, Poseidon “sent up dolphins from the depths to play around the ship as darkness fell”(Plutarch 100). Evidently, Heracles inspired Theseus to become a talented warrior and Poseidon was able to provide the final push of the journey.
Merida is the main character of Brave. She was a young and talented archer who went on a treacherous journey to bond with her mother and became an influential princess. Merida could not have succeeded without the inspiration from her mother and the magic of the witch. Children are most impacted by their parents as they grow up and so is Merida. Her mother guided her on how to act like a princess. Lessons taught such as “a princess does not chortle, dosn’t stuff her gob, rises early, is compassionate, patient, cautious, clean, and above all, a princess strives for, well, perfection”(Chapman). These lessons ultimately contributed to Merida being a successful princess. Not only did the mother teach Merida how to be a princess, but she also taught her other morals such as “Legends are lessons, they ring with truth”(Chapman). This lesson was the key to solving the main challenge of the film. Despite the mother and Merida’s seemingly close relationship, they had many differences. Their differences “tore a great rift in this kingdom.” So, Merida sought help from the witch who stated, “Fate be changed. Look inside. Mend the bond torn by pride”(Chapman). In the end, Merida mended the broken bond with her mother and reunited the kingdom. The mother also realized her mistake and decided to break tradition and let people choose their destiny. Without the help from the witch, Merida could have started a devastating war. Overall, in this iconic Disney movie, the main character became a successful and influential princess because of the lessons of her mother and the witch.
Unlike other Homeric heroes who achieved their aristeia through courage and bravery, Odysseus in the Great Adventurer achieved his glory and great deeds through his cunning and wisdom. Odysseus did not realize early on that Athena helped him, but Athena clarified by telling Odysseus, “you did not recognize Pallas Athene, daughter of Zeus, who always stands by your side and guards you through all your adventures”(Peggy Albion-Meek). What Athena is attempting to say is that she was by Odysseus’ side the whole time. Athena also puts her words into action. She inspired the queen to choose a task for the suitors that only Odysseus would succeed at, restringing his bow. The bow of Odysseus was left behind when he went to war. The bow was strung in a way that only Odysseus knew how to restring. Whoever can restring the bow properly can marry the queen and become the new king. This arrangement ultimately resulted in the victory of Odysseus and made him the king again. This is not the only time Athena aided Odysseus. Athena made Penelope more beautiful for Odysseus, prevented a civil war, aided Odysseus’s son Telemachus on his quest, and more. Any hero would have died numerous times in place of Odysseus, but Odysseus survived and even prospered because of the help of Athena, the goddess of wisdom.
A hero might seem to carry all the burden during his journey by himself, but no mortal or god can accomplish anything alone. Behind every successful hero, almost always a wise old man is guiding him along the way. Without the inspiration and help from Heracles and Poseidon, Theseus may have never become a hero but died as an ordinary man. Without the lessons from Merida’s mother and the witch, she would have not become successful but a failed princess who would have caused a war. Without the unending support of Athena, Odysseus would have failed his journey several times. So, this just goes to show the importance of the support of the wise old man in our success. We need families and friends backing us up. They give us a reason to fight and provide knowledge and support. We have and will receive support and influence from the wise old man whether we realize it or not. Make sure to thank the wise old man for the support because after all, they helped to shape who you are.