Achilles, Saints and Jack Sparrow
From Antiquity to Modern Times, every age presents human and social models, that function as rule for other men, reflecting the conception of the world and the value of society
In Antiquity, human models were presented as an example and rule for other men, they reflected the pagan and naturalistic conception prevailing at that time. In addition to extraordinary natural qualities, they had very serious moral defects. This is what can be seen in the figure of Achilles and in the heroes who served as a human ideal for the Romans.
In the Middle Ages, social models had Faith as the foundation of their supernatural virtues. The medievals took, as paradigms of their behavior, either saints or great historical heroes. Saint Louis IX, King of France, Godfrey of Bouillon, Saint Bernard, Saint Francis, Saint Gregory VII, were some of the men who shone in the luminous firmament of Gothic times.
In the 14th century began the decadence that persists to this day. The loss of Faith led men to forge ever more imperfect models, the more fleeting the more false.
Thus, at the end of the Middle Ages, the legendary knight appeared, who fought not for God, but for his lady. The feats of a sword that moved out of human love, not Faith, filled the pages of chivalrous novels, but not the pages of history. Crusades ceased. It was no longer heaven to which men looked for strength to perform feats. Magic incantation replaced miracles, and superstition took its place. It was the time of Parsifal, not the time of Simon de Montfort's. The time of the Grail, not that of the Eucharist.
In the following centuries (15th-17th), the model was the noble courtier, fine, polite, gallant, covered in feathers and lace, who gracefully danced the Minuet, and who skillfully wielded the fencing sword in defense of adulterous loves. These porcelain figurines, delicate and powerless, thin and futile, were torn apart by the guillotine.
With the French Revolution (18th - 19th century), the selfish titan entered History, whose typical figures are Napoleon, Goethe and Beethoven, soon succeeded by the melancholy romantic poet, dreamer, tubercularly coughing, and perpetually ruminating a vaporous, endless and impossible love. The female exemplar of this human type was the fairy-girl, made of sugar and honey. Delicate. Ethereal. Eternally in tears, in her sentimental delusions.
The dream was short-lived. Triumphant materialism and natural deterioration of this kind made the rotten models of the realist and naturalist schools triumph. To be successful in life, that is, to get rich in any way, to be strong, to be sensual, became the objective of an atheistic world.
Strength became a value in itself. Force in all its manifestations: economic, political, physical. At the end of the 19th century, the athlete with developed muscles and agile limbs appeared as a new human ideal. Soon he was overtaken by the sighing and fainting heartthrob, which the cinema projected onto screens and into souls. It was the time of Rodolfo Valentino, and, in Brazil, the time of the suicides of failed love, taking guarana with ant-killer.
Then came the great wars. From them emerged the figure of the new America-Triumphant. There was the "yankee boy", jovial, gum-chewing, laughing, optimistic, superficial, sporty, and lacking in philosophy, feeding on vitamins and loving the automobile and jazz.
The 1960s saw the birth of the new social model from the boredom of the “American way of life”: the anti-hero, the anti-model. Ugly and disheveled, dirty and angry, making a point of expressing their nonconformity with social laws and etiquette. Being abnormal and defective came to have a positive connotation. Several of these “models” prided themselves on their depravities. They brag about being drug addicts or abnormal. They are one of the causes of the spread of these vices among today's youth.
Today, it seems, we have reached the bottom of the abyss. The last model (we are seeing today) has clearly satanic connotations. Just look at the covers of the most in vogue albums, or the graffiti on the walls of schools. Juvenile “gangs” adopt significant fashions, customs and names: Hell’s Angels, Satanic, Devils, Evil, Possessed, Depraved, Ex-Communicated, Malignus, etc. These desperate and drugged young people, without a direction and without an ideal, full of revolt and hatred, want violence for violence's sake. They aspire to death and hell. Under the incredulous and helpless gaze of those who generated it.
Not even in paganism has it descended so deep.
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Note from editor of this site: The original text had not images and the original name was “From Achilles to Boy George”