The second specific peril the Quest hero has to face is rather more deceptive and treacherous: the ‘Temptation’. This often but not always involves some beautiful and captivating woman. The essence of the Temptation is that it holds out the promise of some physical gratification. It may be sexually arousing. It may offer rich food and intoxicating wines. It may just offer the hero a time of ease and pleasure, in contrast to the hard and austere nature of the task he has been set. In fact to surrender to a Temptation may be as unambiguously deadly as confrontation with a Monster. But often the danger the hero runs is simply that he will be seduced and lulled into forgetting the great task he has undertaken, and will abandon his Quest under some beguiling spell. The most complete picture of the various forms the Temptation may take is given in the Odyssey.
- the beautiful but deadly Sirens who, like the Lorelei of German legend, lure sailors to their doom by their bewitching sonds. Their only aim is to kill.
- the beautiful enchantress Circe, who imprisons all visitors to her island by turning them magically into animals (symbolising the way they have surrendered to their ‘animal’ appetites). But she does not kill them.
- Calypso, another beautiful enchantress, who falls in love with Odysseus and so captivates him that he stays seven years in her cave. But, although restive, he stays voluntarily.
- the simple, enervating captivation of the Land of the Lotus Eaters, which saps all will in an atmosphere of relaxed self indulgence. This traps many of Odysseus’s men until they are forcibly dragged back to their ships.
For Aenas, the chief temptation is of the Calypso type: his love affair with Dido, the widowed queen of Carthage, which is brought to an abrupt end when the messenger of the gods, Mercury, is sent by Jupiter to ask the hero ‘what you can possibly gain by living at wasteful leisure in African lands’ and to order him peremptorily back on his quest. Much the same temptatioin ensnares the Jews when they are lured into committing ‘whoredom with the daughters of Moab’, and the Argonauts when they arrive on the island of Lemnos to find that the women have killed all their menfolk and are avid for new lovers. It is Heracles who on this occasion strides angrily round the island with his club, sternly recalling Jason’s men to their duty.
For the knights of the Grail, sworn to chastity, temptation is firmly of the Siren type. When Sir Percival loses his horse, he meets ‘a timid maiden’in the forest, who offers him another ‘huge and black’, which carries him off uncontrollably for ‘three days or more’. Coming to a black river, burning with fire, Percival crosses himself, whereupon the horse throws him: and he wakes up trapped, foodless, on a precipitous island in the middle of the sea. In the heat of the day a handsome ship approaches, and sitting in it, under an awning, is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. She erects a shady tent on the shore and invites Percival to an esquisite meal, with the most potent wine he has ever drunk: and then implores him to make love to her, saying ‘you have not hungered to possess me half as much as I have wanted you, for you are one of the knights I was most passionately set on having’. As they are about to climb together into a great bed, Percival catches sight of the cross on his sword-hilt; he crosses himself, the tent vanishes in a puff of foul-smelling smoke and the ship hurtles away at unnatural speed across the ocean, leaving a wake of fire rising from storm-tossed waves.
Of course the Temptation has much in common with the Monster, except that the latter threatens the hero by direct confrontation, while the former seeks to lure him to his doom by guile and seduction. The Sirens are only Predators in another guise. While the enchantress who seek to imprison travellers by their spells, or the arts of love, are another version of Holdfast. Nevertheless, if they are mastered or overruled in some way, these Temptresses may completely change their nature, or rahter their relationship to the hero. From being malign, destructive and a hindrance, they can become the most benign of allies. When Odysseus is given the magic herb by Hermes which enables him to withstand Circe’s spells, he can persuade her to release all her victims from their enchantment. And though he stays with her, feasting and making love for another year, she in the end releases him with all sorts of aid and vital guidance for his journey. Similarly Calypso, at the behest of the gods, sends him on his way with every kind of equipment and good advice. The Temptresses have in fact been transformed into that other kind of crucially important figure the hero meets on his journey, the ‘helper’ whom we shall be looking at shortly.
What Can I Expect?
Here’s an outline of “The Seven Stories of Your Life itinerary.
PART I THE SEVEN GREAT STORIES OF YOUR LIFE
- Why Do We Need Stories?
- The Basic Stories
- Once Upon A Time
- Overcoming the Monster
- The Essence of the Monster
- The Purpose of the Monster
- Not Completely Human
- The Thrilling Escape from Death
- Rags to Riches
- The Dark Figures
- The Central Crisis
- The Dark Version
- Rags to Riches: Summing Up
- The Quest
- The Call to Adventure
- The Hero’s Companions
- The Journey
- The Trials
- Visit to the Underworld
- The Helpers
- Voyage and Return
The Dark Power: From Shadow into Light
PART II THE COMPLETE HAPPY ENDING
- The Twelve Dark Characters
- In the Zone
- The Perfect Balance
- The Unrealized Value
- The Drama
- The Twelve Light Characters
- Reaching the Goal
- The Fatal Flaw
PART III MISSING THE MARK
- The Ego Takes Over
- Losing Your Plot
- Going Nowhere
- Why Sex and Violence?
- Rebellion Against ‘The One’
- The Mystery
PART IV WHY WE TELL STORIES
- Telling Us Who We Are: Ego versus Instinct
- Into the Real World: What Legend are You Living?
- Of Gods and Men: Finding Your Authentic Story
- The Age of Loki: The Dismantling of the Self
Epilogue: What is Your Story?
About Peter de Kuster
Peter de Kuster is the founder of The Heroine’ s Journey & The Hero’s Journey
Peter is founder of the Heroine’s Journey and Hero’s Journey project where worldwide thousands of professionals shared their story of making money doing what you love. He wrote 50+ books. Peter has an MBA in Marketing, MBA in Financial Economics and graduated at university in Sociology and Communication Sciences.
You can contact Peter at email@example.com