heroes and their friends

luke skywalker … and han and leia (we didn’t know she was luke’s sister in the first movie) and chewie and obi-wan and r2 and c-3po:

frodo baggins … and sam and merry and pippin and gandalf and strider and legolas and gimli and boromir:

harry potter … and ron and hermione and dumbledore and ginny and neville and luna:

robin hood … and little john and will scarlet and friar tuck and maid marian:


_____

is this a western/anglo/post-early-medieval storyline? having a hero allied with a bunch of friends i mean? do other traditional hero stories from other cultures involve alliances with friends?

(note: comments do not require an email. super friends!)

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47 Comments

  1. @ihtg – heh. (^_^)

    well, the luke/leia thing is just an example of genetic sexual attraction, isn’t it? — siblings separated at birth finding each other irresistable when they meet as adults. (of course, leia isn’t really attracted to luke but, rather, to bad boy han [and what girl in her right mind wouldn’t be?!], confirming all the gameboyz theories about alpha and beta males. (~_^) )

    what i think is funny is heroes and their friends swapping sisters ’cause they can’t mate with each other: han+leia, harry+ginny. guess mating with your best friend’s sister is the best you can do when you can’t mate with your friend. (~_^)

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  2. well, Gilgamesh and Enkidu were not relatives. although they were only a twosome, not a group. we don’t know anything about Sumerian mating patterns do we?

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  3. @bleach – “well, Gilgamesh and Enkidu were not relatives.”

    good one! no, they weren’t relatives — just pals. although, enkidu had a kind of “special” background, didn’t he? then again, so do obi-wan, gadalf and dumbledore, so i guess that doesn’t really matter.

    you’d think we’d (<< that's the royal "we") would know all about the sumerians' mating patterns 'cause of all those written records they left behind including a set of laws known as the "sumerian family laws" — but after poking around on google/google scholar/google books for about half-an-hour, i couldn't find out who was marrying whom in ancient sumer. (dr*t!)

    interestingly, marriage seems to have been mostly monogamous. the family in a household was usually the conjugal family, although extended family members often lived in neighboring houses. marriages were largely arranged by families — esp. fathers (the whole society was very paternalistic) — but whether they were arranging marriages within the family or not, who knows? and divorce was possible, but not something to be taken too lightly, apparently.

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  4. Reading about the Water Margin in Wikipedia brings to mind the Seven Samurai and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. These seem all to be outlaw societies.

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  5. @luke – well, from what it says on wikipedia it sounds like Water Margin does fit — “song jiang and his 36 [later 108] companions.” doesn’t sound like they’re related, although some of them are (but not to song) — there’s the ruan brothers, for instance.

    a bunch of outlaws! (~_^) are they bad guys who later turn out to be good guys, or are they anti-heroes? do they defeat the forces of evil in the end?

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  6. @luke – “These seem all to be outlaw societies.”

    well, so were robin hood and his merry men, weren’t they? not to mention the rebel alliance. (~_^) outlaws have their appeal. especially when they’re imaginary and not real!

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  7. Basically 95% of action/adventure mangas written by Japanese are based on a group of friends or a hero and his friends. Worse than that, no matter what happens, the most important factor for a hero’s success is always his bonds. Naruto, Bleach, Fairy Tail, Dragon Ball, etc. Same goes for lots of their video games : Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, pokemon, etc etc. And this social component has been there for a while as shown by the story of Momotarō.

    On an unrelated matter, I’m 75% sure that the male author of this blog chose to incarnate a female persona to popularize hbd theories. Which is a good idea imho.

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  8. It’s all very nice. But my general impression is that you don’t want to be friends with a hero. Heros’ friends all seem to get killed. Maybe I’m overimpressed with Ulysses.
    BTY there is an article: David Reich Reconstructing Native American Population History NATURE vol. 400 no. 7411 August 16, 2012 page 370. It’s all about biodiverstiy of course. I think they even use the word. They don’t seem to correlate descent with anything but genes and language, but it might serve useful in the future if other kinds of data show up.

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  9. @iron zeppelin – “On an unrelated matter, I’m 75% sure that the male author of this blog chose to incarnate a female persona to popularize hbd theories.”

    (^_^)

    an understandable conclusion, but an erroneous one. i’ve got witnesses. (~_^)

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  10. Yeah, those outlaws of the marsh were definitely the good guys, very much in the Robin Hood mold. And in the beginning (of the legend) they were far fewer in number according to Wikipedia. They were friends, not cousins, at least the ones I have read about.

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  11. @ bleach : I don’t think so as Japanese nakama stories, Chinese guanxhi & Arab sultan stories are pretty common. Most cultures love strengthening an identity with community building tales. It is, among other things, a basic propaganda tool and also a basic need for some people don’t know how they are if it’s not explained to them. The prestige of being the initiator/maintainer of a community hasn’t been missed by non-Western narcissists and other sex/power addicts.

    @ hbd chick : haha, it’s not a conclusion at all, simply an hypothesis of mine that I arbitrarily defined as having only 75% chance of being true. And the paranoid part of my personality finds it so funny that Derbyshire shared your paragraph with another person while everyone else has its own ^^

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  12. @iron zeppelin – “And the paranoid part of my personality finds it so funny that Derbyshire shared your paragraph with another person while everyone else has its own.”

    i think that was just ’cause neither me nor “zack” gave a presentation. we were “outside the main conference business” like john said. (^_^)

    (or maybe it’s ’cause i didn’t pay john enough to say the right things in the right ways. d*mn! next time i’ll have to be more generous. (~_^) )

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  13. @luke – “Yeah, those outlaws of the marsh were definitely the good guys, very much in the Robin Hood mold…. They were friends, not cousins, at least the ones I have read about.”

    cool! thanks! (^_^)

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  14. i think it’s not uncommon at all. As an example, Mithradates in his exile @ 17 left with his friends and Xenophon’s March of the Ten Thousand had all kinds of friend-pairings.
    In the Theban “Sacred Band”, they were homosexual lovers which is the “glue” to keeping them together (and keeping together it did! recall that they destroy Sparta)

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  15. @anonymous – “As an example, Mithradates in his exile @ 17 left with his friends and Xenophon’s March of the Ten Thousand had all kinds of friend-pairings.”

    i always worry about the ancient greek groups of “friends” ’cause some/a lot(?) of them do wind up to be family.

    one of the hero stories that first popped into my head was jason and the argonauts. i dunno how many of the argonauts were jason’s friends or family, but the first one on the list on wikipedia, acastus, is jason’s half-first-cousin (acastus’ father is pelias who is jason’s father’s, aeson’s, half-brother).

    guess someone would have to check through these stories for the relationships. (prolly not gonna be me. (~_^) )

    thanks for the possible examples, though! (^_^)

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  16. @linton – “It’s all very nice. But my general impression is that you don’t want to be friends with a hero. Heros’ friends all seem to get killed.”

    yes. much better to admire them (heroes) from afar! (~_^)

    @linton – “BTY there is an article: David Reich Reconstructing Native American Population History NATURE vol. 400 no. 7411 August 16, 2012 page 370.”

    thanks!

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  17. @luke – “The Chinese classic novel, Water Margin….”

    can you (or anyone else out there) recommend a good translation of it? thanks! (^_^)

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  18. Heh. The officer who chews out Ling Chung (the Robin Hood equivalent) around 8 minutes in looks like a Chinese George Bush.

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  19. The version I have is: Water Margin Jackson, J. H. (Translated by), and Shi Nai’an, and Nai-An, Shih, currently available on Abebooks for $6.71. It’s such a flat out adventure story it is hard to imagine a really bad translation, though I suppose all things are possible.

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  20. What’s really hard to find is a good translation of The Golden Lotus at a reasonable price. Now that’s a real novel!

    The one I have, which I’ve enjoyed very much, is available here on Amazon. Haven’t checked Abebooks. Abebooks is usually cheaper if they have it.

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  21. I think I found a free online copy of Pearl Buck’s All Men Are Brothers here. It looks sumptuous. Introduction by Lin Yutang, who is always interesting. His book on Chinese civilization (My Country, My People) is maybe the best I have read (along with Smith’s Chinese Characteristics). This translation is controversial, I understand, though opinion appears to be changing.

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  22. Having compared a few passages I think I would go with Pearl Buck’s on-line translation. She has been criticized for making the language “too Chinese” by which it is meant not colloquial enough English. Well, to me, contemporary colloquial English is exactly what you don’t want; it ends up being a lot of cliches and hackneyed figures of speech. The Chinese have great literary genius and the prose at least translates well when translated literally: of course the turns of phrase are surprising, but that’s the charm. At least that’s my opinion. (There is more good fiction coming out of China today than in the rest of the world put together. Again in my opinion. Why is it? In part it’s talent, and a very large talent pool, to say the least; but it’s also because they have so much to write about: the novel has always, in the West at least, been about news: the new world opening up and the old one disappearing and all the human situations, emotions, traumas and tears that sets in motion. Of course this has nothing to do with Water Margin put I just thought I would put that in there. Want a great Chinese novel. Try Half of Man is a Woman.0

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  23. “Thanks! I’ll put that in my Chinese movie collection. Looks good.”

    It’s pretty cheesy but in a good way (imo) – also interesting in how the “good officer” archetype seems to have a lot of universality – although that may just be because of the logic of violence.

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  24. “interesting in how the “good officer” archetype seems to have a lot of universality”

    Lin Yutang’s intro to the Pearl Buck translation sheds light on the historical background.

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  25. @g.w. – “There was a dubbed TV series of it i saw as a kid which i liked a lot at the time – very Robin Hood-ish…. Heh. The officer who chews out Ling Chung (the Robin Hood equivalent) around 8 minutes in looks like a Chinese George Bush.”

    heh! i’ll have to check it out — thanks!

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  26. @luke – “How about Jesus and his disciples. Do they count?”

    i’d say so! don’t get much more heroic (or altruistic for that matter) than dying for everyone else, do you?

    and, if i’m remembering my catechism right, none of the apostles were related to jesus, were they (although a couple were related to each other, i think)? john the baptist was jesus’ first cousin, of course, but he didn’t hang with jesus and his entourage, did he?

    so, it seems like all sorts of societies tell stories about heroes and the alliances they have with their friends. it’s not just an anglo/nw european thing (although perhaps we have fewer hero+family stories?).

    thanks everybody! (^_^)

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    1. @hbd chick.”How about Jesus and his disciples. Do they count?”” Look, this ain’t for serious and I apologize for saying in the midsts of serious stuff but … no. Heroes keep surviving when all the people that trust and help them are dying. Here it’s the main character who dies and the others, for a time, are just fine. Different dynamic. Different story. Don’t hit me.

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  27. @luke – “I think I found a free online copy of Pearl Buck’s All Men Are Brothers here…. Having compared a few passages I think I would go with Pearl Buck’s on-line translation. She has been criticized for making the language ‘too Chinese’ by which it is meant not colloquial enough English.”

    free! i like that. (got that trait from my father. (~_^) ) i actually prefer more “literal” translations ’cause then you do get the flavor of the original work. i’ll definitely check it out! am also putting down on the list these other books you recommended:

    My Country, My People – Lin Yutang
    Chinese Characteristics – Smith
    Half of Man is a Woman

    thanks! (^_^)

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  28. @linton – “Don’t hit me.”

    would never do that. (~_^)

    so you’re saying the hero can’t die? hmmm. never thought about that. of course, if the reports are correct, jesus resurrected and now lives forever up in the sky somewhere, so he didn’t really die. well, he did — but it didn’t really count. or it did count, but he lives on in another way … or something like that. (i should know this after 12 years of catholic schools!) (^_^)

    seriously, though — the hero can’t die? what about russell crowe’s character in gladiator? what about … i can’t think of any others just now. hmmm.

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  29. Well, hero of the play, anyway.

    “No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
    Am an attendant lord, one that will do
    To swell a progress, start a scene or two
    Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
    Deferential, glad to be of use,
    Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
    Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
    At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
    Almost, at times, the Fool.”

    That was Prufrock.

    Neither an alpha nor a beta be . . .

    That’s me. :)

    Reply

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