Saturday, April 21, 2012

S if for SAGE

The images of Zeno of Citium and Confucius provide two strongly contrasting images of the sage from two classical societies that valued the wisdom of the wise, while disagreeing internally over the nature of wisdom and the man who wielded it.  The sage is important in the real, external world as the rare possessor of valuable knowledge.  They have a correspondingly high place in our internal and secondary worlds.  For Jungian investigations, you will want to look under the term senex.  Both as teachers and as figures, their value extends beyond their lifetimes.

Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world?

1 Cor 1:20

Correspondingly, the sage has had an important role in fantasy role-playing, as well -- both in the primary world of the player or gamer, and in the secondary world of the game or characters.  There is the sage who knows the way of gaming, and so dispenses wisdom to the gamers.  The late Jean Wells was one of the original sages, dispensing wisdom in our Dragon Magazine feature, Sage Advice.  There are also sages as NPCs in the game itself.  They serve as an expensive resource for characters who need help solving a problem with knowledge to which they have no other access.  They can also serve as a nice plot device for GMs who want to present players with an option for play.

Sages to the Seventh Power
If one sage is good, then seven sages must be awesome.  Many cultures have thought so.  Sumeria had theirs.  Ancient India had the saptarishi.  Pre-Socratic Greece had their seven sages.  Three Kingdoms China had their Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove.  Finally, there is the fascinating case of the fictional Seven Sages of Rome, a cycle of early European romances that appear to have Sanskrit, Persian, and Hebrew origins.  This makes me want to create my own council of the wise!

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