As you've probably noticed I've been going over some of the most common archetypal characters in literature and film this week. Not all are Jungian archetypes, but this one certainly is. Today I would like hear who your favorite Wise Old Man/Sage is. This archetype is slightly different from the Mentor, though of course in certain tales one character can fit both roles (think Dumbledore from Harry Potter).
I'm betting by now you can guess who may favorite is. I do love TLOTR and OMG (Olorin/Mithrandir/Gandalf) is certainly an awesome Wise Old Man but I'm getting a little tired of picking characters from Middle Earth every day, plus it feels a little lazy. I could go with one of two great examples from Star Wars, but instead I'm going to go with something a little more obscure today.
One of my favorite Wise Old Men is Dallben from the Chronicles of Prydain. I haven't actually even read all five volumes but I did read the Book of Three and the Black Cauldron when I was young. These books are not that famous but some of you may remember a rather well done animated Disney adaptation of the stories from the 80s. I can still remember exactly how Gurgi sounds when he talks about crunchings and munchings.
Anyway Dallben is a sort of sorcerer who acts as both the guardian of and mentor for the protagonist Taran. Dallben is 379 years old at the beginning of the Book of Three, and has one of the most interesting back stories I can remember (paraphrased from Wikipedia):
In a manner similar to the Welsh legend or Gwion Bach, one day as a boy he was helping three enchantresses by stirring a potion they were making when it boiled over and scalded his fingers. When Dallben put his burned fingers into his mouth, he accidentally ingested some of the liquid. It was a potion of wisdom, and immediately Dallben was able to see the enchantresses for what they really were, and to understand everything around him. Deciding they couldn't have so much wisdom living under one roof, the enchantresses sent him out into the world, with three gifts to choose from before leaving.
The first gift was a sword, which would have made Dallben the most powerful warrior who had ever lived. The second gift was a harp, which would have made him the world's most famous bard, had he chosen it. Instead he chose the third gift, a book called the Book of Three. Orddu told him it contained everything that was ever known or would ever be known, and knowledge was something Dallben valued more than power or fame.
So who is your favorite Wise Old Man/Sage? Don't be afraid to pick OMG just because I've already mentioned him, and don't be afraid to pick Y or OWK just because I've already alluded to them. Choose whoever you like!