41 The Warrior Archetype

Episode Forty-One: The Universal Soldier

Are warriors the same in all centuries, in all nations?

I believe they are.

Because the Warrior Archetype is universal and indelible.

In today’s episode we’ll dig deeper into the character of Telamon, the Universal Soldier personified.

He asks, of himself, the questions that warriors have asked for millennia.

Am I a brute only?

Can I slay others and not in some way slay myself?

To whom can I confide, except my brothers?

Subscribe here for the full series, or watch previous episodes here

Subscribe here for the full series, or watch previous episodes here


  1. Joe Jansen on January 4, 2021 at 5:55 am

    This post is just great, and continues to deepen our appreciation for the character of Telamon and what he represents (apart from him as a man). Speaking of Telamon’s other appearances, the one scene that comes to mind is the final scene in 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘝𝘪𝘳𝘵𝘶𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘞𝘢𝘳 , where Telamon is embarking on that transition from archetype to archetype that Steve has talked about:

    As the party turned back towards camp, Telamon, the Arcadian mercenary, presented himself before the king. Apparently he and Alexander had an understanding of many years — that of all the army, Telamon might alone claim his discharge at any time, any place. This he now did.

    Alexander reacted first with surprise and regret, at the prospect of being deprived of his friend’s much-loved company, yet he at once recovered, offering to load the man down with treasure. What did Telamon wish? Money, women, an escort-at-arms? With a smile, the Arcadian declare that he bore on his person all he required. This, one could see, was nothing but a staff, some utensils, and a modest pack. Alexander, struck by this, asked the mercenary where he intended to go.

    Telamon indicated the high road east, up which a number of Indian pilgrims then trekked. ‘These fellows interest me.’ He wished, he said, to make himself their student.

    ‘To learn what?’ Alexander enquired.

    ‘What comes after being a soldier.’


    That line rings like a gong, doesn’t it?

  2. andrew lubin on January 4, 2021 at 6:27 am

    Yes, the virtues and mind-set is universal over the ages, but I’d caution that it hold true for volunteers, and not draftees. Part of my pride in enduring extreme cold, heat, rain, exhaustion, et al, is 1-I volunteered to be there, 2-It was yet one more way to challenge myself, 3-I was with a squad of Marines who were as cold, hot, fatigued as I was, and there’s dignity in serious shared discomfort. And multiple times daily we used “Livin the dream’ and ‘another day in paradise’ as both a question and an answer.

    I’d also add that warriors (as opposed to brutes) such as Telamon, the gunslingers of the Magnificent 7, or the aging heroes of The Wild Bunch picked and chose their fights. Do you die defending poor farmers in a Mexican village, or retrieving your compadre Angel from a corrupt general? Sure; it’s a far more worthwhile and noble cause than getting shot-up for bags of washers.

    • Brian Nelson on January 4, 2021 at 8:34 pm

      “…and there’s dignity in serious shared discomfort.” This is totally speaking my language, probably one of my core beliefs.
      Even the race we put together as a fundraiser for our animal rescue has the tagline: GRIT CITY EFFORT + SHARED STRUGGLE = KINDRED CONNECTION.

      My wise wife said “Collective suffering” (my favorite description of what you wrote above) wouldn’t ‘sell’. “We actually want people to attend…” GRIT CITY is one of Tacoma’s nicknames, and Kindred Souls Foundation is our animal rescue–so we could tie everything together with the message we want to deliver.

      It maybe a pipe dream, but this is how I’m trying to unite our community up here.

      • andrew lubin on January 5, 2021 at 5:53 am

        Brian – Au contrare; ‘collective suffering’ does sell, if it’s marketed correctly, and it will sell well. Look at the great Marine recruiting commercials: ‘Which will will you run?” Using Droplick Murphy’s ‘Amazing Grade ‘ as the young man runs thru a cornfield and ends as a Marine…all on YouTube; all still motivating. Runners! You think 40,000 people train for the NYC Marathon for a t-shirt and having to get up at 0330 to make your way to the starting buses? No, it’s a challenge they’ve decided to meet, and will train for months in order to finish/finish well. It’s their version of combat. ‘Animal rescue is equally worthwhile, but it’s more than adopting a cute kitty – the question is how do you promote adoptions beyond puppies and kittens for Christmas.

        Grit City’ is a great banner under which you can promote various grit-related events that visibly make Tacoma a stronger community socially, academically, economically. Good luck!

  3. Benjamin R. Tong on January 4, 2021 at 6:13 pm

    As for the samurai Kyuzo in Seven Samurai (1954), his Western equivalent was James Colburn’s character Britt, the knife expert in The Magnificent Seven (1960). However admirable Kyuzo / Britt was as a refined, self-contained warrior, this guy was not sufficiently ego-defeated enough to spare his opponent’s life in the challenge-by-loudmouth-bully scene. That is to say, instead of declaring ‘You lost’ in the face of his belligerent opponent’s insistence on having won, he could have lied (‘Yes, you were faster than me and I lost’) and walked away with a defeated look.

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    Telamon understands what it means to be a soldier. But does he think love can bloom, even on a battlefield?

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  10. Jonathan Crew on March 30, 2021 at 2:51 pm

    yes i do the warrior spirit is inherant to mankind,and if the powers at be stay focused they surely will have there universal soldier. but who will the enemy be but of course there is always the people.

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    This television show is amazing. Please continue to send them. I find this idea of the “universal soldier” to be quite intriguing as a soldier, and I definitely see Telemon as a representation of outstanding NCOs I’ve encountered. Already on pre-order is your next book.

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  18. libraana43 on December 5, 2022 at 5:36 pm

    Telamon and the things he stands for (apart from him as a man). The concluding scene from The Virtues of War comes to mind while discussing Telamon’s prior appearances.

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  21. Leon Wyatt on October 9, 2023 at 2:54 am

    Telamon’s introspection truly highlights the timeless struggles of warriors across history and borders. Their internal struggles, the tension between their roles, and the consolation they find in fellow soldiers are constants. It reminds me of the depth explored in my law dissertation. If anyone needs guidance on such profound topics, don’t hesitate to seek law dissertation help.

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