SELF-SACRIFICING FOR AN IDEAL
(The Hero; the Ideal; the "Creditor" or the Person or Thing Sacrificed)
The four themes of Immolation, of which this is the first, bring before us three corteges: — Gods (XX and XXIII), Kindred (XXI and XXIII), and Desires (XXII). The field of conflict is no longer the visible world, but the Soul.
Of these four subjects, none is nobler than this of our Twentieth Situation, — all for an ideal! What the ideal may be, whether political or religious, whether it be called Honor or Piety, is of little importance. It exacts the sacrifice of all ties, of interest, passion, life itself, — far better, however, under one of the three following forms, if it be tarnished with the slightest, even although the most sublime, egoism.
A (1) — Sacrifice of Life for the Sake of Ones Word: — The "Regulus" of Pradon and also of Metastasio; the end of "Hernani" (Carthage and Don Ruy Gomez are the "Creditors"). Is it not surprising that a greater number of examples do not at once present themselves to us? This fatality, the work of the victim himself, and in which the victory is won over Self, — is it not worthy to illuminate the stage with its sacrificial flames? There is, nevertheless, no necessity for choosing a hero of an almost too-perfect type, such as Regulus.
(2) — Life Sacrificed for the Success of Ones People: — "The Waiting-Women" by Aeschylus; "Protesilas" by Euripides; "Themistocles" by Metastasio. Partial exam-