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Updated: Apr 22, 2022

The Explorer Archetype

There are twelve main literary archetypes derived from Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung's findings. The Explorer is one of the twelve:

The Explorer character would often be quite out of place in a given setting and unwilling to settle in or fit in— one who is always curious and that takes them to new places and lands and people. They forever will remain untamed for they are seekers. They could be an adventurer or even a pilgrim. The character Apemantus in Shakespeare's play Timon of Athens could well be an example of the Explorer character.

This conversation between the character Timon — a wealthy Athenian, who gives his money away wastefully to his flatterers believing that his flatterers, including his servants are his true friends — and Apemantus — the philosopher, who sees through Timon's flatterers — demonstrates the qualities of the Explorer character:

TIMON O, Apemantus, you are welcome. APEMANTUS No; You shall not make me welcome: I come to have thee thrust me out of doors. TIMON Fie, thou'rt a churl; ye've got a humour there Does not become a man: 'tis much to blame. They say, my lords, 'ira furor brevis est;' but yond man is ever angry. Go, let him have a table by himself, for he does neither affect company, nor is he fit for't, indeed. APEMANTUS Let me stay at thine apperil, Timon: I come to observe; I give thee warning on't. TIMON I take no heed of thee; thou'rt an Athenian, therefore welcome: I myself would have no power; prithee, let my meat make thee silent. APEMANTUS I scorn thy meat; 'twould choke me, for I should ne'er flatter thee. O you gods, what a number of men eat Timon, and he sees 'em not! It grieves me to see so many dip their meat in one man's blood; and all the madness is, he cheers them up too. I wonder men dare trust themselves with men: Methinks they should invite them without knives; Good for their meat, and safer for their lives. There's much example for't; the fellow that sits next him now, parts bread with him, pledges the breath of him in a divided draught, is the readiest man to kill him: 't has been proved. If I were a huge man, I should fear to drink at meals; Lest they should spy my windpipe's dangerous notes: Great men should drink with harness on their throats.


Apemantus, true to the character archetype the Explorer, is a philosopher. He, unlike any of Timon's other guests who are all eager to please him, evidently is unwilling to do so or fit in.


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