MAN OR MYTH?
Legendary French general and conqueror, subject of novels, movies, and many scholarly tomes, Napoleon Bonaparte can be demonstrated to be nothing but just that: a legend, a myth, the greatest man who never was. As many legendary historical characters, he can be shown to be nothing but that ever-popular mythical archetype, a humanized incarnation of the Sun.
Let us examine what are regarded as some basic facts about “Napoleon”:
- he was called Napoleon Bonaparte;
- he was born on an island in the Mediterranean;
- his mother was called Letitia;
- he had three sisters and four brothers, three of whom were kings;
- he ended a great revolution;
- he won victories in the south and was defeated in the north;
- after a reign of twelve years, which he had begun with an arrival from the East, he went away and disappeared in the western seas.
These “facts” can all be easily demonstrated to be nothing more than standard sun-myths.
First, the name “Napoleon.” The Graeco-Roman deity known almost exclusively as “Apollo,” was called that only by the Romans. The Greeks knew him under his original name, “Apollon,” which derives from the verb Ἀπολλύων, “to destroy,” and he was, paradoxically, a god of the Sun. Possibly the association was made to the destruction associated with brutal Mediterranean droughts and heat waves. That word, in English letters, apollumi, has the form in the present participle “apoleon.” Apoleon. Already we have nearly the precise name of the man, lacking only an initial “N.” Startlingly, that single letter in Greek conveys the meaning (ne or nai) of “true” or “truly.” Prefix that, and the name of Napoleon means “True Destroyer.” And that he was, in his day (purportedly), responsible for more war and deaths than any man in history. Alternatively, using the word in its other meaning, the name may be rendered, “True Sun,” or “Truly the Sun.” Oddly enough (or perhaps not!), it is the inscription of that single letter “N” which is said to be the mark of his reign, inscribed on arches, columns, and coins.
What of his last name, then? Breaking that into its two parts, we have bon(a) parte, or “good part.” Obviously this suggests some sort of dualism, a good part balanced against a bad part, and possibly hearkens back to the original gnostic dualism of Zoroastrianism, with Ahura Mazda balanced against Ahriman. With regard specifically to the Sun, then, we may infer that the “True Sun” gives us the “good part” of the entire day, which is composed of day and night both. “Napoleon Bonaparte,” therefore, may be interpreted as meaning that this man is “The Light of the World,” and all opposed to him are in darkness.
Now that we have analyzed the true meaning of his name, let us examine some of the mythology surrounding his life.
In Greek myth, Apollo/Apollon was born on the Mediterranean island of Delos; Napoleon on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. It can hardly be coincidence that just as Delos lies approximately 200 km southeast of the Greek mainland, Corsica lies approximately 200 km southeast of the French mainland. It is also a curious fact that the ancient writer Pausanias characterized Apollon as being worshiped and held in high regard in Egypt, with many temples dedicated to him; so too did Napoleon reportedly conquer Egypt, erect great monuments to himself, make personal appearances at great religious festivals, and become greatly honored. There is perhaps both tremendous irony and a tremendous hint of the truth in the quote attributed to him while in Egypt, “Forty centuries of history look down on you.”!
The mother of Napoleon is named Leticia; the mother of Apollon is Leto. Although divergent in meaning and etymology, it is virtually the same name.
As for our Napoleon’s immediate family, this likewise diverges from that of Apollon, but still, some interesting parallels may be seen. Apollon himself had only one true sister, Artemis, but innumerable half-siblings by way of his father, Zeus. Napoleon, it is said, had three sisters. These sisters undoubtedly are identical to the three Graces of Mount Olympus, and the number three itself always has immense symbolic meaning in mythology. Napoleon had four brothers. The number four also has tremendous mystical importance, and is associated with the four cardinal points of the compass, and the four seasons of the year. Thus, his four brothers may be seen as symbolizing his own reign over the Earth, both physically – the four corners of the Earth – and temporally – the course of the year.
Also, it cannot be ignored that three of these brothers were said to be kings themselves! Why only three, and not all four? Again, the answer here is lies in any number of myths and facts. According to our legend, Napoleon led his armies to staggering victories in lands to the south, to the east, and to the west. It was only in the north he found himself defeated. This is precisely the heart of every Sun-myth which has ever been told! The “Unconquerable Sun” which drives further and further north, only to be defeated and driven back – then to begin its rise again. The fourth brother of Napoleon, then, can be clearly identified as both the North and Winter: the apocalyptic “Russian winter” which defeated the Sun. Thus, we can clearly see that all of Napoleon’s purported military campaigns, marches, victories, and defeats, are nothing more than symbolic descriptions of the annual course of the Sun.
Of course, the Sun rises in the East, and sets in the West, and to dwellers of the world’s coasts, it seems to arise and retire into the seas. Just as Napoleon arose out of the sea to the East, from the island of Corsica (from the perspective of the French Mediterranean coast), so did he finally sink into the great western sea to his death on the island of St. Helena. The 12 years of his reign are also obviously allegorical, on several levels. They correspond to the 12 months of the year, one complete cycle of the Sun. Likewise, they correspond to the 12 hours of the day in which shine the Sun (remember, traditional timekeeping measured 12 hours of day and night, and hours were of shifting duration). These years also signify the 12 signs of the Zodiac, another part of the pervasive solar myth.
But why? Why does this pervasive solar mythology always crop up and inject itself into history, and why here? Perhaps in this instance we should keep in mind the then-recent reign of the quite real King Louis XIVth – known, of course, as the Sun King. In the wake of the French Revolution and the bloodthirsty Terror, perhaps this Napoleon myth arose from the need of the people to establish a link with the glorious and safe past – a new, secular Sun King to ease their fears of the future while the world grew once again sane. It hardly needs pointing out that Napoleon’s advent into legend essentially begins with him bringing harmony and order back into the universe after the chaos of the Revolution’s death throes: thus identifying him with those notable mottoes, Ordo ab chao and Fiat lux! Just as Apollon slew the Delphic serpent Python, Napoleon delivered the coup de grace to the last, vicious death throes of the Revolution. The word “revolution” itself is etymologically derived from the Latin “ revolutus”, which may accurately be used to describe the curling of a serpent around its victim!
Thus, it is clearly seen that despite the volumes written of him, the alleged relics of his existence, Napoleon Bonaparte is a pure fabrication, a standard solar myth echoing the ancient pagan deities, and that all well-educated people everywhere should understand that as entertaining a story as it is, it is only that: a story.
With apologies to Jean-Baptiste Péres