Archetypes: Satire and Satirist
The implication that was made at the beginning of the last chapter, that fate has to do with satire, now demands some attention. With Esu established as a fate god and essence, this implication should become clearer and more obvious as we resolve the relationship between the god and satire. To do this effectively, we shall have to establish a definition of satire, especially one that will eventually apply to Esu and that emphasizes his satiric power--his appellation, Elegba (short form of Elegbara, which means "the tough or problematic encounter").
The trouble with the term "satire," as many scholars on the subject have explained in the attempt to define it, is its protean image, since the word has acquired so many meanings and forms in its development through the ages.1 Unlike tragedy, comedy, and so on, the term, as G. L. Hendrickson points out, is "an indispensable label not only for scenes and situations of private and public life, but especially for the characterizations of almost every form of literary expression."2 Edward and Lilian Bloom, taking a similar point of view, evoke an image of Mercury for satire's chameleon nature:
Like the god Mercury, satire is elusive and variable, wearing many disguises and satisfying many explanations. Even as the deity adroitly roamed from high to low--as orator and trickster, as fleet messenger and patron of the marketplace--so satire has always demonstrated its adaptability to circumstance and intention.3
This latter observation is in fact very useful, from our knowledge of Esu so far, and it obviously anticipates, in part, our conclusion about Esu as satire and satirist.