History and Fantasy
I have a confession:
- King Arthur
- Julius Caesar
- George Washington
All reside in roughly the same place in my brain. I know that two of those people are “definitely” real people, two of them are “definitely” fake, and one is maybe somewhere in the middle, but, eh. They're all just stories at this point.
I'm not crazy; if someone asked me “was Merlin a real person?” I'll say no. But honestly I think our modern perceptions of Caesar and even Washington bear very little resemblance to who those people actually were. And I think the “made up” people on this were probably also based on a real person originally, but at this point we've lost that connection so we say that they are nothing but a story.
And maybe this is the real confession, but I don't care. I don't care how “accurate” my view of Washington is. There are things I can learn from the stories we have about him. Someday I might want to read up on Caesar or Washington, but it's equally likely I'll want to read up on Achilles. And I believe I could learn something useful from studying any of those three people (even if one of them might never have been a person). But what is more interesting to me is how they are seen in the modern day, and the import that is attached to each of them as a touchstone for day to day life right now.