Encyclopedia Realmgardica: The Three Great Sages

The Three Great Sages

The Three Great Sages standing in an arcade.
The Three Great Sages depicting in The Academy of Imperialis. Sorphronius on the left, pointing out into the world of empirical experience; Zardax in the middle, pointing up to the metaphysical plane; Kevin on the right, lost in interior contemplation.

Sorphronius, Zardax, and Kevin, known as the Three Great Sages have historically been revered as among the wisest men ever to live in Realmgard. For generations, they have been upheld as paragons of wisdom and gentlemanly, upright conduct.

Little of the Three Great Sages’ biographies can be established with certainty. There are no surviving accounts of the Sages from their own lifetimes. All of the written sources came from at least a century later and these later authors present many contradictory details and often use the Sages as mouthpieces to legitimise their own philosophical positions.

This has let to a small but enduring scholarly faction that insists that the Three Great Sages are purely legendary figures, perhaps composites of actual learned individuals.

The general consensus, however, is that Sorphronius, Zardax, and Kevin are historical figures, with the acknowledgement that many of the most famous episodes of their lives are likely to be later literary inventions.

Though often grouped together and roughly contemporaneous to one another, there is little evidence that Sorphronius, Zardax, and Kevin were ever associates within their own lifetimes.

Often the subject of various famous proverbs, parables, and fables, the Three Great Sages also appear as secondary characters in various epic stories, offering counsel and aid to the heroes of these stories. Zardax is said to have provided the heroine Gladia with the soporific potion she used to slay the Aciarian Hydra, and Kevin laid three enchantments on the sword wielded by the hero Lupulus against the monster conjured by an evil sorcerer to assassinate the ruling Emperor, marking the blade with the blessed image of a phoenix.

The emblem of the league of Creusa: a phoenix and seven stars.

Famously, Sorphronius is often depicted as a successful ladies’ man, culminating in his wooing of the Amazon Queen Sophia. Given that the name Sophia means ‘wisdom’, this story is often interpreted as a metaphor for the philosophical life. Although there is at least one prominent Amazon leader named Sophia in the historical record, if she ever married at all, let alone married a figure as notable as one of the Three Great Sages, is not known.

An Amazon and two columns depicting the goddess Parthene.

Viewed as more or less equals in intellect and wisdom, the Three Great Sages nevertheless held conflicting views on philosophy and the nature of the world. Thus, the Sages lend their names to the three historically-dominant strains of philosophy in Realmgard: The Sorphronian School, the Zardacian School, and the Kevinonian School.

Although centuries of philosophical development have led to new schools of thought that have largely supplanted the three ancient schools, the teachings of the Three Great Sages are still widely-studied even their inescapable influence on all later philosophy — to the point that it is often said, with at least some degree of seriousness, that all later Realmgardian philosophy consists merely of footnotes to the Three Great Sages.

It is therefore unsurprising that in the celebrated painting known as The Academy of Imperialis — an allegorical painting depicting the greatest scholars and thinkers in Realmgard’s history — Sorphronius, Zardax, and Kevin are the central figures.