While watching a national spelling bee, a contestant was asked to spell the word “deuteragonist.” To expand my vocabulary, it became my challenge to work that word into my conversations for the next week. But first, I had to understand a correct definition of deuteragonist.
No, it is not the fifth book in the Torah. It has nothing to do with colorblindness or with being an isotope of hydrogen. A deuteragonist is the second actor who accompanies the main protagonist in a play or story. In the Flintstones, Barney Rubble is the deuteragonist to the main protagonist Fred. Don Quixote had Sancho Panza, Oedipus had Jocasta, and Huck Finn had Jim. In the Bible, David had Jonathan, and Paul had Silas.
In the original Greek dramas, there was only one character (the protagonist) standing on stage speaking with a chorus. But to add a fresh viewpoint, a second actor (the deuteragonist) was incorporated into the play. Often the deuteragonist would wear outrageous masks to represent various characters that would have interaction with the protagonist. It added a spark of variety and moved the plot to the next level.
The protagonist never wore a mask except in more modern times. Now, we are all familiar with Batman, Spiderman, Zorro, and Erik (Phantom). So we now easily associate some masked protagonist characters as good. But, in early literature, it is only the deuteragonist who wore the mask.
Is there a spiritual truth to be found in the word deuteragonist? As Believers, we are second to Christ. He is to have the lead role in everything, and we are to respect that. Sometimes, we try to mask our true selves, but Jesus is never deceived. He sees right through us, and knows our heart – the good and the bad. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd and I know My sheep.” (John 10:14)