Sleeping Kings: Jesus Christ, King Arthur, and Tupac Shakur

I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death

--Nas1

My young mind had limited martyrdom to those brothers and sisters in the hood who had fallen victim to gang retaliation and stray bullets. Jesus didn’t fit that equation. As far as I knew, he didn’t know those struggles nor what it meant to try to “make a dollar out of 15 cents.” Jesus was absolutely foreign to me and seeing the “Makaveli” cover art - which depicted Pac hanging from a wooden cross- may have been the first time that I saw a crucifixion portrayal that I could relate to.

--Rahiel Tesfamariam2

What do Jesus Christ, King Arthur, and Tupac Shakur have in common? 

They are all messianic figures slated to return one day in the future to save their people from some sort of trouble. Or, to use the mythological term for this framework, they are all examples of Sleeping Heroes3

To fit under the Sleeping Hero category, our heroes must have been removed from active participation from the current world as we know it, be prophesied to return or seen before their time to return has come, and must be a hero of a particular sect or group of people. 

Since Christianity has touched almost every aspect of our culture, everyone reading this is probably familiar with the Christian hope that Jesus will return to earth to judge the quick and the dead. And although the rapture is an optional concept in the broader eschatology of Christianity (in fact, the idea of Jesus actually returning is only one option, though the most vocal in America currently), the idea of Jesus returning perfectly fits into this mythological framework. He was crucified, rose from the dead (his sleep), was seen by many of his followers, sits currently at the right hand of God (removed from the world as we know it), and will return in a physical/spiritual since to our world as this age passes on to the next. 

For those who have read King Arthur and his mythologies, you will no doubt remember that there are several variants to his arc, so many in fact that it reminds me of the diversity concerning the eschatology of Christianity: 

After several battles in which many thousands were killed on each side, Arthur met Mordred in single combat during the Battle of Camlan and killed him but was himself badly wounded in the fight. Lucan and Bedivere moved him to a nearby chapel but Lucan died from his wounds soon after. The king ordered Bedivere to throw Excalibur into the lake, which he did only after twice disobeying the king’s orders. A hand came out of the water to receive the sword and carry it down into the depths. Bedivere then carried Arthur to the edge of the lake and placed him in the boat that was waiting to receive the king and carry him to Avalon. The king sailed off, attended by Morgan le Fay, the Queen of Northgales, the Queen of the Waste Land and, in some stories, Nimue. 
 

Some say that he still lives, renewing his youth by visiting the Holy Grail; some say he is sleeping on the mountain Y-Wyddea or in a cave awaiting recall when Britain is in need of him. The site of the cave is variously given as Alderley Edge, Cadbury, Craig-y-Dinas, Mount Etna, Ogof Lanciau Eryri, Ogo’r Dinas, Richmond Castle and Sewingshields. A dolmen in Trebuerden in Brittany is said to be the king’s tomb. Others maintain that he was turned into a bird such as a raven. His soul is said to be housed in a glass castle or, in some stories, embodied in the chough, the puffin or the raven. In the Welsh version, Arthur was killed by arrows in Snowdonia while pursuing the forces he had defeated at the Battle of Tregalen. His killer was said to be Eda Elyn Mawr. In Continental lore, Arthur went to Fairyland after his death. When Oberon handed the kingdom to Huon, Arthur, who had expected to receive the throne, objected. Oberon threatened to turn him into a werewolf, whereupon Arthur accepted the position. Other stories say that Arthur was in love with Oberon’s daughter, Gloriana. In some accounts he is equated with Charlemagne. 45

Although werewolf Arthur would have been awesome, the point is that there existed an expectation from 12th century on that Arthur would return. 

While it is debatable whether the messianic expectation for King Arthur was part of the original Arthur mythos to the same degree as the messianic expectation was part of the Christian mythos, it should not seem odd or unreasonable that we find Sleeping Messiahs among our modern culture.

Enters Makeveli, excuse me. Tupac Shakur and the developed/developing mythology around him and his untimely death: 

Top 10 reasons why people think he faked his death:

When I started looking into all the information and videos of people saying why Tupac is still alive, it really actually is surprising and interesting, because there is "more" evidence of him faking his death, than there is evidence of him being straight-dead. When you get into all the reasons of how he faked his death, it doesn't even seem like speculation, it seems like common sense. I will list here a few facts.

1. When Tupac Shakur was in prison, he had read a lot of books. In one of his interviews, he mentions he had read a book on Machiavelli. Niccolo Machiavelli was an Italian war strategist and had written many books on war. He advocates in his book to fake your death to fool your enemies. Niccolo faked his death and came back 18 years later to baffle his enemies that he was still alive. Many believe, Tupac is planning to come back in 2014 to play the same role as Machiavelli. I will get into more interesting facts about this later as we get along.

2. Shortly before Tupac's death, he had changed his stage name to "Makaveli". There are only two reasons why he would do this, either because he liked the name, or because he was planning to make this brilliant plan of faking his own death.

3. On the night of Tupac's death, people say a fan had taken a picture of him with the window rolled down at a red light. It shows him and Suge Knight in the car as if they were about to drive, but the thing is.. There were no keys in the car. Why would there be no keys in the car? A mistake, or did they purposely do that for some reason..

4. On the night of Tupac's death, there are 3 different scenarios of how he arrived at the hospital, why is this. 1st scenario, is that Tupac was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. 2nd is that, Suge Knight stated in an interview that "HE" rushed Tupac to the hospital himself. 3rdly, there was a lady who was interviewed on the news saying, that she saw Tupac going into a helicopter. Why were there 3 scenarios? To create confusion? Or just many stating what they think to put out a story in the news.

5. For some reason, and people brilliantly found out, is that there is a strange "7" theory resulting in his death. Tupac was shot on September, 7th and then had died 7 days later. People go on beyond this and say his official time of death was 4:03 AM, 4+3=7, Tupac was 25 when he had died 2+5=7, his latest album after his death had come out "7" months after he died. It goes on and on and many people think this, because his album was titled: Makaveli The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. It's a theory, so people looked into this theory.

6. People say if you rearrange "Makaveli" it forms into: K am alive. If you rearrange "Makaveli The Don Killuminati The 7 Day Theory" it rearranges to: Ok On Tha 7th U Think I'm Dead Yet Really Im Alive. What are the chances of those 2 things rearranging to that! I mean, ask any code specialist and what are the chances of that rearranging, unbelievable.

7. On Tupac's album it shows him on a cross like Jesus and says Exit: Tupac Enter: Makaveli. Some think this means he is going to return and are predicting his date to be in 2014 like Niccolo Machiavelli, because he had come back 18 years later. Also, Tupac said in a song "Expect me - - - - like you expect Jesus to come back expect me - - - -, I'm comin" I can't use profanity, haha, sorry.

8. 1 week after Tupac died, a video came out "I aint mad at cha" and it shows Tupac in heaven and a short clip at the beginning of him getting shot and dieing. Coincidence?

9. Many celebrities have stated Tupac is still alive, such as: New Jack, a former professional wrestler of the ECW, Treech someone who was close with Tupac, Suge Knight shocked people in 2012 to say that Tupac isn't really dead. Willow Smith Jada Smith's daughter, wrote a note to Tupac, saying she knows he's still alive, and to come back to make her mom happy. Jada and Tupac had a close relationship with eachother.

10. 1 week after Tupac was pronounced dead, 1000 people from from Haiti had called police saying they seen Tupac. 

(see: Did Tupac Shakur Fake His Own Death?)6

Here again we have a mythology developing around a hero. One in which the hero is removed from active participation (one conspiracist has Tupac in New Zealand allowing for a type of removal that still allows his alleged behind the scene activities which have been the source of serious and satiric considerations).7. He is prophesied to return in 2014 (though numbers can be adjusted). And he was seen in Haiti as well as allegedly seen by others (2pac coachella anyone?). 

Tupac is a perfect fit for a sleeping hero, although we do have to modernize what the sleeping part means. For early Christians, sleep was the inbetween (the time between death and resurrection). For the Arthur mythos, sleep is the magical suspension of time and decay in which a hero like Arthur is preserved. For 2pac and other gangstas, sleep is both death and the much worse circumstance in which another has the advantage/takes u 4 ur shit (such as getting you stash stolen by Omar little or shot to death by a rival who never gets caught.)

Our sleeping heroes give us hope because they have victory over our fears: Jesus over death, Arthur over time/decay, and 2pac over the grind. 

For those who which to further consider the religious implications of 2pac, I refer you to Rahiel Tesfamariam’s Tupac’s ‘Thug Life’, white -washed Jesus and the black church, or Daniel White Hodge’s Baptized in Dirty Water: The Missiological Gospel of Tupac Amaru Shakur

 
  • 1. Nas has reported that he adapted this phrase from an African saying that he heard in his home while growing up. Sleep, however, has a long poetic history and has been documented as being used by Virgil (Death's brother, Sleep. (70 BC - 19 BC), Aeneid . See RapGenius.com LINK for further information.
  • 2. Tesfamariam, Rahiel. "Tupac’s ‘Thug Life’, White -washed Jesus and the Black Church." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 19 Sept. 2012. Web. 23 Jan. 2014.
  • 3. Sleeping Hero folktales are also referred to as King In The Mountain, and more broadly are classified under Aarne-Thompson system for folktale motifs as number 766 under the Seven Sleepers
  • 4. COLEMAN, J. A. A. The dictionary of mythology. 2007.
  • 5. The possibility of Arthur's return is first mentioned by William of Malmesbury in the early 12th century: "But Arthur’s grave is nowhere seen, whence antiquity of fables still claims that he will return."[1] In the "Miracles of St. Mary of Laon" (De Miraculis Sanctae Mariae Laudensis), written by a French cleric named Herman in c. 1145 AD, but referring to events that occurred in 1113 AD, mention is made of the Breton and Cornish belief that Arthur still lived.[2] As Constance Bullock-Davies demonstrated, various non-Welsh sources indicate that this belief in Arthur's eventual messianic return was extremely widespread amongst the Britons from the 12th century onwards. How much earlier than this it existed is still debated – it was often linked to the expulsion of the English and Normans from Britain.[3] This did, in fact, remain a powerful aspect of the Arthurian legend through the medieval period and beyond. So John Lydgate in his Fall of Princes (1431–8) notes the belief that Arthur "shall resorte as lord and sovereyne Out of fayrye and regne in Breteyne" and Philip II of Spain apparently swore, at the time of his marriage to Mary Tudor in 1554, that he would resign the kingdom if Arthur should return.[4] (see King Arthur's Messianic Return)
  • 6. A less lazy writer would summarize rather than quote a length the summaries of another blogger. I, however, work in an hour and the economy of time has not afforded me a less lazy moment. 
  • 7. Chappelle's Show - 2Pac is Alive