Wily Odysseus emerged as a hero in the poem, “Odysseus Strings His Bow”. He fought in many battles that cost him separation from his family. He did not give up until he was re-united with his family. At first, he was the king of Ithaca, an implication that he possessed excellent leadership skills.
In the course of his life at one time Odysseus fell in love with Helen’s cousin Penelope. Penelope bore him a son whom they named Telemachus. He was afraid that this would be known and to cover for the same he pretended to be insane. His scheme was discovered by Palamedes who placed his child (Palamedes’) to find out if really Odysseus was insane. It was expected that he (Odysseus), being insane, could harm the child but he did not. This led to a conclusion by the others that he was not insane (Historylink 1).
Odysseus was also a brave and clever warrior. He formulated the trick of the great wooden horse to give victory to the Greeks. This idea brought an end to the war of Trojans and Greeks which had taken a period of ten years (Historylink 1).
Odysseus had left his wife Penelope who had faithfully waited for him till he came back. She had made promises to him that she would wait for him. Penelope had made all efforts to avoid marrying another man. At the time of his return, many people believed that Odysseus was dead (McIlvain 1). He was a hero because he had for himself a very faithful wife.
The long away stay of Odysseus made people think that he was dead. A group of men took over his palace and had even tried to date his wife. One of the suitors, Antinous wanted to kill Odysseus’s son who was meant to be the next prince. Telemachus had made efforts to get these people out of the palace but they overpowered him (Notes 1).
On his way home, Odysseus encountered many gods on the way. Some of the gods such as Poseidon had issues with Odysseus. Athena was the one who pleaded with Poseidon to let him go to his home Ithaca. Odysseus was famous even to the gods who had heard of his victories: “When he identifies himself as Odysseus, his hosts, who have heard of his exploits at Troy are stunned” (Notes 1).
Odysseus finally made it to his home. Surprisingly, not even his wife could recognize him, apart from his nurse, Eurycleia. Odysseus was angered by the condition of his palace. Maids went to sleep with suitors at night. Athena a god asked him to stop his anger and appreciate what he had: wife Penelope, son Telemachus and the palace (McIlvain 20).
Odysseus made a long conversation with his wife Penelope who could not recognize him. She told him of how much she missed her husband. This was where the nurse recognized him as he cleaned his feet. The nurse recognized a scar that was on his feet but Odysseus’ look stopped her from telling Penelope (McIlvain 19). He was a hero because he made it to have a long conversation with his wife ensuring that she did not recognize him.
Penelope then decided to put up a contest. She said that the man who would be able to string Odysseus’ great bow and fire it through a row of twelve axes would become his husband. She chose this contest because only his husband Odysseus had been able to do it. Odysseus had not revealed his identity. He looked like a beggar all this time. The beggar, Odysseus asked for the bow to try. Antinous mocked him. Surprisingly, he effortlessly stringed the bow and sent it through the axes (McIlvain 21). This skill was a character of a hero as well as outdoing all other men.
Odysseus in anger turned against Antinous and the maids and killed them. Finally, Penelope was reunited with her husband after revealing to her that he was Odysseus. He was a hero because he could do anything to achieve his goal (McIlvain 22). He was re-united with his wife because of one special skill of using a bow. He convinced his wife Penelope that he was Odysseus by telling her about the bed he had made from a still rooted olive tree which was only known to him (McIlvain 24).
Faith and Religion in “The Wife of Bath”
This poem was based on Christian values in marriage. The poem was derived from the Bible; 1Corinthaians 7:1-9. Behaviour of women was described and outlined by Christian traditions. Christianity guided morals in the society. The speaker told of how marriage was for her. Since she was 12 years of age she had been married five times in church. All the men she married were well up and had inherited wealth (McIlvain 1).
Marriage in this context was based on Christian values. One was only supposed to wed once: “That since Christ went never but once, to a wedding, in the Cana of Galilee, that by that same example he taught me, that I should be wedded but once” (Benson 1).
The tale teller also used the Bible to justify her multiple marriages. She used some examples like that of Jacob, and Abraham and claimed that they were saints but never had more than one wife. She said this in a tone of persuasion. The tale teller narrated her experiences using Biblical quotes:
Lo, here the wise king, dan Solomon, I believe he had wives more than one, As would God it were lawful unto me, To be refreshed half so often as he! What a gift of God had he because of all his wives! (Benson 1)
Christianity was the basis of morality. Those who were able to uphold the moral standards were very few. There were two characters that played different roles in the church, the pardoner and the Summoner. They were corrupt. The pardoner was the one received those who had sinned while the summoner was responsible bringing the sinner to the church. The summoner had committed a crime that he accused others for.
The poem was made of instances of preaching so it could teach on faith. The preaching was made of rules and texts from the Bible. The preacher could explain the Biblical principles to the audience who had little knowledge about the scriptures. These teachings could thus explain the moral theories of this society.
In this story, the pilgrims were knowledgeable in that they knew the basic rules that are laid by the Bible from the sermons they heard in church. The pardoner used many supporting scriptures to justify immoral behaviours of the drunks. He quoted people from the Bible such as Herod, Lot and the sins they committed in their drunkenness. The pardoner was very corrupt in that he used scriptures to justify his immoral actions.
The tale described faith in Christianity. It said that those who lived in chastity were following Christian teachings. Those people would always sing a new hymn. This was a call to perseverance in whatever one went through. The most important thing was to obey God’s commands so as to make it to heaven.
The Prince: Machiavellian Philosophy
“The Prince” story was written by Niccolo Machiavelli. He dedicated his writings to his grandson on how to maintain power as a leader. His advice was his philosophy. He had previously been a leader of Florence in Italy. His experiences with Politician Cesare Borgia were ruthless.
He drew his writings from his leadership skills. This was because the tactics he used in to rule people at that time worked out for them. His message was on how his grandson could protect himself as a Prince. Maintenance of power was his main interest. Machiavelli had been accused of conspiracy which led to his imprisonment. This was when he wrote this story, “The Prince” (Amazon 1).
Firstly, Machiavellian offered his philosophies on how to retain power as a prince. In the first chapter, he recommended imitation of the style and techniques of rulers who had previously made it to rule over their territories (Amazon 1). He described two types of states, Republics or Principalities.
Principalities included new and hereditary principalities. His perspective was that it was easier to govern hereditary states because those who were ruled by the state family were familiar with the ruling of the prince family and the subjects would always love the ruling family unless they misbehaved (Notes 1).
Secondly, as a Prince one was supposed to limit the freedom of citizens (Amazon 1). Princes were supposed to have dominion over weak surrounding states. The prince was also supposed to weaken the strong states. He believed that the weaker states would always naturally support the stronger side and thus the prince power would not be at threat (Notes 1).
The prince was supposed to have a strong military force that was made of local people and not foreigners. He thought that foreigners could not be trusted. Skills in leading the troops were very essential for the prince (Amazon 1). This would secure the Prince’s power.
He also believed that a prince was supposed to use violence, trickery and insincerity to gain his political interests. On this, he recommended that a prince was not supposed to use these tactics unnecessarily (Amazon 1): “It makes him (ruler) hated above all things, as I have said, to be rapacious, and to be a violator of the property and women of his subjects, from both of which he must abstain” (Amazon 1).
He said that a prince was supposed to increase the wealth of the state by whichever means whether good or bad. The reason for this was so as to ease the burden of paying taxes to his citizens (Amazon 1). Plundering of enemy’s money or treasury was one of the tactics if an opportunity presented itself to him. However, his advice to the prince was to increase taxes if need arose to maintain his state.
The prince was also supposed to strike a balance of generosity to the citizens. Doing according to the will of citizens was an important tactic of maintaining ruler ship; but the prince was not supposed to always follow their wish (Amazon 1). To guard against crime in his state, the prince was supposed to have punishments which could suit the criminals fairly.
Very harsh punishments were not recommended because they could trigger hatred of citizens to the prince. On the other hand, if little punishment was given to great criminals, people would complain and probably overthrow his kingdom. He put it that it was better for people to hate the prince other than to love him, but his actions was supposed to avoid people’s hatred (Amazon 1).
The Prince was supposed to appoint court officials who were trustworthy and able to tell the truth without fear of offending the ruler. However, they were supposed to serve for the ruler’s interest (Amazon 1).
Similarities between Quran and Analects
The Quran and The Analects are used to guide moral principles in societies. Quran is used as a holy book for the Muslims and Analects of Confucius are used by the Chinese. The two books guide the believers on how to live a good fulfilling life.
The two books uphold good morals. Everyone who follows the rules and guidelines set by them gets a reward. The Qur’an recommends moral values including “genuineness, sincerity, modesty, peacefulness, compassion, justness, tolerance and forgiveness” (Yahya 1). Analects of Confucius have moral teachings. The Analects encourage people to love each other. People are not supposed to mistreat each other. Leaders are not allowed to show selfishness to other people (Ross 1).
The two books encourage people to treat each other in a fair manner. People are supposed to treat others as they would like to be treated. The Analects advocates for the following:
If what you don’t want for yourself, you shouldn’t do to others, and then you would like others to do for you what you would indeed like for yourself…If you desire to establish yourself, then establish others. (Ross 1)
In Qur’an, righteousness demands one to spend for the sake of love of other people. The Qur’an encourages that people should treat each other with respect irrespective of their social standing (Ipaki 1).
Good things follow those who obey the rules and laws set by the two books. In Analects, a good leader was easily obeyed even without having to use force on the people. The bad leader without good morals could not be obeyed even if he gave orders to the people (Ross 1).
Both books honour human life. Violence is discouraged in both the Quran and Analects. Killing of the innocent is prohibited in the Quran.
If someone kills another person, unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth- it is as if he had murdered all mankind. And if anyone gives life to another person, it is as if he had given life to all mankind. (Ipaki 1)
Confucius said that a good government does not need to kill. Having good example in leadership would help people to obey the rules (Ross 1).
The two books uphold morality above all other things. The conditions and situations in which one is subjected to should never corrupt his moral values. In Analects, “The Gentleman doesn’t worry about pay, profit, or poverty in comparison to Morality” (Ross 1). In Quran the emphasis is on avoiding the wrong, “A good action and a bad action are not the same. Repel the bad with something better” (Ipaki 1).
Goodness is connected to ritual in Analects (Ross 1). In Quran, if any deed is not for Gods pleasure, the deed becomes unrighteous. All good things done for other people should have their intensions in pleasing God (Ipaki 1).
The two books condemn stealing and support acquisition of wealth in the right way. Analects say, “Everyone wants wealth and rank, but can only get them in the right way” (Ross 1). Violence was never supposed to be the means of wealth acquisition. The Quran condemns mischief and the corrupt people are subject to a curse (Ipaki 1).
Amazon. The Prince. Cumming study Guides, n.d. Web. 14 June 2011
Benson, Larry. The wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale.Harvard, 2008. Web. 13 June, 2011
Historylink. Odysseus. History, 2004. Web. 13 June, 2011.
Ipaki. Righteous Deeds. Ipak, n.d. Web. 14 June, 2011.
McIlvain, John. The Odyssey. Leasttern, 2004. Web. 13 June, 2011.
Notes, Spark. The Prince. Spark Notes, 2011. Web. 14 June, 2011.
Ross, Kelley. Confucius. Friesian, 2011. Web. 14 June, 2011.
Yahya, Harun. True wisdom described in the Qur’an. Harunyahya, 2011. Web. 14 June, 2011.