Week Eleven: Justice

Assignment Twenty-three: How does the view of ethical cause and effect in history in Works and Days compare with the furies’ view in The Eumenides?

(English)

Works and Days was a book written by Hesiod to communicate the important things in life, and how to handle different situations. His stance on justice was very clear. If you go against justice, Zeus would punish you. Justice was supposedly Zeus’s daughter, and he listened to her. If someone didn’t get properly punished for his deeds, Justice would nag at Zeus until they were dealt with. he emphasized the importance of doing justice and the consequences of doing evil. Integrity is what makes a person worthy of good things, and those who have integrity will live long and prosperous lives. Those who are lacking in integrity will never live fulfilled lives, and will always find themselves wanting in one area or another. Works and Days dealt with overall justice and talked about it in many areas.Hesiod Works and Days Lattimore.jpgIn The Eumenides, the furies’ view of justice was very similar. They believed that justice could only be brought with violence. They took this approach while attempting to deal with Orestes. The furies’ view of ethical cause and effect had a lot to do with revenge. It was constant revenge. The furies only came after a person when that person killed a member of the family. What is strange is that they seem more interested in matriarch murder than in patriarch. The Eumenides  spoke about only one kind of justice. The justice that this book spoke of referred only to one is one killed their parents (or another of their kin).

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Both The Eumenides and Works and Days talk extensively of justice. However, they vary in their interpretation of what justice is. In Works and Days, justice is divine rulings given by Zeus, as well as a physical goddess. In The Eumenides, justice is revenge upon those who have killed your relatives. Although these two literary works support similar theories of ethical cause and effect, they apply the theory differently. Both agree that good ethics yield good results and bad ethics yield disaster. However, Works and Days applies this theory to many different aspects of life, and the Eumenides applies it to only one, the murder of one’s parents.

Week Ten: The Aeneid​

Assignment Twenty-two: Why do you think this great literary work has also been called an exercise in political propaganda?

(Western Civilization)

The literary work in question is called the Aeneid. The Aeneid was written by Virgil during the reign of Augustus. The purpose of the Aeneid was to have an Epic for Rome. Greece had the Illiad, and Rome believed they too should have a great work of historical literature. Virgil was commissioned to write such a work by Augustus, who admired his poetic form of writing. Augustus even asked Virgil to write him a letter because it was said that Virgil’s writing was so beautiful. Upon reading this letter, Augusts decided to ask Virgil to write a book worthy of being on the same level as the Illiad.

Virgil set to work writing the Aeneid. In the Aeneid, he praised Augustus very strongly and made him out to be almost godly. Though he himself was a republican, he saw that Rome needed one strong leader to govern over Rome and keep everything orderly. Though the Aeneid was full of stories and wise words, it was also filled with political propaganda in favor of Augustus.

Week Ten: He Should Have…

Assignment Twenty-One: What would have been Orestes’ proper course of action, had he been living today? Why?

(English)

This is a very messed up family were talking about here. Firstly, Agamemnon’s wife killed him in revenge for him sacrificing their daughter. Then Orestes killed his mother for killing his father. Obviously, there are so many things wrong with this picture. The question I was asked to answer today strikes me as silly because of this. What should Orestes have done instead?

How about not murdering his mother? That’s a good start. If I were in his shoes, I would have called the police and let them handle it. Though why the police wouldn’t have been called sooner is beyond me. Another reason I find the question funny is because the question assumes that this would have ever happened in modern days. It wouldn’t have. It would have never happened because Agamemnon would never have sacrificed his daughter if he hadn’t been trying to appease a god, and he would have never had to appease that god if he hadn’t been the trojan war. So if Agamemnon had never had sacrifice is eldest daughter Iphigenia, then his wife Clytemnestra would have never murdered him (or Cassandra). And if she hadn’t murdered her husband, her son would have never murdered her!

So it wouldn’t have ever happened in modern days, and not because there aren’t some parts of the world that still practice human sacrifice; not because they would have had more reason in their heads; and not because they could read Dr. Phil books. It simply wouldn’t have ever happened because they would have never experienced what they went through which was the reason they acted as they did. But for a moment, supposing that there was a perfect recreation of the Trojan war situation, and all that did occur, I would firstly; go to the authorities, secondly; get my mother some spiritual or/and mental help, and thirdly; get myself some mental help. Thinking about it, I would also get my surviving sibling some help too. Needless to say, there were many other ways this situation could have been handled. In my opinion, the best solution is the one offered above.

I don’t know every aspect of their family dynamics, or if their loved each other, or if they were even very close. But I do know that if something like that were to ever happen in my family, I’d be heartbroken. My family is so important to me, and I like to think that we’re close to each other. When we read about Agamemnon and his family, it’s really easy to find fault with them and their actions. But thinking about it as though I were in a situation like that gives me new sympathy for what they went through. They were probably very broken too. I’m not saying that what they did was right by any means, and I’m not making excuses for them. But it’s important to understand that none of them were really in their right minds after that trauma.

 

Week Nine: Aeschylus’s View of the Trojan War

Assignment Twenty: What was Aeschylus’s view of the Trojan war?

(English)

War is destructive no matter where it takes place or who partakes of it. Aeschylus saw this, especially in the Trojan war. He believed that war was utterly destructive. He wrote in his play that war only brought disaster at home, and only loss was gained by war. If you returned from war, you were a hero. Hero’s pride evokes jealousy from the gods, and they will come down and smite out down out of envy. He told warriors to take heed returning from the battlefield less the gods become jealous. He thought this concerning the Trojan war as well. His view wasn’t a very popular on considering the Trojan war was pretty much the bible of classical Greece.

In short, he viewed the Trojan war as destructive. Making the gods envious was never wise. Heroes and warriors made the gods jealous as people treated them as though they were gods. It made the Furies angry. We can see that he was so devoted to this idea that he wrote a whole play depicting the results of war in the home. In reading this play, we can see his opinion on the Trojan war. So much calamity befell the main character Agamemnon, and it ultimately resulted in his murder by his wife. Such was Aeschylus’s opinion on the Trojan war.

Week Nine: The Struggle of Orders

Assignment Nineteen: What specific changes occurred in Roman society as a result of the Struggle of the Orders?

(Western Civilization)

The Struggle of Orders occurred when the two groups of Roman society clashed: The Patricians and the Plebeians. The Patricians were about 130 wealthy families who had control over the Senate and acted as rulers over Rome. The Plebeians were the people unfortunate enough not to have been born into a wealthy family: commoners. The Patricians were considered to be the elite class and had a lot of influence and power in the Roman government (Primarily because they were the only ones in the Roman government), while the Plebeians were considered lower creatures. As you might have presumed, the Plebeians weren’t happy about this at all. Thus came about the Struggle of Orders between the two groups. But what was the result? The result was so much larger than I had anticipated as I learned about this group. I hadn’t thought the Plebeians would have succeeded so greatly! They were up against the entire government after all. But succeed they did!

Before the Struggle of Orders happened, there were certain rules that Rome followed in respect to the two groups. When land was conquered it was sold to the rich (Patricians) not even giving the Plebeians a chance to buy it. It wasn’t though the land was overly expensive, in fact; it was sold rather cheaply. Intermarriage between the two groups was prohibited: if you were a Patrician, you could not marry a Plebeian; vice versa. Another rule was that Patricians could not be enslaved for debt, but the Plebeians could be enslaved or imprisoned by the loaners at any time! Obviously, things were not balanced. Along with the fact that Plebeians were deprived of any political power! They were powerless. Unable to become Patricians, unable to marry Patricians, liable to become the Patricians’ slaves, and unable to stop the Patrician oppression through means of the government.

Something had to give. There was no balance, and there was no justice for the Plebeians. And give it did. Through the years 494-287 BC, the Patrician’s privileges slowly gave way in favor of the Plebeians. The Plebeians became more involved in the government, earning the right to veto any law they felt was unjust or unwise. These people were called tribunes and  were declared sacrosanct. They also established and “eye-for-an-eye” justice system. This system applied to you whether or not you her a Patrician or a Plebeian. Intermarriage because legal as well. It didn’t matter what group you were from, you were allowed to marry into the other group if you so chose. Debt slavery was also abolished, though they still had a very strict way of dealing with people who didn’t pay.

Even with all these monumental changes, Rome was still dominated by the aristocratic families. Even into the fourth century AD, Patricians still wore special shoes and had high ranking social status. They had much less influence over the government, and things were much better balanced than they had been. The Plebeians had succeeded in their goal. They had fought for balance and equality, and for the most part, they were victorious. They were a large part of the government, intermarriage was allowed, debt slavery was abolished, and  the justice system wasn’t slanted in either direction. These were the results of the Struggle of Orders.

Week Eight: Epicureanism

Assignment Eighteen: Based on the principle doctrines, explain the basic idea of Epicureanism.

(Western Civilization)

What was Epicureanism? Epicureanism the philosophy that rejected determinism (the belief that humans aren’t responsible for any of their wrong doings because an external force is making humans act on everything they ever do) and believed that we should never worry about death or the gods. They were a very laid back religion believing that mental pleasure was divine and that everyone should seek pleasure that lasts a long time. You might find pleasure in eating something sweet, but as soon as it’s eaten, it’s gone. Epicureanism was the belief that we should seek marriage and relationships: pleasure that lasts our  whole lives.

They believed that when one had found true pleasure, their body and soul would no longer feel pain, and they were divine. The ultimate goal was so live in this pleasureful state, but to keep wisdom always at the forefront of their mind lest they become foolish and lazy. It was said that once one entered into this pleasureful limbo, knowing truth would be like the other five senses.

In fact, there were actually schools to this religion, but they didn’t last because of all the criticisms they received. In short, those who practiced Epicureanism had two ultimate goals: firstly, to seek pleasure in all things, and lastly to have as much fun as they possibly could.

Week Eight:

Assignment Seventeen: What was Hesiod’s view of mankind’s past and future?

(English)

Hesiod believed that as time went on, things became worse and that the ancients were wise and should be given heed. He believed that men become more immoral as time went on. They became weak, rebellious, and immoral in their lives. He stressed this to Persus in his letter to him. He believed that as time would go forwards, the deterioration of man would continue. He believed in cause and effect, that every man should take responsibility for his own actions, and that the actions of man would influence the future generations. Through his letter, we can clearly see that he attempted to live according to what he believed as morally correct: paying close attention to the seasons, gods, harvests, and omens.