Ethical Performance in the Metamorphoses by Ovid

The Metamorphoses, otherwise known as the “Books of Transformations”, were written by a Roman Poet named Ovid and are made out of poems that chronicle the history of the world from its creation to the deification of Julius Caesar within a loose mythic-historical framework.

In this essay I will briefly review several different poems from the Metamorphoses in order to give you a basic understanding of them and I will also discuss the ethical performance of the gods in these stories according to Ovid:

Daphne and Apollo:

This is a story that involves Cupid, you know, the little boy with wings who flies around shooting people with his bow and arrow. In this story, a god named Apollo taunted Cupid. Cupid in response shot two different arrows, one of love and the other of repulsion. The first arrow hit Apollo and the latter hit Daphne, a nymph. This caused Apollo to fall deeply in love with her, but she absolutely hated him in response. Eventually she got so sick of him that she prayed to heaven and then she was turned into a laurel tree.

This all happened because of one small but powerful god, who just wanted revenge on Apollo for taunting him, yet it ruined the life of Daphne; who did nothing wrong in the first place. The implication of this story is that people are not in control of love and how there is nothing anyone can do to stop it.

Arachne and Minerva:

A goddess named Minerva had been teaching a human named Arachne to weave. Eventually Arachne thinks that she is the better at weaving than Minerva so they have a contest which Arachne wins. This angers Minerva who then attacked Arachne physically. In response to this Arachne tries to hang herself, but then Minerva steps in and turns her into a spider.

The lesson of this story is that humans must submit to the hierarchy of the gods. If they don’t, they will receive negative sanctions which is the pattern you will start to see in these stories.

Niobe:

Niobe is a wealthy, beautiful and powerful human being who resents the worship of the goddess Latona. She compares herself with the goddess, saying how she had 14 children instead of only 2. This did not sit will Latona who then got the help of Apollo and Artemis, two warrior deities, who swooped down and killed all 14 children, after which Niobe’s husband commits suicide. Latona then turns Niobe into a mountain which sheds tears.

Again, the god’s form of punishment is turning you into an object of nature because of your ethical rebellion, in which you are no longer able to influence history or make ethical decisions. No mercy, no second chances, not even a warning is given.

Marsays:

Marsays was a Satyr who one day challenged Apollo to a music contest. The winner would be able to do whatever he wanted with the loser. When Apollo wins, he brings his whip down upon the poor Satyr who starts pleading Apollo for mercy. But Apollo doesn’t listen and flays him alive. Upon learning of the Satyr’s death the creatures of the region cry and their tears become a river.

This is a different story from the rest because the wrong-doer does not actually become an object of nature since he is already dead, rather, the tears shed for him become nature.

Julius Caesar, Transformed into a Star:

Apparently the gods cared about what happened to Julius Caesar, because in this story the goddess Venus pleads Jupiter for Caesar’s life (who was about to be murdered.) Jupiter says that fate has said otherwise and that there was nothing he could do. Venus then asks that Caesar be make a god, to which Jupiter agrees and authorizes her to make him a god. However, Caesar’s son Octavian has performed greater feats than his father, therefor his soul is now divine and he too will become a god after his death.

In conclusion: There are positive and negative sanctions that the gods give in these stories. The positive sanction is that they make you into a god and the negative sanction is that they turn you into an object of nature (except in the case of Marsays).

As for Ovid’s view of the gods’ ethical performance? I may be wrong, but perhaps Ovid would agree with me when I say that the gods’ ethical performance is comparable to that of a spoiled child who always gets their way. On the other had he may have been completely in favor of the way the gods behaved… it’s hard to say.

Whatever the answer is, I believe the main theme that Ovid would have wanted us to take away from his poems, is that pride (the main cause of the negative sanctions) is something we should all be wary of.

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Posted in English, Uncategorized, Western Literature | 1 Comment

Departure from Ideals and Practices of Classical Beliefs & the Relationship between Rome and the Visigoths

As Christianity became a more and more popular belief in the ancient world, we can see how it affected the common ideals and practices of Classical Civilizations like Greece and Rome.

The Christians in those days did not completely ignore those ideals, saying that they could be used to help Greeks and Romans to convert, but then again, many of the Christian beliefs differed greatly from what was commonly believed in Classical times.

For example, Christianity taught people to love their enemies. This was of course an ideal that was very foreign in Greek and Roman culture, as you were expected to either kill or defeat your enemy. Christianity also emphasized the need to take care of widows, orphans, the sick and the poor. This is why Rome’s first hospital was founded by a woman named Fabiola (monasteries also played a role in this).

Another very strong belief that Christianity held was the idea of sympathy. In Stoicism, it was beneath yourself to sympathize with those in need. Yes, you should help them, but don’t even think about trying to share their sorrows. This was the exact opposite that Christianity taught. As a Christian you should try to reflect Christ, which meant you were supposed to help those in need while at the same time sympathizing with them and expect nothing back in return.

Stoicism held the belief that it was honorable to commit suicide. The reasoning behind this is that the more self-control you have the better. Hence, if you were a Stoic, you should choose when, where and how to die. Again, Christianity stands for the exact opposite: life is sacred and should not be thrown away because it was given to you by God. Christianity also strongly discouraged infanticide, the practice of killing infants or leaving them to die, for the same reasons presented against suicide.

What about the relationship between the Romans and the Visigoths?

The Visigoths were a certain group of Germanic people (otherwise known as barbarians) who went to Rome seeking refuge from the Huns (brutal warriors from the east). The Romans eventually let them in, but under one condition; that they hand over their youth to be enslaved. The Visigoths had no choice but to agree. Things eventually became worse as time moved on and the Visigoths soon revolted against the Romans.

By doing this they actually managed to overthrow Rome and kill the Emperor! As vicious as this sounds, the Visigoths actually regarded Rome with respect and acknowledged that their civilization was superior in many ways.

To conclude, the Christians changed western civilization for the better and the relationship between Rome and the Visigoths did not end well for the Romans.

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The Monks of Europe and the Christian Attitude towards the Philosophers of Ancient Greece

When Rome was falling into disorder, the Monks where there to keep things in order:

Henry Goodell once said: “They saved agriculture when nobody else could save it

The European monks used waterpower to crush wheat and did other things like sieve flour, fulling cloth, tanning, metallurgy, copying manuscripts, and last but not least: teach.

Interesting Fact: Before the Monks were around, people looked down on physical labor because that was the work of slaves and poor people in ancient days. However, the Monks made physical labor an honorable and righteous thing to do because they believed that it sanctified the body.

As the monks became more and more influential in ancient days, you start to wonder what the Christian Attitude towards the philosophers of Ancient Greece was:

You might have the impression that a Christian in ancient days would want to completely disregard the writings of the Greek philosophers like Plato. When in fact, the exact opposite is true.

For example, Clement of Alexandria in “An Exhortation to the Greeks” states that the Seeds of Christianity may be found in the Greeks’ own writings. Aristotle himself taught one Godhead, Stoics believed in divine providence and Plato’s “Timaeus” refers to a Father and Maker of the universe.

A church historian named Eusebius of Caesarea in “Praeparatio Evangelica” wrote that Greek philosophy was a preparation for the Gospel. This is true in a way because of Plato’s belief in immortality and his moral teachings, but that’s not to say that he was without error. (Plato also believed in the pre-existence of the soul and reincarnation, which have nothing to do with traditional Christian beliefs).

Bottom line, Christians were very open to the Greek teachings because they believed that studying the material would help them better relate to the Greeks, meeting them halfway by embracing what’s good in classical beliefs, while also giving them the Gospel.

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The Importance of Rhetorical Context in Cicero’s Orations

If you are familiar with ancient Rome and its variety of famous people, or you are a student of rhetoric or public speaking, then you have probably heard of Cicero, a master of rhetoric and public speaking in Ancient Rome.

Since Cicero had recently been elected consul, his former competitor for the consulship, a man named Catiline and his group of conspirators were becoming a growing threat to Cicero, who decided to undermine them using the power of his words over different orations.

After flinging powerful accusations at Catiline with absolutely no evidence to support them, Cicero actually convinces Catiline and his band of conspirators to leave the city, but that was not the end of his verbal war against Catiline.

The next thing he did was appeal to the people of Rome in order to convince them that Catiline was an enemy of the republic, and that everyone who was associated with him was a long list of unappealing titles, portraying them as scoundrels.

He also appealed to the senate, saying that they must choose either between his cause: liberating Rome of this man and his followers, or Catiline’s cause, a man whom Cicero portrayed as the downfall of Rome. He made it look like a classical “good against evil” case, himself as “the good guy” and Catiline as “the bad guy”.

This is a good tactic that is constantly used by writers who want to get their reader’s interest in order to make them care about the outcome. For example, J.R.R. Tolkien in “The Lord of the Rings” created a fantasy world of good and evil in which the good guys fight against the bad guys, and this is also the case in nearly every other book or movie. The main point is that people like it when the good the guy wins, Cicero knew this and used it to his advantage in his speeches.

Of course, that was not the only thing he used to his advantage. In the end, Cicero gets his way thanks to his wits, eloquence and persuasiveness in rhetoric and public speaking. Five of Catiline’s men were executed, which in turn scares off Catiline’s army (yes, believe it or not he did have an army).

Conclusion: We all have something to learn from this great thinker of ancient times, whether it’s how he used his words, or how he became such an influential man:

Interestingly enough, Cicero graciously stated that he did not need or want a monument of himself because of what he did to “save” Rome. He said that he simply wanted to be remembered for what he did. And since western rhetoric was shaped by him, I think it’s fair to say that his wish was granted.

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Christian Life between the letter of Pliny to the Reign of Constantine

Pliny was a governor of Rome who one day wrote a letter to Emperor Trajan concerning Christianity. In the letter, he explains that he did not see anything wrong with the Christians’ behavior and that their actions seemed mostly harmless. He also asked Trajan what he should do about the Christians who were brought before him, but then claimed not to be Christians.

Trajan responds to his letter by saying that he was doing the right thing: not actively seeking Christians out. However, if one is brought before you and refuses to denounce their faith, then you should execute them. The Christians were still technically illegal because they did not worship the Roman gods. Whether or not they were turned in was mostly dependent on how the people around them felt about their faith; some places in the Roman Empire were more hostile towards Christians than others.

From the time between Trajan’s and Constantine’s reign, there are various “differences” of how the Christians were treated. The main change of behavior towards Christians was under Emperor Diocletian and was called “The Great Persecution”. It was a time where the Christians were forced to come out and offer sacrifices for the Emperor. All those who refused were executed and/or had their property confiscated.

Under the reign of Constantine and the Edict of Milan, we see much more toleration towards the Christians who could now live without worry because Constantine believed that the Christian God aided him in securing his place as Emperor.

Posted in History, Uncategorized, Western Civilization I | Leave a comment

The Liebster Award

Thank you Ashley for nominating me, I love the questions you asked and hope you don’t mind that I used the rules below from your site:

Rules for the Award

1.Thank the blog who nominated you and link back to them.

2. Make a blog post outlining 11 facts about you.

3. Answer the 11 questions from the blog who nominated you.

4. Write 11 questions for those you will nominate.

5. Nominate 5-11 new bloggers who have less than 200 followers

11 Facts About Me:

1. I’m half German

2. I have a younger brother

3. I love to be outside

4. I hate the desert

5. I’ve been to New Zealand

6. I love America

7. I’m very Artistic

8. I love to play Minecraft

9. My favorite color is blue

10. I’m a libertarian

11. I’m a born again Christian

My Answers to Ashley’s Questions:

1. What’s your favorite animal? Horses.

2. Who’s your favorite character in the Bible? Besides Jesus, Ruth.

3. What’s your favorite pastime? Leatherworking.

4. What’s your favorite season? Spring.

5. Who is your hero? Donald Trump.

6. What’s your favorite movie? The Hobbit, “The Desolation of Smaug”.

7. What’s your dream car? A Toyota Highlander.

8. What’s your favorite plant? A Cherry Tree

9. If you got an invitation from Donald Trump to meet him at the White House, would you take it? Definitely!!

10. Have you ever ridden a horse? Yes, many times.

11. What do you want to do when you grow up? A Real Estate Agent.

11 Questions for My Nominees:

1. What’s your favorite environment?

2. What’s your favorite book category?

3. What’s your favorite song?

4. What’s your favorite food?

5. What’s your favorite subject in school?

6. What are your hobbies?

7. What’s your favorite mythical creature?

8. What’s your favorite musical instrument?

9. What’s your favorite animal?

10. What’s your favorite movie?

11. What’s your dream/life goal?

My Nominees:

1. Allison

2. Lukas

3. Maxine

4. Justice

5. Mary

Nominees, please post a link to your post in the comments! Thanks 🙂

~Hanna

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My Future Business

Since I am someone who enjoys being creative while at the same time being able to give people joy through the products that I make, I plan on starting an online leather business through Etsy.

The great thing about Etsy is that it allows and makers and buyers all over the world to easily sell and buy products online, and Etsy does the rest for you. All you have to do as a seller is make the item and send it off to whomever bought it.

I plan to start off by selling leather belts and archery accessories, and maybe I will add more items to that list later on. (You may see what I mean by archery accessories if you visit my other website).

Since leatherworking is a craft, I will have to find a way to brand myself using a “maker’s mark” which is basically a logo that gets imprinted into the item using a stamp. The stamp and logo will cost a pretty penny, but I think it’s worth it in the long run.

The leatherworking industry is a great market to work in because leather is such a useful and versatile commodity. Another benefactor of leatherworking is that it takes a lot of tools and talent to make products out of leather, making this opportunity limited which means that there will not be too much competition to deal with. That is why I consider this a long term business opportunity, and I hope to get started as soon as possible!

Posted in Business, Uncategorized | 2 Comments