Beowulf Response

I really enjoyed reading this epic tale. I found Beowulf to be one of the more intriguing reads on the list so far. For starters, I definitely enjoyed the copious amounts of pictures throughout the epic. The edition I purchased at the bookstore made reading it much more enjoyable, and grasped my attention way more than reading the tale just as a normal paperback. Maybe I’m just more of a visual learner, but having pictures to connect to the lines I read helped me better understand Beowulf as a whole.

I think a big question throughout reading this particular piece, is deciphering who the real monsters are. Initially, we think that Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon are all very monstrous characters. Initially, this thought makes sense. However, I have come to realize, that my thoughts regarding this matter are quite inaccurate. I’ve come to realize, that all these characters are not monstrous, for they all show a sense of vulnerability, and a reason for the way the act. Grendel merely just wants to fit in, his mother just wants to avenge her son’s death like any other mother would want to, and the dragon is only protecting what is rightfully his. I have come to better understand these characters, and their lack of monstrosity. Rather than showing disdain towards them, or view them as antagonists against Beowulf, I actually grew to like them. From reading this, I have learned that what we sometimes wrongfully perceive characters as being monstrous, and lacking any logical and acceptable reason for the way they act. However, in the case of Beowulf, I have indeed learned otherwise.

Having read Beowulf, I learned of the importance his assistance and presence was to others. The influence and impact that he had on many lives as a man to look up to, a man people seek for answers and help in difficult times. Beowulf clearly demonstrates his immense heroic sense of character, as heroism is most definitely a major theme in this epic poem as a whole. This epic tale is also quite a tragedy as well. We witness Beowulf’s life come to an end, in spite of the great contributions he made. Beowulf is a man who fought for his community, and did everything in his power to protect them from any evil.

All in all, I found Seamus Heany’s translation of Beowulf to be a very good read. I thoroughly enjoyed the piece as a whole, and I greatly applaud Beowulf for his heroic gestures, and the noble man that he is.

Christopher Columbus: Four Voyages

So upon reading the Four Voyages, I definitely had some mixed feelings. With all the books that we have read so far in this course, in my opinion, this book was the most fact, historically based one. With that being said, I found this book to be a bit more difficult because of how factual it is. But I did think that it was somewhat interesting in spite of this.

I did, however, find his log book of his voyages somewhat interesting. Perhaps it is how the text was set up, the formatting, but I found that this was a more intriguing part of the book. Reading what Columbus and his crew did each day and the progress, or lack thereof, they made along their voyage was really the only part that kind of got my attention.

Relative to how other people felt about this read, I learned a lot of things about Christopher Columbus that I never otherwise would have known. Growing up, I never further looked into his background, or the kind of man he was. I was simply just under the impression that, “oh cool, Columbus, the dude who sailed the oceans and contributed a lot to history and stuff.” To be completely honest, I never really knew all that much about him. But one thing that I thought I knew for sure, was that he contributed greatly to the world with his discoveries, and being the first man to sail around the world. However, upon reading this, I have learned of a whole other side of Mr. Columbus. Basically, I learned that my perception of him was pretty flawed. Christopher Columbus isn’t the man that I thought he was. I noticed that he is a man of greed, a man that would also make exceptions for his short comings. Makes me wonder that perhaps Columbus is not worth all the novelty and fame he has received from naïve people like me.

So I guess you could say that from reading the Four Voyages, I was quite disappointed and kind of shocked, having been exposed to the real Columbus; the ruthless and materialistic man that he has proven to be. Christopher Columbus is a man filled with many broken promises, which is something I never realized before. It makes me question that maybe he is somewhat of a monster to an extent. One thing that I will say I respect about this book, is the fact that it does show events from Columbus’ point of view. Despite my criticism and skepticism about his character, reading the Four Voyages allowed me to read his accounts first hand, getting a better idea of what he was experiencing through his own words.

Oedipus the King

So this read was definitely easier than Plato, that’s for sure. I also enjoyed this play particularly more as well. This was a kind of book that really made me sympathize for the characters in many ways. Talking about the play as a whole, I really enjoyed this. To further elaborate, I find these twisted, yet short tragic plays to be very interesting. I greatly enjoyed Medea, so this play was definitely one that grabbed my interest instantly.

It’s somewhat tragic, and depressing, since Oedipus starts out as such a well respected, praised king. He doesn’t expect the death of King Laius to come back to him in any way in the end, yet it does. I found this read interesting because I thought that it was somewhat surprising. As a reader, I did not expect Oedipus to be responsible for his father’s death, or engage in incest with his mother.

Quickly into the play, I noticed Oedipus’ quick fall from grace. Essentially, his life just disintegrates into disastrous chaos, and there isn’t really anything he can do to fix it. I also thought that it was really unfortunate how he happened to kill his own father. It could have been anyone on that dividing road, yet it happened to be King Laius himself. I also got the sense of Oedipus being unable to avoid his fate. In a sense, it is ironic, because at the beginning of the play, he is so adamant on finding who it was that killed their late king, and killing him instantly. The fact that Oedipus had absolutely no idea that the murderer is he himself, makes you sympathize for him. All he wanted to was to be a good leader, though little did he know that everything would be taken away from him.

As the play came to a close, I also noticed the love he feels for his daughters, which I initially did not realize. In the end of the play, he states that his sons are free to go on their own, and are capable of leading their own lives. However, he demonstrates this fear for his daughters’ well being—showing his love and concern for them. I found this quite interesting, because I was under the impression that in the Greek world, sons were of more importance and value, but Oedipus goes against that in this play, and reveals the love and compassion he has for all of his children, not just his sons.

All in all, I thought this was a very good read.

Republic (Part One) Response

So much like everyone else, reading this first half of Plato was quite challenging to say the least. I’d say that the first book was definitely harder to get through than the rest of it though. I have never read any of Plato’s work, but I now know that it will most likely be philosophical, or require quite a bit of detailed analysis (not saying there’s anything wrong with that). I also felt that I had to focus really hard to clearly understand what was going on. Basically, it was kind of a task to concentrate while reading this book.

But anyways, much like other people who have posted, I too, have heard about Socrates prior to reading the Republic, but I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of him yet. Speaking on the Republic as a whole, I realized that this book proposes many questions that people have yet to find the answers to. The Republic’s meaning is still undefined which further strikes people’s attention.

What particularly caught my interest was the heated conversation of what it means to be just and unjust with Socrates and Thrasymachus. Reading their continuous refutes of each other’s beliefs and statements was of great interest to me. However, I did find that for many aspects of their debate, there were oftentimes moments where I would need to re-read a certain argument a few times, just to fully understand and make sense of it. But asides from that, I found their different perspectives intriguing. For instance, like how Socrates argued that justice is a virtue and injustice is a vice, whereas Thrasymachus disagreed and stated that those who are unjust will prosper over those who are just. Another aspect that was of interest to me was the way Socrates argued. I’m not too sure about what everyone else though, but I found his questioning somewhat like a lawyer interrogating the accused. From what I read, Socrates had a very persuasive and intimidating approach, which clearly seemed to work, upon having Thrasymachus blush in the end. With that being said, I particularly agree with Socrates’ views on justice.

Another idea that was of interest to me was the concept of a perfect city and Socrates’ perspective regarding societal ways. According to Socrates, an idealistic state is restricted to censorship of religion, ideas, and stories, just to list a few. I do not necessarily agree with his views, though I enjoyed viewing this topic from a different perspective; to challenge my stance.

Although being a difficult read, the Republic so far is an interesting book that definitely needs to be further analyzed. See you all in the seminar!