Milton S Epic Poem A Paradise Lost Theology Religion Essay

Paradise Lost could possibly be regarded as one of the most controversial and dangerously convincing piece of literary works of all time. Although, ironically English Scholars and English teachings tend to ignore Milton’s masterpiece as an exquisitely elegant form of written work, along with the dismissal of the English Commonwealth from 1649 to 1660. The English Commonwealth was a significantly major part of the British Monarch effecting both religious and political ways of life. There are many early modern literature works that were created during this catastrophic event who attempted to influence the British Public through their subtle underlying Propaganda, yet still sticking to strict authorities. Milton was among these writers that were appointed to specifically use his ability to base transcripts, poems and books on maybe the reflection of how leaders of Britain wanted its citizens to think and live. Milton was an influential part of the literary movement of the time that encompassed a move away from free expression and instead became a voice for the government’s agenda of the period. Milton had many creative works but one particular text over the years has stirred up debates across the minds of many critics. Even by today’s standards Paradise Lost has caused controversy, leading into accusations of denying Christianity to the sympathising of the devil. After researching critics that have based their works on studying Milton’s epic poem, along with looking closely at his involvement with powerful figures of 17th century government, will assist in determining if Paradise Lost was specifically used for political propaganda or if it was purely written from Milton’s own beliefs and experiences.

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On the surface Milton’s Paradise Lost, one could say, is a biblical reconstruction of the globally famous story that basis its context for the doctrine of the original sin. There are many critics that have revolved their analysis of Milton’s epic poem solely on the theme of religion, which are the major factors that lead to the disproval of Milton’s work. Religion during Seventeenth Century Britain was compulsory; it was indeed part of the law to attend to church. Milton himself was a devote Christian which oppose the views of the likes of Blake and C.S Lewis as they accused him of sympathising with the devil. Both insisted Milton was part of the ‘the devil party.’ Both observations from these key early critics are a contradiction upon Milton’s actual religious beliefs and practices he took part in. They accuse Milton of creating him as a sort of sub hero and provide him with humanised characteristics thus making him to be a dangerously likeable character – [quote from a critic that supports this]. Realistically, the content of Paradise Lost does in fact have particular parts that reflect upon these early critical responses to the poem. Specifically in books [ – ] the devil seems to become the most humanised character of them all, the speeches he presents to the reader are so simply rhetorically persuasive and some of the most beautiful words come from the mouth of Satan, thus the reader being human can relate more so than that of God…[quote]. The reader relates through jealously, seduction and the tempting mind, these being only a few of the attributes humans possess that make up who they are. Therefore these human abilities such as failure, temptations and desire are being regarded to be atrocious because they are being presented through the most famously sinful figure in religion, Satan. Consequently leading to the conclusion that Milton could quite possibly be criticising Christianity suggesting the religion denies a humans downfalls, these downfalls being what make a human, human.
However, in retrospect to this argument and the question I ask myself, if Milton was a devote Christian himself why would he deny the religion? There were many figures in the literary world that were against the idea that Milton was portraying Christianity as a corrupt religion and believed Paradise Last was actually strongly supporting his own belief [read keel]. Paradise Lost was written after the Restoration of the monarchy of Charles II in sixteen sixty, when he returned the Church of England back to how it was when his father ruled the country. This brought back the restoration of the Catholic Church and the Puritan faith had failed to subdue and the religion was made illegal. It is a very subjective text and the answers are not all in black and white it is extremely hard to pin point what Milton’s exact beliefs were but readers must be aware that he was a very religious man. We can see through many parts of the collection of poems some of his beliefs and can interoperate to an extent what he was actually trying to say through his words. Therefore from my own research and opinions I have come to accept it is not plausible to claim that Milton is directly attacking the Christian faith. Milton often changed his views of the corrupt religion and government of the time of Britain in the sixteen hundreds, but he wasn’t afraid to express his belief as a Puritan. Puritanism was associated on the Parliamentary side during the English Civil War against the Laudianism Church on the Monarchist side. The puritan faith focused on the importance of preaching from the Bible and the idea that God is the only leader of the Church and Milton evidently believed in God, being noticeable through the portrayal of God being the creator and the King of the heavens [Quote from PL]. Paradise Lost is a reconstruction of a well known biblical story of the original sin; therefore this is defiant evidence that Milton pin pointed the importance of unambiguous preaching. Of course many of Milton’s masterpieces were a form of preaching; Lares (2001, pg.1) states in Milton and the preaching arts: “Milton’s poetic programme in terms of genres in which he may choose to write and on this sense of vocation to serve as a poet-priest.” The angels in Paradise Lost can be seen as figures of preachers, a subtle way for Milton to put his message across to his readers. As seen through the angel Raphael Milton applies his preaching words through the mouth of the angel, one specific example that shows a message being advocated across is where Raphael is sent forth to Adam to warn him not to eat from the forbidden tree:
in the day thou eat’st, thou diest;
Death is the penalty imposed; beware
And govern well thy appetite; lest Sin
Surprise thee, and her black attendant Death. (VII 544-547)
Raphael here is warning Adam the extent of his punishment if he is to eat the forbidden fruit having an aim to encourage the obedience of Adam towards God. However as Lares (2001, pg.152), again, quotes that in fact “Milton favours correction, and in fact has his angel warn against sin rather than encourage virtue” Due to background reading it is known that Milton was in favour of the Independents (see further on for more information about Independents) therefore this particular part of his epic poem communicates Milton’s own religious views that everyone is entitled to choose what they believe in and not what institutions tell them to believe in.
There is also evidence that Milton agreed with this idea that religion should be accessible to the ordinary person, he took part in writing poems for productions in theatres to allow anybody from all walks of life to be educated about God. Milton, like any other Puritan believed in joyfully practicing the faith and some focused on the value of nature and arts and the natural world. Here the Romantic Writers of the sixteenth century can be linked in to Milton’s epic poem where throughout beautiful descriptions of the paradise plays an important part of imagery to the readers. WRITE ABOUT Romantics
Another factor that contributes to this idea that Milton believed in an equal soceity is the humanising of Satan. Milton believed in an Independent Church, “The independents wanted each specific congregation to be able to decide for itself its beliefs and practices.” (Christ’s College at Cambridge University). Here I think, personally, that he believed very passionately in God but he did not believe in the institutions that claimed to be doing God’s will. In other words he warned people against believing everything you hear in church and believed instead in following your own personal beliefs so you have a relationship with God instead of with the church. This is conveyed by allowing both Adam and Eve and the devil to be accessible to their freewill. Thus portraying the devil just as human as anyone else; this could also relate to freewill and the Devil’s own choices to revolt against God. These ideas surrounding free will are explored in chapter one. However some say that Milton retracts the reader away from the dehumanising of the devil by indeed making him relatable to us in order for us to feel guilty that we feel sympathetic towards him after realising he is in fact evil, by the use of reverse psychology. Milton emphasises how dangerously tempting Satan is therefore attending church and believing in what you believe in will protect from the evil hands of the devil. [Critics quote]
Although on the surface Paradise Lost is indeed a biblical piece of literary work, however under the surface there are many hidden messages through Milton’s work that can be determined as Political Propaganda of its time. During the Civil war and the Commonwealth Milton was involved heavily with the Government and especially worked closely with Oliver Cromwell. He was appointed the Secretary of Foreign Tongues under the Cromwellian Government and played an important role of being the voice for the English Revolution to the rest of the country. Unlike many he believed in the Republic and was in favour of freedom the Commonwealth have provided for the Puritan faith. Milton’s first piece of major Political Propaganda was The Readie and Easie Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth where he emphasised the importance and benefits of a British Republic. Paradise Lost is possibly a less obvious form of political regime than the less subtle works he created, however it is achievable to regard certain characters and events as parallel to that of what is happening in the real world. Starting with the Devil:
He is constantly fighting for his own dignity and freedom which causes the sympathy – most people fight for a democracy especially in 17th century Britain
Devil is a symbolic of the failure of the discourse of politics and the corrupt religion – should be free and not illegal.
The devil could actually be a portrayal of Cromwell or maybe even Milton himself – constant battle with lord and rules – god/king
However when PL was written it was known that Milton actually changed his views on Cromwell and saw flaws in him – son couldn’t follow him, false leader ship is the devil, wrong..
God can be seen obviously as God…omniscient/ powerful/ leader – highly regarded in paradise lost, so should he be in society and not the king – the devil could also be see
Throughout Milton’s work there is a fine line between his political and religious beliefs

Odysseus as a Homeric Epic Hero

A Homeric epic hero is considered to be above a normal human being. The traits of a typical epic hero are strength, loyalty, courage, and intelligence. In fact, the Macmillan Dictionary for Students defines a hero as “one who is admired and looked up to for valor, achievements, and noble qualities” (483). Odysseus fulfills all of the requirements for an epic hero and more. He demonstrates his ability to be an articulate speaker, and his poise aids him on his journey. His endless curiosity has gotten him into dilemmas, while his superb displays of strength and cunningness have helped both him and his crew escape danger. His arrogance sets him back, but his loyalty is what drives him forward on his long and treacherous expedition. In the first few lines of The Odyssey, Odysseus describes himself as “formidable for guile in peace and war”. He knows that he is a formidable opponent, and there are instances in which his guile has caused both harmony and violence. No matter what challenges Odysseus faces, he always clearly demonstrates the characteristics of an epic hero.

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An important trait that an epic hero must have is intelligence. Odysseus’s quick thinking, combined with his eloquence in speech and many other characteristics, has gotten him and his crew out of many tight situations. One situation, for example, was when Odysseus and his men were trapped in the Cyclops Polyphemos’s cave. Although Odysseus’s curiosity was what landed him into the situation in the first place, his masterful demonstrations of his articulation in speaking were what eventually helped him escape. He manages to win over Polyphemos in the story with a few well-spoken words and an offering:

“‘Kyklops, try some wine. / Here’s liquor to wash down your scraps of men. / Taste it, and see the kind of drink we carried / under our planks. I meant it as an offering / if you would help us home. But you are mad, / unbearable, a bloody monster! After this, / will any other traveler come to see you?'” (Homer 155)

Odysseus plays with the Cyclops’s emotions by luring him with the wine and calling him “a bloody monster”. The Cyclops is obviously pleased with the spoken words and gestures, and as a result, he gives in to his greed as he takes the wine. Odysseus’s confidence in his own ability was the first step towards his success with the Cyclops. However, he has to take it a step further in order to make a successful get-away. Once again, a demonstration of his sharp intellect shows how Odysseus is smarter and more cunning than the average human. A quote that demonstrates his intelligence is,

“But I kept thinking how to win the game: / death sat there huge; how could we slip away? / I drew on all my wits, and ran through tactics, / reason as a man will for dear life, / until a trick came-and it pleased me well. / The Kyklops’ rams were handsome, fat, with heavy / fleeces, a dark violet” (Homer 157).

Another example of Odysseus’s cunningness is shown after he killed all the suitors. He told Telemakhos and the servants to pretend like there was a wedding going on. That way, no one passing by from the outside would suspect anything. Odysseus knew that if news of the suitors’ death spread, then he would not be able to make a clean get-away to his father’s house. Odysseus said,

“Here is out best maneuver, as I see it: / bathe, you three, and put fresh clothing on, / order the women to adorn themselves,/ and let our admirable harper choose a tune / for dancing, some lighthearted air, and strum it. / Anyone going by, or any neighbor, / will think it is a wedding feast he hears. / These deaths must not be cried about the town / till we can slip away to our own woods. We’ll see / what weapon, then, Zeus puts into our hands” (Homer 433).

Odysseus has to consider the safety of everyone under his care, including the servants that had stayed faithful to him. Odysseus’s intelligent is not only demonstrated when he has to escape from a situation; he thinks through all possible scenarios, and then selects the one that will benefit the most people. He uses his quick thinking and ability to deliver appealing speeches to his advantage and in most of his situations, Odysseus tries to use all of the resources available to him.
Odysseus is not only clever and witty, but he is also fiercely loyal to his family and home. Throughout the book, Odysseus was completely focused on trying getting home to Ithaka and Penelope. His loyalty to his family and to his people is what kept him going through the hard times. Nothing is more important to an epic hero than honor and pride. A hero’s obligations are to his family and his lord (Savage). Odysseus clearly proves that he is loyal in many situations. One instance was when Odysseus’s men fell prey to the Lotus Eaters. Homer writes,

“Then I sent out two picked men and a runner / to learn what race of men that land sustained. / They fell in, soon enough, with Lotus Eaters, / who showed no will to do us harm, only / offering the sweet Lotus to our friends–/ but those who ate this honeyed plant, the Lotus, /never cared to report, nor to return; / they longed to stay forever, browsing on / that native bloom, forgetful of their homeland. / I drove them, all three wailing, to the ships” (148).

No matter what had happened, Odysseus is always unwilling to leave his men behind. He does not want his men to forget their ultimate goal: to get home to Ithaka. However, because the three men were not in their right minds, Odysseus had to go and retrieve them. Odysseus’s allegiance to his men is also shown through this quote, “She ate them as they shrieked there, in her den, / in the dire grapple, reaching still for me- / and deathly pity ran me through / at that sight- / far the worst I ever suffered, / questing the passes of the strange sea” (Homer 218). As a result of the loyalty and compassion Odysseus feels for his men, he describes losing his men as one of the worst things he had ever had to suffer through. He had been forced to watch his comrades die, knowing that there was nothing he could do to save them. Odysseus’s loyalty and devotion to his men would not let him abandon them in their time of need. Odysseus is faithful to his men, but ultimately, his loyalty is to his home and family. As Circe says to Odysseus during his journey, “Now give those kine a wide berth, keep your thoughts / intent upon your course for home, / and hard seafaring brings you all to Ithaka” (Homer 213). She warns him that if he does not obey her orders, then there would be destruction to come for him and his men. Knowing the consequences of killing Helios’s cattle, Odysseus is intent on avoiding the island. He truthfully tells his crew what Circe has said to him, because he wants them to understand his logic and his reasoning; he wants to get home as soon as possible, and if his men give into temptation and kill the cattle, then Odysseus knew that they would have to suffer much more. However, instead of feeling honored by Odysseus’s honesty, the men lash out at him and insist on stopping at the island. Odysseus has no choice but to forgo his previous plans, and his journey home is once again delayed. Odysseus’s final goal is to be able to see his home and family again, but difficult situations continue to hinder him. The only reason why Odysseus did not give up during his journey was because of his dedication and loyalty to his family.
An epic hero is also known for his love of glory through deeds. In the first few lines of The Odyssey, Odysseus calls himself, “formidable for guile in peace and war”. Not only does Odysseus’s wittiness bring about peace, it also brings and starts wars. An example of Odysseus’s guile bringing war is when he finally shows his true self to the suitors after disguising himself as a beggar. Homer writes,

“You yellow dogs, you thought I’d never make it / home from the land of Try. You took my house to plunder, / twisted my maids to serve your beds. You dared / bid for my wife while I was still alive. / Contempt was all you had for the gods who rule wide heaven, / contempt for what men say of you hereafter. / Your last hour has come. You die in blood” (410).

Odysseus’s patience had finally paid off, and he was able to take revenge on the suitors. His cunningness was why he mingled with the suitors. He had to patiently wait until the time was right to begin the bloodshed. Although Odysseus’s guile causes chaos and disruption, his intelligence also brings peace. An instance of him bringing peace is when he tells his father, Laertes, that he is alive and back from his quest: “I bring good news- though still we cannot rest. / I killed the suitors to the last man! / Outrage and injury have been avenged!” (Homer 454) Odysseus brings peace to his father by revealing that he had not died. Odysseus’s guile has served him well in many different situations. He was able to cause wars and battles, but he was also able to create peace.
Odysseus completely demonstrates all of the main characteristics of a Homeric hero. His strength, intelligence, and guile all serve him well when he is in struggling to get out of a certain situation. Odysseus’s loyalty is depicted throughout the whole poem, and his desperate need to see his home again is what pushed him forward in his journey home. Without all these qualities, Odysseus would not be considered a hero. However, because Odysseus manages to superbly display his heroic qualities in everything he does, he is considered to be one of the greatest epic heroes ever created.
Words Cited
Fitzgerald, Robert. The Odyssey. New York: Viking, 1996. Print.
“Hero.” Def. 1. Macmillan Dictionary for Students. 5 ed. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1984. Print.
Savage, Mrs. . “Epic Poem.” Honors English Nine. Maranatha High School. Academic Center, Pasadena. 5 Nov. 2012. Class lecture.

The Epic Of Son Jara

It is impossible to study the Epic of Son Jara, the Lion King of the Mali Empire, and not study the remarkable oral tradition of the jalis or griots that tell the story. Griots (also known as jalis in the Malinese language) are the historians of this oral culture. Even today the story of Son Jara is being told throughout the countries of Mali, Gambia, and the West Coast of Africa as it has been told for more than 700 years. Since griots memorize the story from male relative to male relative (usually father to son), individual variations happen even in spelling of the hero’s name. To add to the confusion, certain hereditary titles such as Lion King replace the name Son Jara at parts of the story, with the assumption that the audience can follow the variations on a name.

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According to tradition, a black man named Bilali was a companion of Muhammad during the 7th century in Saudi Arabia, and such was the trust that the Prophet placed on Bilali that Bilali became the first muezzin of Islam. The muezzin are the criers at the towers of every Islamic city and village who call the faithful to prayer five times a day, and to be the first muezzin represents a significant standing of black Africans in the lore of Islam.
The Mali Empire’s of Son Jara’s Time
According to the legends of the Mali Empire, Bilali is an ancestor of the Keita clan and he migrated to the area of the Gambia River in West Afrida, establishing the clan origins of the Keita who are even today the aristocrats of the Mali tribe. Son Jara (also known as Sunyata, Sondiata, and other variations on the name) is a member of the Keita clan who is commemorated in the Epic of Son Jara.
It is at the beginning of the story of the Mali Empire that Bilali, a faithful follower of Mohammed when Islam as a religious faith was born, held a role in Islamic society of a “town crier summoning the faithful to prayer”. The tradition of the caller becomes the tradition of the griot or storyteller in the Mali settlements along the Gambia River of West Africa. This tradition becomes associated with the telling of Son Jara’s story which is as follows:
There was a king of the Mali Empire named Nare Famakan, born of the Keita clan in 1300 or so, who became the father of Son Jara. Nare Famakan, like all his clan, was Islamic and his ancestry could be traced by the royal griots back to the story of Adam in Genesis. There are variations on the theme of how Nare Famakan married Son Jara’s mother, Sogolon Konde. Sogolon Konde’s name means Sogolon of the warts, and according to many griots’ telling, she was an ugly woman and not the favorite of the king. Sogolon’s son is Son Jara, a malformed, crippled baby with a large head and weak legs who could not walk and never stood a chance to inherit the powerful role of his father. The story and legends woven around Son Jara’s quest for his place in the throne form both a part of the world literature and a retelling of the history and culture of one of the great empires, now lost, of West Africa. The theme of the Son Jara story is the theme of the hero that must conquer many personal as well as external obstacles to receive his patrimony and full recognition by a powerful father.
The story of Son Jara also reflects much of the values of the Mali tribe. Women have no standing unless they are wives, mothers or sisters to men of power. Yet Son Jara is helped by his mother, by the nine witches in a sheltering village, and in many versions, by his sister who marries the evil infidel king Sumamunu who takes the Mali throne by evil magic and association with a mountain-dwelling demon. Women are the providers of food, and are given deep, emotional powers over the men of the tribe who are warrior leaders.
A study of the cultures and cities established on the banks of the Gambia River best illustrates the establishment by Bilali of a place of residence for the Keita clan in the 7th century along the river’s shores. The growth of the Mali influence and traditions is recorded in all the villages along its riverbanks, many of whom also house other tribes. The tribal traditions of the people living along the Gambia River are the best definition today of the places of residence of the Mali people, and crosses the modern borders of the nations known today as Guinea, Senegal and Gambia.
Also included is the country known as Mali today. This nation is a landlocked remnant of the Mali people and one of the poorest nations on earth because it lacks access to the ocean. It has borders adjacent to Nigeria, Senegal and other countries and is an example of how difficult it is to establish modern borders of African nations as surveyed by European colonization, when the cultural memories of the ancient empires of North Africa still defines the religions and values of the tribes within those borders. For this reason, to understand the setting of the Epic of Son Jara, it is easier to visualize an empire that already had vast influence over the length of the Gambia River when Son Jara was born.
The Outline of the Son Jara Epic
Sisoko (1992) provides one of the best outlines of the general telling of the story:
Note: These questions are partially based on notes in John William Johnson & Fa Digi Sisoko, The Epic of Son-Jara: A West African Tradition, published by Indiana University Press in 1986.
Episode 1 (This episode states the theme of the poem and leads into an account of creation (from Genesis) and the origins of Son-Jara’s people.)
Episode 2 (The selection from Episode 2 introduces Son-Jara’s father, Fata Magan [or Nare Famakan], by tracing his descent from Bilal [or Bilali], a companion of Muhammad who is said to have been an African. )
Episode 3 (We learn the origins of Son-Jara’s mother, Sugulun Kòndè, who is also called Sugulun-of-the-Warts.)
Episode 4 (Sugulun Kòndè is married to Fata Magan and gives birth to Son-Jara, who is crippled by a curse. He recovers, and eventually he and his mother, with his full siblings, are exiled.)
Episode 5 (Son-Jara goes into exile and moves from place to place. Dankaran Tuman loses the kingdom to Sumamunu. Sugulun Kòndè dies.)
Episode 6 (Son-Jara comes out of exile and defeats Sumamunu with help from his generals and his full sister Sugulun Kulunkan.)
Episode 7 (Son-Jara establishes his rule and begins conquering an empire) (117-121).
The textbook chapter of the story shows how the story is told by a griot. In the next few lines from Episode 4, quoted as an example, Son Jara is born at the same time as another brother, and both wives must tell the king of the birth so that their son can be recognized for the succession. Note the words of the griot and the “echo” of replies that are usually provided after each line in the retelling:
One day as dawn was breaking, (Indeed)
The Berete woman give birth to a son. (Indeed)
She cried out, “Ha! Old Women! (Indeed)
“That which causes co-wife conflict
“Is nothing but the co-wife’s child. (True)
“Go forth and tell my husband (Indeed)
“His first wife has borne him a son.” (Indeed)
A common theme in many African folktales is the conflict introduced by polygamous customs, where the wives struggle to ensure that their own sons inherit over the rights of other sons born ahead of time. In the textbook version of Son Jara’s story, the first wife sends a messenger to notify the king, but the messenger is hungry, stops to eat and is outsmarted by Sugulun Konde, who gives birth to a deformed and ugly baby but notifies the king first. The common aspects of the story are that Son Jara is not the first born son and the information of his deformity, which is contemptible in some stories. The little boy could only crawl for many years and in some versions of the story is called a Thief-King rather than the Lion King, since he had to steal to eat and grew very fat. Son Jara’s father apparently favored the crippled boy enough to give him his own griot, famous in the story as Balla Faseke, but this only added to the revulsion and jealousy the other wives felt about the boy. Sugulun Konde gave birth to other children who were Son Jara’s sisters and brothers, none of whom was deformed (Sisoko, 203-217).
It is Son Jara’s deformity that creates one of the most vivid of the parts of the legend – the day that out of sheer willpower and with the help of a strong metal rod, he forced his weak legs to hold his weight and he walked. Before an a crowd of amazed onlookers, Son Jara thus transformed himself. To the Mali people, this was an exertion of power that did credit to the deformed prince. And his griot composed and sung “The Hymn to the Bow,” on the spot. That hymn remains a part of the Son Jara musical epic still sung by griots over eight-hundred years later (Sisoko, 203-217).
Another common theme is that Son Jara is not allowed to inherit the throne when his father dies. The tribe accepts a stronger brother Dankaran in fear of an evil and very strong rival king named Sumamunu, who threatens the Mali throne with war. Danakan sends Son Jara’s sister and Son Jara’s griot Balla Faseke as gifts of appeasement to Sumamunu. Sogolon takes her into exile, going from village to village where she and the boy are sheltered. One of the common tellings of the story is about a village ruled by nine witches who protect the boy and his mother against the persecution by Danakan and Sumamunu. Son Jara grows up traveling many miles from his home and learns the arts of hunting and wisdom from many people (Sisoko, 222-231).
The evil infidel king Sumamunu takes Son Jara’s sister as a wife and forces Balla Faseke to serve him, but neither the wife nor the griot forget their loyalty to Son Jara. When Sumamunu wins the throne of the Mali people through war and murdering of Son Jara’s other family members, Son Jara is called back to kill the fearsome witch doctor and re-establish the Islamic rule of a monarch for the Mali people (Sisoko, 243-247).
Importance of the Son Jara Epic and the Decay of the Mali Empire
The Epic of Son Jara is a hero’s journey that establishes the strong Islamic roots in the character of the Mali people. In every line of the story, no matter how many variations, the importance of the griots is restated and also establishes the importance of having the paternal line of ancestry memorized and established for recognition within the tribe. Today, the griots are wandering minstrels that sing at weddings and special feasts since few Mali families are wealthy enough to keep one completely to the memories of their own ancestry. Yet Mali griots have become world-famous performers and their music is among the most beautiful in Africa. It is because of their art that Son Jara and the values of the kings of the Mali empire are remembered.
Son Jara becomes a wise and powerful ruler, expanding the Malinese empire and establishing a line of powerful kings through his sons and their descendants until the Mali empire fell apart because of European invasions and internal squabbles in the 16th century. At the time of Son Jara’s reign (1350 A.D.) the empire covered much of the length of the Gambia River and looked like this:
What makes the history of the Epic of Son Jara so interesting is the fact that it defines one of the most intelligent, artistic and poetic of the tribes of West Africa. The music and artistry of the griots is full of subtle minor legends that each one incorporates into the telling, which is passed usually from father to son. It is critically important to keep in mind the fact that the legend is Islamic and African, because it is this combination of factors that some historians say doomed the empire to decay.
Even in Son Jara’s time, a key export from the region was slaves. The Islamic citizens of the Mali empire traded in and preyed on neighboring tribes and cultures for slaves that were sold all over the known world. According to Thomas, the slave trade was one of the principal sources of wealth for the Malinese kings. For example, in 1275, before Son Jara’s time but perhaps in his father’s reign, Egypt alone records the sale of 10,000 slaves from the Mali empire. The trade in slaves theoretically could not include members of the Islamic faith, but was mandatory for the Islamic custom of the harem, since without slaves the women of the harem would be forced to work (87-88).
The Malinese empire weakened its hold over its territories by its depredations on the neighboring tribes. The region known as Senegambia exported 60,000 slaves between 1700 and 1800, of which Thomas estimates 34% were taken in war, 30% were kidnapped, 11% sold after condemnation for some tribal crime, 7% were sold to pay family debts, 7% were sold as friends or relations to pay debts, and the balance some combination of both. As the empire fell apart, its traditions only stayed alive through the remarkable memories of the griots, who today still tell the story of the Lion King of Mali in all its variations throughout the nations that include the River Gambia (Wisniewski, 111-133).
The value system of the Mali tribe are patriarchal, where the women do all the work and men are in charge of property and most major decisions involving the tribe or family. It is a important aspect of the culture that the ancestry of each family be remembered and it is the role of the griots that wander from tribe to tribe to create a song or retelling that keeps genealogy and ancestry clear in the minds of what is still today a largely oral culture.
The Griot Tradition
The griots use many instruments, including the drum and an instrument known as the balafon – closely resembling the marimba of Mexico. But most commonly, the music that accompanies the griots’ songs is the kora, a calabash gourd with a rosewood neck and 27 strings that sounds a great deal like a harp but played very quickly with the thumb and forefinger of the artist. Griots today are both men and women, though the men sing the songs of genealogy and history and the women have a traditional role of singing about love and relationships.
Griots are world-famous artists today, and among the most famous are those with the last name of Keita, who trace their ancestry to the original companion of the prophet Muhammad, Bilali. As in all oral cultures, the re-telling of a story centuries old has common factors such as the tracing of the Keita clan to the Book of Genesis. Son Jara’s story begins at about the middle of the griots’ version, and in some cases the song would have already taken several hours to sing. The griots have an unusual way of telling the story which is reflected in the version of the Epic of Son Jara in the textbook. They speak a line and either the audience or the griot himself (or a disciple) echoes each line with a comment, such as “So it is” or “It has always been thus” or “Yes indeed, all this you have said.” The telling of the story then becomes an interaction between the storyteller and the audience that has a hypnotic comfort and almost the pattern of a dialogue or prayer as the Western world would define it (Volmer, 250).
The Mali Tribe Today
Why is the telling of a story so important to a people? Perhaps when one studies the evolution of modern Africa today, it is easier to understand the role of the griots because the pressures of modernization are creating such difficulties for tribes that see themselves much more as a nation than the populations defined by some geographical border.
Today, the Mali tribe is not necessarily centered in the African nation of Mali as bordered by the United Nations. The Mali live in Senegal, Gambia, Mali and other areas that border the river Gambia and in some of the village clans that speak Malinese, the telling of the Epic of Son Jara is very different than the telling of others. The Islamic tradition of the Keita clan, and the deep faith of what was once an Islamic legend, has been deeply influenced by the demonology and traditions of each area of the long trajectory of the Gambia River.
However, the telling of the story, as in many cultural legends of a people with deep traditions and oral histories, establishes the nature of the struggle of the son for his true patrimony. The Mali perception of what is good is defined by Islamic tradition and by the paternalistic, male-oriented customs of the West African tribal lore. To be born without a genealogy is to be born nameless and cut off from any future. Family is everything, and the clan loyalties demand far more obedience than rules such as mandatory literacy and the payment of taxes to a central government.
The Mali tribes still carry on their traditions in metallurgy and textile manufacturing, among the most sophisticated and valued in Africa. But the nation has only a few exports, primarily cotton and peanuts. Literacy is low, and the HIV scourge of infection in Africa is estimated by the World Health Organization to affect almost 4% of the population, with no indication of decreasing. But is a culture poor when their days are hard and their nights are filled with singing and legends and mysterious forces that explain their world.
“Mali is eternal,” says the griot Mamadou Kouyaté, concluding his account of the Sundiata epic. “But never try, wretch, to pierce the mystery which Mali hides from you. Do not go and disturb the spirits in their eternal rest. Do not ever go into the dead cities to question the past, for the spirits never forgive. Do not seek to know what is not to be known.”
When the poem is a verbatim translation from Mande, a great deal of meaning is lost in translation. Idioms and metaphors, which bring color and life to the story when it is read aloud in Mande, possess little meaning when translated into English. The poem is culturally bound, thus; it is difficult for an outsider to understand its emic meanings. Another lost aspect of the poem is the music, dance, and ceremony that would traditionally accompany its performance. The singing and dancing would definitely illuminate many parts of the poem (Jessup, 17-20).

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power



The book “The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power” by Daniel Yergin opens to the reader the whole new understanding and significance of oil and its role in international policy and relations during the peace and wartime period. In my opinion author presented a well-researched book with good examples and cases that will be both interesting who are familiar with international relations and oil, and who are not.

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Author describes detailed history of oil throughout almost one and a half centuries, since 50th years of the 19th century and till 1991. Written in a plain language, the book is full of historical, regional geographic and political excursions, psychological portraits of the main participants of the oil market, as well as secret backstage intrigues of various states and economic aspects of the world economy unknown to a wide circle of readers. Further, I will show how author covered the role of energy, particularly oil, in national security and in international relations in all 5 parts of the book, each of which covers a certain stage in the process of turning oil from an unimportant natural resource into a powerful tool in the struggle for world domination.

The first part highlights the most turbulent period in the development of the oil industry — from the beginning fifties to the First World War. Of great interest is the story of the birth of the first oil empires Standard Oil Corporation of J. Rockefeller in the United States and the company of the Nobel brothers in Russia, which were a powerful catalyst for the development of world capitalism. By starting to work in a competitive environment and implementing a strategy to reach the entire business chain from production to sales of finished products, both companies achieved remarkable success. After many years, this process will be called “vertical integration”. At the turn of the century, the political goals of great countries in relation to potential oil-exporting countries dominated the economic ones.

The second part of the book covers the period from the First to the Second World War. The First World War for the first time in history showed the role and importance of oil for military purposes and national security. At the end of the war, it was rightly said that victory was in a sense a truck victory over a locomotive. In order to regulate limited resources, the Allied Conference coordinated the distribution of oil and was a prototype of OPEC. After the successful use of oil during the war, the world demanded more and more oil for the purposes of economic prosperity and increasing national power, therefore oil became the main element of national strategies. The author vividly describes the chaos of “gasless Sunday” in the United States, which emphasizes the drama of the problem of lack of oil in the modern state. The expression “oil is power” was constantly confirmed during the First World War. Oil has become a symbol of both power and independence. Yergin shows how oil, as a source of the energy, established links between the goals of oil companies and the interests of the state. This connection became subsequently a permanent component of world politics.

The third part notes the role of oil during the Second World War and the events that preceded it. In this part, Yergin emphasized the role of energy in planning military needs during the war.  For instance, neither Germany nor its allies had significant own sources of oil, which was the main reason for their military defeat. The main economic goal of Germany in the campaign to the east, as during the First World War, was the seizure of the Caucasian oil fields. But the Germans miscalculated their future oil needs, with the result that the implementation of aggressive plans became impossible. Another strong point is how Yergin showed the wise foreign policy of Roosevelt. For instance, Roosevelt believed that oil should be used as an instrument of diplomacy, and not as a trigger for a weapon. The United States has not imposed an embargo against Hitler’s ally Japan for a long time. However, today using an embargo became widely used instrument in the US foreign policy.

The fourth part of the book is entitled “Hydrocarbon Age” and tells about the greatest discoveries of oil fields in the Middle East, the first energy crises, the formation of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. From the mid-1940s, the center of world oil production began to move from the Caribbean to the Persian Gulf. Together with him, the center of political and economic interests of not only oil companies, but also of Western countries shifted to the Middle East. Even today, the United States considers this region to be its zone of influence and plays an important role in the US foreign policy. At the same time, oil has become the center of growing nationalism. Middle Eastern countries demanded an increase in revenues from oil companies. Oil meant for them the acquisition of power, world influence. Companies were forced to make concessions and give up an increasing part of their revenues to the countries that own oil resources in order to maintain “friendly” regimes in power. The price drop that followed in the late 1950s due to a sharp increase in supply forced the oil-exporting countries to create an organization whose goal was to maintain and lift prices to their previous level. The OPEC restricted the rights of foreign companies and obliged them to coordinate any major changes in production volumes and prices. Nationalism in oil rich countries is still threatening, especially in the Middle East.  No matter how developed international and national policies, in the post-war history, the trend of oil consumption was a constantly upward trend. The fifties and sixties became a trap for importing countries, which carried out a large-scale transition to the use of oil in all sectors of the economy without using resource-saving technologies, and demand in the private sector increased sharply. According to the author, the era of the “hydrocarbon man” is coming. At that time, during the first Iraqi and Suez crises, the first successful tests “oil weapons” were made.

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The fifth part of the book is devoted to the process of transforming OPEC from an imperceptible organization into a colossus of the world economy, and the struggle of its members for world domination. The increased economic growth of the early seventies led to the fact that the demand for oil began to exceed supply. It was from this period that negative factors most clearly manifested themselves in decades of growing dependence of European countries on Middle Eastern oil. Since then, oil has become a valuable weapon of the Middle East. They were actively getting rid of their colonial past, and the status of Western oil companies dropped to the level of hired labor. As a result, by the end of the seventies, the global petroleum industry had changed beyond recognition. After the revolution in Iran, oil supplies from this largest exporter ceased, and oil became the subject of the largest speculation, which showed that not only economic growth and the integrity of the global economy, but even the world order were at risk. As a result of the crisis, countries began to create significant reserves of fuel, the transition to other energy sources began, an economic downturn and an increase in inflation rates began. New sources of oil in Mexico and the North Sea weakened OPEC, and by the mid-eighties, prices began to decline. For decades, oil has contributed to the accelerated development of civilization in both positive and negative directions, constantly being at the center of the international economy and politics, being at the same time a reliable source of the welfare and political power of states. This strategically important resource, which nourished the world economy, which without it is unable to function, will remain for many decades the object of interests and actions of companies and states both with economic instruments and with the help of military force, changing the development directions of individual countries, regions and the entire planet.

Even today, when oil has lost its position as the main energy resource, we see that the policy of the United States are directed at that region and are a large component of the current US foreign policy. However, the United States has proven that it can cope without the Middle Eastern oil and leads its internal policy to diversify of energy sources to strengthen its national security.

To conclude, one must read this book because author give a clear and persuasive understanding of the importance of energy for countries and how the energy develops national security and foreign policies.  


Yergin, Daniel. The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power. Ney York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.

Review of the Ancient Poem ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’

I would suggest that The Epic of Gilgamesh can be read as a moral allegory. Within the epic the story contains hidden meanings behind its visible meaning; this is done through Gilgamesh’s personal journeys within his literal journeys, where he learns some morals. Also the use of symbolism and characters within the text depict abstract ideas and moral elements. Therefore, I am inclined to suggest that the action, objects and people, can be related with meanings that may reflect the real world. All of these aspects create a continuous parallel of meanings within the story, where the characters and ideas fit together within the journey of the text. I would therefore argue that The Epic of Gilgamesh can be read as a moral allegory.

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The journeys within The Epic of Gilgamesh illustrate development within humanity. The reader is instantly presented with Enkidu’s (sent to teach Gilgamesh) journey from the wild to Uruk. I would argue that this journey illustrates Enkidu’s journey to civilisation. The journeys Enkidu later experiences illustrate his development to becoming a civilised person. Each journey teaches him morals even simple aspects such as eating cooked food and wearing clothes. The reader is presented with Enkidu’s anger about the treatment of women in Uruk; when he finds out that Gilgamesh is going to a party to sleep with the bride. The fact a savage is outraged encourages the reader to feel shock, as civilised humans should have more moral values than a man from the wilderness.
Similarily Gilgamesh faces journeys. Gilgamesh’s journeys within the epic are parallel to his personal journey to become a better king. Gilgamesh and Enkidu travel to the Cedar Forest to kill Humbaba, because Gilgamesh wants glory; instantly depicting to the reader the ego of Gilgamesh. The pair manages to defeat Humbaba with help from Shamash. Humbaba pleads Enkidu and Gilgamesh for his life. At this point Gilgamesh does feel sympathy for Humbaba, perhaps suggesting that deep down he does know what is morally right and wrong. Gilgamesh also travels to the mountain Mashu to find ‘everlasting life’; the purpose of this journey contrasts to his first journey where he desires glory as now he is in search for his soul. I would suggest that the journey to Mashu illustrates a rebirth of Gilgamesh when the ‘sun streamed out’ and he is faced with light after darkness, as he has just entered a place where ‘no mortal man has gone’. I am inclined to interpret this part of his journey, as the beginning of him accepting the human fate of death. Here Gilgamesh seems to forget about what is right and wrong because he is grieving for his friend. However at the end Gilgamesh remembers the morals that Enkidu helped to teach him and he begins to think like a king should; showing how his ‘journey was accomplished’. Both literally as he returns home to Uruk, and internally as he becomes a moral man.’ This narrative I would suggest fits to Robert Cole’s idea:
That a compelling narrative, offering a storyteller’s moral imagination vigorously at work, can enable us to learn by example. (Cole 1989: 191)
The reader is aligned with the moral journeys within the narrative and is inclined to learn something from them. I would suggest that even though the text allows the reader to escape; if the text is read as a moral allegory than the reader will also learn or at least think about the morals within the epic.
The use of symbolism in The Epic of Gilgamesh presents ideas relating to humanity. I would suggest the use of doorways help Gilgamesh gain consciousness, teaching him values in life. Gilgamesh is locked out from being able to get to the goddess of love to rape her, teaching him how he should not treat women. Also at the entrance of the Cedar Forest he becomes weak and needs convincing from his friend to go in, depicting how doorways present a challenge. I have noticed that the thing he wants is always behind the door, illustrating to the reader how Gilgamesh needs to change. He needs to makes the choice to become a more devoted king to his people. This therefore could be illustrating how authority can cause selfishness.
Imagery of water is used to act as a symbol for cleansing. The reader is presented with Gilgamesh washing after his visit to the Cedar Forest; almost as if he is trying to cleanse himself from his wrongs. An image of Baptism is also created when Enkidu is reborn after washing himself. In a sense water acts as a symbol for morals being accepted by the individual.
Symbolism of a bull is also used to illustrate a moral. Ishtar asks her father to call upon the “bull of heaven” after Gilgamesh rejects her. In the epic the bull illustrates its destructive nature as it is called for to destroy the land and kill people. Gilgamesh and Enkidu manage to kill the bull perhaps showing how humanity can control the power of nature. It could even be interpreted as showing how humanity can control their destructive nature by consciously defeating it.
The concept of death acts as a moral lesson for how humanity has to accept death; because even though people will die, humanity as a whole will live on. I would suggest this is one of the main lessons Gilgamesh learns from his journeys. After Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh grieves saying “what my brother is now, that shall I be when I am dead.” Gilgamesh is clearly ‘afraid’ of death. He cannot accept his friend’s death and will not let go of his body. Gilgamesh even changes within himself as he grows his hair and wears animal skins; he changes into the wild Enkidu that the reader was first presented with. I would suggest that this is conveying a truth about humanity, where we find it hard to accept death and loosing people close to us.
I would argue that the characters in the epic fall into moral elements. The friendship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu motivates the change in Gilgamesh. The love he feels for his friend teaches him to understand what the people of Uruk want. The love between them grows so strong Gilgamesh refers to Enkidu as his ‘brother’. In a sense the wild Enkidu teaches Gilgamesh how to be human. Enkidu teaches him morals of how he should treat women. He also tried to persuade Gilgamesh not to go to the Cedar Forest as it was not for mortals. I would agree that:
Being connected with Enkidu, being united with him, gives Gilgamesh the strength and the animal wisdom…to fulfil his heroic deed. (Rivkah1991: 71)
I would argue that because Gilgamesh and Enkidu are opposites they bring out the best in each other, they seem to make one whole person. The friendship between them also helps Enkidu to become human and civilised. Therefore I am inclined to believe that The Epic of Gilgamesh is a moral allegory because the characters contain moral elements, teaching each other what is right and wrong; the characters also depict some truth about humanity.
Enkidu illustrates the innocence of humanity as he is learning how to be human. This contrasts to Gilgamesh who illustrates human traits of selfishness, arrogance and corruption; however by meeting the natural Enkidu, he learns what friendship is and loses the selfishness to become a better person. When Enkidu dies Gilgamesh feels an intense sense of loss. Illustrating how:
The motif of friendship serves as a device whereby Enkidu’s death can be made to shock Gilgamesh into an obsessive quest for immorality. (Tigay 2002 :29)
Gilgamesh is grieving for his ‘brother’ and fears death himself, he therefore decides to go on a quest to find ‘everlasting life’. Gilgamesh goes to meet Utnapishtim in hope that he too could be made immortal like Utnapishtim was after the story of the flood.
I would argue that the story of the flood has a hidden meaning illustrating a new beginning for human existence, where the flood water cleanses humanity. The gods in an act of selfishness create the flood to ‘exterminate mankind’; however they later regret this as they rely on the gifts from humans. I would therefore suggest this again illustrates that even though people may die humanity needs to live on.
Women in The Epic of Gilgamesh also fall into moral elements. Siduri teaches Gilgamesh about wisdom and tells him to enjoy life. The epic illustrates how women were dominated by men but also shows the importance of women. When Enkidu comes from the wilderness Shamhat teaches his how to be civilised, also Utnapishtim’s wife encourages her husband to be nicer to Gilgamesh. The women are therefore helping to teach morals of what is right and wrong. Even Ishtar realises she is wrong and feels guilty.
I would therefore argue that the characters, symbolism and journeys within the text encourage The Epic of Gilgamesh to be read as a moral allegory, as they all contain moral elements behind their initial visible meaning. The journeys teach the characters to become better people. The objects reflect truths of humanity like the plant depicting the human fate of death. The characters themselves help each other to learn morals of what is right and wrong. The story contains many hidden meanings, teaching its readers different morals. The characters, actions and symbols all weave together to depict the meaning of life.

How does Apollonius’ Argonautica rewrite Homeric epic?

When arguing whether the Argonautica is a rewrite of the Homeric epic, we must zoom into the characters. In each of the three books, different characters take the spotlight in the expedition, and the books follow the course of the tradition of Homeric epic: Book 1 we have Hercules, a violent and strong man that mirrors the character of Achilles in the Iliad and the concept of biē. Book 2 presents with Polydeuces and the helmsmen, heroes who practice mētis, that also falls under Odysseus’s shadow and his mētis. This then leaves us with Book 3, with Jason and his human realism. This essay will demonstrate how the book’s characters are more reminiscent of the Homeric epic. I demonstrate this by comparing the characters to one another and drawing out similarities between them, proving that Argonautic was a Homeric epic rewrite. Nevertheless, the main argument that I will argue towards the end of the essay is that, at the end of book 3, Apollonius puts forward the notion that traditional Homeric heroes are no longer needed in the Hellenistic world demonstrating a new rewrite of the Homeric epic and epic world.

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Paragraph 1: Similarities between Hercules and Achilles
It is evident in Book 1 that Heracles represents the Homeric epic, and more specifically, illustrates the Iliadic heroics. Heracles is thus instrumental steppingstone for Jason and the Odyssean characters of Book 2. Although Heracles and Achilles are from different eras, they present some similarities between themselves[1]. Listing, a few of them, would be: They both have attacked Troy (Iliad 5.640-2, 5.650-1, 20.145), they both have one divine parent, and, as with Achilles’ quarrel with Agamemnon, Heracles demolished the city because Laomedon refused to give him the compensation that he deserved (Iliad. 5.650-51). Even in the Iliad, Achilles compares himself to Hercules (Iliad. 18.115-21), and both heroes challenged the communal values: Hercules is independent,[2] and Achilles, after Agamemnon, isolates himself from the Greeks. Traditional Myth, therefore, has already linked these two characters together on several fronts purely based on their similarities, thus putting forward the argument that Argonautica is a rewrite of the Homeric epic. I would like to further exemplify this by pointing out that Heracles’ famous lust is absent in the Argonautica, which is demonstrated by the rejection of sex at Lemnons.[3] This is quite surprising as Heracles was the man who impregnated the fifty daughters of King Thespius (date). This is another attempt by Apollonius to mirror Heracles to Achilles as Achilles is not known for lust, so by removing this trait, Hercules is a step closer in mirroring Achilles, the hero of the Iliad. Thus,presenting that Apollonius moulds Heracles in a way that allows him to channel the heroism of old epic, and bring to the mind Iliadic heroism.[4] This is also important in understanding that Jason rejects Heracles, as he is bringing on the Argo what Heracles stands for: the Achilles of the Iliad, the first leg of the epic tradition.
In the next two paragraphs, book 2 is a shift from the Iliadic in book 1 to entering the Odyssea. There is not one main character, the four character are key to understand the heroic identity.Polydeuces represents a sense of mētis similar to Odysseus when he steps up to fight Amycus, demonstrating a shift from only depending on Heraclean biē. Similar to Odysseus, Polydeuces is powerful. He can stand up to the formidable Amycus without giving ground (2.78), his “prowess and strength flourish like a wild beast’s” (2.44-45), and his final hit is so powerful that the king’s skull is shattered (2.95-96). When discussing similarities, both Polydeuces and Odysseus are likened to shipbuilders when they are attacking these monster: the punches of Amycus are compared to carpenter pounding pegs into “ship timber” with a hammer (2.79-82). in comparison, the latter twists the sharpened stake in the Cyclop’s eye and is compared to a man boring a hole into “ship timber” with a drill (9.384-86). In both similes, Polydeuces and Odysseus are equated to craftsmen building a ship and using tools to create holes in wood.[5] It cannot be mistaken: Apollonius wants us to think of Odysseus as we read about Polydeuces disposing of yet another monstrous, hubristic, and hostile son of Poseidon. Apollonius wants us to view Polydeuces as a second Odysseus of sorts.
The next character that I will be discussing is the Helmsmen. Apollonius often described the helmsmen’s role as requiring mētis, which is essential for Odysseus’s heroic worth. For instance, Lawall discuss the helmsman role as: “Judge from signs and tokens” (1.108), “cunning” (1.560) and “wise of mind” (1.560). The last quote is important as it is one of the epithets from Odysseus in the Odyssey.[6]Including this was a tactical move from Apollonius, as to present to us Odyssean mētis in all its aspects, seeing the helmsmen in action was crucial. It could be argued to be the only way to represent Odysseus’ heroic abilities fully.
However, in Book 2, Heracles does make a return but almost having a different persona. I believe it is because now he is a man of mētis rather than biē. An example would be the strategy used with Ares’ birds, linking him with the quality of mētis. A former companion, Amphidamus, said that Heracles made extremely loud noises to scare the birds off instead of shooting them down like the Earthborn men (2.1052-57).[7] This almost seems like Apollonius is trying to recreate Heracles as Odysseus, again providing the argument that Argonautica is trying to rewrite the Homeric epic. This was so important to Apollonius, even sacrificed the integrity of Heracles’ character by lending him two different, conflicting masks to wear as he participates in the Argonautica.
As of this point in the essay, I argued that Apollonius was deliberately rewriting the Homeric epic, especially in book 1 and 2. Book 3 however, Apollonius rejects the notion. I put forward this argument because, in book 1, we learn about a vast amount of supernatural qualities: Euphemus ran on water (1.182-84), and Orpheus music makes wild oaks walk (1.28-31. The rest of book 1, Heracles displays many god-like strength. The same goes for book 2; the Argonauts display likened achievements: Boreads exhibits superhuman speed by catching up to the Harpies who have been said to run faster than the west wind (2.27381) and Polydeuces shattered the bones in Amycus head in one fatal blow (2.94-97). I mention these points because it is only in book 3, where no member exhibits anything beyond norman human potential. For instance, At Colchis, they do not consist of a generation of heroes with remarkable skills. As the people of Iolcus expected before the expedition set out (1.244-45), they do not prove their superiority by razing the place when Aeetes refuses them the fleece. Instead, it is at Colchis that the Argonauts come to terms with their human limitations. Jason attempts to be Odysseus, but he does not consummate Odysseus’ mētis.
Several Argonauts will try to be like Achilles, but they have insufficient human strength. Thus, we leave the Homeric sphere in book 1 and 2, representing the old traditional epic of extreme heroes. Therefore, Book 3 is where Apollonius’ rejects Iliadic and Odyseeasn heroes, and how it is impossible to replicate the heroic models in homer. I will be discussing this idea further in the next two paragraphs, that Apollonius is rewritten the idea of a hero is, and the Homeric hero can only thrive in literature.
Apollonius deliberately shifts Jason away from acting like a traditional hero, and as a result, he is unable to be a hero at all.[8] Gilbert Lawall labelled Jason as “anti-hero”, as he was a man who did not embody traditional Homeric traits, but, instead, he relies on “unheroic, circumvented arts of success”, results in his reliance on Medea.[9] In the Argonautic, Jason does not once present any extraordinary potential. In effect, Jason is just an ordinary man from the real world, placed in an epic past,[10] without the support of supernatural traits on Homer’s heroes. He becomes a hero of love, thus revealing his humanness: “The keynote of the new heroism is not traditional individualistic prowess but the willingness to admit to and exploit the power of a more human force, love.”[11] This demonstrates that Apollonius’ hero has not been rewritten from the Homeric epic, but instead from reality. Jason is representing a Hellenistic man in an Apollonius epic.[12]
However, it is essential to understand that Jason is not unable to contribute to an epic because of his human limitation. Instead, he attains a new mētis from Medea’s which is quite the opposite from Odysseus’, which again separates Apollonius’ epic from a Homeric epic. Argus and Hera used mētis to describe the plan against the princess (3.30, 4.75), and three times, the word mētis was described for the scheming of Medea’s (3.720, 7.81, 9.12). This is important to mention as the uses of mētis strains far away from Odysseus way of use.
Jason is turning the concept into a dangerous and deceptive way, which Homeric heroes like Odysseus have tried to contain. Again, showing the Argonautica has altogether left the Homeric writing. Accordingly, when Jason enters the field contest, having obtained magical prowess. Apollonius cleverly uses Homeric languages to describe the scene, but this exaggerates Jason’s new status and shifts him further away from the Homeric Heroes, thereby stressing its magic, not Jason’s human self, that caused the success. The Homeric allusions in the final two hundred lines of Book 3 are so extensive it would be beyond the scope of this chapter to outline each one as Hunter and others have done.[13] Hunter also notes that Apollonius exaggerates Jason’s ability, making him seem even more superhuman than the Iliad’s heroes. The simile comparing Jason to a shooting star (3.1377-80) only finds a parallel in Homer in a description of Athena shooting through the sky (Il. 4.75-78), thereby figuratively elevating Jason to the level of the divine.
Moreover, when Jason throws the stone in 3.1366-67, Apollonius says that not even four men would be able to lift it, while in Homer, he always sets the bar at only two men (e.g., Il. 5.303-34 and 20.286-87). Therefore, Apollonius paints a Homeric landscape but makes his hero far more robust than Troy’s warriors. They were subject to human limitation. After magic, however, Jason can be both Iliadic and Odyssean par excellence.
In conclusion, the Argonautica is an epic where each of the first three books represents a different stage in the epic tradition, more specifically a Homeric epic. The first two books presents Homeric concepts of heroism. The book opens with the Iliadic Heracles and then progressed to various of Odyssean figures. Thus the first two book answers the argument on whether Argonautica was a rewrite of the Homeric epic. However, instead, What I understood from It was the first two books together, were just a deception for the Hellenistic centric of the second half of the poem. I believe Apollonius demonstrated with Jason’s human realism that Homeric heroism can no longer exist in the third century BCE. Thus resulting in the death of the Homeric epic and a rebirth of a new concept of heroism, and putting forward the notion that humans are no less capable of being heroic humans

[1] Galinsky 1972: 14-15
[2] Clauss 1993: 65-66
[3] Hunter 1993: 33-34
[4] C.f Beye 1969: 40
[5] Rood 2007: 113
[6] Lawall 1966: 132
[7] Brommer 1988: 26-28
[8] Carspecken 1953: 99-125
[9] Lawall 1966: 166
[10] Galinsky 1972: 109
[11] Zanker 1979: 74
[12] DeForest 1994: Chapter 1 & 2
[13] Fantuzzi-Hunter 2004: 270-82

Epic of Creation- Alteration of Marduk’s fate

In the Mesopotamian times, there was a story called, “Enuma Elish” which in short terms is the beginning of the world, the creation of mankind (greater and lesser gods), most importantly the rise of Marduk as the patron God of Babylon, all written in 7 tablets (Mark J.J., 2018) According to Dalley (1991) it started off with Apsu the sweet water God and Tiamat the salt water goddess sought out by having/creating other gods like Lahmu, Lahamu which they then had Anshar and Kishar, and so on…… leading to the creation of Marduk himself. This was seen to be the upbringing of an almighty heroic God figure called, “Marduk”. Through Marduks ravishing actions, the people of Mesopotamia depict Marduk as the successful figure with power never seen before, unlike his opposers that are led to their downfall (i.e. Tiamat). The whole notion of killing and gaining status in ancient times were unjust in ways that were partially unexplainable. God Ea which is Marduks father, was the one who orchestrated all of this, by murdering Apsu in cold blood despite of his opinions on murdering children due to them being annoying, Ea decides it is better to kill the main creator (i.e. Apsu) instead of talking him down from wanting to kill the children.
Falsification of Figures
Instead of resorting to different measures, God Ea decides to determine the fate of those around him, leading to the downfall of Apsu and the upbringing of Marduk. As for his own selfish needs, they do what needs to be done in order to protect and preserve the ones they love despite of the outcomes.  In the Epic of Creation, the actions of Marduk are ultimately rooted from the actions his father (i.e. Ea/Enki) by murdering Apsu in cold blood, altering the fate of those affected by him, it is more than just the succession of Marduk; through the totality of one’s outcomes/actions it does not solidify their position for gaining power over others as it is seen through the falsification of figures, the unjust treatments between Gods, and the lack of usage in rules. 

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As the main story of the Epic of Creation was to describe mankind and Marduk, there are holes and gaps in between actions of Gods. As the story only focusses on Marduk and his uprising as a God, there has been a misguided portrayal of characters/figures like Tiamat herself. Tiamat in this myth is seen as the antagonist, this foul dragon like creature wanting to reek havoc on the people of Mesopotamia, Babylon more in particular. The only reason why this came to be was due the actions of Ea, overhearing the conversation between Apsu and his vizier Mummu (Dalley, 1991), Ea decides to take matters into his own hands without even thinking of the possible outcomes that could occur. Tiamat would not be in the state, the state of her being angry and wanting to avenge Apsu if Ea had not killed her lover. This is an example of falsely portraying Tiamat as they forgot she with the help of Apsu were the original ones that made the Gods, initially making them the elderly figures as king and queen.
Tiamat is the personification of primordial water, the first to come to be along with Apsu (Helle, 2016). Following the death of Apsu, things remain suttle for awhile until Marduk was given four winds (i.e. toys) by his grandfather Anu (the great sky God) to play with. Thus, disturbing the elderly Gods and Tiamat herself in spite of vengeance she becomes the ‘antagonist’ of this story (Helle, 2016). Initially Tiamat was the personified primordial water, the goddess that gave life to all things. Then turned into a goddess that seeks vengeance for her lover’s death, as this is a prime example of the misguided actions of God Ea, acting irresponsibly towards protecting the children. Thus, creating a whole array of problems that led to a slaughter of Tiamat, Quingu, and her armies.
Although Tiamat was falsely portrayed, God Ea is not much better than Apsu was as one wanted to murder kids due to annoyance and the other due to irrational decision making. Tiamat and Ea were both factors in causing problems in Babylon, Ea killing Apsu endanger the people Babylon as Tiamat is very unforgiving, likewise Tiamat is also the one that fights Marduk because of Ea and Anu raising Marduk. Marduk was portrayed as the hero, was he the rightful hero when he demanded to have Babylon built in his image so that he could rule over it? According to Dalley (1991), on page 236 she states that “They plotted evil in their hearts, and….” This captures not only Tiamat and the other Gods being angered, it comes to show how Ea and Anu made them that way. Ea killing Apsu without hesitation, and then Anu creating four winds to give to Marduk thereby disrupting the elderly Gods making them infuriated causing them to lash out making them be seen as the villains of the story, which entirely the whole picture is not been captured.
Punishment to serve justice
Gods and goddesses did not follow much rules, rules were sort of non-existent in ancient times. An example is the killing of Apsu, if there were rules laid out there would not be bloodshed which initially lead up to Tiamat’s death, Marduk being praised by the people of Babylon and his kingship would have not been given as easily by killing Tiamat to protect the people of Babylon, if there were rules set. Rules would have changed the course of Marduks actions and Ea’s too. An example is today, there are rules to keep us in place, so we do not fall astray and if those that do they will serve time in prison of be punished so the same actions are not caused again. In the Epic of Creation, it fails to show rules (i.e. laws) as Gods do as they please and get away with it like how Ea has (i.e. after Ea killed Apsu, Tiamat did not revolt against him until Anu gave Marduk his four winds which sparked the anger and rage built up in her to lash out therefore fighting Marduk, making her to be the ‘antagonist’ of the myth). According to Rattini (2019), there was this ancient king called, “Hammurabi” that ruled places he was at, and at those places he made code of laws, laws that all must follow when under his land in which he ruled in. This in comparison to the Epic of Creation the creation myth did not include laws as most of its stories were based off one’s self emotions and actions (i.e. Ea putting Apsu to sleep then murdering him and his vizier Mummu).
According to Reid (2018), he states that early Mesopotamia has prisons unlike the modern world, their way of imprisonment is different to the early Mesopotamian times. In the Epic of Creation, there was no presence of care, meaning when someone murders another God there is no sense of remorse. If there was forms of punishment that did not result in killing, then Marduks fate would have been changed, changed in a way that he would have not been praised by the people of Babylon. Before anyone came to know who, he was he, he was just a regular God per say, until he showcased his power and what he could do people started to like it and by doing so they worshipped him almost (i.e. Festival Nisan). This comes to show there was a lack of punishment or any forms of punishment shown to those that should be punished for (i.e. Ea and Apsu), set in the duration of Epic of Creation and in correlation there was a not much rules/laws displayed in the creation myths.
Lack of Rules displayed
In further support of the findings above, rules were not as dominant in Mesopotamian times, there was not much action taken towards killing, as some where seen to get away with it while some do not bother. In the Epic of Creation, not much bloodshed was done as comparison to the Epic of Gilgamesh (Dalley, 1991). Actions should have consequences, (i.e. rules), and those that do not abide by it should be punished for. An example is the actions of Ea the one who started it all, although Apsu was the one that was annoyed and wanted to kill those children, Ea should be the one to take blame for. According to Rice and Stambaugh (2014), “…..let one rank them as he wishes in accordance with law”, this according to the Greeks the greatest Gods shall be worshipped over the lesser Gods. In the Epic of Creation, there was not a trace of status in terms of the first ones that came to be, like Apsu and Tiamat they were the supposed Gods, the Gods that were the oldest in fact not the strongest. Like Greek mythology itself, Zeus was the highest of Gods being the strongest and one of the oldest, unlike Marduk he was a demi-god part human and party godly. If rules were set in accordance to rankings, Marduk would have no place in becoming a potential ruler despite of his actions (i.e. even if he killed Tiamat).  
As most of the creation myths in Mesopotamia begin with the formation of nothing, each one is different in its own way. The Epic of Creation was the origins of Gods, and how they came to be, more specifically Marduk and his upcoming as the ruler of Babylon. It was made into seven tablets that described the myth, although Marduks fate was destined for him to be a ruler a strong figure in Mesopotamia. The only reason why Marduk was so successful was from the actions of his father, Ea. It was sort of planned out in a way that Ea knew if he killed Apsu then his son would act upon protecting Babylon making it easy for him to rule and gain everyone’s attention. Some problems with myths is that it they are good and bad, in a way that myths tell us stories that we can use for our inspiration unlike inspiration it can cause us harm, by covering up the truth it tries to tell us only giving us one side of the story (Neufville, 1987). Many myths including the birth of man (i.e. Enki and his impregnation towards many women) and Atrahasis have their own meaningful way of telling a story either through dishonesty or bloodshed leading to a happy ending.
To fully understand myths, especially the Epic of Creation, we must observe through more than just one perspective the perspective of Marduk is too narrow. To fully understand each God/Goddess and their personality, the story that follows must not only be read through one view but many to question the possible probabilities the story has, potentially leading to flaws in certain characters. Through the unfolding of the story of creation, Tiamat was not portrayed fully as the antagonist of the story as others like Ea had part in the cause of killing innocent lives. The lack of rules displayed in the story had led Marduk to easily gain the trust of people in Babylon and made others that opposed him be the enemy of his enemies. And the need for rightful punishment that could have changed the whole course of Marduks fate and Tiamats would have been ethically correct instead of unjust murdering and assumptions led by Ea.              

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