Free Essay

Ancient Literature Essay


Submitted By alwhitme
Words 1486
Pages 6
Ancient Literature Essay

Ancient literature includes many themes that are relevant today. Many of these stories include a hero, villain, and epic battle or journey that leads to a resolve. Often, you can see similar characteristics among these ancient writings. These ancient peoples were not much different than we are today, and that is depicted by the themes that continue to be relevant in the Common Era. An analysis of the two ancient writings The Aeneid and Agamemnon show many similar themes and blatant differences apparent in each story. By examining these two stories in detail, a greater understanding and appreciation of ancient literature can be acquired. Since man first began engaging in religious practices, stories with religious elements and themes have resulted. These two stories are no exception. Ancient Greek and Roman religious themes are present in both The Aeneid and Agamemnon. Both stories revolve around the philosophy that what we do with our lives is controlled by the Gods and to disrespect and dishonor the Gods is blasphemy, which will automatically lead to punishment. Both stories are similar in that the Gods are the beholders of the ultimate supreme power and the deciders of our hero’s fates. In other words, if it is not written by the Gods, then it is not the will of the Gods, and is therefore not to be done. It is also apparent in both stories that pleasing the Gods is everything to the characters and ultimately a deciding factor in their roles. Without the acceptance and pleasing of the Gods, the characters see their actions as not worthy and show the Gods ultimate power to keep them in line to fulfill their desires. It is seen as best to follow what the Gods lay down for your fate rather than deal with the unpleasant consequences ahead if you do not. In the story The Aeneid, Aeneas is faced with temptation and has to decide whether to continue with the fate that has already been predetermined by the Gods for him, or to fall for the temptation of his desires. Aeneas is a demi-God due to his mother being Venus, and therefore he feels much added pressure to follow suit with what the Gods hold in store for him. The Gods give him the task of leaving Troy to travel to Italy in order to spread the Roman empire. As Virgil describes, “they wandered, dogged by Fate, across the seas. Such matter it was to found our Roman race” (Virgil: The Aeneid, Book 1, p.1183). While on his journey to Italy, Aeneas is thrown into Carthage due to a storm and is quickly enamored by queen Dido's beauty. She attempts to seduce him and convince him to stay in Carthage by stating, “I’ll help you, keep you safe, and send you on. Or will you settle here and share my realm? The city I build is yours; pull up your ships. Trojan, Tyrian, all shall be one to me” (Virgil: The Aeneid, Book 1, p.1190). Aeneus respects the Gods fate chosen for him and knows he must continue on the path laid out for him, but he decides to stay longer, and ponder on what to do. In that time, Aeneas begins to submit into Dido's seduction tactics and ultimately allows for her to take over his mind. As Virgil states in regard to this matter, “Dido had deemed him worthy mate and man. Now they were warming the winter with rich exchange, forgetful of thrones, ensnared by shameful lust” (Virgil: The Aeneid, Book 4, p. 1227).
When Iarbas the king realizes that Aeneas is starting to surrender to Dido, he prays to Hammon, the son of Jupiter, to find someone to snap Aeneas back into reality and to set him straight on the path he is meant to follow. The Gods send Mercury to tell Aeneus of the Gods unhappiness with his actions and request he leave Carthage immediately to return to his duty. The plea goes as follows:
Aeneas! In Carthage now do you lay foundations and plan a handsome town for a wife? Your throne, your state- are they forgotten? From shining Olympus he has sent me down- the kind of gods, whose nod makes heaven roll. He bade me fly with the wind to bring his word: what plans, what hopes hold you at leisure here? If nothing of promised glory moves your heart, and for your own renown you'll spend no toil (Virgil: The Aeneid, Book 4, p. 1229). Mercury is attempting to tell Aeneas that not following the will of the Gods, will not bring glory to him. Aeneas is determined to sail once more, and follows Mercury's advice and demands of the Gods. In the time of the ancient Romans and Greeks, the ultimate goal was to be important and have fame follow them and enrich their lives forever; not obeying the will of the Gods would impede on this desire. The will of the Gods in the mind of these ancient people was deeply intertwined and show how they just saw fate as predetermined. Their Gods were viewed as the ultimate masters and deciders. In the work Agamemnon, written by Aeschylus, the importance of the will of the gods is predominantly found. In this story, King Agamemnon of Argos and the Greeks fight a ten year long battle for the city of Troy. Before going to war the king sacrifices a stag to the goddess Artemis in hopes the sacrifice would grant him good winds for him and his fleet to sail safely to Troy, but he sacrificed a creature that was held sacred to her. In doing this, the goddess demanded that Agamemnon sacrifice something he held to be sacred; his only daughter Iphigenia. Agamemnon wrangles with the decision; it is either sacrifice his one and only daughter and live with her blood on his hands, or not slaughter his daughter and abandon his fleet and sail home unglorified. In response to this situation Agamemnon states:
What can I say? Disaster follows if I disobey; surely yet worse disaster if I yield and slaughter my own child, my home's delight, in her young innocence, and stain my hand with blasphemous unnatural cruelty, bathed in blood I fathered! Either way, ruin! Disband the fleet sail home, and earn the deserter's badge- abandon my command, betray the alliance- now! The wind must turn, there must be sacrifice, a maid must bleed- their chafing rage demands it- they are right! May good prevail and justify my deed! (Aeschylus: Agamemnon, p.813).
Agamemnon decides to give in to the will of the Gods and slaughters his daughter, in order to sail safely onto Troy. This too, shows once again, that what the Gods desire the Gods get due to their divine power. The Gods must grant and deem all actions okay before it can be obtained which Agamemnon realized when Artmeis gave him his fate and followed her commands. Some differences that are apparent in these ancient writings have to deal with these stories. In the story The Aneid Aeneas is aware of his fate from the beginning and knows what his duty is at all times and follows his fate gracefully. In following the will of the Gods, Aeneas end up with good results in that he live s. Aeneas is able to accept his predetermined destiny and despite his own emotions, he still is a good servant and is worthy of the honor the gods bestow on him. A difference in the story Agamemnon Agamemnon is not aware of his fate at the beginning of the story and is reluctant about following the will of the Gods and in doing so dies from the result of displeasing the Gods. Both works show us that the ancient people were both similar and different than we are today in numerous ways. They lived in a world where they were not the sole decision makers and that fate was not always theirs to decide, but that fate is often predetermined by the Gods and the power of the Gods is seen as supreme reign over everything else. It was important for the people to please their Gods, since they could easily destroy them if they did not follow direction. The Gods set a fate for each and every person and often were given superior fates that would lead them to fame and success; which is what everyone ultimately wanted. These works also show us the importance of fame and having a good reputation. The Gods chose the heroes, and these people were given a fate made especially for them, a fate made to bring them glory. These people desired to be remembered and their name to be forever honored in their society and known across the land. The will of the Gods was holy and always to be honored and followed.

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

The Bible Myth is different and separate from other writings of the Ancient Near East. He asserts the Bible is both historically accurate and theologically sound. He makes the defense the Bible was divinely inspired and revealed to humanity and unique from other Ancient Near East literature. There was a time when the Bible, and the Israelite religion was different from its neighboring societies. But as times have changed, many people now lump the bible with other Ancient Near East myths. The book is broken up into two sections. The first half of the book, “The Bible and Myth,” Oswalt takes the time to define what a myth is and what differentiates the Bible from a myth. He then describes the different between the worldview of the Ancient Near East and continuity is different from the Bible’s transcendence. The second half of the book, “The Bible and History,” examines several philosophical thoughts proposed by others that attempt to explain the Bible’s relevance separate from historical validity. Oswalt provides excellent arguments against the new age philosophies. Oswalt provides an articulate argument for the veracity of the Bible’s history and theology by providing several convincing points to affirm the Bibles varicity.   Introduction John N. Oswalt, in his book The Bible Among the Myths, provides the reader with a brief, yet comprehensive view of the differences and similarities between the Old Testament and Ancient Near East religions. In the introduction, he provides a brief...

Words: 498 - Pages: 2

Free Essay


...Review for Midterm #1—Classical & Medieval Cultures The in-class portion of the exam will consist of 30 objective questions (multiple-choice and matching) and 2 short answer questions (no more than three sentences per answer). The in-class portion of the exam will be worth 100 points. The out-of-class essay will be worth an additional 100 points. See below for the out-of-class essay questions. Ancient Near Eastern & Greek Culture Terms: Trojan War, anthropomorphism, polytheism, monotheism, Archaic Age, Classical Age, Hellenistic Age Art & Artworks: Sculpture: relief sculpture, free-standing sculpture, idealism, naturalism; characteristics of Archaic sculpture, kouros, kore; characteristics of Classical sculpture, Myron, Discus Thrower, Polycleitus, Spear-Bearer, Canon, unknown sculptors, Zeus, Three Goddesses,, Praxiteles, Aphrodite of Knidos; characteristics of Hellenistic sculpture, Laocoon and his Sons, Old Shepherdess ; Architecture, frieze, pediment, entablature, capital, metope, triglyph,; Characteristics of Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian styles, Parthenon, Temple of Athena Nike, Erectheion (with Porch of the Maidens), Propylaia Literature & Drama: epic poetry, Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer, Iliad, Odyssey; Hesiod, Theogony; Theater of Dionysus, tragedy, comedy, Oresteia of Aeschylus, Antigone & Oedipus the King by Sophocles, Medea by Euripides, Lysistrata by Aristophanes, characteristics of tragedy, hubris, hamartia, catharsis Thought: Pre-Socratic...

Words: 794 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Japanese Literature

...Geane Louise J. Mendoza BSBA-MM 4-5D JAPANESE LITERATURE I. History A. Ancient Literature (until 764)- “Nara Period” (AD 710 to 794) * Kan’ji- Logographic Chinese Characters which is first writing system used by Japanese that was introduce by Chinese. * Kana- are syllabic Japanese scripts, a part of the Japanese writing system contrasted with the logographic Chinese characters known in Japan as kanji. * 3 Kana Scripts: * Man’yogana- (old syllabic) * Katakana- (modern angular) * Hiragana – (modern cursive) * IMPORTANT LITERATURES * Kojiki- ("An Account of Ancient Matters") (711-712) a historical record that also chronicles ancient Japanese mythology and folk songs. * Ō no Yasumaro (Died on August 15, 723) was a Japanese nobleman, bureaucrat, and chronicler. * Empress Genmei (Genmei-tennō 660 – December 29, 721), also known as Empress Genmyō, was the 43rd monarch of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession * Urashima Tarō is a Japanese legend. * Nihon Shoki - sometimes translated as “The Chronicles of Japan”, is the second oldest book of classical Japanese history. * Fudoki-refer to the oldest records called Kofudoki written in the Nara period. * Rikkokushi-is a general term for Japan's six national histories. * Shoku Nihongi-is an imperially commissioned Japanese history text. B. Classical literature (794–1185) “Heian period” -Golden era of art and Literature. * Kogo Shūi is a historical record of the Inbe...

Words: 700 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay


...What is literature? Literature is a word used to defined printed or verbal objective. The word literature is way to define all from imaginative script to additional procedural or logical work. Over all, literature relates to works of artistic thoughts, containing mechanisms of poetry, play, creative writing, and fact based novels. Literature signifies a language, culture, and custom. Literature is more significant than being an ancient or traditional object. It also presents us to original worlds of knowledge. In the video, the guy Joe was carrying a book call war and peace written by Leo Lolstoy. He thinks that t it’s a literature book because it’s an old book and the author of the book is dead, so therefore he thinks it’s a literature. In my opinion, it’s not necessary that every old book or the book author has to be dead to judge whether that specific content is literature or not. Lelani, the girl was holding a book of personal thoughts. That doesn’t count as a literature because it doesn’t have a publisher. A piece of writing must have a publisher to be considered as a literature. Tasha, the girl had a book of essays with her. She thinks that essays book are informal so therefore it’s not a literature. I agree with her because a literature peace must have a formal material or hidden meaning behind the words to be known as literature. Manual, had a piece of newspaper with him. That does not count as literature because not all the news in the newspaper are fact based. Over...

Words: 281 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Medival and Ancient Literature

...Monique M. Gomez Professor Dr. Heather Lusty English 231 Sections 1003, 1004 November 20, 2013 Formal Essay Assignment Throughout the years there have been different interpretations on medieval and ancient literature. Ancient Greek literature has seemed to stem from involving many stories about the interventions of the gods and the consequences they have on man. While medieval literature is consumed by religious writings that involve a romantic hero that faces a quest of chivalry and conquers an evil villain. Medieval literature also branches from knights behaving in a certain code of ethics that involve taking oaths and being loyal to their kings and individuals while in combat. While viewing medieval and ancient literature I perceived a couple interesting aspects that are influential with modern society. Honor and leadership are seen today not only from men, but also women. Also, fidelity and women have been The oldest poem in English language literature Beowulf is one of the most symbolic forms of medieval literature to be created. The poem depicts several emotions and characteristics that are still used today in modern society. While Beowulf is still on a conquest to help the good of his family heritage, he faces a dilemma with leadership and honor. He is constantly proving himself throughout the poem to be seen as a superior dominant figure for his people and at the same time, wants to be respected and seen in a heroic light. Although this poem depicts a glimpse...

Words: 906 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Annotated Bibliography

...Student: Tutor: Course: Date: The Lottery: Annotated Bibliography Nebeker, Helen. The Lottery: Symbolic Tour de Force", in American Literature, Vol. 46, No. 1, March, 1974, pp. 100-07. Print. Nebeker uses this piece of literary work to argue that each and every name used in “The Lottery” has a special or distinct significance (3). The author hints at some of the larger meanings, especially through name symbolism. At the end of the second paragraph, for instance, Nebeker asserts that Jackson had indicated and presented the season. It was time of ancient sacrifice and excess, with stones representing the most ancient sacrificial weapons (2). Apart from that, the name Martin signifies monkey or ape. The above is juxtaposed intentionally with Dickie Delacroix and Harry Jones with an aim of urging the people to be aware of the Ape residing within them. Indeed, “Delacroix has been vulgarized in the story to “Dellacroy,” who becomes the first person to pick a large stone something that encourages others to stone Mrs. Hutchinson. The above is a clear indication of forces against change in the society. The presence of Old Man Martin further symbolizes conservatives whose role is to undermine any attempt to discard old traditions (3). In a nutshell, this is a reliable source for my research since Nebeker has made every possible attempt to identify various facts about the historical context of the short story. Jackson, Shirley. The Lottery. Mankato, Minnesota: The Creative Company...

Words: 1285 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Comparative Essay

...Comparative Essay Classical Chinese and Ancient Egyptian cultures reveal the complexities of love through their works of literature, which involves the feminine chastity in a romantic plot. Throughout history, women set the role model for the appropriate engagement in premarital sexual behavior with men. In the Classical Chinese poem, “Zhongzi, Please,” we uncover a conservative female character who is afraid of society's criticisms if she is seen with a male figure.  On the other hand, in the Ancient Egyptian poem, "The Beginning of the Song that Diverts the Heart," we encounter a rebellious female character who embarks on a mission to persuade her lover to indulge in a sexual relationship. Both poems in Ancient Egypt and Classical China share similarities because the character’s response to love reflects their cultural beliefs. Confucius’ teachings about respect and obedience are reinforced several times in the Classical Chinese poem, “Zhongzi, Please,” through a female character’s reaction to her lover. The respectful manner to say “please” is used several times by the female to kindly ask her lover to pull back on his amorous advances. Also, we can infer the female’s usage of the word “please” as a strategy to attract her lover. The word “please” (1, 9, 17) conflicts with Confucius’ ideals of a women to restrain from romantic exposure, but his teachings are again reinforced with the repetition of line breaks of sentence for example, “Zhongzi, please / don’t cross my...

Words: 867 - Pages: 4

Free Essay


...Write a short essay on Druids and similar priests in Europe B.C. In this essay I will compare the druids, so the Celtic religion to the Greek ancient religion. There are similarities but most of the items are differences. Druids were the priests of the Celtic tribe. They had great power because of their spread of belief and for the role they had in the society. First of all, they could go over a ruler. So the druids were acting like judges, advisers, doctors but also as magicians or poets. Druids had ceremonies of mistletoe that involved animal sacrifice it was also a tradition for the Greek tribes. They both thought that their gods need them to pay in some form of a sacrilege. But the druids were also known for the human sacrifice. They strongly believe in the soul that is not dying but it takes another body. This sacrifice it was an act of bravery, of approaching god. Also the druids had this Underworld, were to be found fairies as the guardians. Greek priests were not forming a college of priests like the druids, they were separated. Each priest had his deity to worship and they remain devoted to that only god. “The priest’s role was not that of a rabbi or pastor – he tended not the worshipers but the deity. He would serve only the cult of one deity, and his authority as priest was limited to the cult of that deity. “ As for the rituals, priests would deliver prayers; they had libations all in a religious ceremony. The animal sacrifice was often closed with the analysis...

Words: 1049 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

The Widjit Project

...Welcome to room 213! I am very glad you could come tonight. I hope you have had fun touring the whole school. Tonight you will be able to see all of the work I have done throughout this year. This class got strict at times, but in the end we got a lot of work done. I have enjoyed a lot of things we have done throughout the year. Literature was really fun because got to read three core reading books, which all had very good endings and I'm very glad we read them. We got to do a project called Coming of the Gods, which you will see on the walls. We got to write a bunch of essays, but the most fun ones were the persuasive essay and the evaluative essay. Sadly, we also had to do standards when we did something incorrect. In social studies, we got to do ancient empires and a China PowerPoint...

Words: 440 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

All Quiet On The Western Front

...of a young German soldier throughout WWI. The novel has had a widespread effect on literature, sparking reflections and discussions about the human fee of struggle, the mental toll on soldiers, and the futility of battle. The novel was published in 1929, simply over a decade after the end of the conflict, which had left a devastating impact on Europe. The conflict claimed tens of millions of lives, inflicted untold suffering, and reshaped the world in profound ways. Remarque, himself a veteran of the struggle, drew on his very own stories to create a raw and real portrayal of the brutal realities faced by...

Words: 593 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Roman History

...Week 3 Roman Contribution Essay – The Roman Alphabet HIS 101 – History of Western Civilization I Abstract This essay will explore the Roman alphabet, a contribution from the Roman Empire which is used today in the modern world. A contribution so great yet sometimes overlooked. This Roman alphabet was known as the Classic Latin Alphabet. This essay will describe the changes that have taken place to give us the current alphabet used in the United States today as well as a majority of the world either as an official script or co-script. (Richey, 2014) Week 3 Roman Contribution Essay – The Roman Alphabet The Roman Alphabet is one of many contributions given to or handed down to us through centuries from the Romans and the Roman Empire. The Roman Alphabet is a contribution often overlooked in the wake of the architectural, engineered, literal, and governmental contributions from the ancient Romans that has had a major and lasting impact on life even in the modern world today. The Roman alphabet is made up from the Latin alphabet in which the Romans used twenty-three letters in their alphabet as compared to today’s twenty-six letter alphabet. The letters J, U, and W were not included in the Roman alphabet. The term, “alphabet”, in which each letter stands for one sound, seems to have been first used around 1900 B.C. in Egypt. (Social Studies for Kids) The ancient Greeks used this alphabet and created their own alphabet, however the Romans then refined the alphabet...

Words: 784 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Critical Period Hypothesis

...Literary Criticism is, as Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), the Victorian poet and critic points out, a "disinterested endeavor to learn and propagate" the best that is known and thought in the world. And he strove hard to fulfill this aim in his critical writings. Attaching paramount importance to poetry in his essay "The Study of Poetry", he regards the poet as seer. Without poetry, science is incomplete, and much of religion and philosophy would in future be replaced by poetry. Such, in his estimate, are the high destinies of poetry. Arnold asserts that literature, and especially poetry, is "Criticism of Life". In poetry, this criticism of life must conform to the laws of poetic truth and poetic beauty. Truth and seriousness of matter, felicity and perfection of diction and manner, as are exhibited in the best poets, are what constitutes a criticism of life. Poetry, says Arnold, interprets life in two ways: "Poetry is interpretative by having natural magic in it, and moral profundity". And to achieve this the poet must aim at high and excellent seriousness in all that he writes.This demand has two essential qualities. The first is the choice of excellent actions. The poet must choose those which most powerfully appeal to the great primary human feelings which subsist permanently in the race. The second essential is what Arnold calls the Grand Style - the perfection of form, choice of words, drawing its force directly from the pregnancy of matter which it conveys. This, then...

Words: 500 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Essay On Medieval Tragedy

...During the Renaissance period, which spanned between 14th century and 17th century, an old genre of literature was reinvented into a newer form that was closer to the mentality and the social development of the time, that being the tragedy. This type of literature has its origins in the Ancient Greek and Roman tragedy, which emerged around 2,500 years ago, in the 6th century BC. Tragedy, by its definition, is “a form of drama based on human suffering that invokes an accompanying catharsis or pleasure in audiences” (qtd. in Tragedy is considered to have been invented for the worshiping of Dionysus , which they considered to be one of their deities . In Greek, “tragedy” is called “tragodia”, which means goat song, being composed of the words “tragos” which means “he-goat” and “aeidein” which means “to sing” which is believed to make a reference to an old custom of offering a goat in competitions of choral dancing or using it for ritual sacrifices, but not before dancing around it. The three big representatives of Ancient tragedy are Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. Their work further represented the inspiration for the medieval tragedy which developed during 14th century Middle Age, inside cathedrals, a highly...

Words: 873 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Women Who Fight Term Paper

...and Nora, step from the normal roles as women and fight against all authority, stand up for what they believe in, and break the laws as they fall. To better understand the character, one must first understand the author and the time period in which the story was written. Sophocles wrote many dramatic plays including, Antigone. Sophocles, like many of his characters in his plays, was a hero of sorts. He held many public offices and was a general during the Samian War and the Archidamian War. “Sophocles was a priest of Halon and helped introduce the cult of Asclepius, god of medicine, to Athens” (Gill). He grew up in a town known as Colonus, but he stayed in Athens most of the time (Gill). His play, Antigone, was written in 441 B. C., in Ancient Greece. (Sophocles 1465) . In the dramatic play, Antigone, Antigone undergoes a deadly battle with her uncle, future father-in-law, and king, Creon. Antigone is considered a princess in the land of Thebes where her father, King Oedipus, once ruled. In this play, Antigone’s two brothers fight to the death for the throne. They kill each other in battle, and Polynices is deemed a traitor while Eteocles is deemed honorable. Creon makes it against the law to bury Polynices, and anyone who dares to bury him will be sentenced to death. Since Polynices...

Words: 2685 - Pages: 11

Free Essay


...000 – Computer science, information, and general works • 000 Generalities • 001 Knowledge • 002 The book • 003 Systems • 004 Data processing and Computer science • 005 Computer programming, programs, data • 006 Special computer methods • 007 Not assigned or no longer used • 008 Not assigned or no longer used • 009 Not assigned or no longer used • 010 Bibliography • 011 Bibliographies • 012 Bibliographies of individuals • 013 Bibliographies of works by specific classes of authors • 014 Bibliographies of anonymous and pseudonymous works • 015 Bibliographies of works from specific places • 016 Bibliographies of works from specific subjects • 017 General subject catalogs • 018 Catalogs arranged by author & date • 019 Dictionary catalogs • 020 Library & information sciences • 021 Library relationships • 022 Administration of the physical plant • 023 Personnel administration • 024 Not assigned or no longer used • 025 Library operations • 026 Libraries for specific subjects • 027 General libraries • 028 Reading, use of other information media • 029 Not assigned or no longer used • 030 General encyclopedic works • 031 General encyclopedic works -- American • 032 General encyclopedic works in English • 033 General encyclopedic works in other Germanic languages • 034 General encyclopedic works in French, Provencal...

Words: 6903 - Pages: 28