World Literature

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Last updated: February 18, 2019

1. “ But you, the journey that stirs you now is not far off,Not with the likes of me, the friend of your father and yours,To rig you a swift ship and be your shipmate too (The Odyssey 223).” This was the goddess Athena in the guise of the Mentor who was addressing Telemachus on his planned trip for Pylos and Sparta to inquire on the whereabouts of his father, Odysseus.  At this point, Telemachus is already a young man who yearned for his father’s return after the famous Trojan War.  His home is occupied by suitors, whose ill-repute and rudeness have no equal in existing literature.

The belief that Odysseus was already dead has given these suitors the courage to slaughter his livestock, camp at his home, bother his wife at every opportunity, and drink his wine.  It was Athena herself who first suggested that Telemachus visit King Menelaus and Nestor who were with his father during the Trojan War.If was after talking before the Public Council that Pallas Athena promised a rigged ship and her company on his trip to Pylos and Sparta.  She added that Telemachus better prepare for provisions since the departure had to be made in secret.  The next day, Telemachus and Mentor embarked for Pylos.2.

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“Die, die—whoever he was that day in the wildswho cut my ankles free of the ruthless pins,he pulled me clear of death, he saved my lifefor this, this kindness—Curse him, kill him! (Oedipus the King 648).These were uttered by Oedipus the King when he had blinded himself for the realization and shame of having killed his father and married his mother.  At that point, his mother and wife, Queen Jocasta had already committed suicide.  Oedipus was at that juncture between lamentation and meeting his replacement as the ruler of Thebes, Creon.Specifically, Oedipus was not only bemoaning his fate but was blaming the person whom he thought was responsible for saving his life while still as an infant. An oracle had warned his parents, King Laius and Queen Jocasta about the deed or misdeeds the child would do when he grow up.  It was then both decided to have him killed.  Fortunately or unfortunately, the murder did not happen.

  It was to this savior of his infanthood that Oedipus was reserving his strongest curse.  He was blaming the person instead of  himself for contributing to the fulfillment of the oracle.  He said that it was not kindness to save him then considering the situation he has found himself into in his mature years.  Oedipus lamentations, together with the chorus of this play by Sophocles, were a condemnation of his fate.  Oedipus had gorged his eyes out for so that he could not see himself as the embodiment of shame.

  What is being emphasized through the excerpt is the paradox of having an opportunity or chance to alter one’s fate or one’s helplessness in the face of destiny. The savior of Oedipus in his infancy could have terminated his life and in the process spare him from the fulfillment of a certain prediction.  Still the pain and suffering that Oedipus voluntarily undergoes indicated a sense of blame on his part and not purely on destiny.

3.  The captain of evil discovered himselfIn a handgrip harder than anythingHe had ever encountered in any manOn the face of the earth. Every bone in his bodyQuailed and recoiled, but he could not escape (Beowulf 1195).This quotation described that portion of the Beowulf Epic where Grendel had grasped the arm of the supposedly sleeping Beowulf and realized that he had meet somebody who was more than a match for him. Grendel was the dreaded monster which had laid waste the Kingdom of Hrothgar.

  Beowulf was the kinsman of Hygelac, ruler of the Geats who had offered his services to King Hrothgar to get rid of Grendel.  The struggle between the hero and the monster was so intense that the writer commented that it was surprising that Heorot, the great hall, was not greatly damaged. Beowulf is described as having the strength of thirty men.  No wonder that Grendel feared so much the outcome that he wrestled himself free from Beowulf although at the expense of wrenching his arm from its socket.

  Beowulf then declared that the arm served as hall decoration.This part of the epic is a reversal of fortune for Hrothgar and his people.  Although Grendel’s mother exacts some revenge later on, this was the first time that somebody had withstood against the onslaught of the local monster.  It also described for the first time Beowulf in action and which reinforced the truthfulness of his previous narrations about other great deeds in the past.4.  He ruled it wellFor fifty winters, grew old and wiseAs warden of the landUntil one beganTo dominate the dark, a dragon on the prowlFrom the steep vaults of a stone-roofed barrowWhere he guarded a hoard; there was a hidden passage,Unknown to men, but someone managedTo enter by it and interfereWith the heathen trove (Beowulf 1227).This is a reference to Beowulf as he reigned for fifty years as king in after the death of Hrothgar’s son.

  That reign was noted for the peace when from out of the blue a mighty dragon laid havoc in the countryside.  The dragon has for its residence the neighboring mountains where it keeps its hoard of gold.  Unfortunately, a fugitive slave was able to steal some of the treasure the dragon was hoarding.  This put the dragon on the path of revenge which ultimately resulted to a showdown between itself and an aging Beowulf.  Beowulf with the help of a kinsman was able to kill the dragon but was also mortally wounded.

The excerpt is a development after a fifty-year hiatus of serenity in the life of Beowulf.  It was the start of another dangerous quest which ultimately cost our hero his life.5.  “Roland, Companion, sound your Oliphant now,Charles will hear it, marching through those passes.I promise you, the Franks will come at once (Song of Roland 1276).

”The quote is uttered by Oliver, Roland’s best friend, as the Saracen ambush party of a hundred thousand men was approaching them. Roland and a small party were appointed by Charlemagne to serve as his rear guard while the main army with the emperor proceeded towards France.  Charlemagne’s group was only twenty-miles away from Roland’s.  The treachery of Ganelon, Roland’s stepfather, has put Roland and his men in grave danger.  The passes of Roncevaux were the ambush point.  Seeing the approach of the great host, Oliver asked Roland to blow his famous horn Oliphant so that Charlemagne could aid them.  Roland refused; he believed that they could still best the Moors approaching them. He also added that the used of the great horn is something that should not be lightly taken.

  A great battle ensued with Roland and his men vastly outnumbered.  During a respite in the battle, Roland blew Oliphant to summon Charlemagne.  It was too late; reinforcements did not arrive until everyone of the rear guard were already dead, including Roland.  Oliver’s appeal to Roland to ask for aid was a crucial point of the epic.  This was the point where the hero had to choose between an opportunity to prove or distinguish him until death or seek help and live to old age. Roland chose glory and death and rewarded himself with immortality.6.

 Nevertheless, the experience of our times shows that the princes whohave done great things are the ones who have taken little account of theirpromises and who have known how to addle the brains of men with craft (The Prince 1955-   1956).This is considered by most to be the most offensive among many advices preached by Machiavelli.  This is what befits the adjective, “Machiavellian”.  The author preceded this statement with sentence that commends rulers who keep faith through integrity and not through any sly or cunning. Yet he added in the cited selection that the great rulers seldom keep their promises and are adept in the art of deception.  Machiavelli is describing a ruler who is not restrained by conscience but would rather use his baser nature in the interest of achieving his goal.  The end justifies the means would have been addendum to this.

   He buttressed this statement with by relating about how Achilles and the other notables of old availed of the half-man and half-beast Chiron as their tutor.  The quotation is very important since it basically sums up the gist of what Machiavelli is preaching.7.

 An oath will bind Lanval and the king will put the matter in our hands.If he can provide proof and his beloved comes forward, and if what hesaid to incur the displeasure of the queen is true, then he will be pardoned,since he did not say it to spite her. And if he cannot furnish proof, then wemust inform him that he will lose the service of the king and that the kingmust banish him (Lanval 1322).The person speaking is the Count of Cornwall regarding the case put forth by King Arthur against one of his loyal knights, Lanval.  Lanval was guilty of spurning the advances of Queen Guinevere and of uttering some words to the effect that he loved somebody whose servants were fairer than the queen. To avenge the insult to her person of which she was to be blamed-never mind that Lanval had broken some of the unspoken demands of the code of chivalry-she twisted some facts and made it appear that she was insulted without cause by Lanval. This angered the King so much that he himself brought the charges against Lanval.  The barons, who constituted the court, could easily come with a verdict of guilty.

  The only way for Lanval to escape punishment was as the Count of Cornwall suggested provides proof of the truthfulness of his claim about his Beloved’s servants as fairer than the queen.  Lanval is at a predicament since his ladylove has not appeared before him for a long time after that tiff with the queen.  The statement of the Count of Cornwall is relevant since it summarizes what happened and what is about to happen. It sets the story for a resolution which could go either good or bad for Lanval.8.  After that, then, I kept approaching one person after another. I realized, with distress and       alarm, that I was arousing hostility. Nevertheless, I thought I must attach the greatest importance to what pertained to the god.

So, in seeking what the oracle meant, I had to go to all those with any reputation for knowledge (Apology of Socrates 762).This is Socrates explaining how he was trying to disprove or understand the oracle that he was the wisest man ever.  As he related to the Athenians, this came about when Chaerephon, a friend of his, approach the god of Delphi with the query if there ever was a wiser man than Socrates.

The response was none.  Socrates explained that he approached persons of intellectual refute and talk to them and gauge the knowledge they were supposed to be good at.  Although he believed that a god could not lie, he wanted to find out if this was a mistake and was looking for somebody to bring back to Delphi and present as evidence to the contrary of what he has been described. He discovered that these persons were wise by reputation and not by actual reality.

  He related that he finds himself wiser because of the premise that he does not know anything at all but is in the process of knowing while the person or persons he compare himself with are not really that wise as touted by themselves and others.  We must remember that while Plato had Socrates explaining in Apology, a sentence against him has already been passed for supposedly corrupting the youth.  Apology clarifies this misconception and articulated his philosophy that a life that is always inquiring and trying to discover what is good is the best kind of life.9.   All things, says Plato, are produced by nature, by fortune, or by art; the greatest and most     beautiful by one or the other of the first two, the least and most imperfectly to the last (Essays, Montaigne 2193).

This is one of the Essays of Montaigne entitled, “Cannibals” which reiterated Plato about the standards of beauty and goodness in things as they came into being either by nature, fortune, or art.  Montaigne agreed with the emphasis that the thing produced by nature is the greatest and most beautiful.  Montaigne was referring to the non-western worlds that have been described by his contemporaries in unpleasant terms.

  This is perhaps done out of spite or fear that such a better world exists.  Montaigne is criticizing the tendency of the west to mislabel or misjudge a particular nation or country that has not belong or undergone western civilization.10.  There is a play to-night before the King, One scene of it comes near the circumstance which I have told thee of my father’s death.

I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot, even with the very comment of thy soul. Observe my uncle. If his occulted guilt do not itself unkennel in one speech, It is a damned ghost that we have seen, And my imaginations are as foul As Vulcan’s smithy. Give him heedful note, For I mine eyes will rivet to his face, and after we will both our judgments join In censure of his seeming. (Hamlet 2453)Hamlet is telling Horatio, his friend, that he has set up a play before the usurper king and his queen which would relate about the death of the former king.

King Claudius has replaced Hamlet’s father and is suspected of having murdered him.  Subsequently, he married Queen Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother. Hamlet related to Horatio that he will be observing the king and looking for reactions when that particular scene is played out.  Until this point, Hamlet still needed to be convinced that the suspicion has basis.  This part of the play or what is quoted from Hamlet, prepares the audience for that point where guilt or innocence would be established as predicted by Hamlet.

  This juncture will determine what Hamlet would project and what plans would he have if the guilt or innocence is determined. This holds the entire structure together where the days of brooding could be replaced by anger, disappointment, and plans for revenge and the ultimate climax where somebody or more than one will pay the ultimate price.


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