Blog Post #4 Travel, Religion, and Encounters

For the most part, I am not shocked by what happens in the varies readings that we have been assigned. However, when it came time to read the Canterbury Tales the reactions from the ladies of the court after the rape that the knight had committed was found out surprised the hell out of me. I didn’t necessarily think that the knight would really get into any trouble, but when the people of the court were in an uproar over what happened, and then were persuaded to let the knight live by the ladies of the court I was a little shocked. This was not the only time throughout this tale that the women in it were able to make a difference, and have a choice about what transpired around them. The Wife of Bath was able to marry repeatedly and have nearly complete control in almost all of her marriages, where before the women in that time period were expected to remain a widow and not remarry. There was also the woman that the knight married who was at first an old hag, but she held the reins over that relationship because without her the knight’s life would have been forfeit. Throughout this story the prevailing theme seemed to be women who had strong willpower and ability to get what they want.

This wasn’t the only instance that this theme was shown in the reading assigned for section four I was also able to see it in Beowulf to a certain extent. For instance when Grendel’s mother was enraged by her son’s death she showed her emotions through her actions, and went and attacked the men and stole his arm back along with a slew of other items. The reason that I am putting Grendel’s mother into this category of strong women is because of her actions when attempting to get revenge, and trying to survive the assault that Beowulf brought to her home. The fact that she was a woman didn’t dismiss her from having feelings, and even though she did not have her own name but was instead referred to only as her son’s mother. I can truly appreciate her as a character because of her attempting to change what she disliked about her situation.

Unlike the two stories above the last work I will be discussing is actually a poem called Plums are Falling. In this poem we see how a woman is attempting to find a husband worthy of her, and with each passing line we see the requirements she sets forth. At the beginning there are seven men who are attempting to win her favor and have her as their wife, but unlike in most of the works in this time period the woman is able to choose her partner. She doesn’t settle for anyone who cannot make the cut and as the poem goes on the men surrounding her slowly fade away, and again her demands in her future husband are listed. The women in this poem is able to help shape her surroundings and the qualities that she desires in a husband are being listened to instead of ignored, like in the Tale of Genji where Genji’s primary wife’s feelings about marrying someone who was so much younger than her were ignored. While that story was in the previous section it doesn’t make what happened in it any less true.

All of the stories that I mentioned focused in several ways on how the women in them actually had a very strong voice. When it came to Beowulf the themes usually noticed in it were war culture and masculinity, and not the strength that Grendel’s mother actually shows in going to battle with Beowulf and seeking revenge for the death of her son. In the other works like Canterbury Tales and Plums are Falling we are able to see the strength of will that the female characters show a lot easier, and what is truly amazing about both works is that they are listened to instead of ignored.

This is the last blog post of the semester and more than likely my life unless I end up in another class that requires it, and while I would not say writing these have been fun they were at least interesting. So for the short amount of time that this account was active and in semi-regular use I hope that my fellow classmates and other bloggers enjoyed the random rants that I would come up with to fulfill a minimum word requirement.


Blog Post #3 Love, Marriage, and Faith

Hello we are all brought together again by the need to finish this lovely assignment on love, marriage, and faith. One of the themes that I noticed throughout The Thousand and One Nights, Tale of Genji, and Three Woman Poets would have to have been unfaithfulness. In every one of those stories no one could keep their pants on. Although, one thing that did stick out was that the women in the Thousand and One Nights, Tale of Genji, and two out of three poems in the Three Women Poets were actually guilty of cheating. There was finally just a dash of equality being thrown in there showing that while the men were still in charge the women were still able to get their party on.

In the Tale of Genji the story follows Genji as he grows up and goes on to marry his primary wife at the tender age of twelve, and subsequently cheat on her repeatedly. Have no fear at this time it was expected for the men to step out on their wives, and while they did need to have at least some discretion with who they chose to spend their nights with it was seen as fairly normal. This is also the time where a man having a second or even third wife was nothing that anyone would bat an eye over; however, women were not afforded the same luxury so when they took lovers it had be kept pretty secret in fear of the consequences. While we touched on Genji’s wandering eye and how married women would have lovers I have yet to discuss with you a specific women who stepped out on their man, and that would be Fujitsubo. But Fujitsubo wasn’t just any woman, she was one of the emperor’s wives, and not just any wife but his favorite. She fell in the sheets with Genji and they made a love child who went onto to be emperor, so while they weren’t found out the situation would have been very bad for all three of them if it had ever come to light. In Three Women Poets all three of the poems are about someone cheating on someone else. The first one was the husband stepping out, and the next two it was the wife’s turn. The poems themselves were not extremely long, but at the same time they said a lot with how little the authors actually wrote down. And again just like in the Tale of Genji the wives were not found out and I imagine carried on their affairs until they grew bored, were dumped, husband found out, ran away with them, or died who knows like I said before the poems themselves were extremely short. Last, but not least, would have to be The Thousand and One Nights, which I’ll be honest was one of my favorite stories because it reminded me of a movie I used to watch a lot called One Night With a King. Anyway, again we see the wife of a man of great power seeking comfort elsewhere, but in this story it happened to brothers and a giant demon. The first King Shahzaman was just going to visit his brother really quick, but decided to pop in and say by to his wife only to find her in bed with the kitchen boy. They both died pretty terrible deaths and got thrown off a tower. Then we go to King Shahrayar the brother of the first King who is even more powerful to find his wife and consorts cheating on him also, but this time it was like a weird orgy thing with like twenty other people. You guessed it they also died a gruesome death. The only woman who was cheating in that story who was not killed was the demon’s wife, who had slept with over a hundred guys and then took their rings as a reminder of what she had done.

Throughout all of these stories no one was able to just be happy with their partners and not step out and be a cheating cheater who cheats. A lot of the couple weren’t married with the consent of both parties, and I think that had a lot to do with it along with plain old lust. So what should be remembered from this section would have to be along the lines of while cheating may seem like an interesting concept you might end up being thrown off a tower.

Blog Post #2 War, Journey, and Ethics

Throughout the varies stories that we have read for class regarding war, journey, and ethics that this section was about, there seemed to be a prevailing theme that women were always seen as less than. For the stories that we are reading in class this theme holds true for nearly if not all of them, but in this section as I read parts of the Iliad, Epic of Gilgamesh, and Oedipus the King it was showed how low women were regarded and immature the men really were.

Something else that caught my eye about these stories would have to have been how spoiled the men end up acting when they do not get their way. It truly amazed me as I read through the Iliad just how spoiled these grown warriors were behaving. For instance, when Agamemnon has to give his war prize back, and by war prize I am referring to a woman for anyone who does not know the story, he demands to be given another or threatens to just take one from one of his men. This absolutely blew my mind, because first of all he is acting like his favorite action figure got taken away, when in fact it was a living breathing woman. I believe he acted so belligerently because everyone else was able to keep the woman they had captured while he was forced to give Chryseis back to her father. But fear not the over grown man child, known as Agamemnon, did end up with a new girl he just went and took away Achilles woman Briseis. As you can imagine it did not go over well, and ended in Achilles refusing to fight any longer in a fight that had nothing to do with him or his honor. Because it was not his woman who had been gifted to the Trojans by Aphrodite. The entire war, yes war, was started because Helen of Sparta already had a husband when she was given to the Trojans, and her husband was none other than the brother to the wonderful man child mentioned above, Agamemnon who was also a powerful general.

The Iliad was a wonderful example of woman who had no voice, because when Briseis was taken away from Achilles’s tents even though she struggled it is only mentioned it briefly and it made no difference in what she was being forced to do. It mentions how Achilles had tears at his eyes, but it was not out of sorrow for what Briseis was going to endure while under Agamemnon’s thumb. Instead it was over it not being fair that his prize had been taken away, this reminds me of when kids bring trading cards to school such as: Pokémon, Yu-gi-oh, Dragon Ball Z, and Magic cards the list goes on and on. However, what stays the same is their reactions when someone takes their cards and they do not get what they think they deserve in return. The men in this story were acting like elementary students when one of them is the son of a goddess and the other a highly respected general.

During the Epic of Gilgamesh another theme is unveiled as I start to compare it the Iliad, and that would be how high the emotions run throughout all the stories. It the most visible within the men’s dialogue and their reactions to what is happening around them. In the Epic of Gilgamesh when Enkidu has a premonition of his own death while he is sleeping, but at the time I believe he didn’t know that it was foreshadowing his death. However, Enkidu goes on to completely curse out Shamhat who was a prostitute, and it gets ugly. The sort of insults that he uses are a thing of beauty, because of how deeply they hit. Although, I think my favorite one out of all of what he throws at her would have to have been when he says “May beer sludge impregnate your lap” I died laughing. I honestly have no idea what that means or would look like, but I am completely okay without that mental picture. What is so funny about everything that Enkidu says should happen to Shamhat is that he gets reminded of all she has done for him, and he starts singing her praises like just didn’t insult her to hell and back. There are many different instances that the characters portrayed in these stories lose themselves to their fiery tempers, along with grown men acting like small children and getting rewarded for it. However, what is not scene is what happens to the women who suffer at their hands.

Blog Post #1 Creation Story

Hello everyone, as we have read the various creation stories for this unit I found it interesting that the running theme seems to remain the same. The world is always created on the whim of either one or several gods, and they all see themselves as superior to the humans. Although, out of the different stories that we read the Babylonian creation epic Enuma Elish was one that I found to be very interesting. This story is believed to have been created around eighteenth century B.C.E., and it is actually an Akadian poem. The translation of Enuma Elish is “When on high”, and it was actually named that because of the first few words of the poem itself which is the “When on high”. It truly is interesting how the different people in the world chose to express themselves at different times in our past, and how we are still able to read the works that were created so long ago and study them. I can’t help but wonder if the various authors knew just how famous their works would end up being, even if they themselves happen to remain nameless.

What stood out to me the most about this creation story would have to have been how the world is created. From the way that they kill Tiamat and use her body to fashion the Earth struck me as particularly odd, until I really started dissecting which parts of her body were used to create the different areas of the world. When Tiamat was killed her body was cut in half, and her lower body was used to create the Earth while her upper body made the sky. Something else to keep in mind when thinking about why exactly each part was used to create each section of the Earth is that Tiamat along with Apsu were the first two gods. In line three Apsu is described as the “progenitor” which means ancestor or parent, and in this context the meaning is more closely related to father. Although they are gods in this story they still stay true to general reproduction requirements and limitation, and by that I am referring to how the male species are not able to give birth and instead only impregnate females. So while Apsu is the father figure of the gods Tiamat is the mother, and the other gods are the offspring of the two. When Tiamat’s body is used to create the Earth and sky an important factor to consider is that Tiamat was considered to be the mother of the gods, and was also the first female.

The basics of gardening is that something has to be planted in the ground and then given water and sunlight to grow large and strong. The same can be said for how humans and animals are made, a seed is planted and nourished through what the mother consumes until a baby is developed enough to live outside of the womb, and then is given mother’s milk to survive on. This is all information that is known far and wide, and when looking at Enuma Elish it is visible in how the world was created. First the sky is made out of the top half of Tiamat’s body where her breasts are, and the sky’s job in farming is giving sunlight and water to the Earth so the seeds can grow tall and strong; and a woman’s body feeds her children through the milk that is produced from her breasts.

Tiamat’s bottom half is used to create the Earth where the plants grow tall and strong, and animals, and eventually humans will reside and live. Babies are born from a woman’s womb, and when Tiamat’s bottom half is used to create the Earth I believe that it was the writer’s way of implying that Tiamat is mother Earth. Despite Marduk having different ways to create the Earth and sky he chose to kill Tiamat, and separate her in way that she will forever be giving life to the world.

I am not proclaiming to have some deep understanding into the Babylonian creation epic Enuma Elish, because it would be extremely far from the truth. I am just sharing interesting aspects of this story that I noticed while reading it so I would not flunk the quiz, and despite my ulterior motives in reading this story it was very interesting and I didn’t even get around to mentioning how the humans were created. All I have to say is that gods of this world had a slightly skewed way of looking at things and leave it at that. For anyone reading who has yet to read this story and find themselves wanting to know more I would highly recommend it.