Thursday, September 30, 2010

Soul's Return to "home"

Our discussion today about Plato's idea of a soul having a memory that can be evoked to bring the person back to that divine place. Mrs. Quinet proposed the question "is he going home?"
When she said this, I thought of the song Home Again by the Disco Biscuits. The only lyrics are "Never had home like this and the prophets said 'be careful what you wish'. Never had to think twice, always knew my home was in paradise."
I think this song is similar to Plato's idea of the soul. Although I doubt this song wasn't written to emulate Plato's ideas, do you guys think the lyrics relate to the soul?

Love, Lust, and Pain

Augustine suffers from the discrepancies between love and lust. He relates his passionate lust and bodily interests to sin and endures the pain of not really finding love. He is ashamed for his "madness of lust"-"needing no license from human shamelessness, receiving no license from Your laws". His love for love, in his opinion, is a disappointment to God and and pollutes his soul. As Chrissy said in class, Augustine's work may demonstrate that true love can only reside in God, and his Confessions exhibit his dedication, love, and devotion for God alone.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Augustus's Confessions

While reading Augustus's "Confessions," I noticed that he discussed how people enjoy watching others suffer. He writes, "Yet the spectator does want to feel sorrow, and it is actually his feeling of sorrow that he enjoys." (page 909) I thought this was an interesting and somewhat accurate observation of humankind. Augustus asserts that if a spectator cries because of a tragedy, he is satisfied and believes the show was effective, whereas if no emotion is evoked, he is left feeling disappointed. I think, to a certain extent, that Augustus's observation holds true today. For example, dramatic movies and plays that evoke emotion are usually regarded as better than those that do not. This ties into Aristotle's definition of tragedy as a genre that must elicit pity and fear from the audience, as well as generate a catharsis. Augustus comments on pity and fear in his "Confessions" as well: "Now when a man suffers himself it is called misery; when he suffers in the suffering of another, it is called pity."

Stevens' Sunday Morning

This is a link to Wallace Stevens' "Sunday Morning," the poem Ms. King referred to in class. Stanzas 5 and 6 are particularly related to our discussion about whether love can exist without pain. Stevens parallels those ideas presented in Tristan and Iseult by questioning in his poem if beauty can exist without death. He says that without permanent changes in the world, nothing new can come about. In other words, life without death would be boring because things would never change/new beauties would never be created. He believes that death is necessary. Any more ideas about these related topics?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Animal Domestication in Tristan and Iseult

I found it very interesting that animals are significant creatures in the story of Tristan and Iseult. Horses are key figures in battle scenes, especially when Tristan fights the monster. Dogs also appear as domesticated companions. For example, Iseult asks Tristan to leave her his dog, Hodain, as a representation of their love. Not only do dogs play a role in seeking scents and hunting deer, but they are symbols of friendship or companionship. Can you guys find other examples of animal domestication or their roles in the story?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hildegard von Bingen

Today as our guests from Musica da Camera discussed Hildegard, they referred to her illuminations. Hildegard had her works illuminated for both decorative and illustrative purposes. Although she did not make them herself, she oversaw the construction carried out by other artists. Because the illuminations contain such bright colors, some believe that Hildegard suffered from migraine headaches. Below is an example of one of these illuminations.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Roman Creations PPT

Two years ago I made a presentation on various Roman inventions, innovations, and creations as part of a Latin assignment. I thought that somebody might find it interesting, particularly in light of the Roman architecture we have studied.

The formatting has been changed slightly... I recommend downloading the file from Google Docs.

"The Song of Roland"

While reading "The Song of Roland," I noticed a lot of similarities between Roland and Rama from "The Ramayana." Both protagonists are marked by extreme loyalty. Roland displays his loyalty as a warrior and subject to the Great King Charles, constantly declaring his dedication to the him. Likewise, in "The Ramayana," Rama strives to remain loyal to his father by honoring the wish for him to journey into the forest and renounce his throne. In addition, each character exhibits humility, despite their high social status.

Pop Culture References to Catullus

Can y'all find any other songs that relate to Catullus?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Colosseum and Aqeducts

I'm still astonished by the size and overall organization of the Roman Colosseum and  the Aqueducts. When I went to Rome, I was amazed to stand inside--I could almost imagine the battles between gladiators and wild animals. The Romans constructed this grand building with brick, rocks, dust, lime, and water, and incorporated elements of Greek culture such as the three columns. Additionally, Trajan's system of Aqueducts carried water from mountains to towns several miles away. These sources of water were innovative and greatly altered the early stages of irrigation and water channeling.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Byzantine vs Roman art

In Chapter 5 of "Arts and Ideas," Byzntine art is contrasted with Roman art. Flemming describes Byzantine art as typically ornate, two dimensional, having a shimmery background, and stressing the divinity of Jesus and his remoteness from wordly matters. On the other hand, Roman art is usually three dimensional, simpler than Byzantine art, and has a natural background, such as hills, the sea, or a blue sky. Also, Flemming emphasizes that the Arian-Roman panels depict Christ's wordly life and human suffering, unlike the Byantine frieze which accentuates his divinity and remoteness from worldly matters.
The picture to the right is an example of Byzantine art.

Gustav Holst - The Planets - Jupiter

This post really doesn't have much to do with our class discussions. I'm posting just for fun. I don't listen to classical music very often, but this song is quite awesome. Link below:


my pictures of the Parthenon/Acropolis (plus Cassidy)

This photo better demonstrates how the acoustics would have worked in Greek amphitheaters. As far as I can remember, this shot was taken from the Akropolis in Athens on the other side of the hill from the one that is still in tact in my last post.

Greek Amphitheater

This may not be the best photo of a Greek amphitheater, but I took this shot from the top of the Akropolis in Athens. If you fill in the rest of the image with your mind, you can easily figure out how the acoustics were so well designed.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hellenic vs Hellenistic Culture

While reading Chapter 3 of Arts and Ideas, I found many similarities and differences between the Hellenic and Hellenistic cultures. For instance, although art is a major part of both cultures, Hellenistic art focuses on emotion, like in the "Laocoon Group" (page 81) and "The Dying Gaul" (page 66), whereas Hellenic art seems to focus more on balance and composure, as shown by the statue of Zeus (page 42).
The underlying themes of the Hellenic culture, humanism, idealism, and rationalism, greatly contrast with the main ideas of Hellinistic culture, which are individualism, realism, and empiricism.
Did you all notice any other differences or similarities?

The Theater at Epidaurus

This is a picture of the the theater at Epidaurus I took on my vacation. If you can see, there is a circle in the center of the stage; the aucustics were designed so that if an actor was standing at this point, the entire audience could hear him speak.


The Arts and Ideas textbook makes a reference to Pompeii as an ancient Roman city. This is a picture from my trip to Pompeii. You can see the different orders of columns in this picture (Doric in the center and Corinthian on the right).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It is hard to sympathize for Medea by the end of the tragedy. At first I feel for Medea because she gives up everything to be with a man who eventually leaves her for another person. However, even early on, Medea portrays inhumane and sadistic behavior when she murders her own brother and cuts him into pieces. By the end of the story, it is nearly impossible to sympathize for Medea because she poisons the innocent princess and the beloved king. Later on, she slaughters her own children. I, personally, could never identify with a person willing to kill her own children and thus have zero pity or sympathy for Medea by the end of the play.

What do you guys think? Do you sympathize for Medea?

Sympathy for Medea?

I don’t think I could sympathize with Medea because she makes such rash and radical decisions. Her husband did leave her for another women but she was a barbarian woman. He left for material reasons and still offered to provide support to her, however, that is his karma not hers. He may not have made the right decisions but she let her jealousy over power her. It is unfair for her to murder her children because of her husband's actions. She should love them wholeheartedly and want to protect them from any further loss.

Medea and Jason: Who is the Tragic Hero?

Since the action in Euripides' Medea revolves around Medea's plan to take revenge against her unfaithful husband, many readers probably jump to the conclusion that Medea is the tragic character in the play. I could certainly argue that Medea embodies many tragic characteristics. However, I could similarly contend that Jason is the true tragic figure in Medea. I consider the end of the play morally ambiguous; thus, the tragic character's identity is unclear. Who do you consider to the be true tragic character?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Tragic Hero

In Oedipus the King, Oedipus demonstrates hubris and extreme zeal, which leads to his downfall. According to Aristotle, tragedy is the result of free choice and not necessarily accident, but Oedipus's "hamartia" becomes evident in his realizations about his relationships with his mother and children. Oedipus appeals to the audience through his heart breaking awareness, and leads to a true catharsis. He cries about his curse, "you are fated to couple with your mother, you will bring a breed of children into the light no man can bear to see-you will kill your father, the one who gave you life!" and even gouges his eyes. What are some other examples in the story that stood out to you that categorizes this as a true tragedy (using specific quotes, maybe?)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Eye Imagery in "Oedipus Rex"

After reading "Oedipus Rex," I discovered many references to eyes and blindness. Just as previously discussed in Collin's post about the similarities between eye imagery in "The Bhagavad-Gita" and Plato's "Allegory of the Cave," sight in "Oedipus Rex" symbolizes enlightenment. However, in "Oedipus Rex," it seems as though blindness paradoxically indicates true vision. For example, the blind prophet Tiresias knows the truth about Oedipus; even though he is physically blind, he is enlightened. While the chorus and Jocasta prefer to be blind to the whole truth, Oedipus is persistant in his quest for verity. After Oedipus finds out the truth of his past, he blinds himself, unable to look at those around him because of his shame.

The School of Athens

This image is a close up view of Raphael Sanzio's painting, The School of Athens. It is the image of Plato and Aristotle that Mrs. Quinet was talking about today in class.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Eye Imagery in Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" and the "Bhagavad-Gita"

I find the common element of eye imagery in these two texts is particularly interesting. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Arjuna is able to comprehend the divine through the gift of a third celestial eye. Plato plays on essentially the same idea in his allegory when he compares the understanding of divine knowledge to gazing upon the sun for the very first time. Can anybody else find other interesting similarities between these two texts?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Upon reading allegory of the cave, I could not stop thinking about Marquez's "100 Years of Solitude". In "100 Years of Solitude", Ursula believes her children will have pig tails becasue of her incestuos behavior and ultimatly reality conforms to her perceptions and she does. Plato, in "Allegory of a Cave", displays a vivid image of chained men watching the shadows of reality, however they percieve the shadows as reality and therefore, for each of the chained men, it is their reality.

I just thought this was interesting. Do ya'll think the idea of subjectivieness to reality is portrayed in a similar or different manner in both writings? Could it be somewhere in between?

Similarities between "The Apology of Socrates" and "The Bhagavad-Gita"

I also noticed similarities between "The Apology of Socrates" and "The Bhagavad-Gita.” The most significant example is the use of dialogue in both works. In "The Apology," Plato at times employs dialogue, the Socratic Method to be more specific, as a tool for Socrates to bolster his defense. Likewise, the basis of the "Bhagavad Gita" is the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna as the avatar of Vishnu attempts to justify to the warrior his sacred duty.

Similarities between Plato's "The Apology of Socrates" and "The Ramayana of Valmiki"

While reading "The Apology of Socrates," I came across some similarities between "The Apology of Socrates" and "The Ramayana."
For example, Socrates's sense of duty is similar to Rama's devotion to dharma. Socrates feels he has been ordered by the gods to examine people who think they're wise but aren't. Socrates's practice of philosophy is his dharma, and he is willing to die to fulfill it. Similarily, Rama feels it is his duty to carry out his father's wishes.
After Socrates is convicted and sentenced to death, Plato writes that Socrates proclaimed, "You see, it's likely that what has happened to me is a good thing and that those of you who suppose death to be bad make an incorrect supposition." Socrates does not mourn his imminent death, but rather accepts it and sees it as a possible path to happiness. Similarly, Rama is not perturbed by his father's order to give up the kingdom and go into exile.

Inaction as Action

Today in class we discussed the transmission of "inaction" in regards to following one's dharma. We can trace the nonviolent movements of Martin Luther King, Ghandi, and even Thoreau all the way back to the Bhagavad Gita. How is this inaction considered an action? How do these nonviolent movements relate to Karma, Dharma, or Brahma?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Kama, Karma, Artha

We discussed how dharma works in the Ramayana today in class. Can anybody find examples of how kama, karma, and artha manifest in the text?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Gunther Grass's Creditability

As evidenced by the article "War and Remembrance" from The New Yorker, Gunther Grass was involved in the Waffen S.S. as a youth. Although this viewpoint may be very anti-Foucaultian, I believe Grass's involvement with the Waffen S.S. directly impacts the reader's judgment of the creditability of his discourse. Personally, because Grass has a first-hand perspective of the horrendous actions taken by the Nazi Germans, he, above others, is given the opportunity to critique these actions in a valid manner. And because he actually performed actions for the Nazis, he is in a way self-critiquing himself. I believe that a self-critique is more challenging and therefore more convincing than a critique of others. Do you guys also believe that Grass's participation in the Waffen S.S. makes his discourse more or less valid? Or is this information irrelevant because, in a sense, the author is "dead" after his work has been published?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Columbian/Venezuelan Crimes

I found this article and thought it was interesting. In  the "News of a Kidnapping", we learned about FARC's influence on the Columbian drug trade. It's amazing to me that such vicious crimes are still taking place in Columbia, and according to this article, Venezuela.