Was Thomas More Risking Persecution by the Church Because of This Book?

Thomas More was a Catholic and a  statesman during his lifetime. He is best known for his satirical work: Utopia. Utopia is a book that is about a nation called Utopia that has some unique characteristics, which More deems as ideal. In regards to this book, would More have been risking persecution by the Catholic Church, because of this book?

A factor that is important to note in regards to Utopia, is that it is highly satirical. When a person reads this book it is pretty clear that the book was written satirically. Personally, I believe that people during the period, especially the church, which had many literate members, would be able to decipher that this piece of literature was written in satire, and could not be taken too seriously. Another point to consider is that in Utopia, More never undermined the Catholic Church, or stated anything that would upset the Church. More himself was Catholic.

Thomas More most definitely was not risking persecution by the Church because of his book Utopia. The book did not undermine the Church and was written in clear satire, meaning anyone reading the book would not take it too seriously. It was not a book about transparent reform.

Are Boccaccio’s Decameron and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales Closer in Outlook to Greek and Roman Literature than They are to Hebrew, Christian, and Medieval Literature?

The comparison of pieces of literature to literary genres or other pieces of literature is an educational exercise that helps you better understand the piece of literature you are comparing. Two pieces of literature that were written in a similar time period(late medieval period), are Boccaccio’s Decameron and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. In the note of comparison, are Boccaccio’s Decameron and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales closer in outlook to Greek and Roman literature than they are to Hebrew, Christian, and Medieval Literature?

Boccaccio’s Decameron, is a story collection written in the late 14th century during the period of the catastrophic Black Death or Bubonic Plague. The story collection begins with a story of ten men and women who attempt to escape the Black Death by staying in an abandoned home. During their stay in this abandoned house, these ten individuals over the course of the days each share a story each day, which is thus why there are a total of 100 stories in the collection. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is another late medieval period, story collection. Similar to the Decameron the Canterbury Tales is a story collection that begins with twenty-nine pilgrims who are journeying to a shrine of a Saint. These pilgrims decide to each share a couple of stories each day of the journey. The collection itself only contained twenty-four stories which most likely meant that Chaucer did not finish the collection. Both of these pieces of literature are very similar to each other in style, structure, and even context; but are these pieces of literature closer in outlook to Greek and Roman literature than they are to Hebrew, Christian, and Medieval Literature?

Greek literature, meaning literature written in the period of ancient Greece is a literary period that comprised of epic poems, plays, and prose. Ancient Greek literature usually revolved around the mythological, or revolved around philosophic thought. Examples of Ancient Greek literature include the famous and well-known Iliad and Odyssey by Homer, to The Republic, by Plato. Similar to ancient Greek literature is the genre of Roman Literature; literature written in the period of the Roman empire. Like ancient Greek literature; Roman literature was a literary period that had a mythological light or leaned to a more intellectual or philosophical light. Some Roman literature pieces also had a warlike theme to them. War was a key aspect of the culture of the Romans. Many of the pieces of literature written in the Roman period were inspired by the previous ancient Greek literary pieces. An example of Roman Literature is the, Aeneid: an epic poem written by Virgil.

Hebrew literature was literature mainly written by the Hebrews. This area of literature consisted of a variety of topics but the common theme was that these topics had a religious theme to them. On the note of religious themes Christain literature also highly revolved around religion. A key example of Christain literature is the Christian Bible itself, which is the key book that the majority of Christians today use as a written guide for their faith. A subset of Christian you could say is seen in Medieval literature which had many literary pieces that had Christian themes, even in the pieces of literature that in and of themselves would not be considered religious. Medieval literature is a vast collection of literature with a variety of pieces, which either consist of myth-like stories with a moral ending, religious stories, etc. 

But how do these genres of literature listed above apply to Decameron and the Canterbury Tales? Which literary style is most similar in outlook to the Decameron and the Canterbury Tales? Regardless, both of these pieces of literature because they were written in the medieval period would fall into the category of medieval literature, which is a wide area of literature. An example of a story in the Decameron itself is a story of a sinful man who on his deathbed provides a false confession to a priest. The priest who believed this false confession in turn influenced this sinful man to become a Saint. Though at first, this story would seem to fit the category of Christian literature this story itself shows the loss of faith in the structure of the Church. Clearly, how could one trust the judgment of the Church if the Church allowed this sinful man to become a Saint? Many of the stories in this collection use satire to show the shortcomings or flaws of the Catholic Church during that period. In the Decameron, there are many stories that are more secular(do not have religious themes), such as displaying the collapse of society during the Black Death, which in a sense is similar to ancient Greek and even Roman literature.

The Canterbury Tales, like the Decameron, had stories that had Christian themes, even including a widely anti-Semitic story of how a group of Jews killed a young Christian boy. This story even though it does have Christian themes the structure itself makes it clear that it is similar to Greek and Roman Literature. Another story in the Canterbury Tales, which further shows that this collection of stories is similar in outlook to Greek and Roman Literature is the Pardoner’s Tale. This story is about three men who set off to kill Death itself. Ultimately in the end of this story, Death tricks the characters, and the three men end up murdering each other instead. The Pardoner’s Tale, is a story that is clearly not factual and contains similar themes to some of the Greek and Roman myths. If this story had been written in the Greek and Roman periods of literature it would be believable.

With these points in mind, Boccaccio’s Decameron, and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, are medieval literary pieces that are more similar in outlook to Greek and Roman literature than Hebrew and Christian literature. Both of these pieces of literature do have aspects of Christian themes, overall these stories are more secular. Hence, why they are more similar in outlook to Greek and Roman literature. 

How Were Adoption and Inheritance Related in Paul’s Thought?

Paul was a very influential follower of Christ whose story is still read and told today. Paul before he became a follower of Christ was actually a murderer who made a living off of killing Christians. His story is a very important example that no matter what you have done, if you accept God into your heart you will be forgiven of your sin or the wrongs you have done in the past. Two important words that Paul addressed were the words: Adoption and Inheritance. How were the terms of Adoption and Inheritance related in Paul’s thought?

Adoption in this context refers to letting Jesus enter your heart, or in other words your heart is “adopted.” This phenomena can happen no matter what you have done in the past, at any time. Paul’s story is a very great example of this; even though he did horrible and very wrong things in the past God was still willing to “adopt,” his heart. Inheritance on the other hand refers to after your heart is “adopted,” by Christ, you will receive or inherit his promise, which is that your soul will live on after your physical death in Heaven. Adoption and Inheritance more or less in this context work together. 

In Paul’s thought, how were adoption and inheritance related? Above I noted that adoption and inheritance in this context work together: adoption after all is when you accept Jesus into your heart, and inheritance is the promise that your soul will live on after your physical death in Heaven, after you have accepted Him into your heart. I believe that adoption and inheritance are very accurate terms to describe Paul’s story. His story was about how no matter what wrong things you have done in your past you can still be saved. 

To conclude, adoption and inheritance are closely related in Paul’s thought. Afterall adoption is when you accept Jesus into your heart, and your heart is adopted by Him, and inheritance is the promise that your soul will live on after your physical death.

Why Were the Sadducees and the Apostles Unable to Find a Way to Reconcile Their Rival Opinions?

After the physical death of Jesus Christ, his apostles went on spreading his teachings; trying to convert others to believe. A group of people who they had difficulties with along the way were the Sadducees, who were a Jewish sect. The Apostles and Sadducees were unable to find a way to reconcile their rival opinions, which leaves the question: why were the Sadducees and Apostles unable to find a way to reconcile their rival opinions?

 Trying to convert a group that has mostly different beliefs than you do is a long shot in many ways. First of all the Sadducees though they believed in God, did not believe in an immortal soul, and that there is life after death. Also they did not believe in resurrection(Christ rising from the dead), which was pretty fundamental to the teachings of Christ, which was now being carried out by His Apostles. This already would be a pretty large rift in the view points, and also from the sounds of it the Sadducees had a pretty firm belief on their own beliefs. 

Not believing in resurrection meant that the Sadducees would not have been very convinced of Christ being resurrected, which was a message that the Apostles shared. Another thing that was a very important piece of the teachings of Christ was that humans have an immortal soul, which was again something that the Sadducees did not have a belief in meant that they would have also not been convinced with the Apostles teachings, when it came in regards to that. 

One of the largest reasons why the Sadducees and Apostles were unable to find a way to reconcile their rival opinions, was because the Sadducees questioned that Christ was the Son of God. Because the Sadducees questioned or disagreed with many of the fundamental beliefs in the teachings of Christ, reconciliation between them and the Apostles was a bit out of reach to say the least. The Sadducees saw the Apostles most likely as people who were changing the old ways, which threatened their beliefs, regardless of if their beliefs were correct or not, in the first place. They saw the Apostles as a threat to their overall way of life. 

The Sadducees and Apostles had quite a few rival opinions, on a variety of things including: the soul, resurrection, and the question of whether Jesus was the Son of God. The beliefs of the Apostles in many ways went against the beliefs of the Sadducees, which caused a rift between the two groups. To conclude, this was why the Sadducees and Apostles were unable to find a way to reconcile their rival opinions. 

According to Mark’s Gospel, What was the Main Issue Dividing Jesus from the Leaders of Israel?

Mark is one of the four gospels in the New Testament, which covered the same basic message and story, but through different perspectives and authors. Something that is seen quite prevalent  is the resistance towards Christ from the Leaders of Israel, throughout the book of Mark, and the other books in the New Testament. According to Mark’s Gospel, what was the main issue dividing Jesus from the Leaders of Israel?

The Leaders of Israel played an important role in the society in which they lived. They were prominent figures who were respected, and were very much in control when it came in regards to religious practices, which were very much ritualistic. When Jesus came along, this changed for them; Jesus healed many people, with a number of ailments both spiritually and physically. He was able to do so because he had the authority to do so. Many people turned to Jesus for guidance and His teachings, instead of turning to the original Leaders of Israel. Because of these factors and many others the Leaders of Israel not surprisingly enough were envious, which turned into destructive resentment. Also the Leaders of Israel feared Him greatly, which greatly impacted their attitude towards Him. Even though they witnessed some of Jesus’ miracles themselves, they still rejected Him.

The largest factor in my opinion that divided Jesus and the Leaders of Israel even more was the truth that Jesus was God’s Son. This truth infuriated them and they tried to deny it, which made them attempt to accuse Jesus of crimes such as Blasphemy, even though it was clearly the fact that Jesus was the Son of God. They were too stubborn, envious, and prideful to accept Christ as their Savior. Even after Jesus’ physical death, His teachings and influence continued to live on regardless of the people like the Leaders of Israel who tried to stifle it.

The divide between Jesus and the Leaders of Israel was mostly due to the Leaders of Israel being envious and resentful. They did not want to accept Him as the Son of God, and rejected Him even though there were so many examples that they witnessed to feel otherwise. Truly this is an example of how jealousy and resentment fuels people to do wrong and evil deeds. 

How Important Were the Miracles in the Book’s Account of Jesus’s Early Ministry?

In the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, one is able to read the many accounts or stories of Jesus’s miraculous healing that he provided to many. Some of these stories included ones in which Jesus healed people who had leprosy or people who had what we would call today a chronic illness. Other than the miraculous healings there are also stories of Jesus performing miracles that were not related to healing the unwell, such as feeding five thousand people with a limited amount of food. Regardless if you believe in these stories or miracles that are contained in these books or not one must admit that they are incredible. Clearly the miracles were an important part, but exactly how important were the miracles in the book’s account of Jesus’s early ministry?

An example of one of these miracles is the story of Jesus feeding five thousand people. In the story Jesus is preaching to a very large audience of people in a remote area. Alone the number of males in the crowd was five thousand, so one can only imagine how large the audience was. Because they were in a remote area and it was not so early in the day anymore the audience had to eat. Jesus’s disciples managed to get a hold of five loaves of bread and two fish which clearly was a limited amount of food. Jesus blessed the bread and broke it, and miraculously it was enough to feed the large audience of thousands, in actuality there was food leftover.

My personal favorite stories in the New Testament were the ones of Jesus healing people who were ill or disabled. The reason why I like these stories is because you are able to read the change that those people who were healed experienced both spiritually and physically. It really showed how incredible Jesus was and how many people’s lives were changed thanks to him.

Clearly the miracles in the book’s account of Jesus’s early ministry were quite important, and they are a key piece in understanding the teachings of Jesus and who he was. These accounts of the miracles have helped me in strengthening my faith, and played an important role in me becoming a believer. Minus the religious significance of these stories(which is a very important aspect of them), they are fascinating and have been read by many.

To conclude, the miracles in the New Testament’s account of Jesus’s early ministry are quite important, and are a crucial aspect in understanding the teachings of Jesus. Regardless of a person’s beliefs one must admit that these stories are fascinating in and of themselves. 

Horace’s Concept of Personal Cause and Effect

Horace was a famous Roman poet, who lived during the time of Augustus. His real name was Quintus Horatius Flaccus. Horace had a gift in my opinion with self-expression in his writing, at least from the little I’ve read of his writing, which has included some of Odes and Satires. Especially from his satires, I have noticed that he expresses his own personal view on a variety of areas, including ethics, which includes much stoicism(a belief that a smooth flow of life comes from “living in an agreement with nature”), which was a popular philosophical belief in Rome. This brings me to the question, what was Horace’s concept of personal cause and effect?

Horace had stoic beliefs which came from his education with the Epicureans, which is seen in his Satires, especially. For example, he states that one should not work very hard, but not be in poverty. His beliefs were tied to in-betweens. He saw that everything was tied together, that everything was in relation. The most major thing that happens in one’s life is death in his opinion which is because one cannot control it, and it happens to us all; which explained why he believed that working too hard obtaining riches was not worthwhile because you will die eventually anyway. Which shows his personal concept of cause and effect.

Something else that is interesting about Horace is his view on friendships, which somewhat states that if you treat your friends well your friends will treat you well in return, which is related to cause and effect. Also on the note of friendships, Horace stated that one shouldn’t judge people for their faults since they are far from being faultless. He discusses in his writing the material world. As people, we only value things that people told us to value. From his writing, one can see that he disapproves of the excess of Roman society, and how much it relies on materialism. Overall his view on personal cause and effect is straightforward and seemingly reasonable, compared to other poets’ views on the matter.

Horace’s concept of personal cause and effect was highly influenced by his education with the Epicureans, which encouraged the view of Stoicism, which is seen in his writing greatly. He saw things in relation to each other: if you treat your friends well you will be treated well by them. His personal views were also influenced by a stoic belief known as the “Golden Mean,” the belief of being in the middle of two extremes. Thus, this was Horace’s concept of personal cause and effect.

What was Ovid’s View of the god’s Ethical Performance?

Ovid was a Roman poet who lived during the time of Augustus. One of his most well known written works’ is his work known as the Metamorphoses, which was a written work that contained stories that were often ethical revolving around the Roman gods. These ethical stories often showed the gods punishing humans for their wrongdoings, but also showed how those gods behaved, which was often in a questionable manner. From what I have read from Metamorphoses, what was Ovid’s view of the god’s ethical performance?

 On the note of these gods’ ethical performance in general it was quite low. They were actually quite atrocious in their behavior, which Ovid portrayed quite openly in his work. For example, in one of the stories contained in the Metamorphoses, it tells that story of Arachne and Minerva. In this story Arachne who was a gifted weaver, who gained her knowledge from the goddess Minerva was bragging of her skill, and refused to admit that it was partially credited to Minerva. Minerva of course was angry, so she disguises as an old woman, and goes to Arachne. She eventually reveals herself to Arachne, this interaction eventually leads to them both having a contest in weaving. Arachne had better skill than Minerva, and her weaving was flawless. THis angered Minerva more to the point that tore apart Arachne’s work and physically hit her a couple of times, this led to Arachne eventually attempting to hang herself. Minerva felt some pity towards Arachne, so she thus gave Arachne life by turning her into a spider, she also cursed Arachne to be a spider forever and so would her descendants. 

This story in my opinion showed how petty the gods were. Minerva was very prideful and jealous, which led her to act in a violent way. Arachne was no better, but Minerva was far out of line. The other stories contained in the Metamorphoses, showed many examples of godly pride, which often led to them being violent or doing some sort of horrible deed. Also these other stories show examples of gods committing adultery, and other ethically wrong deeds. Which comes into question of Ovid’s view of the god’s ethical performance.

Truly I have no idea what was Ovid’s view of the gods in general let alone on their ethical performance, because he never really showed his personal views in these stories. Regardless, these stories did not ease off on showing the gods in a dark light, for example in the example of the story of Arachne and Minerva, which showed how destructive Minerva’s pride was. Perhaps his view of the gods ethical performance was that of slight distaste, or disapproval.

One can gather so much of an author’s view from their writing, especially if they offer no details on it, Ovid’s Metamorphoses is no different. From the lack of detail on this matter from what I have gathered perhaps Ovid’s view of the gods in regards to their ethical performance is that of slight disapproval, but I truly do not know. 

Was There Any Basis for an Optimistic View of Rome in Livy and Ovid?

Livy and Ovid were two ancient Roman writers who wrote pieces of literature which one way or another revolved around Rome. Livy wrote a series of books on the history of Rome which were titled: History of Rome. Some of the aspects of this history recount are most likely mythological, but regardless it still was a history work. Ovid’s written work on the other hand: Metamorphoses included Ovid’s version of the Four Ages of Man, which was a tale also retold by an ancient Greek writer named Hesiod. Metamorphoses told a series of stories, including one on how Rome came to be in regards to the concept of the Four Ages of Man. With both pieces of literature in mind, was there any basis for an optimistic view of Rome in the figures of Livy and Ovid?

Livy’s History of Rome, began with a story of how Rome was founded by the brothers Romulus and Remus. Their story began with them being raised by a she wolf, and ended in one murdering the other after they had created a town which eventually became the great city of Rome. The idea that a great ancient city and eventually empire was created with the shadow of murderis a pleasant thought. Another story which was included in this history piece was the story of how they brought women to Rome, preventing the dying out and ending of the city. At first this story sounds reasonable enough since the Roman men went to neighboring towns and asked for permission to marry some of the women, this request was rejected, which left these men to come up with a new plan, which was a plan to kidnap some Sabine women, and force them to marry them. This plan ended up working out, regardless of the displeasure of the women and their families, it all managed to work out in the end for the Romans. This story, though more optimistic than the first, is still surrounded with violence, which is not necessarily optimistic.

Ovid’s Metamorphoses, tells a retelling of the Four Ages of Man. This story went something more or less like this: the four ages of man began with the Golden Age which was an age of no sin, and was a successful age. This was followed by the Silver Age which was an age full of farming and animal husbandry; after this age came along the Bronze Age, which was an age full of war. After this age ended the last and final age in this list was the Iron Age, which unfortunately was full of sin and evil. The other stories in this collection of stories were full of violence and showed the evil and destructive nature of man.

Was there any basis for an optimistic view of Rome in Livy and Ovid? First of all to note there is only so much one can gather from someone’s written work but from what you can see through these pieces of literature there is very little basis for an optimistic view of Rome in Livy and Ovid. With Livy you see how Rome’s founding was shadowed by violence with the examples of Romulus and Remus, and the kidnapping of the Sabine women. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses it also shows the destructive nature of man, and how Rome eventually came to be. Neither of these examples are very optimistic and in many ways could be considered pessimistic or negative.

In conclusion, in my study of Livy and Ovid’s writing I have gathered that both men were not exactly optimistic in their view of Rome. In their writing there was very little basis on optimism. Rome’s founding in the accounts of the more factual and the mythological were shadowed with violence and destruction, which is not a good basis for optimism, in regards to Rome.

How Important was the Rhetorical Context of Cicero’s Orations: His Listeners’ Fear of Catiline’s Army and Conspiracy?

Cicero’s Orations Against Catiline is a collection of four orations that was directed towards a man named Catiline who had created a conspiracy against Rome. Both of these men had previously been competing for the position of consul. Catiline had used unethical tactics against Cicero, such as bribing which Cicero caught wind of, and used to his own advantage by creating a law which most likely was very specifically targeted towards Catiline. This continued on, with Catiline creating a murder plot against Cicero, which Cicero used as his window to demand to the Senate to do something about Catiline. This actually succeeded and Catiline actually left the city of Rome without a fight. A good question to ask in the context of the whole situation is: how important was the rhetorical context of Cicero’s orations: his listeners’ fear of Catiline’s army and conspiracy?

The design of Cicero’s orations was to persuade Catiline to leave Rome, which was most likely Cicero’s ultimate goal. For example the first oration, Cicero blackened Catiline’s name, to demean and humiliate him to the point that he would leave Rome. Catiline actually left Rome soon after this oration. The second oration was used to insult Catiline’s followers. Which in turn further blackened Catiline’s name. This whole interesting situation was a success on Cicero’s part because he definitely used the tactic of fear. The listeners to his orations were probably scared of Catiline, his army, and what he would do to Rome, because of this being most likely true Cicero used this as an advantage. Cicero is considered to be one of the greatest masters of rhetoric in history so he most definitely could use his listeners’ emotion to his advantage. For example he didn’t actually need to use any physical force to get Catiline to leave Rome.

With this in mind the rhetorical context of Cicero’s orations: his listeners’ fear of Catiline’s army and conspiracy was very important in influencing the outcome of the situation, which was to persuade Catiline to leave Rome. By the end of Cicero’s orations the other individuals who were involved with Catiline’s army were punished for their crimes, and thus weakened Catiline for good. This was only possible by Cicero’s use of the context of his listeners’ fear of Catiline. But regardless of this being the case both men were in the wrong in different ways, and politics is not a clean or tidy business by any means.

In conclusion, the importance of the rhetorical context of Cicero’s Orations in the terms of his listeners’ fear of Catiline and his army was a great one. This enabled Cicero to be able to influence his listeners, and to gain his ultimate goal which was to weaken and persuade Catiline to leave Rome, without using any or little physical force.