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Medieval Love Poetry

Question: How do any of the following poets’ views on love compare? – Ibn Zaydun, Arnaut Daniel, Guido Guinizzelli, Guido Cavalcanti, Petrarch, and Louise Labé.

While all the medieval poets listed above mainly wrote poetry about courtly love, their interpretations of the process and their thoughts on love itself varied quite dramatically. Ibn Zaydun and Petrarch were very similar in their thoughts on love. Their poetry definitely embodied the idea of courtly love, in the sense that the males in the poetry longs very emotionally for their loved ones. However, in both cases, those loved ones were incredibly distant from the males and were seen mostly as objects for adoration. Love was written exclusively on an emotional level, which is strange given that both poets completely ignored one half of a relationship, by never really giving any perspective on the distant females that were being adored by the poets. Louise Labe, a female medieval poet, was unique in that he explored almost the same emotions that the previous poets did, except from the female perspective instead. However, despite writing about females, most of the characters in her poetry had the same emotional ties to their loves as the characters talking about their loves ones in Zaydun’s and Petrarch poems.

Arnaut Daniel, unlike the previous poets, does not refer to loves ones as being distant, but simply unreachable due to position. Daniel also seems to disagree with Guido Guinizzelli. Guinizzelli wrote heavily about how love could “always repair” the “noble heart.” He seemed to imply even unfulfilled love had its benefits. However, Daniel mentions in his poetry that if his love is not reciprocated, his love “murders” him and “sends herself to hell.” Guide Cavalcanti was another poet who disagreed with Guinizzelli in that he saw love as a neutral yet powerful emotion whose results were dictated by those in love. He did not simply see love as always beneficial. As shown, there were clearly many different interpretations of love by medieval poets.


The Ramayana & The Odyssey

Question: How to similar events in the Ramayana and the Odyssey compare with each other?

It is very easy to compare these two epics given how both were literary texts that represented incredibly important cultures and civilizations. As a result, there are several events that are available for comparison in the two epics. For one, the actions of women in both epics are very important. In both the Ramayana and the Odyssey, the wives of the main male characters, Sita and Penelope, are tormented by individuals that want to take them for their own, even though both women are married. Despite their circumstances, both women choose to stay loyal to their husbands. This is not to say that both epics treat other events in similar fashion. For example, the Odyssey, the suitors that chase after Penelope are brutally murdered and not given burial after Odysseus comes home. However, in the Ramayana, while Sita’s kidnapper, Ravana, is eventually killed by Rama, Ravana is given a proper burial. Even during the story, Ravana is shown to be respected by Rama, despite his actions, contrasting heavily with the opinions of the public of the suitors. In general, key events like this show the key contrasts in the two epics and more so, the civilizations they were a part of.

Joseph in the Quran

Question: What purpose does the retelling of the Joseph story serve in the sections of the Qur’an you’ve read?

There are potentially several purposes to retelling the story of Joseph in the Quran. One important reason might been to directly connect the Quran to other holy books such as the Bible. This would allowed Muslims to show the religious transition from previous holy books that were corrupted through the passage of time and their new holy book. Another reason might have been to simply retell a story to an audience and given them a better understanding of God’s intentions. In the beginning of the tale, Joseph is blessed with the ability of prophecy by God and though he suffers for it, getting thrown down a well and spending a significant period of time in jail, by the end of the story, Joseph is essentially the king’s adviser as a result of his God-given abilities.

Plato’s Symposium – Love & Friendship

Question: Describe how Plato conceive of love (and/or friendship).

What makes Plato’s Symposium so different from other texts is the many different perspectives that Plato provides with regards to the issue of love and it’s purpose. In the text, different Athenian individuals have a drinking party and every single one gives a speech on love. Phaerus starts off the text by talking about how he believes love exists for the purpose of allowing individuals to gain rewards from the gods by sacrificing themselves for the ones they love. Pausanias speaks next and mentions that there are two types of love, the base kind based around sex and a noble type of love based around affection. The second type is the one he approves of and is the type of love that is similar to the one that Phaerus spoke of prior.

Eryxicamus speaks about love next, discussing how it is everywhere in society and allows people and the gods to be in harmony with each other. After that, Aristophanes speaks about love, making up a ridiculous story about how men and women were originally one being, separated by the gods and love is the desire to become one being again. Agathon and Socrates speak next, with Agathon discussing the associations with love and beauty and then Socrates proceeding to dismantle his claims and bring up Platonic love in the form of a dialogue. Alcibiades goes last and doesn’t speak much about love as much he talks about his love for Socrates. While the text obviously did not happen in real life, it could serve to show that Plato used the perspectives of multiple characters to talk about love being it being such as broad and varied topic.