This is When He Went Mad- Weekly Journal 5- Greek Lit
Thurs 2–9 1.5 hours (Class) 8:00–9:30
In class we went over more of the second half of book 2 of Herodotus. We spoke about the Egyptian kings and leaders. They are actually very similar to all other kings but the major differentiating factors is that they usually get a pyramid when they die and may be buried in one. There was a quick discussion about their culture and traditions and how even though it may be a bit more extravagent at times there were still many parallels between many other cultures that were discussed in the story thus far.
A great deal of the time was actually spent discussing the story of Rhampsinitus and the thief, another trickster story, many of which arise throughout the books. This thief would break into King Rhampsinitus’ store of valuables with his brother and regulatly steala certain amount of the treasures. The thieves snuck in through a secret entrance which was unknown to the king but eventually he began to notice items were going missing amongst his treasures. Confused as to how someone was getting in to steal his treasure he set a trap within the room. One of the brothers was caught in this trap and decided as to keep the other brother out of trouble he should be decapitated so that the king could not identify the body in the trap. The brother agreed and left the body of his brother behind. As the King found the body and no head he knew that there must have been another thief so he hung the body up in front of the citizens to see who would grieve the most, thus identifying them self as the other thief. The remaining brother had very little trouble with grief but his mother insisted on him brining the body down from where it was hung so he set out on a mission to do so. He achieved this feat by getting all the guards who were around the body drunk and gleeful until they passed out, then took the body back to be buried. THe king found out about this and grew increasingly impatient with the games of this thief so he enlisted the help of his daughter. He commanded her to sleep with the men of the city and ask each one what was the most daring thing they had done until she had found the man who had stole from his treasure and the body of the brother. The daughter eventually found the brother and he admitted to his crimes but, in anticipation of the king’s plan, had carried the arm of a dead man with him. As the daughter grabbed him in thoughts of presenting the thief to the king, she grabbed the dead arm and he was able to flee. Eventually the king was able to catch up to this thief and priest him for being exceedingly clever. He rewarded him and delievered no punishment claiming that the Egyptians are above all other people and this thief is above all Egyptians.
I found this story extremely enteretaining mainly in the fact that it was a bit comical and there were many parts in the story where I feel like the actions of the characters did not make sense. Even still ironically at the end the King claims that all egyptians are smarter than everyone else but clearly throughout the story he as well as the thief took a few actions that made no sense at all. Beginning with the brother in the trap, I doubt that the king would’ve figured out that his brother was also there had the brother not cut off the trapped thief’s head. Also, the command of the king to his daughter made very little sense. If someone is willing to steal from a king I’m sure they know what his daughter looks like and would lie to her about anything that dealt with the king. Even with these holes in the story I feel like they actually add character to the story to make it a bit nonsensical. This helps to build upon the reoccurring theme that a trickster will be able to outsmart larger, more powerful figures sometimes in the most absurd ways possible. I feel like this is also a show of imagination in the characters because certain parts especially the one with the arm have no logical thought processing behind them. For a character to think, “what could I do after admitting that I am the thief to the King’s daughter?” and to come up with the idea of scaring her with a dead person’s arm seems in a way an instrument to showcase the idea of playful imagination even in potentially deadly situations. This was one of my favorite stories or interactions from the books thus far and it offered a lot to think about both seriously and through imaginative occurances.
Sat 2–11 4hours 11:30–3:30
I got a chance to read basically the first half of book 3 in this period. The books have become increasingly more interesting as we progress through them. The book opens on Cambyses’ expedition on Egypt then systematically showcased Cambyses descent into madness. One questioin that I had while reading this entire selection was around what age is Cambyses supposed to be. Croesus is still alive, and saying less and less in the way of gentle words of wisdom, which seems a bit odd for age andin the mood of the style of storytelling especially in the context of most stories within Herodotus. There is also a point where Croesus asks Cambyses to “ignore his youth” or something similar to that phrase, basiclaly asking him to try to shy away from childish and immature actions for a moment so that he can make a more thoughtful decision. This was actually in the conversation that resulted in Cambyses attempting to murder Croesus. This leads me to one of my major questions that i thought of all throughout the reading, if Cambyses is openly and actively murdering anyone he wants and making terrible decisions why are people in his inner circle attempting to reason with him. The story with his sister, which ever the reader chooses (I like the cub and puppy story better, much less dramatic than being upset over lettuce), raises the question of why would the sister bring up the murder of their brother if she knew that he was so open to killing his family. I thought that maybe she believed that since she was also his wife he wouldnt murder her in the same way but I would say not even to take that chance. Also, the actions of his servant in telling Cmabyses the truth that people think hes a drunk seemed like he was asking for someone to get murdered. At that point everyone, especially one of Cambyses closest men, knew that Cambyses was murdering people basically for fun so why would he provoke any type of conflict. Even still the action of shooting his son in the heart to prove that he wasn’t a drunk seemed to be a bit over the top. in context of Cambyses.
Even though I’m much more compelled to read now becayse of Cambyses’ madness the digressions in the story continue to break my ability to keep the same level of interest in the story. The story about Polycrates and the following events were very boring after reading about Cambyses
Tues 2–14 1.5 hours 8:00–9:30
Prof Sandridge opened class with a small lesson in music theory using his guitar. I felt a variety of emotions throughout the discussion but mainly nostalgia. I took music theory and was in an orchestra back in middle school but as I went to high school I gradually lost time to continue playing instruments or studying music even though I have picked up momentum in listening to a wider variety of music. He mentioned that there was a nique feeling and connection to, what i took as, life itself in creating and playing music through instruments. I felt this was more of a universal feeling that you get from practicing any of the arts, especially creatively even though he did mention how different sounds illicit different emotions and are tied to different themes. I would comapare the feeling he described to design or even cooking, my two strongest art forms. Those are two activites tha tI partake in that make me feel more connected to life in a way. Design gives me an outlet to express things in a certain way or to try to challenged traditional ideas in clothing and style. Cooking more so offers a challenge and I also like to learn about the science behind it and understand what certain spices do and how foods mix together or can be cooked more effectively. Both arts seem boundless and make me think about life on a grander scale, so i understood completely what Prof Sandridge had discussed in the idea that learning to make music should be an essential part of everyone’s life. I feel that is more so the concept of having something that can make you think and feel differently about life and for a few minutes remove you from the immediate reality.
Weds 2–15 4 hours 10:00–2:00
I got out of my class for the day and decided to review what we did in class yesterday. I also tried to finish up as much of the rest of Book 3 as I could. I found the greek thoughts on epilepsy extremely interesting. We had discussed in class that Epiepsy was called the sacred sickness because it was believed that the seizures triggered by epilepsy are actually a possession by the gods. This is an extremely interesting concept to me, the idea of poseessions and higher beings attempting to contact regular people.