Katabasis
Katabasis is defined as journey downwards: a journey downhill, a decrease of winds, a military retreat, a trip to the underworld; a trip from the interior of a country to the coast.
Naraka
Naraka

If I could visit an underworld I would want to see Naraka, which is the Buddhist version of hell. Naraka is not necessarily a form of punishment and one does not stay there forever. The Buddhist believe when you die you do to Naraka where one is tortured until karma has been payed off. The more karma a person has the longer they stay in Naraka until rebirth. That is different than traditional underworlds where typically a person does not leave once they are sent there, but because Buddhist believe in reincarnation a persons soul does not remain in the underworld, but it does suffer to pay off any sins, so to speak. Does a person remember past experiences in Naraka causing them to lead better lives when they are reincarnated or is it all forgotten? If you do remember I think the belief is that people will improve from life to life, always learning from past lives.

Tristan

King Rivalen of Lyonesse marries Blanchefleur who dies giving birth to a son, Tristan. When Tristan comes of age, he travels to his Uncle Mark's court, and becomes a highly skilled knight. One day Morholt, the brother of the Queen of Ireland, arrives in Cornwall demanding a tribute of Cornish slaves. Tristan is the only knight who dares to face him and he successfully kills Morholt but only after receiving a poisoned wound that no healer in Cornwall can treat. Tristan climbs into a boat and prays for someone to help him. He eventually lands in Ireland, and the daughter of the King and Queen, Isolde the Fair, heals him. Tristan then returns to Cornwall.

King Mark's barons tell Tristan he needs a wife, and he says he will marry the woman whose golden hair a bird drops before him one day. Tristan sets out with some companions to find this woman, landing again in Ireland. While there, he defeats a dragon that has been terrorizing the kingdom but receives a terrible wound in the process. Isolde yet again is the one to treat him and discovers that a missing part of his sword matches the piece that her mother found lodged in her uncle's skull. Nonetheless the king and queen present Isolde as a reward for defeating the dragon. Tristan decides to give her hand to his Uncle Mark, and Isolde's mother gives her maid a love potion intended for Isolde and Mark. The maid accidentally gives it to Tristan though and the two fall deeply in love. Isolde still marries Mark but she has an affair with Tristan behind his back. Mark becomes suspicious of the two and kicks Tristan out of the palace, but the two manage into tricking him into believing there is nothing going on so Tristan can return. The two do eventually get caught and Mark sentences the both to death by burning at the stake. Tristan manages to escape and rescues Isolde before fleeing into the forest.

Tristan and Isolde manage to live in the forest for a while and evade captivity until a forester finds them asleep in a bower. He leads Mark to them who decides to let the two lovers be. He leaves his sword and ring behind in exchange for theirs ti signify this but when Tristan and Isolde awake they fear he will return with men to capture them and so they flee to Wales. After three years the potion has wore off and the two decide to write to Mark asking to return. He allows Isolde to come back but Tristan is sent away for a while. Tristan hides out in a basement to make sure Isolde is safe. Isolde attempts to clear her name with King Arthur in her defense but then her and Tristan sleep together and are caught, again. Tristan flees to Brittany. He helps the King of Brittany and is awarded his daughter's hand, who is of the same name, Isolde. Tristan decides not to consummate his marriage though as he is still in love with Isolde the Fair. Tristan then returns to Cornwall in disguise to see Isolde before returning back to his wife in Brittany. There Tristan is wounded again and sends message for Isolde to come heal him. His wife filled with jealously lies to Tristan and tells him that Isolde did not come back to save him and he dies. Isolde the Fair who in fact did come embraces his body kissing him and dies in his arms. Their bodies are returned to Cornwall where King Mark gives them a proper burial.
Two trees with intertwining branches grow up repeatedly over their graves despite Mark's attempts to prevent them, a phenomenon people attribute to the presence of the love potion in Tristan and Isolde's bodies.

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Breton Lai: Short rhymed tales of love and chivalry and are originally Celtic.
Mythical creatures are common in lais.
Lai derives from Old German and is thought to mean song or play.


The New World

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Created by William Faden in 1797



"Now to return to my subject, I think there is nothing barbarous and savage in that nation, from what I have been told, except that each man calls barbarism whatever is not his own practice; for indeed it seems we have no other test of truth and reason than the example and pattern of the opinions and customs of the country we live in."
-Michel de Montaigne Of Cannibals

"I believe that people from the mainland come here to take them as slaves. They ought to make good and skilled servants, for they repeat very quickly whatever we say to them. I think they can be easily made Christians, for they seem to have no religion."
-Christopher Columbus Diario

Suspect: Christopher Columbus
Accusations: kidnapping, human trafficking, and fraud
- took 500 natives (only 300 survived) back to Spain
- natives were forced into slavery by the Spaniards
- wrongfully forced natives to pay taxes (in gold) and if not their hands were cut off




According to legend, Quetzalcoatl leaves his people the Toltecs and promises his return one day. The arrival of Cortes appeared to fulfill this promise to the Aztecs. This is similar to Christianity in how Jesus promises to return one day and save his people.

Quetzalcoatl
Quetzalcoatl

The Creation Stories



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God in the Book of Genesis

All the creation myths have some sort of higher being that creates the world out of chaos. In Genesis the earth in the beginning was this dark void. God added light, he added water to allow life, etc. He then creates man to take care of all he made. In The Epic of Creation Tiamat is the sea mother of all the first generation gods. Apsu is the fresh water and together they create life. In Theogony Gaea, or Earth, is created out of Chaos. The stories are very similar, water, the skies, and the land all a part of the story. Man is in charge of taking care of the earth created. Genesis only has one god creator of all while the other two stories have a pantheon of gods that all play a role in the creation of the world.

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Gaea from Theogony
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Tiamat from the Epic of Creation





















A Letter to Odysseus

Dear Odysseus,
You are a foolish man for attacking a child of a god. I now know your name and have told my father, Poseidon, god of the seas. I assume you are traveling by boat for how else could you have reached my island. You will pay for your crimes, and then running like a coward instead of facing my wrath. If you think you will get far in your journey think again foolish man. The waters are now against you I will have you and your men sleeping at the bottom of the ocean, and that is a promise. You have been warned.
Polyphemus



Sailor's Response:
Odysseus,
Why on Earth would you taunt a cyclops. He has already eaten two of our men, and he is the son of Poseidon. Don't be foolish and anger him further, especially since we are traveling by sea. Poseidon could easily kill us all, he's a god. Also you had to go and tell Polyphemus your name. I don't want to be punished for your crimes. I have a family I hope to return to after all of this. taunting a child of a god is like challenging the god himself, which is a silly thing to do. We still have ways to go please do not say anything more.
Your men


The Story of Esther


This scenes belong to a series of six painted panels illustrating episodes from the life of Esther, an Old Testament heroine. Commissioned from Botticelli, originally the set served as decorations for a pair of wedding chests (forzieri). After conceiving the arrangement of the scenes, Botticelli may have entrusted Filippino Lippi with most of their execution. This panel was the front side of one of these chests. The three scenes represented simultaneously are The Lamentation of Mordecai, Uncle of Esther; The Swooning of Esther Come to Ask her Husband, the King of Persia Ahasuerus, to Save the Jews of the Kingdom; The Grand Vizier Aman Asks in Vain for Esther's mercy.
This scenes belong to a series of six painted panels illustrating episodes from the life of Esther, an Old Testament heroine. Commissioned from Botticelli, originally the set served as decorations for a pair of wedding chests (forzieri). After conceiving the arrangement of the scenes, Botticelli may have entrusted Filippino Lippi with most of their execution. This panel was the front side of one of these chests. The three scenes represented simultaneously are The Lamentation of Mordecai, Uncle of Esther; The Swooning of Esther Come to Ask her Husband, the King of Persia Ahasuerus, to Save the Jews of the Kingdom; The Grand Vizier Aman Asks in Vain for Esther's mercy.

The artwork here can be found in the Louvre located in France. I have actually seen the piece in person and it is quite stunning. I would save this piece if I had the opportunity to because of the strong story behind it. Botticelli's artwork depicts a bible story of a woman named Esther. Growing up in a religious family this is one of the many stories that has stuck with me. For me the story of Esther represents the strength and power of women. She was a mere Jewish exile in Persia who ends up marrying the king of Persia. Esther with some help from her uncle Mordecai, manages to save the Jews from elimination. She risked her life as a Jew herself to save her people, earning much respect.