English 10, Lesson 135 – Song of Roland: Oliver and Roland

This week in class, I read Song of Roland, which is an epic poem that was written during the early 11th century.  The poem is a dramatized version of the Christian Crusade against the Muslims.  In the story, there are two army generals named Oliver and Roland.  They are written to be opposites of each other.  Roland is described as valiant while Oliver is wise.  In this essay, I am going to compare both of the men’s military goals.

In the poem, Charlemagne agrees to go into negotiations with the Muslim king.  But sends a man named Ganelon to the meeting on his behalf.  However, Ganelon betrays the Franks and makes a deal with the Muslims.  He agrees to help the Muslim king, Marsilie, kill Roland and decides that it would be easier to assassinate him if he is placed at the very end of Charlemagne’s army.

When Ganelon returns from the meeting, he requests that Roland be placed at the end of the procession, and he agrees.  Roland travels at the end of the army with Oliver and twelve knights.

While they are marching, Oliver sees the Muslim army, which is made up of 400,000 men.  They are very obviously outnumbered with only the 20,000 men in the rearguard and the rest of Charlemagne’s army too far ahead of them.

Oliver alerts Roland and urges him to blow the horn, signaling to the armies ahead that they need help.  Roland, however, refuses to call for help.  In his mind, asking for assistance would be shameful and cowardly.

This mistake, as you can guess, leads to the death of all 20,000 men in the rearguard.  Including  Oliver.

As you can see, Roland and Oliver have very different views of what to do during a battle.  Oliver wants to get everyone out alive, no matter what.  Roland is the exact opposite.  I have no doubt that Roland did not intentionally doom his fellow men, but he did not think of getting everyone out alive.  His thoughts are on his reputation and his pride.

Thanks for reading!

English 10, Lesson 130 – Did Medieval Hymns Encourage Christians to Partake in Political Affairs?

This week in class, I started to read medieval Christian hymns that were written over a hundred years ago.  The hymns were created for people who were illiterate, but wanted to follow the Christian ways.  They served as guidance for those who needed or wanted it but could not read the Bible.  In this essay, I am going to discuss if the hymns approved of Christians joining political matters.

Each medieval hymn discussed different topics, like marriage or family.  Common topics were the Holy Trinity, Mother Mary, and martyrs of Christianity.  While the hymns were a great place of advice for those who needed it, they did not answer specific questions, like if Christians could join political affairs.  If you wanted specific questions answered, you would have to learn hymns that were based around that topic and figure the rest out for yourself.

While the hymns never specifically said if you could not join political affairs, they did not specifically encourage it either.  If I was a Christian who followed the hymns, I would join but stay true to the Christian values.  Personally, I think that is the safest way to do anything that you are not sure about.

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English 10, Lesson 125 – Saint Augustine’s View on Christianity

For the past few weeks, I have been reading works by Saint Augustine.  If you read my last essay, you will know that Saint Augustine was a very influential person in Christianity.  In his works, he talked a lot about the City of God and the City of Man.  In this essay, I am going to talk about how his views on these two ‘cities’ can show readers how he viewed Christianity’s role in history.

Before I begin, I would like to first talk about the City of God and the City of Man.  When I first started reading his works, I assumed City of God was heaven and the City of Man was Earth.  But as I continued to read, I realized that these ‘cities’ are not places, but groups of people.  The City of God is comprised of people who believe in God and follow the Bible.  The City of Man is all of humanity, believers and non-believers.

Augustine believed that those who belong to the City of God should not create empires on Earth since they will be able to create bigger and better empires in heaven.  He used the example of Rome’s fall to prove his point.

When Rome fell in 476 AD, many blamed the Christians.  People claimed that the Christians ways had made Rome soft and kind-hearted, which led to their demise.  But Augustine defended Christianity saying that if the people of Rome had converted to Christianity, they might have survived.  He said that Rome did not belong to the City of God.  Therefore Rome did not have the protection of God, which is why they fell.

As you can see, Augustine’s view for Christians was essentially to abandon society and turn to God.  From what I understand, the City of Man will one day collapse, but the City of God is eternal.  The City of God is under God’s protection and no one can hurt you if you are under His protection.  Therefore, abandon society and turn to the City of God.

Thanks for reading!

English 10, Lesson 70 – Optimism in Livy and Ovid

This week in class, I read History of Rome by Livy and Metamorphoses by Ovid.  In both books, the authors incorporated Roman mythology and their own thoughts of the human race.   In this essay, I am going to talk about the basis of optimism in each book.

To make the comparison more clear, I am going to examine each book one at a time.

In History of Rome, Livy focused on the horrible things that happened in history.  Unfortunately, there were a lot of these incidents.  He wrote about poverty in the early days of Rome, and how the rich can never be trusted because of their greed.  He wrote about how Romulus would kidnap women from neighboring towns to be wives for Roman men when the population started to dip.  He wrote about the assault of women and of riots that were ended with violent force.  From his writing, it is obvious that he did not have hope for humankind.  Personally, I thought that he seemed to be ashamed to be a part of the human race by the way he described the events.

In Metamorphoses by Ovid, he starts by outlining the evolution of man, which was very similar to Hesiod’s view from Works and Days.  Like Livy, he believed that wealth caused men to be corrupt which led to killing and evil.  He wrote of a being called Jove, who seemed to be his idea of God.  He described how Jove hated men and thought the best course of action was to kill them all with a flood, except for two righteous people: Pyrrha and Deucalion.  Pyrrha would create women and Deucalion would produce men.  I am sure you can see the similarities to the stories of Noah and the flood and the creation of mankind through Adam and Eve.

As you can see, Livy had a very pessimistic view of mankind and humans in general.  He decided that all men were corrupt and they were doomed.  In Ovid’s case, he agreed that humans were corrupt and evil, but believed that a new, pure line could come from Pyrrha and Deucalion.

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English 10, Lesson 65 – Rhetorical Context of Cicero’s Orations

In my last essay, I described the story of Cicero and Catiline and the drama that unfolded.  However, I am sure a lot of you are wondering how Cicero managed to get a man exiled through pure rhetoric.  That cannot be possible, right?

In the beginning, Cicero threw vague accusations at Catiline, blaming him for conspiracy and uprising against the empire.  He turned the whole city against Catiline, then told him that he would not take legal action, but the Senate might.  He pretended to be concerned for Catiline and convinced him that his best option was to leave the city altogether.

Once Catiline left, Cicero then used his silver tongue to convince everyone that what he was doing was out of concern for the empire and the people.  He assured them that because of Catiline’s departure the threat was lessened, but not gone.

Cicero continued to paint Catiline and his ‘followers’ as monsters.  He made them look evil and disloyal to the empire.  He convinced the Senate, and the people, that they had to take care of his followers or he might return with an army and take revenge against them.

The people believed Cicero’s words and threw themselves into a state of panic, which let Cicero manipulate them in whatever way he wanted to.  The people themselves were blinded by their fear, unable to see how Cicero was twisting his words to make people comply.

As you can see, Cicero had the skill of rhetoric.  Though his schemes were horrible and his accusations unjust, you have to admit that he was a smart man.  He convinced everyone that the threat was a (probably) innocent man, when it was really him who was the threat.  This is a perfect example of the saying ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing.’

Thanks for reading!

Business 10, Lesson 60 – App Development

For week twelve of the Business II course, I only did one lesson: Lesson 56 on app development.  In this essay, I am going to talk about this business idea and if it would suit me.

App development is simply creating your own app that solves or makes the lives of others easier.  Like the business ideas from week eight, this business allows me to get customers from all over the world and I can offer my services on freelance websites.

The only downside to the business is that it requires me to know how to code.  I am always open to learning to new things, but I have already attempted to learn how to code a few years ago and I have concluded that it is not an interest of mine.  As Mr. Emmons says at the end of every lesson, if the particular idea is not part of your interests, do not choose it.  Forcing yourself into a business you know you will not like is setting yourself up for failure.

App development is a super cool idea, and for those that enjoy coding and are good at it, this would be a fun business to run.  However, coding is not my forte and it is not something I enjoy (or am good at).  This business idea is not for me.

Thanks for reading!

Western Civilization 10, Lesson 80, Essay 2 – St. Augustine

Saint Augustine was considered to be one of the most influential people in Christian history.  His writings were so great that they were frequently compared to the Bible.  In this essay, I am going to talk about what Saint Augustine did to deserve the title of ‘most influential’ in Christian history.

Saint Augustine was born to a Christian mother, but he did not join the religion until much later in his life.  He started out as a ‘troubled youth’ who liked to cause problems.  Throughout his life, he switched from one belief to another.  When he was a boy, he followed a school of thought known as Manicheanism, which is a belief that there has to be a good god and an evil god.  But as he got older, he started to develop more questions about the belief and eventually stopped believing in it because no one could answer his questions.  There was a short period of time where Augustine switched from skepticism (the belief where you cannot know anything for sure) to Neo-Platonism (the belief that evil is simply the absence of good).

As a young man, he befriended St. Ambrose of Milan, who was a well-known Christian bishop.  Not too long afterwards, Augustine converted to Christianity.  In 391 AD, Augustine became a bishop and started to explain Christian theories and beliefs in a skeptic or Neo-Platonist ways so that those who did not follow Christianity could still understand them. 

Augustine’s works Confessions and City of God was, and still is, very influential in Christian history.  In City of God he defended Christianity against those who blamed the religion for weakening Rome and leading it to its downfall.   He also taught about immortality of the soul, the importance of immaterial things, and how to find true happiness.  Throughout all of his books and teachings, he always came back to the same principle: God is the ultimate way to attain true happiness and peace of mind.

As you can see, Augustine was a very influential person for the Christian religion.  His story showed that you do not have to be a perfect, pious person to understand and follow Christianity.  He started out as a young boy who had hundreds of unanswered questions about the world and religion, and ended as a Christian bishop who answered all of these questions for himself and other young people like him.

Thanks for reading!

Western Civilization 10, Lesson 80, Essay 1 – Significance of Rome

It is no secret that Rome and Greece have had an enormous impact on modern-day western civilization.  But have you really looked closely to see what these impacts look like?  In this essay, I am going to briefly talk about the effects Rome has left on western civilization.

One of the smaller, and less obvious, impacts Rome has left, is their language.  The Romans spoke Latin, which is called a ‘dead language’ nowadays.  But what many people do not realize is that Latin is not completely dead.  In fact, it might never be.  Latin is very prominent in several European languages like Spanish and Italian.

Our architecture is also heavily influenced by Roman designs.  As is our art, literature, government, calendar, mythology, and religion.

As you already know, Christianity started in Rome, and while we cannot say that the Romans are the ones that created/introduced Christianity, it started to become more popular because of them.  Christianity became the main religion in Rome after the year 323 AD.

Despite the fall of Rome being over 1500 years ago, their culture and ways are still very prominent in our daily lives.  Almost everything in western civilization is based off or because of the Romans, who have preserved and modified the culture of the Greeks.  I think it is safe to say that the legacy of these two great empires will never die as long as western civilization exists.

Thanks for reading!

English 10, Lesson 85 – Miracles of Jesus

This week in class, I read the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament.  The book described how Jesus would perform miracles to prove to the people that he really was a prophet of God.  In this essay, I am going to talk about how important these miracles are.

In the book, there were many miracles listed.  Jesus would heal the paralyzed and ill.  He was known to scare away evil spirits that possessed people, or calm the wind and seas.  There were even stories that he would bring the dead back to life and could produce enough food to feed thousands from one meal.  Stories of these marvellous, and seemingly impossible, miracles spread through the land and many started to come from Rome to meet Jesus and see his miracles with their own eyes.

I personally think that the miracles Jesus performed were important for two reasons.  One, it gave him publicity and a reputation.  These stories motivated people to come see and listen to what he has to say.  Two, it proved that he truly was a prophet of God.  After all, if a person claimed to be a prophet of God, you would want some proof to know that they are not a crazy person.

As you can see, the miracles Jesus performed were very important to the spread of his reputation during the beginning of his ministry.  Much like now, you need publicity to get you known, and even trusted, by the world.

Thanks for reading!

Business 10, Lesson 40 – SEO Vs. Copywriting

For Week Eight of the Business II course, I only did two lessons: lesson 36 and lesson 39.  Both of these lessons gave two very interesting small business ideas that I can start as a high-schooler.  In this essay, I am going to compare the two ideas and decide which one would be better for me.

In lesson 36, Mr. Emmons talked about search engine optimization (SEO).  It sounds pretty intimidating, but from what I understand, there is nothing complicated about it.  When you Google a service and you see advertisements at the top of all the responses to your search, this is SEO.  For example, if you Google “movers in Singapore”, there will be advertisements at the top of the page from businesses that have invested the time to work on their SEO.

In lesson 39, Mr. Emmons talked about copywriting, which is writing advertisements for businesses to help them get customers.

Both marketing strategies have similar advantages.  They both can be done online, allowing me to get customers from around the world.  For both strategies, I can offer my services on online platforms like Fiverr or Upwork.

I cannot think of any disadvantages for copywriting, but I can think of one for SEO marketing.  I am not familiar with how SEO works or what is required for me to be successful.  While I am not opposed to learning, this will obviously take a lot of time and energy, and as Mr. Emmons and Mr. North always says, time is precious.

As you can see, both strategies are very practical for a high-schooler to do.  I will admit, neither of the ideas seem overly exciting, but it never hurts to go outside of your comfort zone to try something new.  If I have to pick between these two strategies, I would choose copywriting since I know that I am good at writing and it is something that I enjoy.

Thanks for reading!

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