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Free Essays – Holy Feast and Holy Fast and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Forbidden Fruit in Holy Feast and Holy Fast and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

The forbidden fruit, its properties, and its affects, has vast ramifications within the ethics of the women in Holy Feast and Holy Fast. as well as those of the characters portrayed in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 2. Perhaps the connection is less obvious with Gawain. It must be realized that this story contains multi-leveled metaphors which approach modern literature in their complexity. Argument will be made that Gawain betrays an isomorphism with Eden’s tale. The author’s attitude toward the fruit and perhaps toward fasting will become evident. Bynum’s incisive argument has been extremely helpful in this analysis of Gawain; but, with respect to medieval women she has surprisingly little to say about Eve and the Tree. Although this neglect is regrettable, it is not fatal. This paper will tend to support the major theses of Holy Fast. The people described by these authors did not dwell inordinately on any essential weakness of women. It is hoped that this refocusing on the forbidden fruit will help us to see more clearly their perspectives.

The isomorphism of Gawain with the story of Eden can be demonstrated only after the stage is set. It may be helpful to think of this isomorphism as a kind of image or reflection. This puts it squarely within the realm of neoplatonic forms. Medieval nobility, often well versed in neoplatonic thought, would be quick to point out that Arthur, the king is a lesser image of God and that his court is a reflection of the heavenly host. This assertion is not without textual support.

Happiest of mortal kind

King noblest famed of will

You would now go far to find

So hardy a host on a hill. (2)

Presently, the Green Knight rides in. He mirrors Lucifer in God’s court, and more; He is full of slander (7:315). He is described in titanic imagery (4:140, 9:390), which was commonly attributed to the anti-christ. The Round Table cannot abide this affront to the King so Gawain, with Guenevere’s permission, steps in to intercede. Here Gawain is like Christ or Michael, going out to battle the dragon. He severs his head.

Gawain is full of reversals and inversions. This is consistent with the neoplatonic model since Arthur’s court is a lesser image. Later, we will present Bynum’s views on this point.

Theme of Justice in the Odyssey and the Bible

Theme of Justice in the Odyssey and the Bible

Justice is a theme that differs in many different texts, and this also true in the Odyssey and the Bible. Justice in Homeric texts was served to neutralize a situation and bring things back to the way they were, to a time of stability and respect for authority. The bible has usually been interpreted, however, as serving justice on a moral basis, as a way to punish those who did not respect each other or act in God likeness.

The Greeks in the Odyssey viewed justice as only coming from the gods. They believed the gods punished them because they have fallen out of their favor, and not because they had really done anything wrong by human standards. As Socrates later stated in the Euthyphro, what is holy, and perhaps then just, is what is “approved by the gods.” Although Socrates proved this to be wrong, it still shows the view of most Greeks. Zeus in the opening book of the Odyssey stated, “Upon my word, just see how mortal men always put the blame on us gods! We are the source of evil, so they say- when they have only their own madness to thank if their miseries are worse than they ought to be.” This shows that the Greeks feared justice; they felt it was negative and often undeserved. However, each Greek deserved his punishment because he has a hand in its reason. For example, when Odysseus’s troops killed the cattle of Helios, they deserved Zeus destroying their ships because he had warned Odysseus beforehand not to let the men eat the cattle. When the Greeks disobeyed the gods, they disrupted the right order of things, and when the gods punished them, they made the other Greeks respect them once again, and thus fixed the balance of the world.

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…n a game. Gods in the Odyssey used justice to be feared and gain respect, and God in the Bible used justice to show love to his faithful disciples and to help his stray sheep stay on the path and learn his love for them.

Works Cited and Consulted

Bloom, Harold , Homer’s Odyssey: Edited and with an Introduction, NY, Chelsea House 1988

Crane, Gregory , Calypso: Backgrounds and Conventions of the Odyssey, Frankfurt, Athenaeum 1988

Heubeck, Alfred, J.B. Hainsworth, et al. A commentary on Homer’s Odyssey. 3 Vols. Oxford PA4167 .H4813 1988

Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Vintage Books, 1989.

Stanford, William Bedell. Homer’s Odyssey. 2 Vols. Macmillan

Tracy, Stephen V. ,The Story of the Odyssey Princeton UP 1990

“Gospel of Matthew”. The Holy Bible. New Revised Standard Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989.

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