The question that literature brings to all readers is what motivates a character to strive to overcome an obstacle. For some, it is to fit in society; still others, it is an individual goal. Whatever it is, it is a silent partner in the person’s makeup that cannot be identified with simple logic. Some define it as an emotion; still others, devotion. That force that makes people get up every morning to perform a great deed is based on their belief. According to University of Alicante: Department of Applied Mathematics. (n.d.), “Every human being has a belief system that they utilize, and it is through this mechanism that we individually, "make sense" of the world around us” (para. 2). Three great characters that are notable in history because of their belief system are discussed in this paper. They are Socrates from the ancient world, Augustine from the classical world, and Sir Gawain from the medieval world. It is not just what they believed, but how it influenced their life and death, and how they made sense of the world around them.
Ancient World: Polytheism
In ancient Greece, there was no greater honor than belonging to a city as a citizen. The honor that the citizen gives to the state means that he or she held their duties, such as worshipping gods and goddesses. Chief among those were the patron god of the city. If a person brought dishonor to his or her city, it meant disaster and possibly losing favor with his or her patron god or goddess. This was held so serious by the ruling class that any citizen can be slayed if they showed dishonor to the gods and goddesses. This was the basis for Socrates, who was accused of being a heretic/atheist. In Plato’s, Apology, it seemed that Socrates...
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...they are read and studied today. All three could have chosen different paths, and readers would have never known who these great characters were. Because of the actions and beliefs systems they had, their stories have lasted overtime and are considered literary masterpieces. For Socrates, Augustine, and Sir Gawain, their faith led them down a path that will forever be remembered in this life as well as the next.
Damrosch, D., Alliston, A., Brown, M., duBois, P., Hafez, S., Heise, U.K., et al. (2008). The Longman anthology of world literature: Compact edition. New York, NY: Pearson Longman.
King James Bible Online. (2014). Retrieved from
University of Alicante: Department of Applied Mathematics.. (n.d.). WHAT ARE BELIEF SYSTEMS?. Retrieved from
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