Category Archives: World Literature

World Literature 1/27 Popol Vuh

attempts of creation:

  1. animals (had no speech, could not praise gods)
  2. mud people (could not do anything of worth for the gods)
  3. wood (burned, flooded, and rest turned into monkeys… possible evolution?)

this shows that the gods were not perfect because they:

  • worry
  • disagree
  • fall short

Authors of this book are anonymous because the Spanish would have killed them for trying to preserve the culture

The gods made there successful attempt of humans on the fourth try

  • they used corn; corn was the staple for the diet and very significant to the culture
  • the people first knew everything and saw everything
    • they were too much like gods
  • the gods dampened their knowledge and sight to prevent them from being too powerful
  • the corn people gave the gods praise
  • once the gods realized they were good, the corn people received wives

The twin fathers: they die and come back (numerous times)

  • they test mortality
  • they are finally defeated
  • One Hunahpu’s head brings life to the tree
    • ***the Blood Woman is tempted by the tree, even though she was forbidden***
    • One Hunahpu’s head spits on her and she conceives the twins
  • One Hunahpu is not fully killed as long as he has a son to carry his name (very cultural)

The “trickster” twins

  • take down Seven Macaw
    • shoot out his beautiful jewel teeth
    • he was attractive through his teeth, and so he lost all vanity with beauty
  • colors were significant (such as the blue and green feathers)
  • old people retained wisdom ( faked having grandparents because the old get respect)
  • they bring down vanity

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World Lit 1/23


Today for a good portion of the class, we watched the Hamlet clip. These are the notes that followed…

“the First Murder” (pg56)

  • sacrifice was expected by God
  • some things are given willingly (Abel), and other things, not so much (Cain)
  • Abel gives the best sacrifice he has to offer
  • Cain gives as well… just not the best
  • Lord has respect for Abel’s gift, no respect for Cain’s gift
  • best v. obligatory
  • things done by choice are usually received better
  • God knows the heart of the givers
  • God asks, “where is Abel?”

-opportunity to confess (redemption)

-God doles out necessary punishment

-makes Cain leave (nomad) not to be killed

-living is sometimes more painful (connection w/ Rostam?)

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Popol Vuh Pre-Discussion

Popol Vuh (pp 1746-1759)


  • the epic was written in Guatemala 16th Century
  • it is very formal in its writing (use of coupling lines)
  • author unknown
  • most likely the author was male and uses “we”
  • ideas borrowed from Mayan oral tradition
  • Part I describes the failed attempts of human creation
  • the fourth attempt of humans was the one that was successful
  • Part IV is the “start” of history with the successful attempt of humans
  • Part II: human arrogance
  • Part III: the scourge of death

Part I

  • lots of use of the word “we” in the first paragraph
  • strong nationality (Quiche)
  • as it is said (correlation to “amen”)
  • this is an account of creation
  • it begins only with a sky and the earth is all sea
  • three names of the god (correlation to trinity?)
  • god confers with the “plumed serpent” to create humanity (and bushes, etc.)
  • first formation of earth by word “earth”
  • they looked back and said it was pleasing
  • worry about the humans, comes at the end of Part I but is not discussed in length at all

Part 2

  • Twin god heroes introduced: Hunahpu & Xbalanque (not human)
  • saw the evil of Seven Macaw (he self-magnifies himself)
  • Hunahpu blow-darts Macaw, and breaks his mouth
  • Macaw tears an arm off Hunahpu (end first battle)
  • he hangs the arm over the fireplace for them to “come and get it”
  • they go and ask their grandparents to help them
  • the grandparents act cordial and say that they are just boys and to pardon them
  • he “fixes” his teeth and eyes, but he soon dies
  • the jewels had made Macaw arrogant
  • Hunahpu got his arm back
  • they did this for the “Heart of the Sky”

Part 3

  • One Hunahpu is father of the god twins
  • Xibalba: (Dark House) the underworld
  • a test of games awaits them
  • the tests:
  1. darkness
  2. deep chill (hail)
  3. jaguars
  4. bats
  5. razor blades
  • they were killed by the one and seven Death for finishing the cigars and torch
  • One Hunahpu was decapitated and head mounted on a tree that ended up giving life
  • Everyone in Xibalba was forbidden from the tree (Genesis?)
  • a maiden and daughter of a Blood Gatherer (only mentioned about 50 times in 2 pages)
  • she goes to earth and conceives Hunahpu and Xbalanque
  • she has to flee Xibalba to have her children
  • they went to the underworld
  • they burn the house, but is repaired with no death
  • sacrifice is required, they tear out a human heart, yet he continues to live
  • the lords want more
  • they kill themselves and come back to life…
  • one and seven death want the god twins to sacrifice them, they did not come back to life as they had thought
  • all the other lords walked to their deaths “like ants”
  • Hunahpu and Xbalanque killed the tyrants

Part IV

  • beginning of humans
  • light is born
  • white and yellow corn brought about
  • animals showed them all the staples they needed for food
  • humans were created by sacrifice and genius alone (not by the gods?)
  • they were handsome, “perfect” vision
  • intense knowledge
  • the four humans thank the god
  • mention of the four corners of earth
  • bearer takes their knowledge for they knew too much
  • they feared with too much perfection came the power to be equals
  • the bearer takes away perfect vision
  • the humans lost the means of understanding
  • they received wives while they slept
  • they were happy
  • the sun then first appears
  • when the sun came up, all were happy

Part V

  • they praise the god and ask to be lead on the “green path”

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-very long poem
-heroic tales from Iran’s history/mythology
-begins with creation of the world
-Rostrám, one of the great heroes, dies 2/3rds through the epic
-earliest stories date back twenty-five hundred years ago
-underlying belief that Iran will only last under the rule of divinely chosen shahs

The Tragedy of Sohráb and Rostám

Starts with Rostam waking sad at heart
-goes to hunt
-catches and eats many onagers whole (bone and all)
-Rostam’s horse (the only one able to carry his weight) is stolen by Turkish
Goes to Semengan
-Tahmine (princess of Semengan) visits Rostam in his sleep
-implores three reasons they should get together:
1. she longs for him
2. she could bear him a son
3. she will bring his horse back to him
-he slept with her & gave her a family heirloom the next day to give if there was to be a child
-his horse was found that morning
-9 months later gave birth to Sohrab
Sohrab’s birth
-grew a year in one month
-by age 5, mastered the javelin and bow
-at 10, curious of father after realizing height and strength unmatchable
-talks to overthrow Kavus, to give to Rostam (father)
-believes fate to wear a crown and wants to overthrow shah Afrasiyab
Afrasiyab hears of Sohrab’s plan, and immediately decides to set father against son
-Sohrab faces Hojir and wins easily, spars his life and takes him captive
-all of Turan was fearful because strongest warrior taken captive
-Gordafarid (only woman hero in Shahnaname) goes to avenge Hojir
-Sohrab strikes her, and captures her for her beauty
-she says she could never marry him & Rostam will kill him
Gazhdaham (Gorafarid’s father) sends warning to Shah Kay Kavus to prepare for battle
-Kavus (Iran’s shah) writes a letter to suck up to Rostam
-Rostam does not think it is Sohrab because his letters with Tahmine suggest he is still a boy-like figure
-they drank for three days and decided it was time to go help
-Kavus is mad that they are late and wants them hanged
-Gudarz (Kuvas military leader) stated they needed Rostam
-Gudrarz fetches Rostam, tells him that Kuvas was being an idiot and begs him return
-they make peace and drink that night
Time for war
-Rostam spies on the Turkish camps and kills the one person that could identify him
-Hojir does not identify Rostam out of fear, and Sohrab slays him
-Rostam concealed his own identity (…why?)
The First Battle
-they faught, then rested, tried to use bows, tried to wrestle, the rested, Sohrab pulls out his mace and strikes Rostam in the shoulder
Rest for the next day
-Rostam says that Sohrab is brutal in strength and that he will have to try hand combat
-Rostam tells his brother, Zavare, that if he does not survive battle, not to seek revenge but to console his mother… Stoic in facing death
-Sohrab thinks that the man he faced was his father, but Human replied that although it appeared to be him, it did not look like as though that was his horse
The Second day of Battle
-Sohrab asks Rostam again who he is and tries to be cordial and disengage, Rostam tells him that they must fight hand to hand
-Sohrab throws Rostam to the ground and gets ready to behead him
-Rostam says he must throw him down twice before earning the right to cut his head off
-When Sohrab told Human of this encounter, Human said it was foolish to let him live and it would likely be the death of him for letting Rostam escape
The Death of Sohrab
-Rostam throws down Sohrab and cuts his chest with a dagger
-Sohram says that his father Rostam will avenge his death
-Rostam sees the jewelry that he bestowed to his child at birth, and cries
-Sohrab tells him not to fill himself with grief because this was meant to be his fate
-Sohrabs dying wish was to let the Turks flee in peace since it was he who stirred them to battle
-Rostam attempts to take his life, but is adviced against it because it will not undo the wrong
Rostam Mourns Sohrab
-Rostam questions what he will tell everyone concerning his deed
-he takes Sohrab to be buried in royal robes
Bahram told him not to search for the meaning of his son’s death

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ENG2110 Gilgamesh

In the Class
Today we started to talk about Gilgamesh due to some technical difficulties. We watched a short documentary on it in which other professors and reading enthusiasts with doctorates spoke of the book. From the video I took down a couple of notes that may prove essential to the understanding of the book.
-Gilgamesh is the first piece of literature in history
-it was written in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq)
-it is about a king (Gilgamesh) who is transformed from a bad king to a good king
-Gilgamesh was born a king and is 2/3 god
-Enkidu is created to be Gilgamesh’s equal
-they fight and become friends
-Enkidu: natural (like Adam) and is humanized by a harlot after 7 days
-women motivate civilization, they do not play a passive role
-historically Gilgamesh was king of Uruk
-the book was written on clay tablets
-Umbaba is held captive by Gilgamesh and Enkidu and is killed
-as punishment for killing Humbaba, Enkidu is killed by the gods
-Gilgamesh has feelings of loss
-leaves to find eternal life in wilderness
-Upinishtim (like Noah) survived with wife through flood & was granted eternal life
-only the gods kept immortal life
-they told Gilgamesh to be merry during life
-Gilgamesh took a plant containing eternal life & was stolen by a serpent

From Own Notes (chronological)

no one likes Gilgameh
-sleeps w/ wives
-takes children’s fathers
– people plea to the gods
-Aruru makes Enkidu; an equal to Gilga
Enkidu is introduced
-made from clay
-trapper fears Enkidu
-he helps animals escape trapper
-father tells trapper to see Gilga to get a harlot
-harlot civilizes Enkidu
-once civilized, animals run from him
-longs for a companion
Ninsun is Silga’s mother
-interpret’s G’s dream of a strong companion
Enkidu is having a hard time drinking and eating
-harlot gives him bread (staff of life) & wine
-lives among the shephards
-gets anxious to meet Gilga & goes further into civilization
Enkidu comes into Uruk
-citizens say he looks like Gilgamesh
-he walks in front of the harlot (male supremacy in society?)
-Enkidu blocks Gilga, they grapple, and become friends
-E tells Gilga he is mortal and to treat the people justly
Gilgamesh wants to go to cedar woods to write his name to be remembered
-Shamash allows Gilga to go w/ Enkidu
-Gilga receives the axe “Might of Heroes” along with bow
-Uruk’s counsellors advise against it originally
-Ninsun adopts Enkidu
-epic: walk in three days what would take a month and a half
During the actual trip
-Gilga has three dreams:
1.Shamash is with them
2. Humbaba will fall
3. death?
-Gilga and Enkidu cut 7 cedars
– kill Humbaba w/ 3 blows
– Enlil gets pissed
Ishtar tries to seduce Gilgamesh into marriage
-he rejects, saying she is a skank
-Ishtar throws a fit and asks daddy for the Bull of Heaven to kill Gilga
-Bull enters Uruk
-mere snort kills hundreds
– Gilgamesh kills it
-punishment, Enkidu sentences to death even though innocent
-Enkidu curses trapper and harlot
-Shamash tells him that he would not have met Gilga without the harlot
-Enkidu wishes her the best
-afterlife is described: people are birds in darkness
-Gilga weeps for Enkidu & grows out hair for him
-Enkidu dies and Gilga stays with his corpse for 7 days
-gilga makes people errect a statue for his friend
-Gilga is depressed
-wants to find Utnapishtim for everlasting life
Gilga goes on his quest for everlasting life
– Scorpions let him pass into the mountains because he is 2/3 god
-enters 12 leagues of darkness
-talks to Siduri; wine maker, tells man is mortal and to live merrily while he can
-Urshanab helps Gilga pass over ocean after Gilga repairs boat
-cuts down 120 trees
-finally makes it to Utnapishtim
-tells secret of the gods: Enlil flooded earth, Ea warned Utnap to build a boat
-11 days to build the boat
-7 day storm
-sent out a dove, swallow, and then only the raven did not return
– Enlil gave Utnapishtim immortality
Gilga asks how to achieve immortality
-Utnapishtim tells him to achieve it he has to stay awake 7 days
-Gilga fails and they place bread around his body every day he is asleep
-so he cannot deny he was asleep
– Utnapishtim tells Gilga of a flower that restores youth in the ocean
Gilga gets it, and a serpent steals it

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ENG2110 Day 1

The start to professor Beasley’s class seemed quite enjoyable. After looking over the syllabus, it appears that the large projects and exams are fairly well spread out as to avoid the “last minute cram”. It also helps that the Final is not cumulative. She seems to be very enthusiastic about the subject, and I’m looking forward to almost all of it (minus the part where we have to make a video for Hamlet). I will have the summary and some important quotes for Gilgamesh come Wednesday.

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