The pursuit of excellence
1)Socrates did not write “Apology”. Socrates did not actually write anything, It was his friend Plato that wrote and documented Socrates’s speeches and dialogs.
The “Apology” supposes to be an accurate account by Plato of Socrates’s trial before the Athenian jury in 399BCE. The trial began with the prosecutors presenting their case against Socrates before the Athenian jury. In this trial Meletus, the prosecutor, argued that Socrates was guilty of corrupting the youth of Athens and committing acts of impiety.
The “Apology” contain three speeches, defense, penalty, and after the trial. The second speech of Apology deals with Socrates penalty, Socrates respond to the given penalty by proposing an alternative one, and the jury had to choose between the two. The penalty that was suggested by Meletus was the death penalty. Socrates suggested that he, with the help of his wealthy friends, would pay a fine. He will also be treated as an Olympic hero. From Socrates suggestions we understand that he is actually mucking the jury by suggesting ideas that obviously won’t be accepted.
One of the most important terms in the Apology is the term “Excellence”. This term is an alternative term for the Greek term “Arete”. Arete means the Aim, target the path of life. What you are supposed to do. By “pursuit of excellence” Socrates means that a parson should look for his place in society and in life. Finding his/her excellence will bring him/her health, wealth and happiness. Pursuing wealth and happiness thinking that those will lead one to his/her excellence is wrong.
Socrates gives an example of people that are in pursuit of wisdom. He says that in his investigation he found that the people, who looked for knowledge as a main target, (as if it has an intrinsic value), were less intelligent then the common people. “Man whose reputation for wisdom stood highest were nearly the most lacking in it, while others who were looked down on as common people were much more intelligent.”(Pp.26-7, VII)
Socrates, target in life was to question peoples’ way of life in order to help them improving themselves and strive to find their excellence. “For I spend my whole lifeto give your first and greatest care to the improvement of your souls, and not till you have done that to think of your bodies or your wealth. And I tell you that wealth dose not bring excellence, but that wealth, and every other good thing which men have, whether in public or in privet, comes from excellence.”(Pp.36, XVII)
2)Offred: At one time Offred was what you would consider a typical person. She had all the freedoms of everyday life that you and I experience. She could read what she wished, talk as she thought spent time with her doughtier and have sexual contact with her husband Luke. Once she arrived at the Commander’s home, all these privileges were taken away from her. Handmaids were not allowed to read even when shopping in stories picture were used instead of words and the only word that offred saw was “Faith” on a pillow in the window. She also was not able to talk as she wished. The only time that an open conversation was seen was when offred talked to Moira through the hole in the bathroom and when “chatted” with Ofglen while walking. Since she was taken away from her family no longer she could see or talk to her husband Luke, and her daughter. She was not allowed to obtain active sex life; her body was now a container. Only the inside of her body mattered because it was used to produce children for the Commander. Sex has nothing to do with passion or love or romance.
The image of man had changed in offred mind. Offred used to look at men and had a normal desire for him. This did not happen anymore. However, she found Nick attractive, and wanted him to touch her. Not the way the Commander touched her, but the way Luke used to.
Moira represents a character that witnessed the changes in Offted’s life. She was her friend when she lived a normal life and she is also present now, in her new life. I think that Moira’s part in the story is to show Offred that there is a chance of escape. The point were offred is invited down to the Commanders room is a turning point in her mind. from this point on her memories are deviated into two: before and after the invitation. This is her form of escape. After a few visits she begins to be herself and talks to him very informally. The Commander is now becoming more attractive. The ceremony is no longer just a simple task for her. There was an “arrangement” between them.
As I understand the life that offred had, she cannot pursue excellence. Offreds life is mach like the life of a prisoner, a prisoner doesn’t want to be in prison, the society that is represented by the low authorities, place him there. Offred mach like a prisoner cannot really find her place in this close society; the only thing she can do is to find the place with the most chances to survive. I don’t think that a person that lives under so mach rules and regulation, and so little of a free mind can ever pursue any kindof excellence.
Gilgamesh: There once was a fellow named Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh was a phenomenal individual. He was one-third man and two-thirds god. Due to his special abilities, Gilgamesh felt he was worthy of everyone’s praise,
Gilgamesh and Enkidu, Gilgamesh’s best friend, decided to challenge Humbaba, the guardian-demon of the cedar forest. Gilgamesh and Enkidu prepared for their battle against Humbaba. They walked for many days towards the cedar forest. As they were walking Gilgamesh started to have some doubts. However, Enkidu reassured Gilgamesh and encouraged him to go on with their plane. As they approached the gates of the cedar forest Enkidu started to feel afraid. This time Gilgamesh insisted on continuing the journey. The men spend a couple of nights wondering through the forest. Finally they meet Humbaba. As the men strike, Humbaba pleads for his life. Enkidu advises Gilgamesh to kill Humbaba. Gilgamesh strikes him, but Enkidu delivers the final blow.
The men returned to Uruk pleased with their accomplishments. When they returned the goddess lshtar spoke to Gilgamesh. She told him that she wanted to become friends with him. Gilgamesh insults the goddess, and refuses her offer. Ishtar is frustrated with Gilgamesh, so she asks her father Anu to send the Bull of Heaven to punish Gilgamesh. The Bull of Heaven descended from the sky towards Gilgamesh and Enkidu. they immediately began to fight. Much like the confrontation with Humbaba, Gilgamesh and Enkidu defeated the Bull of Heaven.
The men briefly celebrated, again happy with their achievements. The next day Enkidu became extremely sick. Enkidu was slowly dying, but Gilgamesh stood by his side. Gilgamesh supported Enkidu, and was with him every moment of his suffering. Finally, Enkidu dies.
Gilgamesh was very sad about the death of his friend. He mourned many days afterwards. At the funeral Gilgamesh recounts the wonderful experiences he had with Enkidu, and greatly praises his friend. Gilgamesh dedicates a statue in Enkidu’s memory as well as performs a ritual for Enkidu to have a good afterlife.
As time proceeds, Gilgamesh becomes scared of his own death. He decides that he is going to take a trip to visit Utnapishtim, a man who is immortal. Gilgamesh begins his journey to visit this man, a journey that no man has ever made. As he is traveling, he passes through the Garden of the Gods. He also meets a woman named Siduri. She informs Gilgamesh that the journey is very dangerous and again tells him that no man has ever made the journey.
Regardless, Gilgamesh continues on the journey. After a brief amount of time Gilgamesh comes upon the waters of death. At first he is skeptical in being able to cross the waters, however he bargains with the boatman, Urshanabi, who takes Gilgamesh across the waters, Gilgamesh finally meets Utnapishtim. He speaks with him questioning death, Utnapishtim responds by giving Gilgamesh the answer he does not want; he informs Gilgamesh that every man must die, and life is not permanent Utnapishtim then challenges Gilgamesh to stay awake for six days and seven nights. Gilgamesh fails this challenge, resulting in his having to go home. As he is leaving Utnapishtim gives Gilgamesh a plant called “The-Old-Man-Will-Be-Made-Young”. Gilgamesh secures it well, but then loses it when a serpent takes it away. Gilgamesh returns home knowing that every man must some day be taken from the natural world, and experience the spirits of afterlife.
As I see Gilgamesh, he was a stupid young man. All has life was dedicated for finding way to fix his wrong deeds. Gilgamesh was arrogant he used his power in the worst way he could possibly use it. After he made everybody’s lives miserable (including his) started to think and tried to fix everything. When Gilgamesh finally starts to pursue excellence his days was sort.
Evan though Gilgamesh in his last years seek for a better life, he his not even close to look for his place in society, the goal of his life. His days of pursuing excellence are long gone.
3)”For I spend my whole lifeto give your first and greatest care to the improvement of your souls, and not till you have done that to think of your bodies or your wealth. And I tell you that wealth dose not bring excellence, but that wealth, and every other good thing which men have, whether in public or in privet, comes from excellence.”(Pp.36, XVII)
I agree with Socrates Evan though there is a lot of examples in our days that his theory will not apply.
Taking from the above quote, Socrates saying that a man should find his place or the one thing that he is good at, to get to excellence, and that will bring him wealth health and happiness. I think that in our days it is true in some cases but not in others. In a world where you can buy almost everything, even happiness, the majority looks for the place that will give them the wealth, and happiness will come along, wail people that are pursuing excellence are miserable.
For example artists in Israel have a miserable life, they love what they do but the salary don’t aloud them a good life. I am taking an artist as a parson how find him/her place in society/life and doing the one thing that he his bast in but still live a miserable life because the low income. In the contrary to artists there are the hi-tack workers that are there mostly just for the money, but can retiree in a early age with a lot of money and have enough time in life to fulfill their dreams.(all that I wrote in the above paragraph is true in my country, Israel, not necessarily true in the US)
My goal in life is to have family and a work that will provide me with a good and free life, by good and free I mean that my work will be a tool to get things, I will work to live rather then live to work. As I see it a lot of people are committing their life to work meaning, looks for excellence in this frame and don’t have the time to live the way I see as write way of living. In my ayes this is a miserable existing. And as a general goal I want that my children will have a better life a better country a better world. And from my point of view people should pursue their excellence but before committing themselves to one thing they should be sure that this thing is their point of excellence.