March has been such a happy month for me! Instead of just being busy with school and work, I have also been very busy with good friends–two of whom travelled to Texas just to see me!
Over my spring break, my cousin Ashton came to visit me for a long weekend. She had never been to Texas before, so this was an entirely new experience for her! I led her on a campus tour of Baylor and she was able to meet a few of my cohorts over dinner her first night in Texas. While showing her around, we happened to notice that the gates to Floyd Casey Stadium were open (which is Baylor’s recently closed football stadium), so we walked in and took pictures on the field! It was such an amazing feeling to be the only two people in the entire stadium! It really makes you appreciate the size of the place and the perspective of the players.
Fortunately, the trip only got better from that point forward! On Friday, Ashton and I got up and drove to Austin, TX, so that she could experience the “Keep Austin Weird” culture. Needless to say, she loved it! We started off by taking a little tour of the UT Austin campus. It was beautiful in its own way. HOWEVER, the two of us could not help noting the differences between the REAL UT (Knoxville, TN) versus the knock-off UT (Austin, TX). Tennessee girls, Tennessee pride.
We also visited the State Capital Building, SoCo, SXSW events, and went out on Sixth Street that night, where we had a ridiculous amount of fun at Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar. We arrived in Austin after the accident with the driver at SXSW that left so many innocent bystanders killed and injured. Our thoughts and prayers went out to them and their families as we walked around the venues late in the afternoon. South Congress St. was an amazing experience, with lots of enjoyable shopping, food, and live music. Because of SXSW, we thought that we might never catch a cab to Sixth Street, but due to my ingenuity and a little bit of luck, we managed to make it to Pete’s, where we met a wonderful bunch of guys from Louisiana having a bachelor party!
After that fun-filled Friday, the cuz and I got up and drove down to San Antonio. We toured the Alamo and the Riverwalk, then we visited La Villita for shopping and perused the street vendors along the Riverwalk. We also visited the oldest church in the area (St. Joseph’s) and ate dinner at Casa Rio, the oldest restaurant on the Riverwalk.
After a fun Saturday that ended with Bellinis at the hotel bar, we got up on Sunday morning and visited the historic Menger Hotel’s bar, where Teddy Roosevelt selected and assembled his Rough Riders! Unfortunately, our weekend together was drawing to a close, so we had to begin the drive back to Waco. Ashton had to board her flight back to DC that night, but I’m so happy that she was finally able to come visit me! I also feel honored to be the person with whom she first saw Texas 🙂
Do you ever think of all the places in the world you want to go to and all the things you want to see and experience during your lifetime then get really depressed because you know you won’t be able to do everything and go everywhere you want?
Because that happens to me on a regular basis.
On July 12, one of my best friends from childhood married his college sweetheart. In the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus at Notre Dame University. The basilica and the ceremony were absolutely gorgeous. I’m so happy for the wonderful couple!
At the reception, my friend the groom danced a mother-son dance to “Beautiful Boy” with his wonderful mom, a woman who has been a huge influence on my life as well and who has been battling with MS for the last 15 or so years of her life. She was able to dance with her son without her cane. There was not one dry eye at that reception. And, I can admit, I was crying so embarrassingly hard myself. It was such a beautiful moment and I was so glad that she was able to share it with her son on his wedding day.
My family and I also got to tour Notre Dame’s campus. It was absolutely gorgeous. It was also an opportunity to take pictures of things related to the movie “Rudy.”
On my last full day in Vancouver, Marija and I got up and decided to go exploring! Many businesses in Vancouver still close on Sundays or close early on Sundays, which makes it the perfect day to spend outside enjoying God’s creation. So with that in mind, we got up, got dressed, and took the seabus to Lynn Valley!
Lynn Valley is a beautiful park with a famous suspension bridge. Fortunately, we got there early enough that Marija and I were able to walk across it and take pictures virtually alone. Later in the day when we were returning, it was a lot more crowded on the bridge and there was a line to go across it. We were very fortunate… in several aspects that day. We hiked for a little while until we found a small rocky island in the middle of the river/stream. Marija and I hopped over to it and claimed it as our own. We then took our time exploring the area and taking pictures of each other’s explorations as well as the beautiful flora all around us. The water in the stream was so clear and unpolluted! However, it was extremely cold, a reminder that we were in Vancouver, after all.
After spending not nearly long enough in our spot, Marija and I ventured forth on our hike to a new spot. We found a pool in the forest where the water was 30 feet deep, but you could see straight to the bottom. The water is that clear! Marija and I clilmbed up along one side of it and took pictures. Other people were there climbing onto the rocks and jumping down into the water. They were nuts! That water was absolutely frigid!
After exploring through Lynn Valley more, we went for sushi at a lovely little restaurant. Though I had had sushi before, I had never actually had the kind with raw fish inside it. I was brave and tried it with Marija. I got smoked salmon and salmon rolls, and it was really good! And I got no food poisoning! A great day! We also went back to Steveston for more ice cream, and then we spent our last few hours together hanging out in the room, doing facials, and talking about anything and everything.
The next morning, we got up, got ready, and took our time getting to the airport. Once I got all checked in, we got a Starbucks tea together and took our last picture in Vancouver together. It was so hard to say goodbye to my friend. Even though I hadn’t seen her for years before that weekend, we had such a good time that it was really sad to leave. However, we both started making plans to see each other again soon. Our current plan involves me going to Latvia this summer to spend some time with her. I really hope that happens! 🙂
In the airport, I met the nicest hairdresser. He was from Vancouver, but he was going to visit his boyfriend in L.A. before the two of them went on a vacation to Russia! We got to talking and he didn’t think that I was American (much less Southern) until I told him so. I was so flattered that he didn’t perceive me with much of an accent or assume that I was American by my behavior. That is one of the biggest compliments I have ever received! He thought I was Canadian until I told him otherwise, and then he assumed I had been living in Canada for years. Wrong on both counts, but I really loved my stay in Vancouver. I would love to visit Vancouver again one day, but I would also love to explore more of the Great White North one day! It’s such a beautiful place and there are so many nice people there. It was certainly a fantastic way to spend Labor Day weekend!
On my second day in Vancouver, Marija and I got up and headed to the Vancouver Art Gallery. We got a bit turned around looking for it, but we eventually got where we needed to go. It was a beautiful morning and a wonderful opportunity to see some more of Downtown anyway!
The art gallery was wonderful, but there isn’t much photographic evidence from our time there since photos weren’t allowed. There was a great exhibit of the collection of art owned by two sisters from Baltimore. They lived together and never married and spent years collecting all sorts of art, statues, collectibles, etc. All of which they kept in their apartments with them! I don’t know how they ever relaxed with all those valuables on every shelf and wall! One of them was also a medical doctor, which was very rare for a woman in the 1800s. Fascinating stuff.
Marija and I also went biking along the sea wall in the afternoon. It was such a wonderful park and a lovely afternoon. Marija has most of the pictures from that part of the day because she is a far more proficient bike rider than I am haha. Until that day, I probably hadn’t ridden a bike in at least 10 years. I managed not to fall off and kill myself, but only barely. To be fair, after the first 15 or 20 minutes, I got the hang of it and was doing quite nicely! Marija was very understanding, thankfully.
The rest of our day was spent outdoors enjoying the wonderful (and, we were told, rare) Vancouver weather for that time of year. We went to Grouse Mountain, which is absolutely gorgeous! When you get there, you ride the ski lift up to the top of the mountain where there are several over-looks, a restaurant, etc. They also have two bears in an enclosure on the mountain, and they are so adorable! While there, we met a very nice German exchange student named Annie. She was from Frankfurt and living with a host family for a time. I hope she’s still doing well in Vancouver!
Over Labor Day weekend, I was fortunate enough to travel to Vancouver for the first time. It was my first time in Vancouver and my first time in Canada at all. I was very excited for my trip because I’ve wanted to go for awhile and have heard wonderful things about the area. The real reason for excitement was for my reunion with my friend Marija. She and I first met in kindergarten at New Horizon Montessori. She was new to the school and to the States; she was born in Latvia. Marija and I were friends until she moved away a few years later. Long story short, Marija and I had not seen each other in about 10 or 11 years before Labor Day weekend. We did, however, reconnect via Facebook about 4 years ago, which was wonderful. Finally, after years of trying to meet up with each other, we managed to plan to meet in Vancouver!
So, on that fateful Friday morning, I woke up early and drove to the DFW airport. For some reason, the boarding pass machine at the airport wouldn’t take my credit card, so I had to get in line and pay cash, which made me run a bit late. Thankfully, I was still there in time for my checked luggage to be put on the plane. The plane ride was not too long or too turbulent, but there was a toddler across the aisle from me who was rather unpleasantly vocal for the duration of the flight. Once I landed in YVR airport, I managed to pass through customs without incident for the most part. The customs officer was much more in-depth than I anticipated, however. She asked me questions about who I was meeting, how I knew her, if she was a citizen, why she was in Vancouver, where we would be traveling in Vancouver/Canada, and more. I got nervous at this point because Marija’s story is kind of difficult to explain to an outsider. I mean, “I became friends with her in kindergarten but haven’t seen her in ten years, so I’m here to meet her while she’s visiting some other friends,” sounds strange enough. But when I had to explain that no, Marija is not a Canadian citizen, she just went to high school here, it got more complicated. Don’t even get me started on Marija’s citizenship status of which I was ignorant at the time. The one comfort was that my story was so elaborate and ridiculous that it had to be the truth. No one could have made up all this stuff haha
Anyway, YVR is a really nice airport. I managed to find Marija; rather, she managed to find me relatively easily. From the airport, we found our hostel, which was very centrally located! We spent the rest of our first day together sightseeing in the area of Vancouver around our hostel and going to dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. The salads there were delicious and the white peach sangria was to die for!
Gastown is an absolutely gorgeous area of Vancouver, and it’s one of the older sections. It was supposedly founded by “Gassy” Jack, who has an awkward statue memorializing him. The streets are beautiful. I can’t post all the pictures I took of Gastown, but it was wonderful. There were also all kinds of cute little stores to go into that sold many different types of items. There was also a lot of graffiti in Gastown, but it wasn’t an eyesore. It was beautiful, truly a work of art. The artists were clearly talented. I posted only my favorite, but I took so many pictures of the graffiti as well.
Marija and I also swung by China Town. It was such a cool little area of town. Also, there was a beautiful park in it, in which Marija and I took many a picture. She remembered that she came with some friends to take prom pictures there back in the day!
Afterwards, we went all the way out to Steveston, a fisherman’s village where the show “Once Upon a Time” is apparently shot. Marija used to live very close to Steveston. We got ice cream at the best place in the world. It was so delicious; I can’t even begin to describe it! We sat on the shore and watched the sunset. The views there are amazing.
After packing so much sightseeing into a few hours, Marija and I went back to our hostel and spent some time catching up. It was so wonderful to be able to talk to my friend face to face again! We caught up about all the things that have happened in our lives, what we are planning on doing next, and started brainstorming ideas for our next outing together. I’m hoping to go to Latvia in the summer to visit her! She also spent a lot of time educating me about Latvia and Russia: the language, the culture, the food, the people, the music. I loved every minute of it! I love learning about new cultures and she has so much to teach me. I want to start working on my Russian so that I can say a few words when I go visit. I know a phrase in Latvian, but it only translates to “Where is my airplane?” In other words, it’s not the most useful thing to know for every day interactions haha.
Well, there is the bare bones tale of the first day of my reunion with Marija in Vancouver. I hope you enjoyed hearing about it! There are many more adventures to come!
I have been largely without internet for the past 2 days or so because I have been traveling back home. Sadly. But that’s a story for later.
Our last full day in Greece was spent in Delphi, the site of the famous oracle of Apollo! Delphi looked nothing like what I expected, but it was gorgeous. Delphi was considered the center – belly-button – of the ancient world, which is part of why it was so important. It was an important place where news was gathered and spread, and people from all over Greece came to seek wisdom and answers from the oracle. The Pythia (aka the oracle) sat in the back room of Apollo’s temple over a schism that produced fumes (possibly hallucinogenic ones) and prophesied in a trance. Though the Pythia was the most respected oracle of the ancient world, no one wanted to be around her for long due to her odd behavior. The Pythia was always a woman, but she was assisted by many priests. She would answer simple yes-or-no questions at a cheaper rate than open-ended response questions. Her answers were always notoriously presented in riddles, which means that the one with the request is left to discern the prophecy for himself – sometimes incorrectly and sometimes correctly. For instance, the oracle once told King Croesus that if he went to war against the Persians, a great empire would fall. He assumed it meant the Persian empire, but it turned out to be his own. Oops! I was so excited for this particular site, and it did not disappoint. I even got to go in a (small) secret passage under the temple of Apollo. It’s kind of a cool thing to be able to say you’ve done haha
After spending time in the archeological site and the museum of Delphi, we drove back to Athens. Our final exam in philosophy was given to us on the bus, so typing up my answers to that was a new, exciting experience to say the least. I am pleased to report that my exam was completed without me getting carsick! 🙂 Once we got to Athens around 4, we basically had the whole rest of the day free. I went to the Monisteraki district and looked around. They had some really neat shops in the area, and I managed to pick up a few more souvenirs. We also got our last gelato and walked around the city, trying to memorize it all before we left. Since we were leaving our hotel at 4 in the morning the next day, we all decided to pull an all-nighter and just not go to sleep lol
By the time we got to the airport, it was 4:45 AM and we were ready to get through security and grab a snack before our flight. Too bad Delta and Air France failed to communicate, so our tickets weren’t booked on our flight and it was apparently full! After about an hour of Dr. Henry calmly negotiating with people and attempting to get the situation taken care of, we ended up with tickets on our flight! 🙂 They had to ask the plane to wait at the gate for us, though, because we were just a little late. After that, the rest of the day was spent in airports and on planes until I finally arrived home in Knoxville at 11 PM (which is 6 AM in Athens). Essentially, I’d been awake for over 2 days lol.
This officially ends my blogging about my study abroad trip. I’m pondering whether or not I will keep the blog going on a regular basis. I may have a few other exciting trips this summer, and perhaps I will attempt to blog some more deep thoughts about books, songs, or movies occasionally. We’ll see how it goes. Let me know if you want (or don’t want) more!
I awoke bright and early this morning in Olympia, Greece – the birthplace of the Olympic games! We started off our day by going to the archeological site of Olympia, which was the site of a religious and athletic festival every four years. Originally, the only sports included were combat-related: races, wrestling, and boxing. All Greeks who were not murderers were invited to come to the games, even in times of war as long as the parties laid down their weapons for a month before and after the games. There are many myths about how the games started, but most of them include Hercules in some capacity. In one of the most popular legends, he began the games in order to honor his father Zeus after being punished by him for murdering a king. The site of Olympia includes several buildings still partially intact, including a gymnasium, a bathhouse, a pool house, a fountain dedicated to Demeter, a building dedicated to Alexander the Great and his family, a stadium, and temples to Hera and Zeus. The temple to Hera is the only temple on the site with the altar remaining, so it is the site where the Olympic torch has been lit for every Olympic games since 1936. The statue of Zeus that was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world once stood in the temple of Zeus in Olympia, but the statue was destroyed and the temple was destroyed by earthquakes. The stadium in Olympia is still fairly well-preserved, but simple. While at Olympia, we wanted to see the Olympic sports museum, but it was closed because someone broke into it in February 😦 We did go to the archeological museum in Olympia, though, which had some really nice artifacts in it from the site.
After finishing at Olympia, we began our trek to Delphi. Along the way, we saw the enormous (and expensive) suspension bridge built to connect the Peloponnese to the mainland of Greece. We also drove past the bay in which the Battle of Leponto was fought in 1572. It was a naval battle between the Muslim Ottoman Turks and the Viennese, Spanish, and the Genovese Christians. The Christians won and this battle has been credited with helping to shape European history.
Late in the afternoon, we arrived in the beautiful hills of Delphi. Lydia and I went for a quick walk through the village, and it was so beautiful and serene. We’re both so excited to see the archeological site tomorrow!
The books I’ve read throughout the Great Texts course have been diverse and provided an interesting perspective on Eastern culture. In my opinion, it’s been a little difficult to find themes on which all the books touch. One of the universal themes, however, appears to be meaning in life. In Tales From the Thousand and One Nights, Muslim culture emphasizes the importance of honor in life. Shahrazad volunteers to marry King Shahriyar in order to preserve her honor and in the attempt to save the lives of other women in the area. As for Shahriyar, he practices the ritual killings of his new wives because of the damage done to his honor and pride by his first wife who was unfaithful to him. Shahrazad proves to be a good influence on Shahriyar, and her virtues and honor save her life in the end. In the story “The Historic Fart,” Abu Hasan is so embarrassed and dishonored when he farts at his wedding reception that he runs away to India for several years. After his long exile, Abu Hasan returns to his village thinking that everyone has forgotten the disgrace, but instead they are marking time by it. Needless to say, he returns to exile still disgraced and dishonored. Clearly, honor is such an important part of life in that culture.
In My Name Is Red, meaning in life is disputed. Because the book still addresses the Muslim culture, honor is still very important. The miniaturists are very concerned with their honor – before Allah, their sultan, and others in society. This causes much tension. Many of the characters in the book find their meaning in their artistry while others find it in their religion. The most interesting examination of meaning in life in the book comes from the illustrations themselves. The illustrations provide an interesting statement about the power of creativity and inspiration. These illustrations are mere creations by the artists, but they have more effect on the larger world and more awareness of it than intended. In my opinion, this is a statement about the power that art has on the world and those in it. The illustration of the tree, however, is the most interesting one of all. Because it is not in a book or accompanied by a passage, it does not know where it belongs or what its meaning is. He laments having no meaning in life and wondering about the kind of tree he is intended to be. Is he a good tree? Did he shelter eloping lovers or the dying Alexander the Great? This is a question that many people ask. Am I good or am I bad? Am I doing something worthwhile in the world or just taking up space? These questions sound ridiculous when an illustrated tree asks them, but they are important questions. By having a lone illustration of a tree voice these concerns, Pahmuk universalizes these questions and validates them. In a way, My Name Is Red is much more about the search for meaning than about defining what that meaning actually is. It seems to be left up to the character (and/or the reader) to decide.
For St. Macrina, meaning revolves around Christ and her relationship with Him. Macrina is an incredibly godly, humble woman. She chooses to live a life of relative poverty and servitude in order to more fully serve God. For Macrina, her life revolves around God and in Him she finds her meaning. The Life of St. Macrina is an example of ancient Christian culture in the East. St. Macrina is lifted up by her brother as an example for all women (and for men, as well) when learning how to be pious and serve God. She takes no pleasure in earthly things, only in God and the things of the soul. Unlike the tree illustration, she has found her meaning. Rather, God has given Macrina her meaning in life.
In Zorba the Greek, meaning is once again in question. In Zorba’s opinion, life’s meaning is taking pleasure in as many things as possible as often as possible. He lives the appetitive, not the rational, life. For the narrator, however, things are more complex. He originally found meaning in academia, contemplation, and the exercises of the mind. The narrator begins to desire a more active life, which is what leads him to befriend Zorba. As a result, his ideas about life begin to shift. The narrator is an interesting character, though, because as much as he seemingly respects Zorba and his enthusiasm for life, he never really joins in with Zorba’s antics. Zorba often encourages the narrator to live a more active, bodily life, but the narrator resists. He clings to his old values and beliefs about meaning and virtue despite wishing to behave differently. In the end, neither character changes as a result of the influence of the other one. Once again, the life’s meaning is left ambiguous. Zorba continues on his path and the narrator down his, both unchanged despite their supposed friendship and respect for one another. Perhaps the author is implying that different people can live differently and it is acceptable because there is no universal meaning (one “right answer,” so to speak) in life.
After our adventurous day yesterday, Katherine and Lydia gathered in my room to watch the Greece versus Germany football (soccer) match. Sadly, Greece lost to Germany quite badly. After getting up and loading onto the bus, we began our drive to Olympia. Along the way, we stopped at several different sites in different cities. Our first stop was at an ancient castle in Pylos that had been inhabited by the Venetians and then the Ottomans. It was huge! It was right on the Mediterranean Sea and had some beautiful views. From there, drove to Nestor’s Palace (which hasn’t been definitively proven to be Nestor’s palace). Not much remains of the palace, but the foundations and some basic elements. However, archeologists found many tablets and objects inside which provided a lot of information on the palace life and the culture of the time. It is called the palace of Nestor because it clearly belonged to a powerful leader and he was the most powerful ruler known in the area. While there, Dr. Henry read some lines from The Odyssey to really help us get a better feel for the area. Another stop along the way for us was the miniature Eiffel Tower. After a bit more of a drive, we arrived in Olympia just in time to get some work done before dinner and prepare for our day tomorrow.
*insert pics here
Throughout the duration of the course, I have read several different works by several different authors, all with different perspectives on life, virtue, and happiness. Chronologically, we traced the development of justice from Aeschylus to Machiavelli.
In Aeschylus’ The Oresteia, the need for objective justice is exemplified through the family drama surrounding Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Agamemnon’s house, the house of Atreus, has been cursed by the gods because of the actions of several sinful ancestors. There is a definite element of punishing the son for the father’s sin. This in and of itself seems particularly unjust. For generations, Agamemnon’s ancestors have been punished because of the actions of their predecessors. Is this really just, however? Why should someone who has not committed the crime be punished for it? That was only one element of justice with which the Greeks struggled; the other was the idea of retributive justice. In the Greek culture during that time period, justice was “eye for an eye,” which led to a culture of violence. When someone wronged you, you were allowed – and even expected – to pay them back in kind. As a result, true justice was never attained because everyone was trying to get even for injuries done to him or her. Clytemnestra murdered Agamemnon to avenge their daughter Iphigenia, whom he had sacrificed. Orestes murdered his own mother in order to avenge his father. As a result of his actions, the Furies drove Orestes mad as punishment. In order to end the cycle of violence, Athena called a trial on the Areopagus for Orestes. In this trial, he was acquitted for the murder of his mother, the Furies were renamed the Eumenides, and a precedent for trial by jury was set. Furthermore, Aeschylus shows that justice needs to objective, is too important to be determined by one person alone, requires some degree of divine intervention, and answers to a higher power or good of some kind.
In The Trial of Socrates and The Republic, Plato furthers some of the ideas established by Aeschylus. Plato, as Socrates, is particularly concerned with the idea of justice and its proper execution. Contrary to what many of his contemporary Greeks believe, Socrates believes that being just is much more virtuous and advantageous than being unjust. Like Aeschylus, Plato supports the ideas that justice should be objective. Unlike Aeschylus, however, Plato believes that justice itself is the highest good. In The Republic, Socrates says that people should practice justice because it is the third kind of good – a combination of being good on its own and bringing good things to those who practice it. Socrates states that it is better to be punished in body for being just because the soul remains clean than for the soul to be tainted by living unjustly even if it goes unpunished. For Socrates, justice is when everyone does his own share in proper cooperation and coordination with others. He uses the three-part soul as an example of how justice functions internally and externally in a city. When each part of the soul (appetitive, spirited, rational) functions properly but is in subjugation to the appropriate part(s), that is justice. Likewise, justice exists in the city and society. Plato made the move away from retributive and generational justice, but he almost takes it to the extreme. He holds justice in such high esteem that he views it as the supreme good, and he does not really believe that it is subject to any sort of higher good or power.
By the time of Aristotle, however, the view of justice has changed again. In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle relegates justice back to a virtue and elevates happiness to the supreme human end and good. For Aristotle, justice is also objective. Like Socrates and Plato before him, Aristotle does believe that justice is a necessary virtue – especially for the one who desires to habituate him- or herself in all the virtues in order to achieve happiness. He also view justice as a good unto itself and as something that can bring good to the one who practices it. Like Aeschylus, Aristotle does think that justice is subordinate to another superior good, but for Aristotle this good is happiness, not the gods. For Aristotle, all the virtues are important in life. Therefore, justice is a virtue, but it is only one of many.
Augustine, a Christian theologian, also writes about justice and the ideal city. His ideal city, however, is quite different from the one Plato imagines. Augustine’s City of God is spiritual, eternal, currently intermingled with the City of Man, and perfect. Though Augustine deeply respects the pagan philosopher Plato, he does not agree with him on all counts. For Augustine, like Aristotle, justice is an important virtue, but it is one of many important virtues. Though Christians should attempt to be virtuous in all aspects of life, Augustine does not think (contrary to the philosophers who came before) that Christians should spend too much time trying to create the perfect earthly society. Because our loyalty is to God and our hope lies ahead, we should be more focused on the City of God since we are merely pilgrims in the City of Man. Furthermore, Augustine clearly believes that justice is subject to the true God. He is the highest Justice, and, apart from Him, there is no real justice. Due to the fallen state of creation, true justice cannot exist in this world, but we can strive for the purest form of justice possible.
The previous authors all followed a similar line of logic and thought, building off each other and developing new ideas within a related framework. Machiavelli, however, diverges almost entirely from the ideas of his philosophical predecessors and redefines justice to fit his own agenda. Unlike all the philosophers who came before him, Machiavelli does not emphasize or encourage the development of virtue. In fact, he discourages it! For Machiavelli, a ruler should have the appearance of virtue so long as it is beneficial, but he must be able to shed the appearance (or the actual virtue) when it becomes necessary to do so. As a virtue, justice is included in this. For Machiavelli, justice is essentially whatever the man in charge says it is. It is not objective, virtuous, or the supreme good. Justice does, however, answer to a superior power – the ruler. Machiavelli’s philosophy does not allow much room for a god to operate and aims at successfully constraining fortune so that a man may be as successful in life as possible. Like Glaucon and Thrasymachus, Machiavelli does not view justice as a good in and of itself. It is only a good insofar as it can bring good things to him.
Reading and studying each of these authors has inspired me to evaluate my own opinions about justice and virtue. These authors certainly have the power to influence the way I live my life and my practices and habits. The importance of self-evaluation in these matters is necessary in order for one to live a truly examined, productive life.