The Agony and the Ecstasy
The past is always forgotten, left alone in the dark, a reminiscence among hundreds, until it finally erodes from living memory…But before it vanishes, the past always fights back, in an effort to reclaim its throne. In 15th century Europe, the Church and its preachings of the past were swept away in a tide of change; the clash of these two ideas is shown in The Agony and the Ecstasy. Throughout the movie, Pope Julius II illustrates the values of the Middle Ages through his speech and actions, both of which reflect the ideologies of that time period. The twin values of obedience and punishment lie at the core of the Middle Ages, entwined and inseparable; both are exemplified in Pope Julius II’s actions and words. The Pope demonstrates the concept of obedience, treasured so deeply by the Church, through his actions following the noncompliance of subjects. One example of this is the Pope’s reaction to Michelangelo’s blasphemous sonnet; he immediately rebukes him for his lapse in deference. The Pope’s demand of complete and utter submission to the Church demonstrate the emphasis on unquestioned obedience to the Pope (and likewise to the Church). Another instance is the Pope’s encounter with the French ambassador; the Pope angrily tells him that he will stand no interference from the French king in Church matters. The Pope’s harsh reprimand once again points to the importance of undisputed conformity to the Church’s words; it was a vital segment of their society .The Middle Ages was a time of fear and uncertainty, of conflict in discord; the Church was the backbone of Middle Ages’ society, and kept daily life running as smoothly as possible—but was successful only because the people obeyed. Without obedience, their lives would have come to sudden and abrupt halt. As a Greek playwright put it, “Obedience is the mother of success and is wedded to safety”. The Church thought the same way, and for all the right reasons—it just held on to these...
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