For a person to live a virtuous life, he or she would have to live a life of moral excellence. Socrates best describes living a just life when he writes that every person can live an honorable life if they do their duties skillfully. The epic poem, Beowulf, is a myth about the heroic battles between Beowulf and his opponents. His virtuous life illustrates the values of his Pagan culture and is similar to that of Charlemagne’s life and his values in the Frankish culture. Einhard’s Life of Charles the Great depicts the life of the righteous Charlemagne. Charlemagne, also known as Charles the Great, and Beowulf both portray heroism through armed conflict, while in the story of St. Perpetua, Saints Perpetua and Felicitas are viewed as heroines through martyrdom. Their act of martyrdom shows the values of the Christian culture during the third century. Beowulf, Charlemagne, Perpetua and Felicitas all lived a virtuous
life and their lives reflect the values of Pagan, Frankish, and Christian cultures, respectively.
Charles the Great’s life reflects the values of Frankish culture in three ways. He respects the honor of friendship, believes in leading his people in all aspects of their lives, and most importantly, credits the importance of family relationship. Einhard writes about Charlemagne with the utmost respect and says, “The care that King Charles bestowed upon me in my childhood, and my constant friendship with himself and his children after I took up my abode at court. In this way he strongly endeared me to himself, and made me greatly his debtor as well in death as in life” (Geary, p 282). Here Einhard states that Charlemagne was a close friend to him and for this he is in debt. Another passage that shows Charlemagne’s emphasis on friendship is when the Romans injured Pope Leo III and Charles the Great goes to consult them of the matter. It writes, “The Romans had inflicted many injuries upon the Pontiff Leo, tearing out his eyes and cutting out his tongue, so that he had been compelled to call upon the King for help. Charles accordingly went to Rome, to set in order the affairs of the Church, which were in great confusion, and passed the whole winter there” (Geary, p 293). Here it shows that Charles stayed for the whole winter in Rome to speak to the Romans about hurting Pope Leo. The acts of defending his friend and caring for Einhard are very honorable and show the important aspect of friendship in Frankish culture. Einhard goes on to speak about how Charlemagne led his warriors through battle and even religiously. In the Frankish culture, there is a huge emphasis on the ties between the warrior and the chief. This is portrayed through Charlemagne when Einhard states, “Hence, Italy suffered no great harm in his time at the hands of the Moors, nor Gaul and Germany from the Northmen” (Geary, p 289). Charlemagne made sure his kingdom was well defended and increased. He led battles against the Huns, Saxons, Germans, Frisians, etc. He was well respected by his warriors because through his 47 years of his reign he gained the most territory in Frankish history. The Frankish culture very much assimilated to the Roman culture in different ways. The most important factor in which Frankish culture conformed to Roman culture was through religion. In the same way, Charlemagne became engulfed in Christianity and believed that he had to lead his people in religion. An example of this is when Einhard writes, “Sacred edifices were the object of his care throughout his whole kingdom; and whenever he found them falling to ruin from age, he commanded the priests and fathers who had charge of them to repair them, and made sure by commissioners that his instructions were obeyed” (Geary, p 289). This shows that Charlemagne constantly put money into the church to keep the monasteries maintained in good condition. The most important aspect of the Frankish culture is the importance of family. Charlemagne was said to try to have a good...
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