The Elements of a Great Quest – I think that real Quests are very rare in our society, for a number of societal and cultural reasons, and things that are really just minor accomplishments are these days mislabeled as Quests. When in fact they are not Quests at all.
(Or put another way, modern man has developed a totally different definition, and a much more anemic one in my opinion, of “the Quest” than those definitions used in earlier ages to describe a real Quest.)
This then struck me as an extremely interesting article.
On the rim of the Biblical world, in the mountains of Eastern Anatolia to the northwest of Mount Ararat, rises the river Kura. It winds its way into the Kartlian plateau becoming muddy and green, coursing past the ancient stone city of Mtskheta with its eleventh century cathedral, where the mighty river Aragvi increases its volume, then the hilltop monastery of Jvari with its crenelated roof, associated with the introduction of Christianity to the region in the fifth century. The river is framed by dramatically peaked hills covered in the early summer with lavender and wildflowers. It takes several wide bends before coming to the great Caucasus metropolis of Tbilisi with its curious architecture of overhanging upper floor verandas and its great fortress and then it turns to the south east past the city of Rustavi, once charming and rustic, now grim and industrial, before turning to the plain of Shirvan on its final sprint towards the Caspian Sea. It is one of the most hauntingly beautiful places on earth. It cast spells on a generation of Romantic poets—men like Mikhail Lermontov, who was so obsessed with the scenery that he took to painting it in landscapes to escape it. This is the land of Shota Rustaveli—whose name means “lord of Rustavi”—the great medieval poet of the Georgian language. They call him the Georgian national poet. But indeed, there is nothing particularly “national” about Rustaveli. He is more a poet on an endless journey, an inward-bound journey, whose writing points far beyond nations.
The first thing that is bound to strike his reader is that Rustaveli hardly seems constrained by such a narrow view of what constitutes “home.” Rustaveli is a writer of the twelfth century, of the Middle Ages. But his world covers a vast territory—from England to China. It’s hard to understand how a man of this period could have amassed such a prodigious knowledge of the earth, for surely this is not to be found among his contemporaries…