Business 2 Lesson 70 Assignment – Making A WordPress Website, Part 10

My assignment was to share the new website I created for my business class. The site is dedicated to spreading the word about the Ron Paul Curriculum. If you’d like to take a look, click here!

English 2 Lesson 180 | End-Of-The-Year Term Paper

Assignment: This is the final week of English 2. You must write a 1,000-word term paper.

Here is the topic: “Are Boccaccio’s Decameron and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales closer in outlook to Greek and Roman literature than they are to Hebrew, Christian, and medieval literature?”


Boccaccio’s Decameron and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are both prime examples of Early Renaissance Literature. These books are a collection of short stories reminiscent of folklore and fairytales. It is debated whether they are truly Christian, or secular, or pagan. An important event caused a cultural shift in Western society between the end of the Middle Ages and the start of the Renaissance: the Black Death. Nothing like this had ever devastated Europe. It caused a loss of a third of the population and a subsequent loss of faith in law and ethics. God’s law was replaced in favor of secular ‘reason’.

In Boccaccio’s account of the bubonic plague that swept across Europe in the fourteenth century, he writes that it was either sent by “celestial bodies” or God. It is for the reader to decide whether to believe in astrology, God, or somehow, both- which was a perfectly reasonable solution for many in the Early Renaissance. Boccaccio simply lists the options but does not supply an opinion-a reflection of the dual nature of the Renaissance. Both religious and civil law were abandoned by many, or at least not strictly enforced.

In the Decameron, the purpose of storytelling was to entertain a group of characters and allow them to let go of their problems. For ten days, nobles in countryside self-isolation told each other stories, with no conclusion on their future lives, careers, or relationships. They rely on invoking God and “Reason”. Canterbury Tales, written 39 years later in 1392, follows a similar format to the Decameron, where a series of novellas are told by a group of storytellers. In Canterbury Tales, travelers on a pilgrimage to a sacred place would win nothing more than a free meal for telling the stories (so again, for entertainment).


Key themes of Early Renaissance Literature are present in both of the two books. The main takeaway from the books is an inconsistent worldview. The stories do not settle anything of philosophical importance. Sovereignty is unclear, because of the dual nature of the Renaissance where people remained Catholic but also embraced many secular philosophies.

The storytelling characters invoke God, but then say authority over certain events belongs to other powers, like astrology, “Fate”, “Fortune”, “Chance” and “Reason”. Whether or not this is purely artistic or a true reflection of people’s beliefs is unclear, but based on the context it is genuine. A particular story invoke the Virgin Mary, like Middle Age literature might. There is no discussion of the future in the books, unlike the afterlife-conscious life promoted by medieval, Hebrew, and Christian literature. Consequences aren’t considered as important in the books, because many crucial events of the characters’ lives were up to “Chance” or “Fate”. Secondly, there is an anti-Church message. Not against the Catholic Church as a concept, but the current state of it. According to the Decameron, monasteries and clergy members are no better than the rest of society, so they don’t deserve any authority. Both books seek to expose the corrupt nature of the religious leaders. There is an evident re-establishment of secular values, as were present during ancient Greek and Roman times.

In both the Decameron and Canterbury Tales, there is focus on the present. For example, in the Decameron, there is no description of the outcome of their decision to move into an abandoned mansion to get away from the plague in Florence. Those ten days of fun mattered, nothing more. Presumably, the intended audience did not care and this is all they wanted to hear, to be entertained. There is no explanation of the future. Florence recovered from the black plague in real life as we can see today, but this is not mentioned in the book. In the Middle Ages and previously, there was great importance put on life after death and how people’s lifestyles would affect their future and God’s judgment of them. God’s judgment was a major theme of medieval literature.

Early Renaissance literature mainly focused on political and worldly fame. Medieval literature, on the other hand, focused on piety, inspired by earlier Christian literature. 

In Biblical (or Hebrew and Christian) literature, God is established as having total sovereignty over creation, and he controls and interacts with it. This is a fundamental idea in the Bible, from the very first verse of Genesis. Two other fundamental themes are the inheritance of God’s kingdom and succession. His judgment extends into the future, beyond history. In short, the future holds great importance in Biblical literature. God’s protection and guidance are assured (Psalms 23:1), and His ethical sanctions are described as clear, just, and righteous. Biblical literature offers secure confidence in authority.

The same can not be said for Roman and Greek literature, due to both of the two religions being polytheistic. While Zeus (later called Jupiter in Roman religion) is often referred to as the leader of Olympus, other deities are portrayed as more powerful in specific situations, so there is no coherent sense of sovereignty in Greek and Roman literature. Sanctions from the gods were unpredictable. In Roman literature, Fate was in charge of history, not Zeus or any other Olympians. The Greek and Roman gods were bad models of behavior and committed unethical acts. A individual’s ethics had consequences historically, but only sometimes, because the gods did not have consistent ethical laws. In Roman religion there are groups of gods with opposing law sets, the furies and Olympians. Greece was never unified, and their localized gods weren’t either.

A particular trait that early Renaissance literature has in common with Roman and Greek literature is that one authority could be called sovereign, but in particular situations, another power will be in control (like “Fate”, for example.)

Oaths are described as dangerous and hold great significance in both Greek and Roman stories and the two books in question. Making an oath was also a significant action in medieval, Hebrew, and Christian literature, so in this one instance, the two books can technically fall under both outlooks.


The two books do recognize God. In this way, they are similar to Medieval, Christian, and Hebrew literature. Yet, there is a negative view of the state of the Catholic church present in both books, unlike literature from previous eras that idolize Church life. And like Greek and Roman literature, there is a lack of absolute sovereignty from any one power even though God is given respect in the books. Secular values and focus on enjoying the present are featured in both the books in question, rather than consequences for the future. The outlook of the future between these books and previous Christian literature is drastically different.

We must take into consideration that this was after the Black Death, which caused a major shift in society leading to new Renaissance values. Characters in the stories do not follow moral laws and their unethical decisions are randomly rewarded. Therefore I must conclude that the two books in question are closer in outlook to Greek and Roman literature.

Western Civilization Lesson 180 – Week 36 Review

Writing assignment: Answer both of the following questions.

(1) What do you think is the central point of the essay you read by Mario Vargas Llosa?

The essay “Questions of Conquest” offers compelling insight into a historical time that is shrouded in myths for many people. Unlike North American tribes, the Aztecs, Incas, and Peruvians had strong and sophisticated civilizations. Yet, they were defeated by small groups of Spaniards. Llosa’s essay explains how such advanced people were defeated so easily in comparison, and the central point was to show how the values of the civilization caused their downfall, something not often discussed.

Before this, I’d like to mention some of the other factors that helped the astoundingly outnumbered Spaniards. The Aztecs were conquered in 1519 by Hernan Cortez with only 1,200 soldiers and 16 horses. The Inca Empire was conquered by only 187 men and 27 horses. The Spaniards attacked during a war over the throne, and their guns and horses, never before seen, terrified Incan soldiers, so they had the element of surprise in their favor. A similar situation happened during the Aztec conquest.

But, even this would not be enough to explain their easy defeat. The Aztecs were not primitive, but they were not a free society either. Same for the Incans. All the people in these civilizations, rich or poor, depended on the emperor and his traditions. They were so regulated and kept in line that once their leaders were eliminated, they just “let themselves get killed” (Mario Vargas Llosa). They were rather like ants in an anthill. On the other hand, the Europeans had individuality and could voice their opinions, even morally opposing their society. The fragile power of these civilizations rested on the state religion and the emperor’s life. In a society where independent thinking is not encouraged, when commands from leaders are cut off, there will be chaos. This is evident in these historical events.

(2) What is the truth of the matter regarding the claim that people in the Middle Ages thought the earth was flat?

Due to myths spread by popular media and even school textbooks, the general public is given an incorrect view of the story of Columbus’s travels. The popular- but false- belief is that Columbus was discouraged from sailing, because people in the Middle Ages thought that the earth was flat and he would sail right off. In reality, this was not true at all. Reputable scholars today have stopped promoting this myth, but some texts still do.

The myth began in the 19th century, and there are a few reasons why it became so widespread. One reason is that people tendto believe admired writers without checking their references. Another reason is that one may be biased to think that Christendom was “backwards”, making the myth sound accurate even if it simply wasn’t. The historians who popularized the myth relied on secondary sources and flat-out lies. One historian, Washington Irving, portrayed a romanticized version of Columbus by including fictional events in his historical account. Another, Antoine-Jean Letronne, claimed that the majority of the population in the Middle Ages were flat-earthers. The myth-creators usually cited two ancient Greek writers, Lactantius and Cosmas, (if anyone), but the problem with this is that those texts were never translated until after the Age of Discovery, so no one had read them before. Certainly not in Columbus’ era. The idea of a spherical earth was central to scholarly thought, even in the Middle Ages. In fact, some scholastics were criticized during the Middle Ages for being too deeply captivated by the ideas of Aristotle.

The actual reason Columbus was discouraged was that there was concern from leaders that it would take so long to get to Asia that the sailors would run out of food, underestimating the circumference of the earth. Their only “error” was thinking that there was just ocean between Europe and Asia, not knowing about the Americas yet.

Western Civilization Lesson 175 Assignment – Week 35 Review

Writing assignment:

(1) How were the ideas of Marsilius of Padua evident in Louis of Bavaria’s conflict with Pope John XXII?

Marsilius was a philosopher who allied with Louis of Bavaria in the conflict with Pope John XXVI. In 1314, two groups elected both Louis of Bavaria and Frederick the Fair as kings. Pope John refused to make either of them the Holy Roman emperor and made a political claim for the papacy to rule instead. Louis won against Frederick and refused to come to Pope John in papal court to surrender his titles, so he was excommunicated in 1324– but none of the pope’s threats were taken seriously. After encouragement from his allies, Louis went to Rome to have the people crown him emperor, joined by two philosophers, Marsilius and John of Jardin. The Romans despised the Avignon Papacy (popes in France), so they welcomed Louis and crowned him. The pope had no regard for the pope’s threat of interdict, though in the past that would have been taken very seriously. Louis called for an assembly, then promptly removed and replaced the pope.

Marsilius of Padua believed that the pope should have no authority in secular matters like politics and the state. In fact, he believed the pope should have no authority whatsoever, even in the church. These ideas are is evident in the outcome of the conflict, where the monarch was victorious over the pope and people disregarded the pope’s orders and threats.

(2) What can we say about the condition of the Catholic Church on the eve of the Protestant Reformation?

While there were certain individuals from this time that served as examples of ‘pious’ living, the Catholic Church overall was deteriorating. Popular interest (from the public) in going to Mass and regular attendance declined, and there was far more attraction to dramatic and extravagant events. This included High Masses, Feast Days, processions, and pilgrimages, not to mention showy preachers who attracted large crowds. People followed extremes and superstition, with a particular devotion to saints and and astrology. Religious beliefs contradicted with actions, because there was tremendous cruelty in war and priests refused to give mercy to people sentenced to death. The religious leaders and clergy themselves were mixed when it came to moral conduct, but there were a many corrupt, money- and power-hungy churchmen. There was widespread ignorance and absenteeism (church leaders abandoning their post, only collecting the salary.) Surprisingly, there was no theological training or instructions for Church officials, not even seminaries.

(3) Discuss the three key developments in the process of political centralization in Spain. We’ll discuss the age of discovery more next week, and ask questions about it then.

Spain was conquered by the Muslims and after 800 years, the Spaniards were able to win it all of it back. Spain was a collection of small kingdoms, not a truly unified country, until the late 15th century, when it became centralized. Centralization is significant in Spanish history as it gave leaders the confidence to venture overseas and explore. The first of the three key developments is that the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile were combined. The heiress of Castile, Isabella, married the heir of Aragon, Ferdinand. They choose to rule their lands together and unite their kindgoms. Through this, they were able to create a strongly centralized government, which also meant towns and the Church lost some of their independence.

Secondly, there was the conquest of Granada and the subsequent end of the reconquista. Granada was that last Muslim Moor city in Spain, and was required to send annual tribute to Castile. One year they stopped paying tribute, and Isabella and Ferdinand had wanted to take control of the city, so the rulers sent soldiers to destroy the farmland and agriculture. Spain took over for ten years, but then the official siege of Granada began in 1491. Granada surrendered, but only on peaceful conditions where they accept Spain’s sovereignty yet have some freedoms.

The third key development was the Spanish Inquisition and the state policies that followed it. During Holy Week in 1478, King Ferdinand began the Inquisition. The Inquisition was only meant to interrogate converters to Catholicism, not those who stuck with their beliefs. There had long been resentment of Marrano Jews and Morisco Muslims in Spain, so they would publicly convert just to be accepted, but then secretly continue with their original religious beliefs. Unrelated state policies targeted Jews and Muslims as well, like one in 1492 that forced all unconverted Jews to be expelled from the country. The Muslims were treated similarly and persecuted, which violated the treaty of Granada, causing many Muslims to leave Spain. The Spanish rulers believed that religious unity would strengthen Spain and in the case of the Inquisition, they were concerned that there were people converting insincerely in order to gain something in society or to maintain a successful career.

Biology Lesson 170 Essay: Antagonistic Pairs of Muscles

It is said that all muscles are grouped in antagonistic pairs. What does this mean? Is it literally true that they are antagonistic to each other? How is it true, and in what ways is it not true?

In biology, the term “antagonistic” means that one component cancels the effects of another, which is not literally true in this case. An antagonistic pair of muscles do not actually cancel each other out, but they do work in opposites, hence the name. They counterbalance each other to make sure the other muscle does not go to far, and when one works, the other rests.

One example of how these pairs work are two of the arm muscles. The bicep and tricep are an antagonistic pair because they help the arm with endurance by giving each other a short break to avoid tiring too easily. When the bicep relaxes, the tricep contracts, and vice versa.

All muscles create motion in the body through contraction, and most of them work in antagonistic pairs to increase flexibility and endurance, as well as create motion in more than one direction. A better way to describe antagonistic muscles is that they work in harmony and assist each other.

Reference: RPC Biology and

English 2 Lesson 170 Essay

Write 500 words on this topic: “Do you think that the old man in the Pardoner’s Tale was death?”

The Pardoner’s Tale is a story from Geoffrey Chaucer’s famous work of literature, Canterbury Tales. Out of the three stories from this book that I have read so far, this one contains the most symbolism. Chaucer uses this story to expose pardoners and the oblivious people who buy indulgences from them as foolish, by comparing them to obviously sinful people.

First, here is a quick description of the plot of the Pardoner’s tale. The introduction is important because it sets up the ironic nature of the story. In the introduction, the Pardoner shamelessly reveals the corrupt nature and false preaching of his trade. The story begins by describing the type of people the three main characters are. These young men are sinful, they gamble, break oaths, and seek personal gain above all else. They make a vow of brotherhood to kill Death, which is plaguing the lands.

They venture off and come across an old man. The astounded three ask him how he could be so withered and yet still live. The old man explains that “death will not take him”, and he has wandered the world longing to exchange his old age for death. The three dishonorable men accuse the old man of being a spy for death and demand that he reveal death’s location. He wishes them the best and asks God to protect them, and that is the last that is seen of him in the tale. The men go to the tree where the old man said death can be found, and find bushels of money. They break their vow, and split up. The two eldest plot to kill the younger and split the money while the younger plans to kill the other two and take it all for himself. Both of the plans work and they end up killing each other. After finishing the story, the Pardoner advertises his services, clearly motivated by the same greed as the three men were.

The three men did, in a way, find death. They broke their sacred vow and did not achieve any of their goals. They intended to defeat death, not succumb to it, but the point of the story was that greed and sin are what led them to ruin.

Of all the characters in this story, the old man’s intentions are the most mysterious and vague. This character could easily be disregarded as a plot device to advance the story onward. He is a polite, kind person, even though the three men who accused him of being death’s ally. He tells them where they will find death, just as they demanded, but whether or not it brought him personal gain is not said. His identity is disputed, but there are points for and against the theory that he represents death. He has no name, and his age is one of the only definite things about him.

There is one sign that the old man could have been death. He told the three men to go to the tree, and he could have been death himself, springing a trap for them with the bushels of money, so that they would kill each other over the wealth. But he is never brought up again in the story and there is no evidence that the three men dying would help him with his personal goal, which is, to die.

Another theory is that the old man symbolizes Jesus Christ. The only logical reason for this is that he is wise and offers advice from scripture, but I don’t think that is enough evidence. Offering wisdom, while certainly a characteristic of Jesus, is not his only trait. There are no other noticeable correlations with the character and Jesus.

I doubt that a character compared to both death and Jesus at the same time could be either one. It is certainly possible he is death in human form, but the story never confirms this. I will conclude that I disagree, simply because I cannot be certain he is death. My opinion is that he is portrayed as a wise old man who reflects on the selfishness and greed of youth, and foreshadows the reasons for the three young men’s upcoming demise. His involvement in the story may just be to move the characters along and reach the moral of the story- that greed and gluttony leads to downfall.

Western Civilization Lesson 170 Essay – Weekly Review

Writing assignment:

(1) Discuss the rise and fall of Girolamo Savonarola.

Savonarola was a Dominican friar who gathered quite the following during the Renaissance through his preaching. His career came to an abrupt end after backlash from the pope and other leaders. He preached strongly against the current Church and clergy, accusing them of corruption and sin, and against the current rulers of Florence, the Medici family. He preached against the ideas of the Renaissance entirely. He feared that honoring non-Christian culture, sensuality, pagan practices, and emphasis on fame and individuality, were making people lack focus on God.

He created a list of rules and guidelines for his followers and had “bonfires of vanity”, where people would come and destroy their treasured objects, fineries, and pagan or secular manuscripts. While he was a bit eccentric, he influenced even the most admired Renaissance thinkers, like Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Della Mirandola.

Angering the papacy, which held some political influence, he cheered on the French in interfering with Italian politics. His career began to decline when the pope forbade him to preach and excommunicated him, but Savonarola continued anyway. People became concerned that he would bring back the Great Western Schism by calling for a different pope to be elected.
Pope Alexander VI threatened the people of Florence with an interdict to get rid of Savonarola. His remaining supporters turned against him, disappointed that he would not go through a trial by fire to prove divine grace from God, as he had promised. He was imprisoned and executed in 1498.

(2) Discuss the Italian War of 1494-1498.

Milan was the strongest of all the Italian city-states. While it was officially a republic, the political system was changing to despotism, ruled by a single person. Each of the Italian city-states had influence, strengths, and weaknesses, so they would fight with each other. Italian War began when the French King Charles VIII attempted to claim Naples from the Spanish. Ludovico Sforza, the despot of Milan, encouraged him because he would rather let Naples go the Charles.

Charles conquered Naples in 1494, but then he wanted to continue through Italy and take Milan as well, which Sforza had not foreseen. Milan allies with the Holy Roman Empire after regretfully allowing Charles into Italy. Now, both France and the Holy Roman Empire continuously intervened in Italy for control, creating chaos.

(3) Discuss some of the significant aspects of the reign of Louis XI.

The most memorable aspect of Louis XI was his fixation with centralizing France. He was absolutely committed to this task, hoping to give France the strength it needed after so many years of war. Early on, he demanded that people pay their debts to their lords, including himself. While Louis was a pious man and seemed to be a sincere Catholic, he could be brutal with threats when needed. Representatives from 500 noble families allied in a league of rebellion against Louis, formed by his own brother, Charles, the duke of Burgundy.

Louis was forced to make a compromise, and gave the area of Normandy to Charles. He managed to regain it, so there was not much of a win on Charles’s part. By the 1470s, Louis had achieved his goal to centralize the French government. He had defeated the rebellious barons, so their successors were afraid of him.

English 2 Lesson 165 Essay

Write 500 words on this topic: “Which do you think was more gripping to read? His account of the plague or his stories?”

The Decameron is a work of literature written during the Renaissance by Giovanni Boccaccio. It is composed of one hundred stories, tied together by the book’s plot where seven young women and three young men quarantine from the Black Death in a luxurious countryside estate. They tell one another stories about merchants, priests, underdogs, and nobles, to name a few, and generally have loads of fun while people are dying in the streets.

He, meaning Boccaccio, begins the book with a detailed account of the state of Florence, Italy, during the Black Death, before the ten main characters are introduced and the storytelling begins. In fact, this description of the Black Death, in an otherwise completely fictional book, is one of the most referenced historical accounts of the Black Death, referred to as “the pestilence” in the book. This infamous bubonic plague marked the cultural transition from the Medieval Ages to the Renaissance.

The plague account helps show how and why people lost faith in features of Catholicism, like traditional morals, and instead turned to more humanistic and Greek-inspired ideas during the Renaissance. This, in turn, helps explain a few odd aspects of the following stories.

Over half of the stories contains explicit or inappropriate material but none of those stories were assigned. Modern scholars consider the Decameron’s stories overall to be bawdy. It was intended to appeal to low-class taste, it seems, even though only the rich elite would have owned books at the time.

The stories told by the characters were interesting in their own way because they had imaginative qualities, but the plots seemed flawed and were hard to be taken seriously. The characters are given very convenient opportunities, chalked up to fortune’s or fate’s blessing. Frankly, that is only an issue because Boccaccio states that the characters used ‘reason’ to tell them- implying that the stories are rational or logical, which are not adjectives that come to mind when reading. The first character invokes the deity or power of ‘reason’ to guide their storytelling, yet there is little rhyme or reason to the plot of the stories. The issue I have with the book is that it’s too pretentious considering the actual content of the stories.

The stories’ plots offered additional examples into Renaissance thinking and beliefs, but the plague account had more substance and believability. Without the context about the plague in the introduction, the stories would have seemed even more ridiculous.

I would say that Boccaccio’s account of the Black Death was more compelling than the stories in the selection I read. That may be partially due to the year in which I am writing this. The account showed detailed insight into the effects of the plague on Florence and a glimpse into the tragedy of everyday people’s lives, minus one or two dry paragraphs. The stories had dry parts too, anyway.

With the account, the Decameron provides an explanation of why and how people’s worldviews changed after the plague. And, without that sort of context, the characters’ reasoning for moving out to the country to enjoy themselves would not have made as much sense.
I usually prefer imaginative stories over historical accounts, but the Decameron’s stories just didn’t cut it. In summary, some of the stories were amusing at the very least, but the plague account was more “gripping” to read.

Western Civilization Lesson 165 Essay

What were some of the problems associated with the Renaissance papacy?

During the Renaissance, many of the popes lost sight of the original intentions of the papacy, that is, to guide Catholic Christians as the head of the church. There was a need for reform within the church, but many of the popes were distracted by their own problems.

One of these problems was focusing too much on political affairs. Nicholas V was particularly concerned with the state of Italian politics. Pope Innocent III had an almost ‘political’ election, promising power to his electors. After all the church turmoil before the Renaissance, some cities and individuals usurped power from the papacy, and could not be stopped by the threat of excommunication. Popes won back property through the use of war and diplomacy, and both of these became associated with the papacy.

Art and scholarly pursuits are not necessarily bad things, but they caused an issue for popes who detected too much time to them. Nicholas V, who was involved with politics, also focused on the arts, ignoring the need for Church reform. He requested translations of manuscripts and began the Vatican library collection, and his vision for Rome was to be the center of literature and the arts. Pope Leo X is associated with this problem, as he was so dedicated to cultivating the arts that he was unaware of needed church reforms.

Nicholas V was also a humanist, like several other popes. They made strange choices in regards to appointing church members, and chose to work with scholars who were not necessarily religious, which was a problem. An exception to this was pope Paul II, who had concerns that humanism and secular interest in ancient Greece and Rome were becoming a danger to the church. Alexander VI is a model of degeneracy in the papacy. He unashamedly had romantic affairs and children (popes are supposed to be celibate, so this was against their required moral conduct).

Even if the popes were pious before being elected, they were sometimes unprepared to deal with wealth and power. Many of the popes, most notably Sixtus IV and Callixtus III, were guilty of nepotism. This was where popes would give church positions to their friends and family simply because they wanted to give them power, not because they were actually qualified for the job.

In conclusion, some popes were humble, others were not, but they more or less ignored the issues within the Church in favor of personal affairs.

We normally think of three people in particular as having been the key artists of the High Renaissance. Who were they? Discuss one major work from each.

The High Renaissance was a short era in art history, but it is remembered for having the greatest and most talented artists of the Renaissance. Historians think of Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Raphael as the three greatest artists of the High Renaissance. Artifacts and masterpieces from the Classical era were studied by these three key artists as inspiration, particularly by Michelangelo.

Raphael was a talented painter who sadly lived a short life, from 1483-1508. He made many portraits, including self-portraits, and created a total of 50 Madonnas (paintings of Jesus’ mother, Mary.) Pope Julius III, a classical arts collector, commissioned him to decorate two rooms with frescoes. One of these frescoes is the ‘School of Athens’. This detailed work of art portrays Classical philosophy and features Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, among many others. It is a great example of the Renaissance emphasis of classical culture and perspective.

The School of Athens - by Raphael

Leonardo da Vinci had a vast range of interests, from anatomy and botany to engineering and of course the arts. He studied all these topics with the belief that painters must know them to master realism. There are only ten paintings that are confirmed to be his. Many know of his painting the Mona Lisa, but his lesser-known paintings, like Last Supper, are also considered masterpieces.

Michelangelo was a sculptor at heart, yet also also highly skilled in painting and poetry. The Pope wanted an extravagantly decorated tomb with 40 figures, but Michelangelo was only able to make three, never completing the project for unknown reasons. After that, he was commissioned by pope Julius again, this time to paint the ceiling of the Sistine chapel. Michelangelo protested, as painting (particularly on a ceiling) was not what he wanted to do. He started quickly, wanting to get back to sculpting, but it took 4 years to complete.

In his sculptures, there is an emphasis and focus on ‘man’, or the human figure without a detailed landscape, leaving the focus entirely on how realistic the figures are. The Pieta, carved from a single piece of marble, is called the “most beautiful work of marble in Rome” and it depicts the mother of Jesus holding her dead son.

Pietà (Michelangelo) - Wikipedia

Biology Lesson 160 Essay – The Importance of Osmosis in the Kidneys

You learned about osmosis early on in this course. Why is osmosis essential to the function of the kidneys?

The kidneys are a pair of organs whose most well-known purpose is to remove wastes and excess materials from the body, but they also carry out many other crucial processes. For this essay, I’m going to focus on how the kidneys equip osmosis and what functions it is used for. The kidney is organized into basic units known as nephrons, which are comprised of tubules that wind up and down and exchange materials, and capillaries.

Osmosis is the process in which fluid (such as water) moves across a semi-permeable membrane, where the fluid of a lower concentration of solutes moves freely to the side with fluid of a higher concentration of solutes. Basically, the fluid of a higher concentration is ‘bound’ by the solutes and does not pass to the other side, while the low-concentrate fluid can move easily. Through osmosis, the kidneys can transport water to where it is needed.

The kidneys use osmosis to filter blood and regulate its concentrations of solutes, which is then purified and sent back to the rest of the body. The remaining filtrates in the kidneys are removed as urine leaving the body. The concentration of solutes, or osmolarity, increases near the bottom, and the innermost part of the kidney, a portion known as the medulla.

Through a process known as osmoregulation, the kidneys regulate the osmotic balance of salt and water.

A nephron contains the bowman’s capsule, proximal tubule, loops of Henle, distal tubule, and the adrenal cortex, which also all play a part in the process of osmoregulation. 

The bowman’s capsule’s job is to filter large molecules out of the mix of water and solutes, leaving a highly concentrated filtrate. After the filtrate leaves the bowman’s capsule, it goes through the rest of the nephron for reabsorption of necessary substances until only the urine is left.

Loop of Henle goes up and down within the nephron; the descending part allows water to pass through, while the ascending part allows the salt to pass through and get removed from the filtrate. The kidney can control the ‘osmotic grade’ of blood, keeping the levels of salt and water normal, reabsorbing those into the capillaries when necessary. 

In conclusion, osmosis is essential to the kidneys in filtering blood, maintaining fluid pressure and balance (osmoregulation), and removing toxins. Without osmosis, the kidneys and therefore the entire body can not function properly.