Honors English 10: Mythology vs. Science

I wrote this compare and contrast essay about the short story Damon and Pythias and a scientific milestone for my English class a few weeks ago. It was written for the seminars at the end of third term. I hope you enjoy.

Damon and Pythias is a Greek myth simply about friendship. These two noble young men lived in the city of Syracuse on an island in Sicily. It is said these two men were highly regarded as the two closest companions in the city and the citizens admired because of this. In the city of Syracuse, citizens were very loyal to each other. Nobody was ever suspicious of dishonor or unfaithfulness. However, Syracuse was ruled by a malevolent tyrant, Dionysius. His power was earned on account of his treachery. He flaunted his power and acted cruelly to his own subject. “This tyrant, Dionysius, was so unjustly cruel that once, when he awoke from a restless sleep during which he dreamt that a certain man in the town had attempted to kill him, he immediately had that man put to death” (Russell 102).

Pythias was unreasonably accused by Dionysius for trying to “overthrow” him. Pythias is condemned to death by the paranoid king. Although he tried to prove his innocence over the situation, Pythias was at a loss of hope. Pythias asked for a granted few days to take care of business affairs and meetings with his family. However, Dionysius simply didn’t believe his whereabouts upon returning so he made a deal with him. Pythias would have to leave someone to take his place as a hostage who would be sentenced to death if he did not return in due time. Damon was the first person Pythias thought of thus bringing the bulk of the story.

Damon willingly became captivated under Dionysius’s rule. Although his arrival could be late, Damon trusted Pythias with all that he had and vice versa. Dionysius had asked if Damon was afraid of his destined execution and Damon simply said, “There is no need for me to feel afraid, O King, since I have perfect faith in the word of my true friend, and I know that he will certainly return before the appointed time”unless of course, he dies or is held captive by some evil force…” (Russell 104). The day Pythias was to return, Damon was tied up in the courtyard of the palace ready for the initiation of execution. As a true friend would act, Pythias sprinted through the crowd of townspeople to save his loyal friend, Damon. As the deal was planned, the sentence was canceled. So it ends the story of Damon and Pythias, a story of trust and life friendship.

Damon and Pythias demonstrated true friendship as well as the true theme, taking risks. Knowing he could die with the operated deal, Damon risked his own life to save his friend Pythias. Damon showed bravery towards Pythias’ decision which transitions into an insightful story of how Dr. Barry Marshall risked his life to discover how peptic ulcers are cured. As an Australian, Dr. Marshall enrolled at the University of Western Australia where he finished his medical studies in 1974. As the years progressed, Dr. Marshall noticed many patients with bleeding stomach ulcers. Helicobacter pylori (pH 2) was the chemical known to have caused these bleeding ulcers.

Dr. Marshall was intrigued and decided to create a hypothesis and experiment on how to cure these ulcers. With countless testing, Dr. Marshall believed the ulcers could simply be cured with antibiotics. His colleague and friend Dr. Warren even felt that Dr. Marshall’s statement was absurd. “Everyone was against me, but I knew I was right” (Marshall). With such confidence and persistence, Dr. Marshall resolved the experiment by drinking the pH 2 solution and enduring pain and correctly calculated symptoms of stomach ulcers. In two weeks due time and being heavily medicated, Dr. Marshall was cured. He was absolutely right about curing ulcers in such a simple yet sufficient way. In 2005, Dr. Barry Marshall was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize for his discovery of ulcer treatment.

These two important stories connect primarily with each other and to the second term’s theme, Man on the Edge: Taking Risks. In Damon and Pythias, Damon risked his life just to protect his friend Pythias. Knowing he could have been executed had Pythias not arrived, Damon still trusted the well being of his dear friend and the risk was worth taking. Dr. Barry Marshall also took a risk worth taking. He was absolutely convinced antibiotics cured bleeding stomach ulcers. The most dangerous yet effective way he proved his point was by drinking a chemically induced acid which deteriorated the lining of his stomach. However, he was cured by the antibiotics over the course of two weeks. He discovered that ulcers can be fatal if they aren’t treated correctly. Dr. Marshall risked his life to discover what is now considered a milestone in the medical field. Damon and Dr. Marshall are alike in the sense of putting their lives in danger to save a friend, or to discover treatment. All in all, Damon and Pythias and Dr. Barry Marshall are men whom went on the edge of taking risks that are worth taking.
Posted on May 10th, 2008 at 09:10pm


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