Friday, November 26, 2004

Magellan's Quest

Laurence Bergreen's account of Magellen's expedition to find the fabled passage leading to the Spice Islands, portays Magellan as a man on a divine mission, having been sent by God and the King of Spain. Magellan believed he was God's servant doing God's will and that God was providing for and protecting him along this perilous journey. He believed that eventually God would assist him in achieving his goal. A man on the expedition by the name of Gomez offered a competing vision of the expedition to that of Magellan's. Gomez, in the words of Bergreen, was a "rebellious rationalist" who eventually deserted the the expedition. This conflict of vision occured prior to Magellan discovering the famed passage to the Pacific that now bears his name. If Magellan would have bowed to Gomez' "rationalist" view which called for a return to Spain despite having not achieved the goal of the expedition, Magellan would not have discovered the famed passage way on this expedition. According to Bergreen, "Magellan's skill in negotiating the entire length of the strait is acknowledged as the single greatest feat in the history of maritime expoloration. It was, perhaps, an even greater accomplishment than Columbus's discovery of the New World....."

The theme portayed here reminds us that rejecting and choosing a course contrary to the competing point of view, even one which is "rational" and which offers near term relief from difficult circumstances, can result in great acheivements of historical importance.

As my reading continues and the story unfolds...hints indicate that this great achievement will possibly be tarnished by Magellan's failures of judgement or character. I'll post my disoveries.....


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