1. How does Montaigne define "barbarism"?
that there is nothing barbarous and savage in this
nation, by anything that I can gather, excepting,
that every one gives the title of barbarism
to everything that is not in use in his own country.
2. How would Montaigne redefine our understanding of the word
savages at the same rate that we say fruit are
wild, which nature produces of herself and by
her own ordinary progress; whereas in
truth, we ought rather to call those wild, whose natures we have changed by
our artifice, and diverted from the common order....
Our utmost endeavors cannot arrive at so much as to
imitate the nest of the least of birds, its
contexture, beauty, and convenience: not so much as
the web of a poor spider.(Montaigne,
3. What, then, according to Montaigne, allows societies of
the New World to surpass the Golden Age?
|These nations then seem to me to be so far
barbarous, as having received but very little form
and fashion from art and human invention, and
consequently to be not much remote from their
original simplicity.... for to my apprehension, what
we now see in those nations, does not only surpass
all the pictures with which the poets have adorned
the golden age,
and all their inventions in feigning a happy state
of man, but, moreover, the fancy and even the wish
and desire of philosophy itself; so native and so
pure a simplicity, as we by experience see to be in
them, could never enter into their imagination, nor
could they ever believe that human society could
have been maintained with so little artifice and
human patchwork. (Montaigne,
4. Describe some of the physical details of the natives way
of life which support Montaigne's contention?
have great store of fish and flesh, that have no
resemblance to those of ours: which they eat
without any other cookery, than plain boiling,
roasting and broiling.
buildings are very long, and of capacity to hold
two or three hundred people, made of the barks
of tall trees...
have wood so hard, that they cut with it, and
make their swords of it, and their grills of it
to broil their meat.
beds are of cotton, hung swinging from the roof,
like our easman's hammocks, every man his own,
for the wives lie apart from their husbands.
rise with the sun, and so soon as they are up,
eat for all day, for they have no more meals but
young men go a-hunting after wild beasts with
bows and arrows; one part of their women are
employed in preparing their drink the while,
which is their chief employment....
shave all over, and much more neatly than we,
without other razor than one of wood or stone.
believe in the immortality of the soul, and that
those who have merited well of the gods, are
lodged in that part of heaven where the sun
rises, and the accursed in the west. (Montaigne,
5. Why, according to Montaigne, do these natives engage in cannibalism?
not do this, as some think, for nourishment... but
as a representation of an extreme revenge
6. Why does he consider this form of cruelty less harsh than
those practiced in 'civilized' Europe?
there is more barbarity in eating a man alive, than
when he is dead; in tearing a body limb from limb by
racks and torments, that is yet in perfect sense; in
roasting it by degrees; in causing it to be bitten
and worried by dogs and swine (as we have not only
read, but lately seen, not among inveterate and
mortal enemies, but among neighbors and
fellow-citizens, and, which is worse, under color of
piety and religion), than to roast and eat him after
he is dead.
7. What is the goal of warfare in tribal society and how does
it differ from the goals of European warfare?
are throughout noble and generous, and carry as much
excuse and fair pretense, as that human malady is
capable of; having with them no other foundation
than the sole jealousy of valor. Their disputes are
for the conquest of new lands, for these
they already possess are so fruitful by nature, as
to supply them without labor or concern, with all
things necessary, in such abundance that they have
no need to enlarge their borders.
neighbors pass over the mountains to assault them,
and obtain a victory, all the victors gain by it is
glory only, and the advantage of having proved
themselves the better in valor and virtue: for they
never meddle with the goods of the conquered, but
presently return into their own country, where they
have no want of anything necessary, nor of this
greatest of all goods, to know happily how to enjoy
their condition and to be content.(Montaigne,