The author’s description of Constantinople continues the pattern mentioned in my previous post where he tends to write more as a form of entertainment than an actual travel narrative. The city of Constantinople is described in chapter two, “One Way to Jerusalem” because, according to the author, it is a major city europeans must pass through to travel to Jerusalem. The author spends most of the chapter supposedly on the subject of Constantinople, however I say supposedly because a lot of the time he is on a religious tangent that distantly relates to the city. Nevertheless he does provide concrete information. The author tells us that the emperor of Greece usually lives in Constantinople, and briefly describes the emperor’s palace. He gives some history of the Greek empire, mixing this history in with descriptions of local attractions. He also touches on some of the cultural importance and local superstitions of these places, and lists a few other relics and famous bodies buried at Constantinople. He explains what the city physically looks like as well as the geography around it in describing the mountains, listing the islands nearby and including local stories about certain geographical points.
However, the bulk of the chapter is spent on religious information. In the middle of describing the city, the author goes into a tangent about the story of Jesus on the cross. He describes the different forms of wood used to make the cross and why they were used, includes a short story about Adam, and ends with explaining what happened to Jesus on the night he was arrested. While the story distantly relates to Constantinople, it is a weak connection and modern readers would consider it a unrelated inclusion. However, it is apparent that religion is an important subject to the author because he spends another considerable part of the chapter explaining how the religion practiced by citizens of Constantinople, while technically considered Christianity, is different from the normal practices.
The vast amount of time the author spends on the subject of religion, be it the random religious stories or the detailed explanation of why Constantinople christianity is different, reveals the deep importance of religion, and christianity in particular, to the author and the culture he is writing for. Roughly four out of the eight pages spent on Constantinople are actually about religious aspects. On one hand, it is true that the information the author provides about the difference in the practice of Christianity would be helpful for travelers during that time because it would give them an idea of what to expect from a community of people that they identify with. However, the religious stories of Adam and Jesus on the cross really give no necessary information about travel to Constantinople, and these take up most of the religious portion. The lack of legitimate helpful information in this chapter lends to the argument that this book was written more as an piece of entertainment than an actual guidebook or an travel record. The author structured his book to be a form of amusement for a culture in which Christianity and religion was a vital part of daily life.
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