With reference to any incident in the poem, examine any of following themes: (1) The consequence of pride. (2) The supremacy of God.
CONSEQUENCE OF PRIDE
The consequence of pride; is fall which agrees with the maxim, “pride goes before a fall”. The title of the poem is “The Proud King”. Was the King proud? Yes. Did he fall? Again, yes. How did it happen? King Jovinian was so rich and powerful that he could command his great army to do anything he so desired. No one dared to talk except he permitted it. Hel became, not only influential but so arrogant that he saw himself as God:
Then swelled his vain, unthinking heart
With pride, until at last he raised him up and cried;
“What need have I for temple or for priest
Am I not God…?
The sin of pride has made Jovinian to elevate himself to the status of God. So, it was in his wild thought that he felt asleep, and when he woke, from his golden bed, he had forgotten all his thoughts of being God. He decided to go out to have fun, “
Today, through green woods will we run…
For game and play”.
Then he dressed for this and with his chariot and men, he went for the game. When he rode far into the green, under the scorching sun, he rested under a tree and beyond him, he saw a river where fishes were leaping up and down. He removed his royal robe and went into the river to have a cool bath. He tied his horse on a tree and kept his royal garbs by the bank. Having had enough, he came out only to discover to his surprise that both his garments and horse have disappeared.
Naked, he went into the nearby town, to the house of Range his onetime servant who now was eased in those his kingly robes. King Jovinian begged the porter at the gate of the Ranger’s house (which he had built for him) to let him see the owner of the house, When the gate keeper refused, he forced his way However, the new (fake) king further humiliated him and he ran away, still naked and without food, After a long journey, weak and wearied, he collapsed and people made a spectacle of him. This is captured in these lines:
“Good fellows, this poor creature is but mad
Take him and in a coat let him be clad:
And give him meat and drink… for some day
God pray set his folly right.”
This infuriated Jovinian who stumbled out in anger, cursing the Ranger. On the way, he collapsed “Meanwhile the real king by the road side lay… scarce knowing if he dreamed… down the road, there streamed the glare of touches, field by men who ran before the litter of a mighty man”. Hence, the proud Jovinian met a disgraceful fall.
SUPREMACY OF GOD
The proud king illustrates the supremacy of God. In the poem the lesson one learns is that anyone who challenges God will be humiliated and destroyed just like king Jovinian. He was a wealthy king. He had power, influence and his army did just what he wanted but he failed to recognize the source of his greatness. Instead, he assumed Godship: “What need have I for temple or for priest, Am I not God…?”
But he was soon humiliated as God led him to a riverside where he stripped himself naked, went into the river to swim but coming out, his horse and royal robe had been stolen Naked and hungry; he had gone to his Ranger (servant) who seemingly stole those items. The Ranger had said: “Poor man, I pray God help thee in this thing… for someday God may set his folly right”.
Here was a king who trailed the path of fool hardiness and ended as a living dead. Had he recognized God’s supremacy, things would have been different. Realizing his pettiness and folly, he advised: O kings, think all that ye have got
To be but gawds cast out upon some heap
Aid stolen the while the master was asleep
Thus, God owns everything and gives to whoever as he pleases, therefore we should riot be proud of what we have and are because God is supreme.