In the traditional tale of Columbus�s journey to America he is
presented as a modern scientific man who stood against the religious
superstition of the past. He, so the story goes, was a great hero who
expanded European influence throughout the world.
In this first essay, I want you to compare and contrast a traditional
narrative of Columbus�s motivations to a more modern scholarly
treatment of Columbus. In this essay I want you to summarize both
arguments and examine the evidence used to make the arguments. Be
sure to give detail on the argument and the evidence
There are misconceptions and misplaced ideology, facts, and theory when considering the
two accounts of the traditional tale of Columbus and the modern scholarly treatment of
Columbus. Based on a historical perspective, it can be deduced that Columbus immensely
contributed to the expansion of Europe through his discovery of the Western Hemisphere. This
has spiked heated debate on the motive of Columbus’ discovery from the traditional and modern
scholarly points of view. In this relation, this essay will explicitly compare and contrast the two
accounts, giving a detailed account of events and how they unfolded.
Comparison and Contrast
Modern scholars claim that traditional narrative buries the truth in the engagement of
Columbus political and religious power. According to the modern scholar, they claim the motive
of Columbus in the exploration of the new world the search of power and conquest. This is
unlike the traditional narrative which presents Columbus as a Christ-bearer. Moreover, it can be
seen that the exploration of Columbus could be based on his quest for power, when he refers to
the local as naïve and ignorant, not aware of a sword. This elaborates the act of power that the
voyage of Columbus was initiated for in their exploration. The traditional narrative pictured the
motive of Columbus as brining a new era in Christianity, opening a new dimension in religion
and bringing the connection between the Khan and the Islamic.
Subsequently, considering the language that Columbus uses in his account to interact
with the local indigenous community, it is a clear indication that the motive, according to the
modern scholar, was basically the urge to gain power. Columbus refers to them as ignorant,
subjugate and servants. Such an attribute cannot be termed as Christiania or heroic but rather as
that of a conqueror.
Modern scholars provide a contrasting view of the motive of Columbus voyage to
America. His discovery of the new world cannot be viewed on the ground of liberation or
Christianity as the traditional narrative explains. But rather the primary motive according to the
modern scholars was to immerse wealth for himself (Hamdani, 1979). America had a reputation
was for the rich and those who sought wealth and valuable goods. This was claimed to be
Columbus’ chief motive in his voyage of the new world. This opposes the traditional narrative
which claimed that his sail to the ocean blue was based on intrinsic good.
The traditional narrative failed to give an account of slavery and violence that Columbus
practices during his exploration. This is contrary to the modern scholar who accounts for the
violence and slavery the Columbus bestowed on the local natives. According to Hamdani (1979),
Columbus’ motive is depicted as that of encircling the Islamic land. Through the Christendom
that revolves around the recovery of Jerusalem, he hopes to offer a new era through which new
sign and hope are reviewed. Although Columbus’ era can be viewed as traditional, his medieval
faith impelled him to bring a new solution to the Christian faith. In the view of the traditional
narrative accounts, Christopher is the Christ-bearer of the regenerated Europe (Hamdani, 1979).
However, the modern scholar holds a diverging view on the motive and attribute that the
traditional narrative envisages on Columbus.
Columbus is centered as the first to create interest in the new discovery and the
tremendous profit from reaching new region and marking new discovery in human history. The
controversy surrounding Columbus can be attributed to his motive and delegation in exploring
the West. Some scholars have argued differently, bringing different ideologies into play to
indicate the cause and motivation of Columbus in influencing history. Moreover, comparing the
discovery of Columbus to the modern historical view of the world can be seen to envisage
different ideas and motives. The traditional narrative gives a heroic account of Columbus
through his discovery and brings to light new discovery and information that was unknown to
many. His discovery is viewed to be significant in influencing different historical events in the
early period, influencing how history is taught and celebrated in a traditional setting. However,
the modern treatment of Columbus is quite different from that of the traditional narrative.
Modernizations have taken place bridging facts and fiction, while giving deeper meaning to
events and history. Modern scholars do not see the significance of the Columbus’ motive in his
discovery. Most base their argument on the scale that historical discovery was never new as other
people already habited the land. Columbus’ exploration was basically to other places that people
had already settled, and this could be accounted through the slavery that his crew was adopting
in the places that they discovered.
Both the modern scholars and traditional narratives identify their similarity on the
journey of Christopher Columbus by putting forth that it brought change to the local indigenous
natives. Christopher was determined to re-identify with the outside world and learn beyond the
walls of Europe. Through his voyage, he managed to bring more insight into the outside world.
Both the traditional narrative and modern scholars claim that it was due to the exploration of
Columbus that a new dawn in religion was experienced. The both concur with the idea that the
account of Columbus brought changes to Christianity and impacted the local in different ways.
Hamdani, A. (1979). Columbus and the Recovery of Jerusalem, Journal of the America Oriental
Society, 99(1). 39-48