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In "The Seafarer," the poet names “Fate’s three threats."  What are...

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marksmith24 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 8, 2008 at 2:53 AM via web

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In "The Seafarer," the poet names “Fate’s three threats."  What are they?

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 8, 2008 at 2:56 AM (Answer #1)

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The three things that the Seafarer most fears from Fate are:

"illness, or age, or an enemy's Sword, snatching life from his soul." (ll 70-71)

In other words, the three things that men die from are illness, old age, and a human enemy in battle.

 

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted February 8, 2008 at 6:11 AM (Answer #2)

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There are two things to consider in your question.  First, the role of Fate and the mortality of man. 

The speaker says:

...The wealth
Of the world neither reaches to Heaven nor remains
No man has ever faced the dawn
Certain which of Fate's three threats
Would fall: illness, or age, or an enemy's
Sword, snatching the life from his soul.

What we have here, then, is what is known as fatalism.  Fatalism is the idea that humans are powerless to change the fact that they will one day die.  You've heard the saying, "you can't take it with you," right?  It doesn't matter how successful one has been in life.  The grave awaits both the just and unjust.  Furthermore, none can be sure if today is his last on earth.  Your body may wear out due to age.  You may contract a deadly illness that will end your life, or you may be killed by an enemy (or a drive by shooting).  You just don't know.  All that is certain in life is death.

Cheery, huh? 

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