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Canto II
Canto II
by Ezra Loomis Pound

Canto II Theme of Greed

There are few things in this world that Ezra Pound hated more than greed, especially the money-hungry kind. For him, the modern world was totally ruined by people's obsession with money. This obsession, Pound thought, was responsible for taking people's attention away from what really mattered. Family? Nope. Peace? Try again. Pound was mad at greed for taking people's attention away from beauty. We know it might be tough to get your head around, but for Pound, there was nothing in life more important than the pursuit of beauty. Oh yeah, and it couldn't be just any beauty. As you might have picked up from reading "Canto II," it had to be the kind you read about in classical mythology and see in classical sculptures.

Questions About Greed

  1. Do you think Pound makes a good point about greed getting in the way of humanity's pursuit of beauty? Does he convey this point clearly in his story of Dionysius' kidnapping, or is it pretty vague? What parts of the poem support your answer?
  2. Do you agree that greed is one of the worst aspects of modern life, or do you agree with the immortal words of Gordon Gecko, and think that greed is good?
  3. What is the men's punishment for their greed? Why does Pound make a point of saying that they lose their penises when they grow "fish scales over groin muscles" (117). Why would Pound think castration was a suitable punishment for greed?
  4. How is the sin of greed connected to the general themes of "Canto II"? What specific examples from the text support your answer?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Watch out, corporate raiders. In "Canto II," Pound shows us that there is no sin greater than greed, and no sin more deserving of harsh punishment.

In "Canto II," Pound tries to make a moral point about greed by referring to old myths. But ultimately, his examples are so obscure that he ends up confusing readers more than teaching them. He gets an A for effort, though.

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