Hythloday and His Travels
King Henry VIII becomes embroiled in a diplomatic dispute over territory with Prince Charles of Castille, and sends a
delegation of diplomats, including More, to negotiate. The negotiations are even-tempered but not immediately
successful, and both sides break off for a few days to await further instructions from their rulers. In this time, More
travels to Antwerp, where he spends time with his friend, Peter Giles. One day, More spots Giles speaking with a
bearded man whom More takes to be a ship's captain. Giles introduces More to Raphael Hythloday, and while it turns
out that Hythloday is a world traveler, he is a philosopher rather than a captain. The three get along well and decide
to return to Giles's garden to converse.
There, Hythloday relates the history of his travels. He accompanied the famed explorer Amerigo Vespucci on three of
his four voyages. On the last of these ventures, he decided to remain behind at a garrisoned fort with a few of
Vespucci's men rather than return to Portugal. From the garrison, he traveled with five other men through various
countries, eventually crossing the equator. By luck, he was on a ship that was blown off course to Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
From there, it was easy to find a ship headed to Calcutta and then another back to Portugal. During this time,
Hythloday proved a keen observer of social practices, and he relates both the absurd and the practical to More and
Giles. More explains to the reader that while all of Hythloday's tales are interesting, the most intriguing is his
description of the time he spent among the Utopians, the inhabitants of the island of Utopia. It is this description that
More will paraphrase for the reader. Before beginning though, More explains that he thinks it is important to describe
the conversation that led up to Hythloday's description of Utopian society.
On Philosophy and Counseling a King
More and Giles are so impressed with the political and social insight Hythloday displays during his description of the
countries through which he traveled that they suggest he attach himself to some king in order to put his great
knowledge and understanding to public use. The beauty of such a course, according to More and Giles, will be that
Hythloday would put himself in position to help the common people, his family and friends, and himself. Hythloday
disagrees, first saying that he has no desire for personal wealth or power and feels no further debt to his friends or
family since he already dispersed his wealth among them when he left on his travels. As for being a benefactor of the
public, Hythloday rejects the notion that a royal counselor can have any such effect. He argues that princes are
interested in war rather than peace, in conquering new territory rather than finding better ways to govern their own.
He further argues that the advice of the prince's favorites, whether wise or foolish, will always be met with approval by