Humanities 110

Introduction to Humanities: Greece and the Ancient Mediterranean

Paper Topics | Fall 2017 | Paper 3

Paper Due: Saturday, November 4, at 5:00 PM in your conference leader's Eliot Hall mailbox

The topics for Paper #3 ask you to think about modes of representation, presentation, and/or argumentation and to further develop the skills practiced in the first and second papers. Once again, advance a definite thesis on the basis of close reading and specific points of comparison. Select one of the topics below. Length 6-8 pages (1500-2000 words).

  1. At the beginning of Theogony, the Muses tell Hesiod that “We know how to tell many believable lies, / But also, when we want to, how to speak the plain truth.”  Focusing on the role of contradiction in either Theogony or Works and Days, explore how the work uses ambiguity and uncertainty to address a central theme, and how this ambiguity affects the meaning.  Themes you might address include, but are not limited to: work, justice, gender relations, or Zeus’s authority among the gods.
  3. Compare the representation of the lyric “I” in Archilochus fr. 191 and 193 (p. 9) to that in Sappho fr. 31 (pp. 55-6).  Consider the tension between universality and specificity, public and private in each poem.  What role, if any, does gender play in the construction of each “I”?
  5. How do the material forms of the Persian inscriptions we have examined relate to their textual content?  Among the images you might consider are those at  Can you discern a unified approach to the legitimation of imperial authority, or are there different strategies at play?
  7. Consider Solon’s presentation of himself in fr. 4 and Herodotus’ representation of Solon in Histories I.29-33.  How do the different genres, lyric and history, affect the portrayal?  To what extent to do we see Solon the poet, philosopher, statesman, and political theorist in each?
  9. In her lecture on the Histories of Herodotus, Margot Minardi suggested that historians make arguments through narrative.  Choose one episode in the Histories and consider what argument Herodotus might be making in the telling of this story.  You should not only address the plot of the episode, but also its context, what Herodotus chooses to include (and to leave out), and how his language emphasizes particular themes.
  11. Reading Heraclitus fr. 1 against fragments 50-54 or 59-63, discuss the following questions. First, what do you understand Heraclitus to be saying in these fragments? Second, are they consistent?  How can they be read together?