Humanities 110

Introduction to Humanities: Greece and the Ancient Mediterranean

Paper Topics | Fall 2017 | Paper 4

Paper Due: Saturday, December 2, at 5:00 PM in your conference leader's Eliot Hall mailbox.  Select one of the topics below. Length 6-8 pages (1500-2000 words).

  1. Perform a close reading of either Thucydides’ Mytilenean Debate (3.37-48) or the Melian Dialogue (5.85-113).  Do the speeches represent a logical extension of or a deviation from the ideals expressed by Pericles in the Funeral Oration (2.35-46)?
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  3. The Berlin Foundry Cup (early 5th century BCE) depicts two scenes of metalwork (a bronze workshop on the exterior, and the god Hephaistos completing the armor for Achilleus on the interior) and, like several of the pots produced by the contemporary Pioneer Group, also features three kalos inscriptions (short phrases in Greek declaring that specific people are beautiful). Compare the Berlin Foundry Cup to Smikros' symposium pot. What stylistic similarities and differences do you notice? How might Neer's argument about Smikros' symposium pot inform your interpretation of the Berlin Foundry Cup? http://rdc.reed.edu/workspace/11435/lightbox
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  5. The Oresteia tells the story of Atreus’ descendants over several generations. Consider the Oresteia through the lens of family.  Which familial relationships matter most; which are the subject and causes of strife?  What other kinds of communities and relationships matter?  Does divine intervention have an effect on family relations and structure? 
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  7. Genesis tells the story of Adam and Eve’s descendants over many generations. Consider Genesis through the lens of family.  Which familial relationships matter most; which are the subject and causes of strife?  What other kinds of communities and relationships matter?  Does divine intervention have an effect on family relations and structure? 
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  9. Sophocles' Antigone, set in mythic Thebes, addresses issues deeply relevant to fifth-century democratic Athens, where the play was first performed. How does the play speak to the role of women in the family, religion, and the law? Does the play reinforce the status of women in Athens or challenge it? Consider both Antigone and Ismene in your response.
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  11. In 2.65 of the History of the Peloponnesian Wars, Thucydides uses the example of Pericles to define the characteristics of a good leader.  Later, he gives accounts of many other leaders.  Consider the leadership of Alcibiades, Nicias, OR Hermocrates during the Sicilian Expedition (Books 6-7).  What is Thucydides suggesting about leadership through these figures?  How does the earlier discussion of Pericles guide your assessment of them?  Consider the speeches that these figures give as well as their actions.
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  13. As Misha Teramura discussed in his lecture, from an Athenian perspective, Medea has two major strikes against her: she is both a woman and a foreigner. To what extent do these two aspects of Medea’s identity intersect with one another, and to what extent do they diverge?  Consider the ways that these two elements inform Medea’s ideas of herself and her interests, as well as the ways that they inform other characters’ perception of her.