Humanities 110 Final Examination

Wednesday, December 14, 2022, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

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This exam is scheduled for four hours. Part I requires 1 hour. Each essay in Part II requires 90 minutes. Make sure to use some of this time for editing and to divide your time evenly within each section.

This is an open-book, open-note exam. While you may consult the assigned course materials, lectures, your notes, and handouts, you may not consult other online materials or other people for the duration of the exam. For this exam, as for all other exams at Reed, the Honor Principle applies. Failure to adhere to the requirements set out above will constitute academic misconduct.

Note: students MAY email their responses to the conference leader unless their conference leader has told them NOT to do so. Students who have accommodations from DAR are encouraged to use them for the exam. If your accommodation includes extra time, you may find it helpful to remind your conference leader of this if you have not done so already.

PART ONE (approximately one hour; make sure to use some of this time for editing)

Do a close reading of one passage or object from each of the three categories. Be sure to identify the key themes in the passage and explain why they are important to the work itself and/or to the larger themes in the course this semester.

  1. Literary Passages [pick one of the two options]
    1. Esther 9.1-4

      And so, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month–that is, the month of Adar–when the king’s command and decree were to be executed, the very day on which the enemies of the Jews had expected to get them in their power, the opposite happened, and the Jews got their enemies in their power. Throughout the provinces of king Ahasuerus, the Jews mustered in their cities to attack those who sought their hurt; and no one could withstand them, for the fear of them had fallen upon all the peoples. Indeed, all the officials of the provinces–the satraps, the governors, and the king’s stewards–showed deference to the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai had fallen upon them. For Mordecai was now powerful in the royal palace, and his fame was spreading through all the provinces; the man Mordecai was growing ever more powerful.
    2. Aristophanes, Lysistrata (573-586)

      With a modicum of smarts,
      You’d copy the administration of our wool

      Do tell me how.

      First, give the fleece a bath to dunk
      Away the sheep dung. Spread your city on a bed
      Next, beat out all the layabouts and briars.
      Then card out any chumps—you know, the cliques of chumps,
      Magistracy-mongers. Pluck their little heads off.
      Comb what’s left into a single goodwill basket.
      Wad in your resident aliens and other
      Nice foreigners, and don’t lead out the public debtors.
      And heck, as for the city’s scattered colonies,
      I want you to construe them as neglected tufts,
      Each with its lonesome. Gather them all together,
      Bunch them up tight, and finally you’ll have one
      Big ball. Use it to weave the city something fine.
  2. Works of Art or Architecture [pick one of the two options]
    1. Phidias, South Metope 27 of Parthenon: Lapith Battling a Centaur, ca. 447-432 BCE (

      image for question 2.a
    2. “King Menkaure and a Queen,” Commissioned by Pharoah Menkaure, (ca. 2490-2472 BCE) (

      image for question 2.b
  3. Passages from Historical or Philosophical Works [pick one of the two options]
    1. Xenophanes Frag. B15 (Presocratics Reader, p. 34)

      If horses had hands, or oxen or lions,
      Or if they could draw with their hands and produce works as men do,
      Then horses would draw figures of gods like horses, and oxen like oxen,
      And each would render the bodies
      To be of the same frame that each of them have.
    2. Apollodorus, “Against Neaera” [114, p. 189]

      So each one of you should think of himself as casting his vote in the interests of his wife, or daughter, or mother, or of the city and its laws and its religion. Your purpose is to keep the women in your care from being brought down to the same level of honor as this whore. You must keep women who are brought up in strict chastity and care by their family and given in marriage according to the laws from publicly attaining the same honor as a woman who has spent each day in obscene practices, over and over complying with each customer’s desires.

PART TWO (approximately three hours; make sure to use some of this time for editing and to divide your time evenly between the thematic essay and the essay on Plato/Thucydides)

Be sure that your essays make an argument and draw on specific examples to support your argument.

  1. Thematic Essay. Write an essay on one of the following two questions (approx. 75 minutes, plus 15 minutes for editing).
    1. Compare and contrast the human relationship to the natural world across three different works that we have read this semester. How does the natural world threaten,  complement, or aid humanity in three works? Choose at least one work from each of the following three groups:
      1. Gilgamesh, Egyptian love lyrics, The Tale of Sinuhe;
      2. Genesis, Exodus, the Apadana at Persepolis; 
      3. Iliad, Works and Days, Sappho’s poetry, Herodotus’ Histories, the Pre-Socratics, or the Parthenon.
    2. In Aeschylus’ Oresteia, we are repeatedly told that we must suffer to learn (“Zeus has led us on to know, the Helmsman lays it down as law that we must suffer, suffer into truth.” Agamemnon, ll. 177-9 (pp.109)). What do these works argue/represent the pain or suffering leading to?  Choose at least one work from each of the following three groups:
      1. Gilgamesh, The Tale of Sinuhe, The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant, Egyptian love lyrics;
      2. Genesis, Exodus, Esther;
      3. Agamemnon, the Parthenon, Herodotus’ Histories, Thucydides’ Histories, or Protagoras.
  2. Essay on Plato and/or Thucydides. Write an essay on one of the following three questions (approx. 75 minutes, plus 15 minutes for editing)
    1. Analyze how Plato’s Protagoras and Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War explore the question of how individuals or groups decide on a course of action. What factors do they consider? What position does each text take on how decisions should be made?
    2. Write an essay where you first give a brief account of Socrates’ critique of Euthyphro’s definitions of piety in the Euthyphro. Why are Euthyphro’s definitions problematic in Socrates’ view? What does Euthyphro fail to capture in his definition, according to Socrates? Then, choose one author/character from the below list and imagine how they might define piety and how Socrates might respond to them: Sinuhe, Nestor from the Iliad, Herodotus, Clytemnestra, or Pericles.
    3. Describe the relationship the character Socrates describes between knowledge and action in Plato’s Protagoras 357a (“Well, then, my good people”) to 358c (“ control oneself is nothing other than wisdom,” pp. 54-55). Assess this model for action and consider potential objections to it. How might Thucydides respond to this model?

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