Humanities 110

Introduction to the Humanities

Paper Topics | Fall 2019 | Paper 3

Due Saturday, November 9, 5:00 p.m., in your conference leader’s Eliot Hall mailbox.

Target length: 1,500 words

  1. What does Athena’s decision to let Orestes go free – “cleared of the charge of blood” (Eu. 767) – tell us about broader questions raised by the Oresteia?  You might want to think about some of the following: guilt and innocence, justice, generational relationships, the nature of power, gender, or the political significance of tragedy.
  1. What does the speech of Thersites (Iliad II: 210-242), and the response to that speech by Odysseus, tell us about the beliefs and values articulated in the poem? You may want to think about questions of personal character, ethics, social structure, political procedure, oratory, justice, or the nature of leadership. 
  1. Iliad 6.155-203, 9.524-599, and 24.602-617 are three examples of myths related by characters in the Iliad. Analyze one of these in relation to its larger context. Some issues to consider in your analysis are speaker and speaker’s intent, audience, memory, emotions, fate, and the gods.
  1. Select a Sappho poem and consider how its representation of love differs from the representation of love in the Egyptian lyric "Love of you is mixed deep in my vitals." You may want to consider the relationship between literal and figurative language, the role of the body, or why the speaker in the poem wants to talk about love. 
  1. Compare the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles over Briseis, which animates the plot of the Iliad, to the dispute between Hesiod and his brother Perses over an inheritance of land, which Hesiod claims to motivate the composition of Works and Days. What moral values shape each conflict? 
  1. Choose two of the following presocratic philosophers: Thales, Anaximenes, or Heraclitus. Present the argument of one for the prominence of his favored element. Drawing on the text of the second philosopher, offer an objection to the argument of the first. Drawing on the text of the first philosopher, explain how he might respond to this objection. 
  1. The presocratics are usually labeled “philosophers,” while Homer, Hesiod, and the authors of the Greek lyrics are termed “poets.” Defend or dispute this distinction. You might want to consider difference in topics, objectives, or methods.