Humanities 110

Introduction to the Humanities

Paper Topics | Fall 2022 | Paper 3

Due Saturday, November 12, 5:00 p.m., to your conference leader

Target length: 1,500 words

Choose one of the following topics:

  1. The Iliad repeatedly makes use of nature similes (for example Book II, line 87 – a swarm of bees, Book II line 147 – the west wind, etc.) as a way to explain what is happening in the narration. Choosing 3-4 of these similes, make an argument about their function in the poem. You will want to consider why they are anchored in natural motifs, when they tend to occur, and to whom they are addressed. 
  3. Both Thersites, in Book II of the Iliad, and Perses' brother, in Works and Days, "state a few facts" (l. 20, p. 23) about how basileis -- the ruling men of archaic Greek society -- exploit and tyrannize over those below them. Compare the substance of their complaints, and compare how these complaints are treated or received in the different texts.
  5. By way of a careful visual analysis of 2 (total) Greek and/or Egyptian statues from the galleries, compare the construction of gender in these pieces. What is coded as female? What is coded as male? What elements appear on both kinds of statues? Make an argument about whether gender is a priority for these statues.You may wish to consult the statues of Hatshepsut that we looked at earlier in the semester or the article by Stewart. In your paper be sure to justify your selection of the two statues and explain why they merit comparison.
  7. Compare the representation of Persian kingship in either the Bisitun Monument or the Persepolis palace complex with either the representation of Xerxes in Book 7 of Herodotus or the representation of Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther. How do the different representations of the Persian emperor suggest different ideas about politics and/or Persian identity? Be sure to consider how both the perspective and the medium of each source shapes its image of the Persian emperor.
  9. Compare how human differences are constructed and how humans are organized into groups in either the Apadana palace at Persepolis or the Parthenon in Athens and either the Book of Esther or the first two books of Herodotus’ histories.
  11. In Works and Days, Hesiod proposes a model of human history that entails decline from a golden age of leisure to an iron age of misery. What are the implications of a model of history that presupposes a lost ideal age? Why does Hesiod frame his narrative about society and social regulation in terms of historical decline? Through close analysis of Hesiod’s “ages” as well as passages from the rest of the work, make an argument about whether Hesiod’s social model depends on this notion of loss, decline, and degradation and what the implications of that kind of historical model are.
  13. Compare the models of decision-making described by Herodotus in his account of Xerxes' dreams and decision to invade Greece (7.1-19), and that of the Athenians' reactions and decisions following the Delphic Oracle (7.138-144).  Discuss how these processes and their outcomes more broadly engage his discussions of constitution in the Persian Debate (3.80-89). How does this understanding of political order and relations to the divine compare to that portrayed in the Bisitun Monument?
  15. Focusing on 2-3 Greek lyric fragments, address how gender and/or class ideals are constructed, and how the lyrics articulate normative or non-normative performance of social roles.
  17. In consultation with your instructor, write on a topic of your own devising.