Humanities 110

Introduction to the Humanities

Paper Topics | Fall 2022 | Paper 4

Due Saturday, December 3, 5:00 p.m., to your conference leader

Target length: 1,500 words

Choose one of the following topics:

  1. The chorus in The Libation Bearers consists of enslaved women. To what extent does their relationship to Agamemnon and his children reflect the relationship between the enslaver (“master”) and enslaved (“slave”) as theorized by Orlando Patterson? In what ways does reading Slavery and Social Death help illuminate the social dynamics between the chorus members and the House of Atreus in the play?
  3. Analyze the representation of space across at least two plays of the Oresteia. You might want to consider some of the following questions: What constitutes public or private space? What happens in each kind of space? Are there liminal spaces that blend the public and the private? Where does ritual occur in the plays? Who has access to each of these spaces?
  5. Compare a scene of persuasion in the Lysistrata to a scene of persuasion in Thucydides’ History. You might want to consider the following: to what values do the speakers appeal in their attempts to persuade? Who gets to decide? Who holds the power in the deliberations and why?
  7. Compare how Spartan-ness is constructed in the Lysistrata and in book one of Thucydides’ history. What are the characteristics that these texts see as differentiating Spartans in these texts? On what basis does the text differentiate between Spartans and Athenians?
  9. In book 1 of his History, Thucydides lays out a theory of history–a theory of what causes, resources or attitudes are most important in determining who will be most powerful–not through a simple argument, but through his analysis of ancient history (1.2-19) and through the speeches that he thinks should have been made as different people deliberated about the possibility of war (1.31-43, 66-86, 139-46). What does Thucydides think will determine who will win this war, and what does he think determines who is most powerful in general?
  11. In Against Neaera, Apollodorus seeks to persuade a jury that Neaera has been fraudulently claiming the privileges of Athenian citizen women. In what ways is Apollodorus an outsider himself? How does he seek to create a clear distinction in status between himself and Neaera?
  13. In book 3.82-83 Thucydides suggests that under the pressure of the Peloponnesian war, “words, too, had to change their usual meanings” and “the simple way of looking at things, which is so much the mark of a noble nature, was regarded as a ridiculous quality, and soon ceased to exist.” In Aeschylus’ Agamemnon 1391, Clytemnestra boasts that she has spoken “words, endless words… to serve the moment.” Focusing on Clytemnestra’s speeches in the Agamemnon and Thucydides 3.69-85, consider how Aeschylus and Thucydides represent the use of language? What is the proper use of language? What are the causes of its improper use? What does that improper use look like?
  15. In consultation with your instructor, write on a topic of your own devising.