vicious tyrant “: give one example H u m a n i t i e s
The midterm exam will consist of 5 short answer (1-2 sentences, tops) questions and 2 mini-essays (2-3 paragraphs). You can choose from the topics below for each of your mini-essays, and you must address more than one of the epics we have studied. To clarify: if you address more than one work in one of your two essays, you can choose any of the topics for the other essay. If you address Ramayana only in one of the essays, make sure your other essay addresses Gilgamesh or the Odyssey.
Mini-Essay topics1. Compare and contrast Odysseus with Gilgamesh or Rama. Whom do you feel is more heroic and why?
- All three of our heroes undertake a journey. What are some similarities and/or differences in at least two of these quests? What are the heroes searching for?
- Compare and contrast at least two of the following female characters from two different epics: Shamhat, Ishtar, Siduri, Sita, Kaikeyi, Athena, Circe, Calypso, Sirens, Penelope. You might want to consider if these female characters are mainly subservient to the male characters or express a certain degree of power or agency in the epic. Do these female characters fall into one of the Madonna/Whore categories or challenge these stereotypes?
- Evaluate the role of the gods in 2 of the epics. Which are most powerful? Which most involved in the life of the mortals (human beings)? How would you describe the gods: caring, cruel, fickle, noble, omnipotent? — you supply the term that works. What does the characterization of these gods reveal about the cultures of the people who worship them?
Short Answer Question Bank
- What is one major difference between Gilgamesh and Rama in their role as heroes?
- The Introduction to Gilgamesh labels its hero when we first meet him as a “vicious tyrant”: give one example of a his tyrannical behavior.
- Give one example of a female in Gilgamesh displaying power or wisdom.
- Why are Biblical scholars interested in Gilgamesh?
- Pinpoint and briefly discuss one incident from one of the epics that you found most moving or emotionally powerful.
- Why does Vishnu submit to becoming the mortal Rama?
- What is at first surprising about Rama’s reaction to his exile?
- How would you describe Sita’s behavior while imprisoned by Ravana? How does she react to his “mingled threat and blandishment” (594)? [Note: blandishment means “a flattering or pleasing statement or action used to persuade someone.”]
- How does Rama justify his making Sita submit to the fire ritual?
- Pinpoint and briefly discuss one example of a god or deity displaying power in either of the three epics that we have read.
- What qualities (plural) does Odysseus display in his encounter with the Cyclops?
- Why does Odysseus conceal his identity when he is at the court of Alcinous?
- What does Anticliea (mother of Odysseus) teach her son during their meeting in the underworld?
- Why does Telemachus order his mother Penelope to leave the banquet hall? (Book XXI)