Skidmore College
Classics 224:  The Hero(ine's) Tale
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Essays
 
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Essay guidelines
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Course syllabusCourse timetableOnline resourcesReturn to the CL 224 homepage
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Essay II (20 Apr)
Essay I (2 March)
 
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What follows are the guidelines for the two essays due in this class.

Remember that these essays are not research papers—a more accurate term is reaction paper, because I am more interested in reading your views and analyses of the poems.  In general, I will hold you to the standards advocated in the Skidmore Classics website document, Writing Essays and Research Papers

The suggested topics for each essay are just that—suggestions.  Feel free to write on another topic;  I only ask that you consult with me in advance.

No matter what your topic, you cannot write an effective paper without citing examples from the text.  For example, if you are arguing that Penelope has not remained celibate, you must cite the corroboratin portions of the Odyssey.  Keep your citations brief and pointed, quoting the text only when absolutely necessary.  Actual references to the text are best handled parenthetically:

Penelope denies this (book 19, p. 398).
Please indicate both page and book number, as in the example above.

The papers themselves must be at least 5 pages, typed, double-spaced, and free of mechanical and grammatical errors.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact me.  I will be happy to discuss your papers with you as they take shape.

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   Topic A
   Topic B
   Topic C
 
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Essay I

Due:  Tuesday, 2 March 1999, in class.

Topic A.

You are familiar with the Homeric question, which is focused on whether or not there even was a Homer. 

Assuming that Homer did exist, and assuming that he composed the Iliad, do you think that he composed the Odyssey?  Why or why not?  Consider various factors, such as style, the structure of each poem, the role of the gods—whatever seems consistent or inconsistent to you.

Topic B.
Assuming that Homer composed both the Iliad and the Odyssey, how does the poet reinvent himself from poem to poem?  That is, what has changed?  How does the Odyssey advertise the changes?  Has the role of the reader gotten easier or harder?  Consider various factors, mostly of a global, or progammatic, scale.
Topic C.
Assuming that Homer composed both the Iliad and the Odyssey, choose one or two characters who appear in both poems, and discuss the following:  How has the character changed from poem to poem?  How has he or she remained the same?  To what extent are these changes motivated by a change in the poet's program?

This topic differs from topic b in that here you are being asked to discuss the poems on a smaller scale, from the perspective of character.

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Essay II

Due:  Tuesday, 20 April 1999, in class.

Topic A.

Hellenistic poets carefully constructed their epics in the wake of Homer, both upholding the standards established by the Iliad and the Odyssey, as well as creating new ones.

Trace the similarities and differences between Homer and his Alexandrian successors.  You may talk about only Apollonius or only Callimachus, or you may talk about both.  Furthermore, you may elect to focus your essay on only one topic—e.g. xenia, journeys, proems, poets, and so on—or you may survey various topics.

Bear in mind that the more topics and authors you discuss, the more difficult it will be to unify your essay.  Choose carefully.

Topic B.
Discuss the role of women in the epics of Apollonius, Callimachus, and Vergil.  What do women contribute to their poems?  How do they interact with other characters, especially men?  How do these women compare to the women of Homer (or Hesiod)?  It might be useful to discuss a woman who appears in more than one author.
Topic C.
Apollonius, Callimachus, and Vergil all set their epics in PHT—Pre-Homeric Time.  That is, the Argonautica and the Hecale both occur in the generation before the Trojan War, while much of the Aeneid is sandwiched between the Iliad and the Odyssey.

What is to be gained by such posturing?  What avenues to literary freedom are opened up by such approaches?  What avenues are closed off?  To what extent does each author signal his awareness of his posturing—is it self-conscious, or is it more of an afterthought?

You need not restrict yourself to discussing only relations with Homer;  other prexisting myths and texts can be brought to bear on this topic.


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Last modified 2 April 1999