write an essay of about 1500 words on one of the following topics. Your essay should have an argument that is supported by evidence from the texts. No outside research is required, but you may use outside sources if you wish. Please make sure that these are scholarly sources (not internet summaries, anonymous online essays or Wikipedia-style encyclopaedias) and that you cite them properly. Please consult the Style Guide on the Moodle for information about citing ancient sources. The essay is worth 15% of your grade and will be due no later than the beginning of lecture on Feb. 3rd, 2014.
Literary Athens. Several of our readings have centred on the city of Athens either as a backdrop for the action, or as the central topic of the text. For example: the Eumenides culminates in a trial held in the city of Athens; in the speech he gives for the dead of the city, as reported by Thucydides, the Athenian general Pericles describes why the city of Athens is the best polis; the comedy Lysistrata imagines that women seize the Acropolis and take over the management of Athens. In your essay choose one of these literary Athens and examine how the city is depicted in the text. In composing your essay, you may want to consider what each text says or implies about: the physical or moral qualities attributed to the city; the ideal behaviour of the citizen of Athens vis-à-vis the city; divine attitudes toward the city; criticisms of the city or of its citizens, or any other aspect of the representation of the city in the text. **You can also choose to compare the “Athens” of one text with another, but be careful in this case to give the correct context for each “Athens,” (e.g., a comedic play like Lysistrata will focus on different aspects of the city, and be a very different kind of performance than, say, the speech of Pericles which was delivered at a public mass funeral).
Justice for Orestes? In the third play of Aeschylus’ trilogy, The Oresteia, the character Orestes is acquitted for the murder of his mother, Clytemnestra. In your essay, argue that this was or was not a fair outcome. Make sure to examine closely the events leading up to the trial, and the arguments made on either side of by Apollo/Athena and by the Furies. Your answer should rely on careful reading of the plays. Make sure also to consider what ‘fair’ means in this context, and for whom the judgment is fair.
Losing Your Marbles. “The British Museum should return the Elgin marbles to Greece.” Argue for or against this statement, and support your argument with documented evidence.
Women on Top. Two of the plays we have read feature women taking roles of political leadership in a Greek city, Clytemnestra in Aeschylus’ Oresteia and Lysistrata in Aristophanes’ Lysistrata. Bearing in mind the differences between these two plays (e.g., one is a tragedy and the other a comedy; one depicts mythic events in the distant past and the other is a satire of contemporary politics; one takes place in monarchical Argos and the other takes place in democratic Athens), compose an essay that analyses what happens when a woman steps into a role she is typically barred from playing (you may discuss either play on its own, or both plays in comparison). You may want to consider some of the following ideas: the language or metaphors used to describe her; the kind of language she uses or how she speaks out about her new role; the way other characters react to her; her demonstrated ability to be a political leader; her success in achieving her goals; the conflicts created with the traditional roles for ancient Greek women (e.g., staying inside, at home, and acting primarily as mothers and wives). Be careful to consider this question in the context of the gender roles specific to ancient Greece.
First Kings. Ancient Greeks and Romans often venerated or worshipped the founder of their city in a practice we call founder cult (or ruler cult). The founder in question was often a hero with diving ancestry and sometimes supernatural powers. Rome’s first two kings, Romulus and Numa Pompilius, each contributed substantially to building the early city, and were each the subject of cult worship, e.g., the ‘hut of Romulus’ was ceremonially re-built every year on the Palatine hill. Examine the characters of Romulus and Numa as depicted in Livy’s Book One of The Early History of Rome, and contrast these two as leaders of Rome. You may want to consider the following questions when composing your essay: What did each one accomplish for the city, and how did these contributions affect the city? What about the drawbacks or problems associated with each of these kings? Which one contributed more to the city? Who was a better king?
Required sources (citation):
Martin, Thomas R. Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times. Yale University Press, 1996. (Secondary Source)
Martin, Thomas R. Ancient Rome: From Romulus to Justinian. Yale University Press, 2012. (Secondary Source)Homer. The Odyssey. Translated by Robert Fitzgerald. Oxford World’s Classics. (Primary Source)
Aeschylus. The Oresteia. Translated by Robert Fagles. Penguin Classics. (Primary Source)
Aristophanes. Lysistrata. Translated by Sarah Ruden. Hackett Publishing, 2003. (Primary Source)
Livy. The Early History of Rome. Translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt. Penguin Classics, 2002. (Primary Source)
Catullus. The Poems. Translated by Peter Whigham. Penguin Classics. (Primary Source)
Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars. Penguin Classics. (Primary Source)