Practice Forum Questions

University Studies 210

  1. Homer: Iliad
    1. What makes someone "the best" (a) in the heroes' eyes? (b) in Homer's eyes? (c) in your eyes?
    2. To what extent or in what ways are the heroes free to act or pawns of the gods?
    3. Discuss shame and honor as motivating factors for the Homeric heroes.
    4. Discuss "Agamemnon's Apology" (Bk. 9).
  2. Aeschylus: Oresteia
    1. Do you agree that "wisdom comes alone through suffering" (Agam. 177-8)?
    2. Do you think Agamemnon got what he deserved?
    3. Compare and contrast how Agamemnon is presented in "Agamemnon" and "The Libation Bearers."
    4. Do you think the Furies represent Orestes' guilt for killing his mother?
    5. Contrast the justice of the Furies vs. the justice of Apollo.
    6. Discuss the "new world order" introduced by Athena.
    7. If you were a member of the Athenian jury in "The Eumenides," how would you vote?
    8. Trace through the Oresteia the idea of entanglement and the image of the net.
  3. Herodotus: Histories
    1. Compare and contrast Herodotus' description and evaluation of the Greek vs. the "barbarian."
    2. Why do you think Leonidas chose to stay and fight? Did he do the right thing?
    3. Discuss the ethics of the way Themistocles tricked the allies into engaging the Persians.
    4. Discuss the role of "overweening pride" (hubris) in Homer and Herodotus.
    5. Discuss "Then shall bright Justice quench Excess, the child of Pride" (VIII.77).
    6. Discuss the role of retributive justice (tisis) in Herodotus.
    7. Is Herodotus "the father of histories" or "the father of lies"?
  4. Sophocles: Theban Plays
    1. Discuss the role "divine madness or ruin" (ate) in the Iliad, the Oresteia and Herodotus. Give examples.
    2. Discuss the role of "divine jealousy" (phthonos) in Herodotus and Sophocles.
    3. Discuss the themes of blindness and recognition in "Oedipus the King."
    4. Is Oedipus a "sinner"?
    5. Discuss the multiple meanings of "Know thyself" in the Oedipus plays.
    6. Discuss the "Ode to Man" in "Antigone" (Fagles' tr. 376-416).
    7. Do you side with Antigone or Creon?
    8. Do you think individual conscience or the laws of the land take priority?
    9. How are Antigone and Creon alike? Different?
    10. Do you think that the end of Antigone's speech (Fagels' tr. 989-1012) are inconsistent or out of character?
    11. Discuss fate, destiny and free will in the Oresteia and Theban plays.
  5. Euripides: Bacchae
    1. "The Bacchae" depicts Dionysus as a cruel and savage, yet it was presented at a religious festival for Dionysus. How do you account for this paradox?
    2. Who is mad, Pentheus or the followers of Dionysus?
    3. Compare and contrast the views of Pentheus and Dionysus on wisdom, justice, violence, holiness and happiness.
    4. Is Pentheus a scapegoat? Antigone? Oedipus?
    5. Compare the issue of religious law vs.the good of the state as it arises in "Antigone" and "The Bacchae."
    6. Compare the characters of Creon in "Antigone" and Pentheus in "The Bacchae."
  6. Thucydides: History
    1. Discuss the pros and cons of Athenian democracy.
    2. From our 2400 year perspective, was Athens morally justified in its invasion of Sicily? How would you have argued in the assembly for or against the invasion?
  7. In general:
    1. Justice is a recurring issue in the texts we have read; discuss justice in the Iliad, the Oresteia, the Theban plays and the Peloponesian War.
    2. Where in our readings have you seen the gods acting (or not) as agents of justice?

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Last updated: Thu Dec 2 15:26:50 EST 1999