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Epic Tradition

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Topics for Response Papers

Remember, be selective. Don't try to answer the entire question, but choose one or two key scenes or characters or images to formulate your answer. And back up what you say with specific citations or quotations.

Iliad, Books 2-3, 5-6

Aphrodite, Helen, and Andromache play important roles in Books 3, 5, and 6. Choose one of these three women and then explore Homer's and Sappho's versions of each. What difference does genre play (epic vs. lyric)? What difference does the gender of the author play?

Iliad, Books 9, 11, 13

Story-telling in traditional cultures has certain features, according to Thomas and Momaday. Examine one of the following: the speech of Odysseus, the speech of Phoinix in Book 9 or the similes of Book 11? What elements of verbal art can be seen in these speeches or similes? What makes these elements oral and traditional?

Iliad, Books 14, 16, 18, 20

In Books 3 and 6 we read about Troy. Battle scenes dominate these books, along with Book 13. How are Greeks and Trojans described in battle? Are there differences? Are we sympathetic to one side or the other or does the poet take a neutral stance? What specific techniques does the poet employ to cause us to side with one side or the other or one character or another?

Iliad, Books 21-24

Ritual lament features prominently in Books 18, 22, and 24. What are some general features of all these laments? Choose one lament and analyze its structure, content, and themes. Why might lament be a feature of oral traditions in many cultures?

Metapoetics of Homer

Aeneid Response topics

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