Final Exam:  Study Questions

Classical Mythology
CLA 1-216-97

Before writing anything, think. You will have plenty of time. Outline your ideas. Make sure you have a specific thesis. Use plenty of examples to illustrate your thesis. Don't forget a conclusion.

1. In every work we have read or seen, what it means to be human is considered, usually in contrast with the gods. Choose one work from each section of the course (3 altogether) and explain what makes someone human in that work. How does that author define "humanness"?  To what extent does gender affect the author's definition of what it means to be human?  In other words, does being human mean being a free-born male citizen or does it apply to all human beings?  How does it compare with the views in the other works you have chosen?  Which view is closest to your own?
2. Creation is all about power: establishing order in the midst of chaos or creating something out of nothing. Who has the power to create where and when? How does power get exercised? over whom or with whom? How does gender affect power relations? Choose three creation myths, one of which must be the hymn to Demeter or to Apollo, and discuss mechanisms of power in each creation myth. Even though the protagonists in creation myths are divine, humans are interested in these divine power struggles. Why? How are they affected?

3. We have read the heroic exploits of Patroclus, Hector, and Achilles in the Iliad, of Zeus in Theogony, of Apollo in the Hymn to Apollo, Menelaus in Euripides' Helen, and Heracles in Euripides' Heracles.  What is a hero?  Who are they? What do they want in life?  How do they act?  Choose one or two heroes from the Iliad and explain in what ways they are heroic in the traditional sense?  How does Achilles revise that tradition?  Then discuss in what ways Zeus or Apollo are heroic. Can gods really be heroic?  Finally, what is Euripides' attitude toward heroism?  Is it fair to say that any figure in Euripides is heroic?  According to the ancient definition you have outlined, could a woman ever be considered heroic?  Why or why not?

4. An important theme of the course has been the transformation of myth through time. Choose one hero or divinity (Achilles, Apollo, Athena, Demeter, Helen, Heracles) and trace that figure from Greek to Roman to a later version.  What is the essence of this figure in Greek myth?  How does Ovid change the myth for his own time?  Why does he make the changes he does?  Finally, how does this mythological figure speak to a later era?  How is the myth changed and for what purpose(s)?  In other words, how does this figure reveal each author or artist's view of the world?