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Next: About this document ... Up: HUMA 11500, Autumn 2002, Previous: Instructions

Suggested Topics

  1. How are the characters in the Iliad different from us, and/or how are they the same? (Here ``us'' means, roughly speaking, modern people--but you may want to make it more precise.) (Obviously 3-5 pages is not enough to discuss this question in full generality. Try to focus on particular characters/situations and on some particular issue: e.g., justification of actions; reasons for praise or blame; attitudes towards one's enemies.) (Note: if you only want to argue that Homer's characters are the same as us, you had better say first why someone might think they were different.)

  2. How is the Iliad different from a book we would write (the kind of book we normally write)? Say something about either (a) what those differences show about the way this book was produced and used or (b) what those differences imply about our use of the book (e.g. our treatment of it as a ``classic''). You may or may not also want to discuss passages from the beginning of Numbers (which you can cite by chapter and verse). For alternative (a), you might want to use material from Plato's Ion.

  3. How are the gods depicted in the Iliad, how do the human characters relate to them, and how do those two things fit together (or fail to fit together)?

  4. Discuss the relationship (as depicted in the Iliad) between (a) virtue or praiseworthiness and (b) physical appearance and/or physical strength. You might also want to mention intelligence; also what it is that makes a god or gods love certain characters. (Note: the intent of this question is for you to discuss the attitude of Homer and/or his characters about these issues, not your own attitudes.)

  5. What is the status of women in the Iliad? Try to discuss: (a) how they are treated (by men); (b) what men say/think about them; (c) what they say/think about themselves. How did Homer and/or his audience think about women? (Note: it is not safe to assume that his audience was all male!)

  6. How is war viewed in the Iliad? When and how is war ``glorified,'' and when and how is it not? Discuss one or more of: (a) how the (human) characters see war (b) how the gods see war (c) how the narrator portrays war.

  7. Discuss the character of Nestor. What does he represent? On what subject(s) does he have good advice, and why? What is the relationship between his advice and what characters actually do? (By this I mean to ask not only whether his advice is taken on particular occasions, but whether he advises the kind of thing that people ordinarily do.)

  8. In the Ion, we see a philosopher, Socrates, confronting the society or culture in which Homer plays a central role. What does this encounter show about the nature of that society and/or its use of Homer, and about the nature of philosophy? What was new about philosophy compared to what came before?

next up previous
Next: About this document ... Up: HUMA 11500, Autumn 2002, Previous: Instructions
Abe Stone 2006-01-02