Core I Study Questions

Essay Questions:

  1. “Are you so wise as to have forgotten that, compared with your mother and your father, and all the rest of your ancestors, your country is far more precious, more venerable, more sacred, and held in greater honor both among gods and among all reasonable men?”  These lines from the Crito of Plato suggest a considerable change in thought from the time of Homer to Virgil and the Bible.  Trace the change.
  2. Aeschylus is concerned with what forces order society, Sophocles is concerned with how humans react to those forces, and Euripides is concerned with questioning both their approaches.  Agree or disagree with all or part of this statement.  Argue your points with specific examples.
  3. Aeschylus, in the Agamemnon, says "Wisdom comes alone through suffering." And many of the figures we have examined have indeed suffered.  But what have they learned?  And what have we learned from them?
  4. Andromache, Helen, Penelope, Clytemnestra, Jocasta, Agave, Creusa, Dido, Eve, Bathsheba, and Mary are absolutely central even though they are not the texts' main characters.  What traits or tendencies (if any) do these women share?  How do they enhance the central theme of their stories? 
  5. Based on readings, what do you deem to have been the most important cultural values of leadership in the ancient societies we have studied? Do those values change over time or from place to place?
  6. Boundaries, physical, ethical, and cosmological, impose limits on man's behavior.  Compare the consequences of transgressing boundaries in any of our texts.
  7. Character traits can be congenital, whence the old adage "Like father, like son." How are members of the younger generation reflections of the older generation?
  8. Choose the one author we studied whose work, in your opinion, best represents the human experience, and defend that choice in the context of the rest of the works we have read.
  9. Compare and contrast specific examples of the abuse of power.  How does each author approach this theme?  What can a good leader do to guard against power.
  10. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Using characters from our texts, show this is or isn’t true.
  11. Compare and contrast three parent-child relationships in our texts.  Your answer should make clear what you consider central about this theme.
  12. Compare the acts of wild recklessness (atasthalia) committed by various characters.  How do they exhibit a loss of wisdom (sophrosyne)?  How is their particular excellence (arete) related to their atasthalia?
  13. Consider the theme of conflict between individual and society in the works we have read this term.
  14. Discuss Achilleus' choice to avenge Patroklos' death.  Do you think it noble, grand, and tragic or a useless gesture of a troubled adolescent?  How does his choice compare to any of the other choices made by the characters in our texts?
  15. Discuss Greek attitudes toward the dead.  How do those attitudes differ from those held by the Romans or the Jews?
  16. Discuss how and why advice is heeded (or ignored) in our texts.
  17. Discuss how the female characters in our texts are (or are not) victims of their positions as women in a patriarchal society.
  18. Discuss the consequences of indulging in atasthalia (doing what you know is wrong even though you know there will be dire repercussions) in the texts we have studied.
  19. Discuss the intrusion of the gods in the affairs of men, noting the and perhaps explaining why that intrusion changes over time.
  20. Discuss the notions and institutions of Justice portrayed in the works we have read.  In your essay, examine how different types of justice sometimes conflict.
  21. Discuss the opposition between the rational and the irrational in the works we have read.
  22. Discuss the relationship between the "Curse on the House of Atreus" and the action of The Oresteia.  Is there a causal relationship here, or are all the explanations for actions simply rationalizations?  Is that pattern repeated in any of the other works we have read?
  23. Discuss the elements that create a successful kingship by examining the portrayals of the rulers in our texts.
  24. Discuss the theme of the individual vs. the collective in our texts.  In your essay you might consider how rebels are portrayed.
  25. Discuss the use and misuse of sexuality in out texts.
  26. Discuss how the use of irony enhances our understanding of the main characters in our texts.
  27. Does anyone in the works we have studied exhibit what Aristotle called hamartia, the tragic flaw?  If so who is it, and how is that hamartia reflective of the action?  Is hamartia common to all tragedies?
  28. Dreams function differently in our texts.  Discuss how and why.
  29. Give a definition of Greek tragedy.  Use one play from each of the three tragedians we have read.
  30. Herodotus said "Let a man lay his plans with due regard to common sense, and he will usually succeed; otherwise he will find that God is unlikely to favor human designs." Apply the truth (or falsehood) of this statement to our texts.
  31. How does each of our authors define human happiness?
  32. How would you characterize Greek religion?  What is the function of gods in Greek culture? How does that differ from the functions of the God(s) in Rome or Palestine?
  33. In Euripides' The Bacchae, the chorus of Asian Bacchantes sings the following: "And what passes for wisdom is not; unwise are those who aspire, who outrange the limits of man.  Briefly we live.  Briefly, then die.  Wherefore, I say, he who hunts a glory, he who tracks some boundless, superhuman dream, may lose his harvest here and now and garner death.  Such men are mad, their counsels evil."  Apply the meaning of these lines to the characters from our texts.
  34. In some way the story or the character of Helen appears in the majority of the works we have read.  What is the function of beauty and sexuality in our texts?
  35. In the Apology, Socrates says, "In a court of law, just as in warfare, neither I nor any other ought to use his wits to escape death my any means." Using examples from the works we have studied, show how a noble death is and/or is not preferred to an ignoble death.
  36. In The Histories, Herodotus reports these words spoken by Solon of Athens to Croesus, King of Lydia:  "Look to the end, no matter what it is you are considering.  Often enough God gives man a glimpse of happiness, and then utterly ruins him."  Solon is defining happiness for Croesus, and perhaps for all Greeks as well.  Show how our characters comes to an end that Solon would describe as happy or unhappy.
  37. In the Iliad, Achilleus makes the choice to live a short life of glory on the battlefield before Troy, and in the Odyssey, Odysseus, for one reason or another, chooses to live a life wandering about away from home.  But what about the feelings of the author?  Explain why you think Homer agrees or disagrees with the choices each hero makes.
  38. In the texts you have read, the gods serve different functions.  For example, sometimes they share in causing human events; sometimes they sanction standards of behavior; sometimes they function as a mechanism to achieve specific narrative or thematic purposes.  Choose two texts, and compare the way the gods function in each.
  39. In the works we have read, choices have consequences.  Select what you consider to be an important choice in our texts, and discuss how each author deals with this theme.
  40. In the works we have read, we have seen both glorifications and criticisms of Greek, Roman, and Hebraic culture and society.  According to our authors, what are the greatest virtues?  What are the greatest vices?
  41. In the works we have studied, what are the qualities of a virtuous man? of a virtuous woman?  Does the idea of virtue change as traveled from Homer to Revelation?
  42. Pallas Athena (the Roman Minerva) has appeared in nearly all of our texts.  What is Athena’s function in those texts?  Why is she a major figure in so many stories?  And how is her primary province as the Goddess of wisdom related to the fact that she is female? 
  43. Pick the work you liked least from our readings this term and create an argument that would prevent the work from being taught again.
  44. Recognition plays a crucial role in our texts.  How do our authors deal with this theme?
  45. Revenge is often a motive for action in the texts we have studied.  What does this imply about the wisdom of revenge?  What alternatives, if any, are offered?
  46. Select what you judge to be two or three good examples, and discuss how the theme of free will vs. fate is developed in the texts we have read.
  47. The Iliad is full of violence and death.  And so are all of the rest of our texts.  Discuss the purpose and advantage in choosing war to serve as a backdrop to this examination of man and his choices.
  48. The last twelve books of The Odyssey occur in mundane, everyday Ithaka, in distinct contrast to the roving adventure of the first twelve books.  What are the relationships between the two halves of the narrative?
  49. The works we have read do not always narrate events in a simple chronological and causal order, but rearrange them, by flashback, allusion, and other narrative devices.  Discuss an example of such reorganization, making clear how it works, and what purposes are served by it.
  50. Though it is a broad generalization, the comment is often made that classical Greek culture marks the birth of the rational in Western civilization.  Based on the works we have read, how is this true?  How is it untrue?
  51. Using examples from at least three authors, discuss corruption of language as a symptom of corruption in society.
  52. Violence is a prominent feature in all of our texts.  Drawing from the evidence contained in these texts, do you think that these works promote violence and/or indicate that the ancients were a fundamentally bloodthirsty people?
  53. What are the functions of oracles, dreams, and prophecy in the works we have studied?
  54. What have read works of epic poetry, history, tragedy, comedy, and theology.  What goals and features do these various genres have in common?  Aside from obvious differences in literary form, how do these genres differ?
  55. What is a Great Book?  How well do the texts we have read this term fit that definition/description?
  56. What is xenia and how is it manifested in Greek literature? Is there a cognate to xenia in Virgil or the Bible?
  57. Work out a definition of the ideal of human excellence as presented in the books we have read.
  58. How do old men serve as role models for the younger men to follow as they strive to become a proper king and father?
  59. What qualities compose the perfect "wife" for the males in our texts, and how does each woman fulfill or fall short of those ideals?
  60. What role does the making of art (e.g. the shields of Achilleus and Aeneas, the songs composed by David) play in the works we have read?
  61. How do deceit and treachery counter moral efforts in the works we have read?
  62. Why is going to the underworld important?
  63. Discuss the significance of the covenants established between the Gods and men in the works we have read. 
  64. Discuss how one person or one tribe becomes the “chosen” in the works we have read.
  65. Why are brothers an important and recurrent motif in the texts we have studied?
  66. Discuss the adequacy (or inadequacy) of any exploration of the nature of human existence.
  67. Discuss the philosophical implications of one or two of the parables in Matthew.  How are parables useful in laying out religious precepts?
  68. How does the imagery of Jesus in Revelation sort with the portrait of the historic Jesus in Matthew?

 

 

Short Answer and Quiz Questions:

 

The Iliad

  1. According to Sarpedon, king of the Lykians, why do the Greek and Trojan heroes risk fighting at the forefront of the battle?
  2. Choose any single book of The Iliad  and discuss its contribution to the overally pattern of the work
  3. Compare the Achilleus of Book I with the Achilleus of Book XXIV.  Do you think he is the same, or has he changed?
  4. Discuss Achilleus' choice to avenge Patroklos' death.  Do you think it noble, grand, and tragic or a useless gesture of a troubled adolescent?
  5. Discuss Homer's attitude toward Helen, Paris, and Menelaos.  Does Homer place the blame for the action of The Iliad  on anyone and thereby take sides?
  6. Discuss the relationship between "the will of Zeus" or the "will of the Gods" and the choices of action men take in The Iliad.
  7. Discuss the role of women in The Iliad.  Be sure to include Hekabe, Andromache, and the Goddesses in your discussion.
  8. Do the Trojan elders think Helen is worth fighting a war for?
  9. Do you think the Greeks reacted appropriately or inappropriately to the "abduction" of Helen?
  10. Given Paris' choice of unlimited wealth, power, or sexual pleasure, which would you choose and why?
  11. How and why does Athena cause the truce between the Achaians and the Trojans to be broken at the beginning of Book 4, and why does she choose Pandaros to do her bidding? 
  12. How are Agamemnon and Achilleus reconciled?
  13. How are similes used stylistically and thematically in The Iliad?
  14. How does Aphrodite use her sexuality as a weapon to get what she wants?
  15. How does Hektor's body get back inside the walls of Troy so that he can be buried?
  16. How does Hera direct Zeus’ attention away from the battlefield at Troy so that Poseidon can help the Greeks?
  17. How does Hera respond to Thetis’ request that Zeus grant Achilleus’ request to pin the Achaians back against the ships dying, and what does that incident tell you about the Gods?
  18. How does Hera turn Zeus' attention away from the battlefield so that Poseidon can help the Achaians?  What does the incident tell you about Zeus? 
  19. How does Hera use her sexuality as a weapon to get what she wants?
  20. How does Sarpedon, king of the Lykians and son of Zeus, die? And how does Zeus react to his son's death?  What does that tell you about Zeus? 
  21. How does the single combat between Aias and Hektor end, and what does that entire episode tell you about Aias and Hektor? 
  22. How does the single combat between Hektor and Aias end?
  23. How does the single combat between Paris and Menelaos end, and what does that entire episode tell you about Paris? 
  24. How does the story of Dolon in Book 10 relate to the rest of The Iliad?
  25. In Book XXIII Achilleus presides over a number of contests during the funeral games for Patroklos.  At the end of each contest Achilleus gives a prize to the winner.  Do you think that is the same Achilleus that quarreled with Agamemnon in the first Book?  What has Achilleus learned? 
  26. In The Iliad, is Nestor just a tedious old fool, or is he boring people on purpose?
  27. Is Briseis really the “bride of his heart” as Achilleus claims?
  28. Should Achilleus have not listened to Athena and killed Agamemnon anyway at the assembly in Book I?
  29. The Iliad  has been called the first great tragedy.  Discuss the truth or falsehood of this statement
  30. The Iliad  is full of violence and death.  Discuss Homer's purpose in choosing war to serve as a backdrop to this examination of man and his choices.
  31. What do we learn about Achilleus from the way he acts during the funeral games for Patroklos?
  32. What do you learn about Diomedes from the way he acts in Books 5 through 8?
  33. What do you make of the Gods from the glimpse of Olympus at the end of Book 1 of The Iliad?
  34. What does Agamemnon offer Achilleus if Achilleus will return to battle in Book XI?  What do you learn about Agamemnon from that episode?
  35. What does Aias say when he tries to persuade Achilleus to return to battle in Book 9, and why does Achilleus react the way he does? 
  36. What does Hektor promise that prompts Dolon to try to spy on the Greek encampment?
  37. What does Odysseus say when he tries to convince Achilleus to return to battle in Book 9 (the embassy), and how does Achilleus answer him?
  38. What does Phoinix say when he tries to convince Achilleus to return to battle in Book 9 (the embassy), and how does Achilleus answer?
  39. What does the battle between Menelaos and Paris in Book 3 tell you about both of those men?
  40. What is on the new shield that Achilleus gets from his mother, and why do you think that extensive word-picture might be important to the themes of The Iliad? 
  41. What is represented on the shield Hephaistos makes for Achilleus?
  42. When Diomedes meets the Trojan Glaukos, instead of fighting, they talk for a while and then exchange armor.  Why?  And what does the incident tell you about Diomedes? 
  43. Which of the three emissaries (Odysseus, Phoinix, Aias) makes the most persuasive argument to Achilleus to return to battle?
  44. Who do you think is a more courageous man, Priam or Achilleus?
  45. Who gives Achilleus his new golden armor, and what happened to his old armor?
  46. Who is Astyanax, and why is he important in the events of Book 6? 
  47. Who is Diomedes, and why is he important? 
  48. Who wins the chariot race at Patroklos’ funeral games, and what does that episode tell you about Achilleus?
  49. Why do Sarpedon and Glaukos fight at Troy, even though they are not Trojans, but Lykians?
  50. Why does Achilleus reject Agamemnon's offer? 
  51. Why does Agamemnon promise a great number of gifts for Achilleus in Bk. 9 of The Iliad?
  52. Why does Agamemnon refuse the priest Chryses when he comes to Agamemnon as a suppliant?
  53. Why does Andromache tell Hektor that Hektor is her father, mother, brother, and young husband?
  54. Why does Athena choose Pandaros as the one to break the truce in Book 4 rather than Hektor or Aineias or Antenor?
  55. Why does Hektor stand and face Achilleus?  Does his action enforce of deny the martial code before the walls of Troy?  Are Hektor and Achilleus alike in any way?
  56. Why does Zeus send a dream to Agamemnon at the beginning of Book 2 of The Iliad?
  57. Women do not have a central role in the action of The Iliad, but no one would suggest that the Homeric world could exist without them.  Briefly suggest what you think are the salient contributions made by Briseis, Helen, and Andromache in The Iliad
  58. In what four ways does Agamemnon insult Chryses?

 

The Odyssey

  1. Compare Odysseus' many false wives (Nausikaa, Circe, Calypso, etc) with Penelope.
  2. Compare Odysseus' success as roving Achaian pirate and great warrior with his success as the husband of Penelope.
  3. Do all the suitors deserve to die, or is this just a case of primitive Greek barbarianism, bereft of the benefits of civilization as we know it?
  4. Early on in The Odyssey we know that Odysseus will be successful in recovering his home.  Why doesn't Homer care to keep us in suspense?
  5. How are the women of The Iliad  different from the women of The Odyssey?
  6. How do the stories of Agamemnon, Klytaimestra, and Aigisthos and of Hephaistos, Aphrodite, and Ares relate to the story of Odysseus?
  7. How does Nestor figure in the Odyssey, and why might his appearance be important? 
  8. How does Odysseus avoid eating the cattle of the sun? 
  9. How does Odysseus get off of Kalypso's island, and why is that event significant?
  10. How does Odysseus get to the island of the Cyclops, and why does he go there? 
  11. How does Odysseus meet Nausikaa?  Why is that meeting important?
  12. How does The Odyssey end?  What does the ending tell you about Odysseus' essential nature?
  13. How does the old maid Eurykleia recognize Odysseus? 
  14. How is disguise a major motif in The Odyssey?  How is disguise related to identity?
  15. How is Odysseus like the Lotus-eaters?
  16. How is Telemachos like his father?
  17. How is the great bow finally passed to Odysseus' hands?  How does that bow relate to identity?
  18. How is the joke played upon the Cyclops related to Odysseus' identity?
  19. How long does Odysseus stay with Circe, and why does he leave her island? 
  20. Is Odysseus a good sailor?  Why can't he ever get where he seems to want to go?
  21. Is the Odysseus of The Iliad  the same as the Odysseus of The Odyssey?
  22. Long before Odysseus meets the suitors, we are aware that he will be successful in recovering his home.  Why doesn't Homer care to keep us in suspense?
  23. The last twelve books of The Odyssey  occur in mundane, everyday Ithaka, in distinct contrast to the roving adventure of the first twelve books.  What are the relationships between the two halves of the narrative?
  24. What do you learn about the suitors from their reactions to Odysseus’ battle with the beggar Iros?  What do you learn about Odysseus himself? 
  25. What does "Odysseus" mean?  How did Odysseus come by his name?
  26. What does Homer accomplish by having Odysseus visit the Land of the Dead?
  27. What does Kalypso offer Odysseus if he will stay with her on the island, and why does Odysseus refuse it? 
  28. What does Telemachos learn about his father from Menelaos and Helen, and why is it important? 
  29. What is Athena's role in The Odyssey?  Would Odysseus be successful without her?
  30. What is special about Odysseus’ bed? 
  31. What is the role of artistic creation in The Odyssey ?  Consider Demodocus, Pheimos, weaving, and fashioning with tools and with words in your answer.
  32. Who do you think has the upper hand in their relationship, Penelope or Odysseus?  Why do you think so? 
  33. Who is Alkinoos, and why is he important? 
  34. Who is Arete and why is she important? 
  35. Who is Demodokos and why is he important? 
  36. Who is Eumaios, and why is he important? 
  37. Who is Iros and why is he important? 
  38. Who is Nausikaa, and why is she important? 
  39. Why do we follow the adventures of Telemachos for the first four books of TheOdyssey?
  40. Why does Odysseus go to the Land of the Dead, and what does he learn there? 
  41. Why does Odysseus prefer Penelope to Calypso?
  42. Why does Odysseus wait in the cave for the Cyclops to come? 
  43. Why does Telemachos visit Helen and Menelaos, and why is that episode significant? 
  44. Why is Odysseus' scar important?

 

The Oresteia

  1. According to the Prologue to The Eumenides, how is civilization itself tied to patriarchy?
  2. How are the Eumenides representative of chthonic deities?
  3. How does Apollo assert his power of patriarchal parentage over the Furies?
  4. How does Electra recognize her brother Orestes in The Libation Bearers?
  5. How is Clytemnestra a woman who is androboulous, (plots like a man)?
  6. How is the death of Iphigeneia both a proper and an improper sacrifice?
  7. How is The Libation Bearers a re-enactment of the events in the Agamemnon?
  8. In The Eumenides, which group has the better claim to justice: the male Apollo and his male reliance on reason, or the female furies and their insistence on emotions, family ties, and the sanctity of motherhood?  (You might consider including Agamemnon, Orestes, Clytemnestra, Electra, and the three choruses [one male and two female] in your discussion).
  9. In the Libation Bearers, where has Orestes been, who does he bring back with him, and why is it important for the play?
  10. Recount the dream Clytaemnestra has in The Libation Bearers, and explain its point.
  11. What are Clytaemnestra’s reasons for killing Agamemnon?
  12. What are the attributes of the chthonic gods in The Oresteia?
  13. What are the reasons Clytemnestra gives to justify her murder of Agamemnon?  What do you think of those reasons?  Is she justified?
  14. What does Cassandra tell the chorus, and why do they fail to understand?
  15. What happened to Iphigeneia, and why is that event important?
  16. What is a libation, and what is the importance of libations in The Libation Bearers?
  17. What is the function of the Chorus in The Libation Bearers?  In The Eumenides?
  18. When does Aigisthos appear in The Agamemnon?  Why is that late entrance important?
  19. When does Pylades speak, and why is it important?
  20. Who is androboulous (plots like a man) in The Agamemnon?
  21. Who makes up the Chorus in The Libation Bearers, and what do they want to happen? 
  22. Why are nets important in the Oresteia?
  23. Why does Agamemnon sacrifice Iphigeneia? 
  24. Why does Cassandra walk willingly to her death in the Agamemnon?
  25. Why does Clytemnestra kill Agamemnon? 
  26. Why does Orestes kill Clytemnestra?
  27. Why don't the Furies pursue Clytemnestra for the murder of Agamemnon?
  28. With how many ships did Agamemnon return from Troy?  What happened to the rest?

 

Oedipus

  1. Does Oedipus have what Aristotle called hamartia, the tragic flaw?  If so, how is that hamartia reflective of the action?
  2. Explain the significance of the following passage from the Oedipus Tyrannous: In name he is a stranger among citizens but soon he will be shown to be a citizen true native Theban, and he’ll have no joy of the discovery; blindness for sight and beggary for riches his exchange, he shall go journeying to a foreign country tapping his way before him with a stick.
  3. Explain the significance of the following passage from the Oedipus Tyrannous: King Phoebus in plain words commanded us to drive out a pollution from our land, pollution grown ingrained within the land; drive it out, said the God, not cherish it, till it’s past cure.
  4. How is Oedipus like and unlike Teiresias?
  5. hy does Oedipus send for Teiresias?  
  6. Is Oedipus a hero or does he have any heroic characteristics?  Does he have any values worth emulating?  If you were a Theban, would you want Oedipus to be your king?
  7. Oedipus Tyrannous lacks any surprise or revelations in it’s action -- the audience knows all that has happened before the play begins, and most of the plays incidents are spurred by actions that have occurred in the past.  What is (are) the relationship(s) between these past actions and what happens on stage?  Has the past “caused” the present?
  8. What are the various meanings and/or puns surrounding the name "Oedipus"?
  9. What do you learn about Jocasta from the way she interacts with Oedipus?
  10. What do you learn about Oedipus from the way he interacts with Teiresias? 
  11. What does blindness mean in the Oedipus Tyrannous?  How is it a major thematic image in the play?
  12. What does Jocasta think of oracular utterances?
  13. What does Oedipus blind himself with?
  14. What does the messenger from Corinth know about Oedipus that Oedipus does not?
  15. What is dramatic irony, and how does it affect our understanding of the play?
  16. What is the difference between a Tyrannous and a Basileous?  How do those terms apply to Oedipus?
  17. What is the relationship between dramatic irony and self-knowledge?  We always “know” more about Oedipus than he knows about himself.  How then, does the play show a relation between the problem of “knowing oneself” and what is “true” in the world beyond oneself?
  18. What oracle was given to Laius, king of Thebes before Oedipus?
  19. What three oracles figure in the Oedipus?
  20. What warnings does Creon receive to temper the severity of his edict?
  21. Why did Oedipus leave Corinth?
  22. Why didn't Oedipus go home to Corinth after consulting the Oracle at Delphi?
  23. Why does Jocasta sacrifice to the Gods in the middle of Oedipus the King?
  24. Why does Oedipus accuse Creon of treason in Oedipus?
  25. Why does Oedipus accuse Creon of treason in the Oedipus?
  26. Why does Oedipus send for Teiresias?
  27. Why doesn't Creon want to be King of Thebes?
  28. Why is the identity of the messenger who brings Oedipus news of Polybus’s death significant?
  29. Why is there no Oedipus complex in the Oedipus?

 

The Bacchae

  1. Do you think Dionysus is a righteous and just God?  Why or Why not?
  2. Do you think Pentheus is a good ruler?  Why or Why not?
  3. Does Pentheus commit acts of atasthalia (doing what you know is wrong even though you know there will be dire repercussions)?
  4. Does The Bacchae present us with a notion of cosmic justice?
  5. How are Pentheus and Dionysos like/unlike each other?
  6. If wisdom comes through suffering in The Bacchae, who suffers and learns?
  7. In The Bacchae, the chorus sings the following: What is wisdom?  What gift of the gods is held in honor like this: To hold your hand victorious over the heads of those you hate.  Is that wisdom?
  8. Using evidence from The Bacchae, show why the following saying is true of Pentheus: You do not know the limits of your strength.  You do not know what you do.  You do not know who you are
  9. What is Agave's crime in The Bacchae, and how is it related to Pentheus' crime?
  10. What is the role of the Chorus in The Bacchae?  How do their statements affect our comprehension of the play?
  11. Who are the Bacchae?  What do they want?
  12. Who punished Cadmus and why?
  13. Why do Cadmus and Teiresias dance?
  14. Why does Pentheus want to see the Bacchantes?

 

 

 

Lysistrata

  1. Could the solution proposed by Lysistrata ever really work?
  2. How does Lysistrata convince the rest of the women in Athens to follow her plan of action?
  3. How does Lysistrata end?  What is the significance of the ending? 
  4. How is Lysistrata both a character and a symbol?
  5. What elements in the Lysistrata make it a structural comedy?
  6. What happens to Peace at the end of Lysistrata, and why is she female?
  7. Why does the male chorus carry pots of fire in Lysistrata, and what does the female chorus carry?

 

The Aeneid

  1. What is the importance of Evander's story of Hercules and Cacus?
  2. Who are Cacus and Evander, and why are they important?
  3. Who is Amata, and why is she important?
  4. What is depicted on the shield Vulcan makes for Aeneas, and why is it significant?
  5. Does Aeneas love Dido?  Explain why or why not.
  6. What convinces Anchises to leave Troy and seek a new home?
  7. Who is Creusa, and why is she important?
  8. Who has hair that flames in The Aeneid, and why is it important?
  9. What does Aeneas see painted on the side of Juno's temple when he enters Carthage, and why is it important?
  10. What is the Golden Bough and why is it important?
  11. What happens when Aeneas pulls up plants from the ground soon after he sets sail from Troy?
  12. Why does Aeneas have to go to the underworld, and what does he learn while he is there?
  13. Is the founding of Rome, as the eventual locus of worldly stability, peace, and civilization, an essentially false dream?
  14. From Sinon to the sister of Turnus, Juturna, The Aeneid  is full of lies and deception.  Discuss the meaning of deceit in the moral pattern established in The Aeneid.
  15. What is the role or artistic creation in The Aeneid?
  16. Aeneas is despicable because he deserts Dido.  Do you agree or disagree?
  17. Nobody in The Aeneid  causes anything to happen.  Only Juno causes action.  Do you agree or disagree?
  18. Is Aeneas himself an example of furor?
  19. What is the importance of Pallas' war-belt?

 

The Bible

  1. How does the story of Cain and Abel establish a paradigm of conflict between brothers that is repeated throughout Genesis?
  2. What is the Sermon on the Mount, and why is it important?
  3. Who is the Woman Clothed with the Sun and why is she important??
  4. What does the term Synoptic Gospels mean and why is it important?
  5. Who is John the Baptist and why is he important??
  6. What happened in the garden of Gethsemene?
  7. Who is Judas and why is he important??
  8. How is Judas different from Pilate?
  9. The people of Israel cry out for a king to govern over them.  What does God think of the idea of a King for Israel?
  10. Does the Prologue to the Book of Job, in which God and Satan more or less have a bet over whether or not Job will continue to be faithful, provide an adequate explanation for the suffering Job must feel when he loses everything, including his children?
  11. How does the Prologue to the Book of Job attempt to control the poetic “core” of the Book of Job?
  12. How does Saul lose God's favor as King of Israel?
  13. What is God’s point when he demands of Job, “Canst thou draw Leviathan up with an hook?”
  14. Who is Samuel, and why is he important?
  15. Who is Saul, and why is he important?
  16. What covenant does God make with Abraham?
  17. Why do the Jews take Jesus to be tried before Pilate?
  18. Briefly list the major differences between the two accounts of creation in Genesis, and briefly state why those differences are important.
  19. How did the Israelites got out of Egypt, and what does that movement mean?
  20. How did Joseph get to Egypt, and why is his sojourn there is part of God's overall plan for Jewish history?
  21. Why are brothers an important and recurrent motif in Genesis and Exodus?
  22. Is the Book of Job and adequate explanation for the suffering in human existence?
  23. Discuss the philosophical implications of one or two of the parables in Matthew.  How are parables useful in laying out religious precepts?
  24. How does the imagery of Jesus in Revelation sort with the portrait of the historic Jesus in Matthew?
  25. Why does God turn his face from Saul?
  26. Why does Jesus speak in parables?

 

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