Answer two (2) of the following three (3) questions in ESSAY format. Use evidence and examples from the readings to support your answers. Your answers should be in the form of formal essays (containing a beginning, middle, & end), and should be a good deal more substantial than the sort of postings you write for the weekly discussion questions (the equivalent of at least three double-spaced pages each—approximately 750 words). Completeness, originality of thought and clarity of expression will be my primary interest in grading your answers. I am interested in the quality of your thinking here. Of course, such matters as grammar, spelling and punctuation will count as well in the grading process – this is, after all, an English course (see my complete grading criteria in the Syllabus). The best possible answers will address the questions thoughtfully, taking into consideration the readings of the texts and WebCampus Canvas discussions. Be certain that your answers are supported with specific evidence from the text; don’t take anything for granted.
1. Most Americans will probably agree that one of our most powerful contemporary images of heroism would be ordinary firemen and policemen selflessly ascending the burning twin towers on 9/11, or perhaps an image of our valiant volunteer service members hunting down Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Seal Team 6 taking out Osama bin Laden in his hideout in Pakistan, or battling Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, or our Special Operations Forces going after ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Or even ordinary folks helping (and saving) one another during the horrible October massacre across from Mandalay Bay two years ago. How do these images or your own personal notion of heroism compare with the various “ancient” heroes we’ve encountered so far in our readings? Use at least three of the ancient heroes and details from their stories to illustrate your answer (Gilgamesh, Odysseus, Oedipus, Rama, etc.)
2. Pick any three (3) of the MAJOR women characters we’ve encountered so far in the epics and plays we’ve read, and tell me in detail (from their stories and your own knowledge) how they contrast (in terms of heroism, seriousness, strength of character, good/evil, etc.) with the men and the other women in their own and other stories we’ve read (the poet Sappho is not a “character” in this case, although she “appears” in all of her own lyrics, and this question is not really about the lyrics anyway).
3. Greek tragedy developed, in part, as a way for the increasingly sophisticated Athenian (Greeks) to explain to their own satisfaction how it was that “bad things happen to good people.” Aristotle, the 5th century BC Greek philosopher wrote a famous “definition” of tragedy that claimed Oedipus was the “perfect” tragic hero. Explain how it is that Oedipus’s problems with fate and the gods can be seen as essentially his own “fault” or responsibility – since he didn’t know that he killed his own father or married and had children with his own mother. How does the play establish Oedipus’s own responsibility for his fate? This has to do, of course, with his “tragic flaw(s)” whatever that or they may be . . .
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