Project #29048 - World Lit.

4 pp. typed and double-spaced at a minimum: I will not grade papers that do not meet the minimum page requirement.

Due Monday,4/28  by 12:00 noon.

20% of course grade 

To help you prepare for this assignment, you will be required to turn in a written proposal for your paper with your reading questions assignment for Module 8, the module on Vergil’s Aenied.

(See the syllabus for the general guidelines.)  

 

You are expected to use comparison and contrast as a major mode of writing for this assignment.  You may compare and contrast two characters, two works, two depictions of the same theme, etc.  Focus your topic carefully by stating a clear, well-defined thesis (in the first paragraph), and develop your thesis through logically organized paragraphs toward a significant conclusion. Basing your answers on an understanding of the work as a whole will help you to select appropriate passages as evidence and to use those passages correctly to support your argument. Be deliberate about your analysis of the support you give as well. Assume your reader (me) has read the work; do not summarize the plot(s), but refer instead to specific events for support.  You do not have to do research for this paper, but you may, if you like, consult a scholarly work on the text.  YOU MAY NOT, HOWEVER, SIMPLY LOOK UP INFORMATION ON SOME RANDOM WEBSITE.  If you choose to do research, you must go through the SCSU library website and find a scholarly article or book from there.  Most of your paper, however, should be your own analysis of the text.  

 

Directions will be provided about how to send this paper to me as a file attachment via Blackboard.

 

For a future module (I will notify you when) you will be writing a proposal for your paper topic and include it as part of reading questions assignment.  Here are the directions ahead of time for that proposal: Proposal for the Paper Due as part of Reading Questions Assignment #8: Write a paragraph (a minimum of seven sentences, that explains what work(s) you will be analyzing, what topic you will be exploring in relation to those works, and what your working thesis is.  

 

Here are some suggested topics.  If you have another idea, you need to clear that with me as soon as possible.  And, yes, you need to write your paper on the works we have covered in class:

 

1. N. K. Sandars points out that Enkidu “does not look back again to his old free life until he lies on his death-bed, when a pang of regret catches hold of him and he curses all the educators” (30). Sandars refers to this event in The Epic of Gilgamesh as “the fall in reverse” and as “an allegory of the stages by which mankind reaches civilization” (30).  The idea of civilization is important in Vergil’s Aeneid as well.  Write an essay in which you compare the images of the city in Gilgamesh and in Vergil’s Aeneid.  Discuss this Mesopotamian view of the civilized man by tracing or analyzing Enkidu’s evolution (or devolution) from his original state to his final state; then discuss what the city represents in Vergil’s epic.  Does either of the works present the idea of civilization as a “mixed blessing”?  Does either of the works depict the city in an almost completely positive light?

 

2. The combat between Gilgamesh and Humbaba in the epic has its origins in two Sumerian poems “Gilgamesh and Huwawa A” and “Gilgamesh and Huwawa B.”  There are several similarities in the role of Enkidu in the Sumerian version and Akkadian version of the story. For instance, in both versions Enkidu gives Gilgamesh encouragement when his courage fails him. In both versions Enkidu also urges the hero not to spare Humbaba’s life. However, in the Sumerian tradition, Enkidu is called Gilgamesh’s servant, there is no mention of the origins of Enkidu in the wilderness, and the scene with the harlot Shamhat is completely left out. Does the transformation of Enkidu’s status and role from the earlier to later traditions affect our understanding of the relationship of Gilgamesh and Enkidu? What is Enkidu’s status in the epic we are reading for class, and how does this affect the relationship between Enkidu and Gilgamesh? What is Enkidu’s role in the relationship and what is Gilgamesh’s role. You might begin your paper by briefly mentioning the earlier tradition (basically what I just told you), and then discussing in more detail how the Akkadian “additions” to the story transform the relationship of the two characters. Be sure to take into account the whole epic as you discuss Enkidu.

 

3. It is often considered “common knowledge” that women play very little part in heroic epics. Yet there do seem to be women in Gilgamesh who play important, if supporting, roles. Rivkah Harris argues that Gilgamesh is a work written with a male audience in mind and that in such a context, images of women “can . . . embody fears, fantasies, and wishes” (209). Does the same hold true for the sections of the Iliad that we read or any of the other epics we have looked at?  Write an essay in which you compare one major female character in Gilgamesh (Shamhat, perhaps?) with the depiction of women in another epic we have read.  If there is a major female character in the second work you choose, you should discuss her role and how she is central to the epic.  (Dido?)  If there don’t seem to be any major female characters in the second epic you pick, you should analyze how that text is mainly “male-driven.”  According to Harris, one best understands the role of women in this epic by considering their relationship and interactions with the hero Gilgamesh. With this in mind, pick one of the more important women in the epic and discuss her role. What does she represent? How does she interact with either Gilgamesh or Enkidu and does this have any affect on the male character? What does the way the male character interacts with the female you are discussing tell us about perceptions about her character?  

 

4. Vergil’s Aeneid shares a connection to the Trojan legend with to Homer's Iliad, but, as we have discussed in class, there are important differences. For instance, while both Achilles and Aeneas face fierce battles, Vergil’s Aeneas is a protagonist with a less personal and more “nationalistic” mission. Moreover, one could argue that the story about Aeneas looks to the future (what is going to happen after Aeneas is long gone) in a way that Achilles’ story does not. This eye towards the future may in part be a reflection of the fact that Aeneas, while the protagonist of Vergil’s epic, is not the only focus of the narrative. Write an essay in which you discuss Aeneas’ adventures in light of what you see as one of the purposes of this Roman epic. For this topic, you will be keeping a comparison of Achilles and Aeneas in mind, but you will be focusing on Aeneas. A good way to begin the body of the paper, for instance, would be to discuss briefly the characterization of Homer’s protagonist in the Iliad, including what you think may have been the purpose of the work. Spend at most two paragraphs on this, however, and then quickly move on to the Aeneid. Your discussion of the Aeneid should obviously refer back to what you said about the Iliad, but you should broaden out the discussion of the Aeneid even more. The thesis of the paper should make some sort of assertion about how the Aeneid differs from many other heroic works of antiquity (it also differs from Gilgamesh, no?), but you do not necessarily need to set up a comparison with the Iliad specifically in the thesis. 

 

5. One of the major themes in Virgil's Aeneid is the conflict between “pietas” and “fury.” We will be  discussing Aeneas as a figure of both, even considering the possibility that the ending of the work is equivocal (ambivalent – not sure which side to take) in terms of whether or not Aeneas finally develops into a representation of “pietas.” Write an essay in which you compare and contrast Aeneas as a figure of pietas or furor with another character.  You will be considering when the character you picked seems to be showing “pietas” and when your character seems to be a figure of furor.  However, you will be expected to make up your mind about whether your character is ultimately a figure of pietas, a figure of furor, or whether the text suggests that the figure shows both treats equally, and your thesis should make your assertion clear. To help you make this decision, consider how many times that characters seems to be a figure of each trait. Consider also the last thing we see the character doing. Be sure to pick a character that is well developed and that clearly shows both aspects. Be sure also do define what “pietas” is and what “furor” is, based on our class discussion. In your conclusion, you might consider what the text might be “saying” about the struggle between “pietas” and “furor” with the representation of your character.  

 

4. Scholars who study medieval Icelandic heroic sagas note the normally negative view that narrators tend to have about romantic passion. In fact, in many sagas, the most successful marriages are those that were arranged by parents, as opposed to those marriages based on passion alone. The idea is that a marriage in which both sets of parents choose wisely for their children will be a marriage in which the couple will learn to love one another because of their complimentary traits. In fact, arranged marriages are still practiced today in many cultures, and there is no evidence suggesting that these marriages are necessarily going to be unhappy ones. Furthermore, in ancient times, marriages were often (among the upper classes) political alliances. With this in mind, consider the women in Aeneas’ life. How does The Aeneid depict both romantic passion and marriage? In a way, the text is framed with the idea of marriage. Aeneas married to at the beginning of the epic, and he seems to have cared about his wife (who died at Troy).  At the end of the epic, Aeneas is going presumably going to marry Lavinia, the daughter of the king of the Latins.  (This is obviously a political alliance.) But the most important woman for this paper is, obviously, Dido. What does the way that the love affair between Dido and Aeneas is portrayed in the text seem to suggest about passion? How does this “statement” about the affect of passion and its role in human life relate to Roman ideals that Vergil explores in the text?

 

5. Compare and contrast two of the heroes we have been discussing.  Your paper should answer the following questions: what are the cultural values that the virtues of each hero represents?  In what ways does each hero uphold these values?  In what ways might the hero be viewed as failing to uphold these values, if you think that hero does ever fail?  Which of the two heroes is more “heroic” in terms of living up to the heroic virtues expected of him within the context of the work?  (Note that this is not asking whether or not you like the hero so much as whether or not the hero lives up to the values of his society successfully.)  One possible approach to this topic might be to use Rama (see Module 9), arguably the hero in most control of his passions, with one of our other heroes, such as Achilles.  Your conclusion might discuss which of the two heroes, if any, grows the most as a character and why you think so.

 

*N.B. Your job as you write this paper is not simply to answer the questions I list under each topic. The questions are meant simply to get you thinking about the topic.

 

Sandars, N. K., Trans. The Epic of Gilgamesh. London: Penguin, 1960.

Harris, Rivkah. “Images of Women in The Gilgamesh Epic.”  The Epic of Gilgamesh: A Norton Critical 

Edition. Trans. Benjamin R. Foster. New York: Norton, 2001. 207-218.

 

 

Subject English
Due By (Pacific Time) 04/21/2014 11:00 am
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