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Scylla and Minos Critique

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Scylla and Minos Critique The story of Scylla and Minos is as follows. The city of Alcathoe is being attacked by King Minos, he is doing this to test out the strength of his own armies before he attacks Athens. He wants to attack Athens since they are responsible for the murder of his son. Scylla the daughter of Nisus, the King of Alcathoe, watches the war from inside the city obsessively. Since she has watched the war day in, day out, she has knows all about the horses and clothes of the enemy, and in particular she has become obsessed with Minos. She watches admiringly everything that he does and she starts to fall in love him. She starts to say that she would do anything for him, and she imagines becoming his hostage, although she says that she would never betray her father's kingdom. ...read more.


She swims after the ships and clings onto one, her father however, now changed into an Osprey attacks her and she lets go. As Scylla falls into the sea she is changed into a bird, the Shearer, so named because of how she cut off her father's lock of hair. Scylla's character seems to change throughout the story. She starts off in the story as just being an innocent young girl who is watching her father's city being attacked by the Cretans. Although she was "often accustomed to go up to that place" -the royal tower- ('saepe solebat ex illa'), and "watch...the struggles of harsh battle" ('spectare rigidi certamina Martis'), this seems like merely an innocent desire to see what is happening, since her homeland is being attacked after all, there seems to be no harm in her watching what is going on. From this point on in the story, however, you can see Scylla's interest in King Minos begin to grow. ...read more.


This shows how crazed she is becoming, as she has become completely enraptured with Minos. She will do anything for Minos, and she even cold-heartedly begs that she might be rid of her father "If only the gods would grant that I might be without a father!" - 'di facerent, sine patre forem!'. In my opinion, Ovid manages to tell this story effectively. He invokes pathos, as at the beginning of the story you feel sorry for Scylla, and even at the end you almost feel sorry that she is rejected and all her hopes crushed. He also makes you feel somewhat for Nisus, although he isn't mentioned a lot, since he has been betrayed by his daughter. Ovid develops Scylla's character well and entertains the reader by showing how her mental state deteriorates throughout the story and how she manages to convince herself that handing of her father's city to Minos is the right thing to do. All in all, Ovid does manage to make this story interesting and entertaining. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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Response to the question

This answer is a response to the prompt to write a character critique of Scylla and Minos, and while there is some good material here on Scylla, there is nothing written on Minos. Minos’ reaction to what Scylla has done ...

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Response to the question

This answer is a response to the prompt to write a character critique of Scylla and Minos, and while there is some good material here on Scylla, there is nothing written on Minos. Minos’ reaction to what Scylla has done and the actions he took to punish her should have been mentioned and discussed; in failing to do so the candidate has failed to address a substantial part of the question and risks losing a lot of marks. There is also a large section at the beginning to the essay which is purely narrative – in A level Latin it is often better to avoid these sort of ‘the story so far’ paragraphs and get directly to answering the question (there is a limited amount of time in the examination and you will not get marks for it), either analysing the extract line by line or otherwise by discussing the themes, characters and motifs within the extract and using examples from the text where appropriate.

Level of analysis

There is some good analysis here, but I felt it could have been developed a lot more. The candidate has shown a good appreciation of how Scylla’s infatuation with Minos develops throughout the text, although she is perhaps not so black and white as the candidate makes out. She spends a lot of time thinking it through before she finally decides to carry out her act of parricide; there is a long internal monologue in which she essentially talks herself into murdering her father. The candidate could have included this as a way of showing the subtleties of Scylla’s character. Furthermore, how does she deal with Minos’ rejection? This is an important part of the story, as her inability to cope with his refusal to marry her is vital to the plot and also reveals how strongly she believed Minos would love her back. The candidate unfortunately gives this only a brief mention in his/her conclusion. In general, while there are good elements to this essay, there is a lot more that could be written. A particularly strong point is that the candidate has referenced the Latin text (and included an English translation) very closely and extensively when making his/her points. This is very important for getting good marks in essay questions.

Quality of writing

The English in this essay is generally very good, and there are only some minor points regarding punctuation where the candidate has slipped up: failing to punctuate before a quotation mark, and inconsistent use of quotation marks, i.e. alternating between double (“) and single (‘) – it is better to stick with one. However these are extremely minor points and it is unlikely that they would have an effect on the candidate’s QWC marks. Overall the quality of writing is very good, and the style of the essay is fluent. There is also a clear structure to the essay, which makes the candidate’s argument easy to follow, however, it could perhaps be improved with a stronger introduction setting out the argument s/he will put forward – it is, after all, important to make a good first impression on the examiner.

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Reviewed by medbh4805 05/04/2012

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