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AS and A Level: Classics

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  1. Descent to the Underworld in the Aeneid and the Odyssey

    in our name, I shall tell clearly now, and in the telling Teach you your destiny.1 The need for Odysseus to travel to the underworld doesn't seem to be motivated at all in the poem. But it is possible that this part of the poem contains the main idea of the Odyssey plot. He travels around the world for ten years but still comes back to Ithaca. He goes into the kingdom of the dead and returns safely. It is his death and his resurrection. After a person goes through so much, he finds out everything about his inner self.

    • Word count: 1589
  2. Compare the [causes and reasons of] suffering the protagonists cause to their family and their people in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon and Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex.

    Later in the play, when Oedipus is on the way to Thebes, he met and killed Laius. When he arrives at Thebes, he marries his own mother. Years later Thebes is cursed; the city is dying slowly "In countless hosts our city perisheth." (Sophocles, pg. 7). He reluctantly causes suffering to his own people. His mother kills herself, "The illustrious Jocasta is no more." (Sophocles, pg. 44), when she finds out the truth and his children are incestuous. Oedipus Rex causes suffering to his family and people because of his fate. Unlike Oedipus, Agamemnon causes suffering because of his father's actions.

    • Word count: 1144
  3. The Odyssey

    It is a very simple thing to us, the fact that he has faults means very little. But I implore you to look further, the heroes of our day have very little fault. Each of course have a weakness, but that can be seen only as a way to increase the tension and apprehension as the hero somehow conquers the evil bad guy. Odysseus, instead of a single weakness made for a good show, has many. He is especially portrayed as a human being. He is not a god, in fact he must turn to the gods often in order to even accomplish his hope, his dream.

    • Word count: 1556
  4. Which Path Shall I Choose?

    His, believed, parents did not help him make this decision. They knowingly continued with the falsehood of being his true parents. Had they spoken the truth, Oedipus could have chosen the second path and he would have halted his own demise. Iocaste is not to be left without mention in all that happens to Oedipus. As the wife of Laios, and a member of the rule, she allowed for the disposal of her three day old son, with conscious knowledge. Had she taken a different stance on the morality of the destruction of another human being, the events could have been altered.

    • Word count: 824
  5. Odysseus. The first time we meet Odysseus is in book five, previous to this we have only heard about him, from the gods, his family, and his friends.

    Strict narration often polarizes a character, casting them as black or white, good or evil. However, in most writings, and certainly in The Odyssey, the speech of a character allows us to see the various shades of grey, thus portraying the character more fairly. Odysseus was a powerful man, lording over his own small kingdom. Odysseus shares the same love of his homeland, his people, and his wife. He says that it is his "never-failing wish" to see the "happy day of (his)

    • Word count: 1567
  6. The Attitudes of Euripides and Sophocles towards the power of the gods over men and their lives.

    Both playwrights wrote in a time when the people were changing. The gods were considered no longer what they once were, people were starting to reimagine their place in the world, it was at this point that Sophocles attempted to push the traditional value system on his audience. To do this, he shows the perils of disobeying the immutable laws of the gods, in the case of Antigone it is the honouring of the dead. Sophocles was born into a rich and opulent family, he was happy with his place in the world and with the initial forays into democracy that the Athenian republic was making.

    • Word count: 1206
  7. Values in Pindar

    Deification is not something encouraged by Pindar. Pindar's views on aristocracy can be seen clearly in his poems. Take Olympian 1.113-4, ??????????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????????????????????1 Power and wealth are praiseworthy. Wealth for its own sake is not, however. A rich man must use his wealth well in order to appear good. In Pythian 1.90 Pindar advises those who wish to be thought of in good repute to make full use of their wealth: ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????2 And later at line 92 he reproaches those who make money without spending it: ????????????????????????????????????????3 Pindar sees wealth as a gift that should not be admired and praised, but that, if used badly, can be the cause of misfortune.

    • Word count: 1630
  8. 'Whatever it is, I'm afraid of the Greeks, even when they're offering gifts' How is Laocoon proved to be correct?

    Laocoon rushes down from the citadel with a mob that agrees with him, scolding the Greeks for their stupidity. Virgil paints him as a rather wise man, by letting him realise the truth, probably to further emphasise the madness that allowed the Trojans to eventually drag the horse into the city - leading to the fall of Troy. The madness of the Trojans is what Virgil emphasises the most throughout the whole passage, he says they were "blinded by madness", even Laocoon could not dissuade them. Virgil wants to emphasise the stupidity of the Trojans, in this 'madness', and he does this in a few ways, one of these few ways being Laocoon.

    • Word count: 1046
  9. Whom do you admire more as a leader – Odysseus in the Odyssey or Aeneas in the Aeneid?

    Whilst Aeneas is born of the goddess Venus, Odysseus' lineage has no close link to a deity. However, whilst Aeneas is of divine descent, he receives little or no help from his mother. When he lands at Carthage and Venus is kind enough to give him information about Dido's people, she is disguised and departs immediately after having spoken, to the despair of Aeneas ("you so often mock your own son...you too are cruel" A.1.406). The other help he receives is limited ("thick mist" A.1.411) and with no knowledge of its existence. Whilst his mother is vehement in defending her son and his people when she is on Olympus ("it is unspeakable.

    • Word count: 3596
  10. The Oedipus Cycle

    / Go on raving as long as you've a friend to endure / you" (Antigone: 223). He even goes so far as to call his father perverse. "If you were not my father, / I'd say you were perverse" (Antigone: 222). They both upset the gods when they act out of necessity. Oedipus has to kill Laios or be killed. Creon treats Polyneices like a traitor should by refusing him his right to be buried. Their differences, now, as kings, are that Oedipus rules the people of Thebes with love, as a father might his children, love.

    • Word count: 933
  11. What qualities does Odysseus show in the episodes he relates in Books 9-12? Does he appear to learn anything as these adventures progress?

    Thus we also see the first superficial contradiction by Homer of Odysseus as a Greek hero. When we define a Greek hero we would expect certain qualities to apparent. A hero would be a good speaker, leader of men, fighter, strong, talk with and/or protected by the gods (i.e. separated from ordinary mortals, excellent, 'aristos'), concerned about kleos, have high principles, and usually an early death is in store for them. However, though these may have been the definitions of an Iliadic hero like Achilles, these qualities are not all attributed to heroism in the Odyssey.

    • Word count: 3186
  12. Odysseus. Although Odysseus physical characteristics are impressive, his character is far more appealing. He is described as a luckless man, but also as kind, wise, brave, and fearless

    The reader achieves the feeling that Odysseus is able to physically conquer any circumstance he encounters. I imagine a Sampson-like character that upon first glance anyone would realize his immense physical strength. As time takes its physical toll on Odysseus, Athena comes along and restores his physical beauty and strength. Through this we are reminded that Odysseus is merely a mortal and needs help along the way.

    • Word count: 529
  13. Compare the portrayal of Clytaemnestra in both Aeschylus’ Agamemnon and Euripides’ Electra. Which portrayal do you think is more effective and why?

    One explanation for the changes in character of Clytaemnestra in these plays is the timescale in which they are set. The events in Electra happen several years after those in Agamemnon, and the more mature and calmer Clytaemnestra we see portrayed in Euripides? play could be due to the effect of time on her, and the fact that she has had several years in which to reflect upon her actions and realise the full extent of the crimes that she committed against her husband.

    • Word count: 1568
  14. Agamemnon - A Greek tradgedy.

    When Agamemnon returned home with his newly won prize Cassandra, Clytemnestra and Aegisthus murdered them both. Some believe that Agamemnon was killed because he brought over Cassandra as a concubine but I believe that the murder was planned before the information that Agamemnon was bringing anyone back. Clytemnestra is a highly controversial character in this play.

    • Word count: 487
  15. Antigone and how it relates to post-9/11 America

    "NO," they say, "We cannot be bombed, we cannot experience any kind of terrorism. It will not happen." There are also some who think that war is the only way to retaliate, and that military retaliation is the only way to solve our problem. Now, I'm no diplomat, but I know that there must be other ways to solve this problem. If we go to war against a man and a few isolated groups of terrorists, it will be a big mistake. The Taliban is violently against the United States, and will use all of their power to win, which would be easy for them in a country like Afghanistan, a country Russia in its powerful era could not beat.

    • Word count: 2026
  16. Epic/ Heroic poetry can be easily defined through comparing and contrasting the exploits and relationships of the characters Achilles and Partrioclus from the Iliad and that of Gilgamesh and Enkindu.

    Achilles however, was fighting to bring home the beautiful woman of their land. Through the exploits we see more differences, Achilles is driven by war and pride for his country and through this he obtains greatness. Whereas Gilgamesh goes out in search of greatness for example, in Gilgamesh's and Enkidu's first adventure they cut down the cedar forest just to defy Humbaba and prove they can do it. A similarity is seen along Gilgamesh's quest for recognition and Achilles quest of for control of what was rightfully his, both end up losing a friend.

    • Word count: 1943
  17. Greek Tragedy

    Each festival included 3 tragic poets to present a "tetrology."(A group of 4 plays) which consisted of 3 tragedies and one satyr.4 Each play would include anywhere from two to four actors, and an assembly of 12-15 choral members. It was each actor's responsibility to display the plot through speech, however they where also responsible for singing solos. The chorus was an important tool in Greek tragedy as they commented on each scene and proposed subtleties to the audience, their song also heightened the emotion and atmosphere of the play.5 Aristotle's "Poetics" is considered the most valuable source of guidance for Greek tragedy.

    • Word count: 2089
  18. In what ways does The Simpsons portray American family and social values?

    Other examples include toys, comics, and computer games But what is it about The Simpsons that continues to make it so popular? Is it Homer? Is it Bart? Or is it just the culmination of the shows different elements? These are some of the ideas I hope to cover in the course of this study. To this day, The Simpsons is still largely rated as the greatest of all the animated sit-coms. Since its release there has been a whole trail of subsequent cartoon impersonations, such as King of the Hill, South Park, Daria, and Beavis and Butthead.

    • Word count: 3561
  19. Oedipus Rex

    Most of the action takes place within the coutyard of the King's palace. This setting represents power and arrogance. The fact that Oedipus does not go to anyone, everyone, including his wife comes to him suggests this arrogance. He still fears the destiny foretold to him, but he beleives that he can change that destiny by staying away from his family. Pg. 59 line 360 tells of this fear and belief. "As, that I should lie with my own mother, breed children from whom all men would turn their eyes; And that I should be my father's murderer.

    • Word count: 822
  20. ‘There are tears for suffering’ Aeneid 1.462. Show how Virgil conveys the pathos of suffering in the Aeneid. To what extent is a sympathetic vision of life evident in Homer’s Odyssey?

    It is impossible to contest that Turnus deserves his death more than someone like Pallas ("he will bitterly regret this spoil" A.10.505). Yet the description of Turnus' fleeing spirit departing his body to "join the shades" is deliberately similar to that of Pallas' death two books earlier. Pallas is an inexperienced and beloved son of Aeneas' ally Evander, who bravely fought the aggressor Turnus as the "weaker" of the two and Turnus is an "insolent" warlord who scornfully and frequently disparages the father son bond ("giving him back the Pallas he deserves" A.10.493).

    • Word count: 3429
  21. The City Dionysia - Dionysus on His Festival

    This is a grand momentous procession, which reflects my grand self. Obviously sacrifices are offered, not pigs or sheep, but the most powerful creature the bull who is respected like me a powerful God. Others sacrifices are made but the greatest is the bull. The scene is colourful with any sponsors wearing magnificent gowns and other people wearing brightly coloured clothes. After these sacrifices the plays begin. These plays are devoted to me. My faithful and loyal followers the Bacchantes worship me. A fine example I made of Pentheus of Thebes through his mother Agave and her sisters, fellow Bacchantes.

    • Word count: 3294
  22. Compare and contrast Oedipus Rex and Faustus as tragedies.

    Faustus, the main character in Faustus, is not trying to save any civilizations like Oedipus is. Faustus is really trying to make himself a better person by learning black magic. He wants to learn evil to make himself more powerful as a person. He signs his soul over to the devil in exchange for twenty-four years of service by Mephistophilis. Greed is the main reason for the fall of Faustus. He chose his own destiny; he knew that when he signed that contract his soul belonged to the devil. Oedipus on the other hand, did not really have much of a choice in his fate.

    • Word count: 668
  23. Sophocles allegedly said that he portrayed his characters as they ought to be, Euripides as they are. To what extent would you agree with this statement?

    Throughout the play, there are many attempts to achieve greater realism, for instance the play takes place outside a peasant's shack, rather than the typical palace of Greek theatre. Another example of heightened realism is apparent in the recognition scene. This scene is featured in several plays on the subject by various playwrights, including Aeschylus' Libation Bearers, and included the same three signs of recognition; the footprint, the lock of hair, and the cloth woven by Electra herself. However, in Euripides' production, these signs are dismissed as unrealistic; 'Footprints?

    • Word count: 1377
  24. Compare the portrayal of Clytaemnestra in both Aeschylus’ Agamemnon and Euripides’ Electra. Which portrayal do you think is more effective and why?

    One explanation for the changes in character of Clytaemnestra in these plays is the timescale in which they are set. The events in Electra happen several years after those in Agamemnon, and the more mature and calmer Clytaemnestra we see portrayed in Euripides' play could be due to the effect of time on her, and the fact that she has had several years in which to reflect upon her actions and realise the full extent of the crimes that she committed against her husband.

    • Word count: 1564
  25. Is Herodotus the father of History or the father of lies?

    Although little is known about Herodotus life other the fact he was born in Halicarnassus, Asia Minor and that must have been from the upper class since he had the financial capability to travel, many things can be inferred about his personality and therefore the credibility of his writing. What is clear is his curiosity about past events and different culture?s tradition all of which Herodotus wanted to learn firsthand not just by reading but rather experiencing them first hand either by visiting distant lands such as Egypt where they occurred but also by hearing about them from as many people who had lived through them themselves, only to conclude and form his own opinion.

    • Word count: 1409

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