This is an analytical essay where you are required to use specific examples and direct quotations from your primary texts to support and prove your points. The goal of this essay is that you present an argument from your position/viewpoint and use direct quotes from the text to support it. It is not a report or a book review, but your views, arguments, and opinions are what matter. You are not required to reference outside sources in your essay, but you may use one critical source if you find one that helps you illuminate (whether through agreement or opposition) part of your argument. Essays that use a critical source effectively may receive up to 10 extra credit points.
-- Ovid, "Creation of the Earth and the Great Flood"
-- Hebrew Bible introduction, p. 151, and Genesis p. 158-167 (Volume A)
-- The Qu'ran introduction, p. 71, and "Jonah" p. 82 (B)
-- "Popul Vuh" p. 520 (C)
-- Epic of Gilgamesh p. 95 (A)
-- The Iliad Book I : The rage of achilles p. 222 (A)
-- Mahabharata p. 1234 (A)
-- The Bhagavad-Gita p. 1282 (A)
**The page numbers reference the starting page of it in the text book for this class and the ending capital letters reference which volume it is in. The text is the norton anthology of world literature and the
Topics (choose ONE of these topics to shape your essay.)
1) Analyze the use of the archetypal hero in Gilgamesh.
2) Examine the nature of morality as defined by one or more texts. Examples: how do the guidelines for moral behavior set down in the Koran compare to or contrast with depictions of moral behavior in Popol Vuh? OR What is the nature of moral behavior as shown in the story of Ovid's creation?
3) Genesis introduces the idea of "original sin" and many myths offer up a culture's idea of what not to do -- why is that so important in ancient stories, even adventure stories? Define, analyze, and compare/contrast the nature of "sin" or "forbidden" behaviors as depicted in Genesis and one other text.
4) Gilgamesh goes on a quest for immortality—consider the nature of immortality and explain how Gilgamesh was both successful and unsuccessful in the fulfillment of his quest. What is the point of his immortality quest for the audience of his myth? Or is there a point at all? Take a stand and support.
5) Define and analyze "love" in one or two texts. Why is it so prevalent a subject? Or, how does each myth ask its audience to define/understand love?
6) Examine the role of women in one or two myths -- you might use a functional approach here, thinking about social contexts, or even a feminist one.
7) Consider the nature of sacrifice—literal or figurative, human or animal—and compare/contrast two texts on the basis of this motif.
8) Explain the function/purpose of violence in one culture or text (i.e. creation myths OR Popol Vuh)
9) Analyze the depictions/use/purpose of common binaries (opposites) in one or two texts. Examples: What is the nature of good and evil as shown in Gilgamesh? OR compare/contrast light and dark imagery in Popol Vuh and Genesis.
Word count of at least 900
At most 1500