Humanities 205: Classical Roots of Western Literature

Sample Extract from Final Examination: Fall, 1994

Instructions: Please answer all questions in examination booklets. Sign and Number Booklets and write your preceptor's name on the cover of each. Answers to parts I and II should be brief and to the point, even telegraphic in style.

I. Identifications (1/4 hour. 15%)

CHOOSE 5 of the following 8 concepts or figures and identify or define them concisely; mention any works we have read in which they play a significant role.

5. Battle of Actium.
6. Cosmogony.
7. Pentateuch.
8. Stoicism

II. Quotations (1 1/4 hours. 50%)

CHOOSE 8 of the following 10 passages and identify: (1) the work, (2) the author, (3) approximate date, (4) the speaker(s)/listener(s) and (5) the general context from which the passage is taken. Indicate (6) briefly any themes in the passages that figure prominently in the work as a whole.

A. "I know you are all-powerful:
what you conceive you can perform.
I am the man who obscured your designs
with my empty-headed words.
I have been holding forth on matters I cannot understand
on marvels beyond me and my knowledge.
I knew you then only by hearsay;
but now, having seen you with my own eyes,
I retract all I have said,
and in dust and ashes I repent."

B. "You, Hector--you are my father now, my noble mother,
a brother too, and you are my husband, young and warm and strong.
Pity me please! Take your stand on the rampart here,
before you orphan your son and make your wife a widow."

III. Essays (1 hour. 35%)

CHOOSE one of the questions below and answer it in a coherent essay. You might first jot down your thoughts and put them in an outline before writing the finished essay. Please support your theses by referring as specifically as possible to relevant texts.

1. Many of the books read this term were concerned with revising or criticizing their society's traditions, be these traditions philosophical, political, literary or religious. Choose three such works (e.g. by the author of Job, Sophocles, Plato, Matthew, Ovid, Vergil) and describe the traditions that are subjected to scrutiny and the significance of the revisions/critiques the author proposes.

2. What is the place of emotion in the lives of (choose four) Achilles, Odysseus, Socrates (esp. in Symposium), Kreon (in Antigone), Oedipus, Aeneas or Jesus? Note that we usually oppose "emotion" simply to "reason," but "reason" was one thing in Homer, and another in Plato (and still another in Descartes); think too, therefore, about what "reasonable" behavior entails in the world of each work and how far emotional responses belong to reasonableness or oppose it.

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