Greek Tragedy paper topics

Due Tuesday, December 3 (via email or hard copy)

– 5 pages minimum (double-spaced, Times New Roman font, 12 pt)
– Include at least 6 quotations from the plays of the Oresteia, along with line numbers/page references and your interpretation of what the lines mean.
–  MLA, APA, Chicago citation format (choose one and be consistent)
– Review the SPU policy on academic dishonesty: While you can quote briefly from your sources, the majority of the paper’s writing should be your own.
– Proofread your paper at least twice after you have finished writing it. For a paper to have the highest grade (A), it must contain no grammatical errors.

Essay #2: Essay on Tragedy as a Literary Genre and Cultural Artifact

1. Now that we have read a number of tragedies by the three great playwrights of ancient Greece, what is your definition of tragedy?

  • Discuss at least two plays by two different authors
  • Discuss this statement: Ancient Greek tragedy is about contradictions, about living with and in them and trying, with our inadequate poor human tools, to make sense of them.

2. How does the function of the chorus change over the course of the 5th century B.C.E.? Use at least two plays by at least two different authors.

3. Explain how Aristophanes, in his comedy Frogs, distinguishes between the writing style of Aeschylus and that of Euripides. Based on an analysis of selected passages from the plays of each write, would you say he is accurate or not?

4. Can any of Euripides’ tragedies be characterized as comedies or as having comic elements?

  • discuss at least two plays by Euripides
  • discuss one comedy by Aristophanes to explain what comedy is

5. How does tragedy question, reverse, challenge, undo gender roles? Discuss via analysis of two plays. You might wish to focus on a particular character who has both male and female aspects.

Your paper should contain:

  1. Introduction
  2. Clearly identifiable thesis that states the main argument of your paper
  3. Well-structured paragraphs (each with a topic sentence and transitions) that develop the points noted in the next section
  4. Conclusion summarizing your discussion and suggesting a possible direction for further investigation
  5. A title.

Essay #1: Close-reading/analytical essay on the Oresteia

1. Select one choral song from two of the plays. Analyze and explain how their use of imagery, mythological references etc.  reflects on the main action of each play.

2. Choose one of these paired opposites: Male/female (gender); divine/human; nomos (custom, law)/physis (nature); dark/light; old/young. Using specific examples from each of the three plays, explain how these opposites contribute to the meaning of the Oresteia (be sure you explain what, in your own words, that meaning or lesson is).

3. The chorus says that we “pathe mathos” (“learn by suffering,” line 249/p. 12) in one of its songs in the Agamemnon. How is this theme reflected in the three plays and in the trilogy of the Oresteia overall?


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