Classical Cultures- Odysseus and Lucius: Narratives of Suffering
In an essay of 4-5 pages (due Tuesday May 13), develop a thesis (i.e. central argument) responding to one of the following two topics:
1. Odysseus and Lucius: Narratives of Suffering
In both Homer’s Odyssey and Apuleius’ The Golden Ass, the protagonist spends a significant amount of time struggling to reach the end of a long and arduous journey. Eventually, both Odysseus and Lucius successfully attain their goals, with Odysseus reestablishing himself as the king of Ithaca, and Lucius being restored to human form. Comparing the experiences of these characters on their respective journeys, develop a thesis arguing for which character experiences more personal hardship and suffering, and why. Your thesis statement should state which character suffers more, along with stating a fundamental reason why you think that this is the case.
Listed below are some issues you may wish to discuss in your analysis (you are free to explore other related issues as well). While your paper should be driven by a specific thesis, you may wish to consider how these various questions relate to your argument.
• Which character experiences more obstacles and hardships? Is either character more well-equipped to deal with such obstacles?
• Does either character ever want to give up on the goals of their journey because of its difficulty, or do they remain focused on their original goals throughout? Do we ever see either character lamenting their personal situation?
• In what ways is each character affected by feelings of isolation from society? How is each character affected by the relationships he forms with other people he encounters on his journey?
• Are there any points when either character’s journey does not seem difficult? Are there any points where either character actually seems to gain enjoyment, rather than suffering, from his experiences?
• How is the journey of each character impacted by divine and/or supernatural forces? Do such forces ease or worsen their suffering?
• How are the characters changed by their experiences, and does this change result from the suffering endured on their journey?
2. Challenging Cultural Traditions in Classical Literature
Many of the texts we have read this semester feature characters who challenge traditions that exist in their culture. Such characters may do so directly and intentionally, or they may do so indirectly or even unwillingly. Choose two characters from different pieces of literature we have read this semester, comparing the ways in which they challenge traditions, stereotypes, or assumptions that exist in the culture they are a part of. For your thesis for this topic, you should state an argument about one fundamental similarity in the ways that your two
characters challenge cultural traditions/stereotypes /assumptions, and one fundamental
difference in the ways they challenge cultural traditions/stereotypes/assumptions. In the
body of your paper, you should explain exactly what cultural traditions/stereotypes/
assumptions are challenged by each character, and then develop and support the points made
in your thesis.
Listed below are some issues you may wish to discuss in your analysis (you are free to explore other
related issues as well). While your paper should be driven by a specific thesis, you may wish to consider
how these various questions relate to your argument.
• How can we tell that cultural traditions are being challenged in each piece of literature? Does the
piece of literature make that explicit, or does it have to be inferred by the reader?
• Do your characters challenge cultural traditions in an outspoken or direct way? Or are their challenges
to cultural traditions more subtle/less obvious?
• Are your characters part of a larger group or movement that is challenging cultural traditions, or are
the characters alone in challenging cultural traditions?
• How do other characters (whether they are mortals or gods) respond when traditional cultural
elements are challenged or threatened? Is the character viewed or treated differently because of the
challenge(s) s/he presents to tradition? For example, is the character perceived as a threat to society?
Is the character honored or respected?
• Within the work of literature, does the character’s challenge to traditional culture result in any
observable change in culture or society?
For both topics, your response should be centered upon a thesis (argument) clearly stated at
the end of your introduction. This thesis should be supported throughout your paper with
relevant textual evidence (i.e. quotations and examples), which should be thoroughly analyzed
and discussed. No outside research should be used to complete the assignment, so
concentrate on the words and ideas expressed in the texts themselves.
Your paper will once again be evaluated according to how well it demonstrates critical
thinking about the topic, organization, clarity, analysis of textual evidence, quality of
argumentation, and quality of writing/English language skills. I strongly encourage you to look
back at your first essay for the course and contemplate the comments and feedback you
received so that you can think about how to improve your writing. As mentioned in class,
strong consideration will be given to demonstrated improvement over the course of the semester.
I encourage you to start working on your topic soon. As always, I will be happy to meet with you to discuss your topic, and I will be able to offer more help the sooner you contact me. Help is also available in the Learning Center (1300 Boylan Hall), which offers free tutoring for students who need assistance with their writing for courses across the College’s curriculum. Students who take their papers to the Learning Center and present proof to show they received help, as well as their original draft and their edited work, may be awarded extra credit (up to 10 pts.) at my discretion. If you intend to take advantage of this option, you must work with a writing tutor for at least an hour and should plan to go to the Learning Center well in advance of the paper’s due date.
? 12 point font, Times New Roman or Palatino. Double-spaced, one inch margins. Print in black ink.
? The top of your first page should include ONLY your name and day/time of section, and the title of your paper. No “cover sheet” or “title page” is needed. PLEASE STAPLE YOUR WORK.
? Your paper MUST include citations from the text. This means either a direct quote or a reference in the body of the paper (no “Works Cited” page is needed). All citations must be cited by book/line numbers or section numbers, when available (if not, use the page numbers given in the text) following your quote or reference.
? No quote should be longer than three lines of text. If you want to reference a larger chunk of text, just paraphrase it, rather than quoting the entire part (large quotes just take up space and in no way add to the paper). Only use quotes that will help aid your argument. Do not use quotes/references just to show which scene you are talking about.
? Remember that your audience is me, your instructor. There is no need to summarize the texts, as this is just “filler.”
? Use proper grammar. Avoid numbers, write them out. Avoid contractions: isn’t, didn’t, etc. Avoid language that sounds colloquial. PROOFREAD/EDIT!
? Make sure your thesis is clearly stated and specific. Do not pursue an idea that is too large for a 4-5 page paper. Stay focused on your central argument throughout the paper, and make sure each part of your paper logically transitions from and connects with what precedes it.
? Do not use outside resources. This is not a research paper, so just focus on the readings.
? Do not plagiarize. This is an inexcusable offense, and you will receive a grade of 0 for it. Remember that for this paper you must submit your work through SafeAssign on Blackboard, as well as hand in a hard copy.
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