An Essay Assignment About Gilgamesh And The Iliad
Choose ONE of the topics below and write an analytical and interpretive essay of about 900 words or four typed, double-spaced pages. DO NOT FORGET TO FOLLOW THE FORMAT OUTLINED IN THE SYLLABUS. Also, do not forget to quote from the texts and include a works cited entry that matches your parenthetical citations! This essay is due on November 9th.
FOR THE PROPER FORMAT FOR QUOTING FROM THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH, THE ILIAD AND THE BHAGAVAD-GITA, SEE THE HANDOUT “QUOTING FROM POETIC TEXTS” IN THE “ASSIGNMENTS” FOLDER ON BLACKBOARD!
NOTE: THE GOAL OF THIS ASSIGNMENT IS TO HAVE STUDENTS SYNTHESIZE TWO DIFFERENT TEXTS IN ONE DISCUSSION!
Topic A: Consider the female characters of our course texts. How do our texts characterize or portray these women? Do these women occupy positions of power? Are they based on any stereotypes? What lessons should a twenty-first century reader take from the respective texts’ presentation of these women? Choose two female characters from the texts we’ve read. Some of the female characters you may choose to discuss include Aruru (Gilgamesh), Ninsun (Gilgamesh), Shiduri (Gilgamesh), Andromache (The Iliad), Athena (The Iliad) Briseis (The Iliad) and Helen (The Iliad). You may also look ahead to Genesis and consider Eve, Sarah or Rebekah. Try to choose two characters who present a significant comparison or contrast.
For each of the characters you choose, briefly summarize her role in her given text and then analyze the character’s significance to the plot or message of the text, and, last, discuss what her portrayal means to a twenty-first century reader. Please make sure that the two characters you choose to discuss are from different texts.
Topic B: In the Bhagavad-Gita, the warrior Arjuna is reluctant to fight a battle because he does not want to kill his kinsmen, who are his opponents. However, Krishna, who is an avatar of the deity Vishnu, dispels his doubts and convinces him to do his duty and fight, teaching him about the nature of the self, sacred duty, action and discipline. In The Iliad, the warrior Achilles is also reluctant to fight for much of the text. What is more, the theme of the text is Achilles’s rage: “Sing, Goddess, Achilles’ rage, / Black and murderous, that cost the Greeks / Incalculable pain, pitched countless souls / Of heroes into Hades’ dark, / And left their bodies to rot as feasts / For dogs and birds as Zeus’ will was done” (1). Achilles does not return to battle until he does so to avenge the death of his fallen friend, Patroclus.
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