You will write a five page paper (approximately 1,500 words) based on Homer’s Odyssey and/or Sophocles Oedipus the King and Antigone. As before, choose a topic that focuses on one or the other or the interaction of both. The list below provides a few possible suggestions. Be sure you have a clear thesis based on your main idea and use the paper to support your thesis.
Discuss the theme of personal identity and self-knowledge. This is a key issue for both Odysseus and Oedipus. (With regard to Odysseus, see the essay by George Dimock posted earlier in the semester.)
Discuss the role of fate and free will or agency in human affairs as depicted by Homer and/or Sophocles. Can human beings make a real difference in the world through their choices and actions? You may also want to consider gender in relation to this topic, since women (Penelope, Antigone, Ismene, Jocasta) are particularly constrained in their power to act.
Oedipus and his family seem cursed, while Odysseus draws great strength from his family, with loving relationships with his wife, son, and father. Yet Oedipus is not obviously a worse man than Odysseus. How might we account for this difference? Is it just luck of the draw, or is there something more going on?
Discuss the theme of blindness in Homer and Sophocles (e.g., Polyphemus, Tiresias, Eurycleia, Oedipus).
Using Aristotle’s six essential elements, discuss either the element of plot – how did Homer and Sophocles choose to tell their stories and why did they make certain choices? Or Character – what does Odysseus or Oedipus learn about themselves and how does that help the audience/reader learn something about themselves?
As with all written work, we expect to see thoughtful, well-written, and grammatically correct prose befitting an upper-level college course. Please be mindful of the usual standards of academic integrity and ensure that you cite all sources used in your paper (Turabian or MLA format preferred).
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