Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Ancient World Humanities Midterm Exam
Fall 2021

Humanities 101 — Delahoyde
Washington State University

THE ANCIENT WORLD
MIDTERM EXAM


BIG DAY: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 6th.


 

I. IDENTIFICATIONS. [10 questions; total 20 points.]

You know, in what work do we read that God created light? Who is “the man of twists and turns?”: that kind of very brief question. This portion of the midterm exam will be inflicted individually and intracerebrally during the scheduled class period. I will e-mail you the questions (both as e-mail text and as a Word doc) by 1:00pm on October 6th and will expect answers (either format) back by 2:00pm.

II. QUOTATIONS. [8 questions; total 40 points.]

Also included in the e-mail will be a combination of identification and, more importantly, significance questions, following quotations from the material of the first half of the semester, extracted for their representativeness of our discussions over the key points these weeks. This is not trivial pursuit. If you read the works and paid attention in class, only a close review of notes is necessary for preparation. My web notes might serve as a useful resource too.

III. TAKE-HOME ESSAY. [Total 40 points.]

DO THIS FIRST. This portion of the exam will also be due on exam day, October 6th, 1:00pm. There will be a space in Canvas discussion for you to upload it by that time or earlier.
Answer the following question thoroughly and precisely, in about three (3) pages, double-spaced. The essay should be a virtuoso piece of brilliance manifested in impressive eloquence, with facile reference to specifics from the mythological texts.

  • The theme of Homer’s Odyssey, like Odysseus’ character, and like life, is that of “twists and turns.” Anyone who does not have a personal Odyssey going on, or has not had one, is either meaningless or emotionally dead. Sketch one of your own Odysseys with as many Homeric metaphors to be found in our epic as you discover as relevant. (Who was your Cyclops? or Circe? What was your Charybdis? Most importantly, what did it mean to get back “home”?) This does not have to be any confessional spilling of intimate autobiography: any journey can be meaningful, whether in terms of profession, identity, academics, employment, familial, spiritual, etc. It is your task to find and articulate the relevance and wisdom of this ancient material.

No late essays will be accepted, nor is it my responsibility to decode whatever crazy other formats you spring on me. You will not find your way out of the Underworld.

For more advice on writing a sterling essay and avoiding common pitfalls, see here:
Essay Advice.


BIG DAY: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 6th.


SAMPLE QUESTIONS

IDENTIFICATIONS
Identify the character or thing referred to (underlined) in the following.

He caught another brace of men
to make his breakfast, and whisked away
his great door slab.”

                              _________________________________

 

The Lord answered him
out of the whirlwind.”

                              _________________________________

 

“It was Aegisthos who designed
my death, he and my heartless wife.”

                              _________________________________

 

* * * * *

QUOTATIONS.

1) “Mind you, he does not kill the man;
he only buffets him away from home.”


Who is buffeting whom? and why, especially?
Who instead offers frequent help?

2) “Bird life aplenty is found in the sunny air,
not all of it significant.”


Perhaps not. But many ancient cultures have considered birds
to be creatures worthy of special status and connected with prophecy.
Why would this be?

3) “But after you have dealt out death … to all the suitors,
go overland on foot, and take an oar …
where men have lived with meat unsalted, never known the sea.”


Who in hell says this to whom?
How did he get so skilled at “seeing”?
Why is this instruction and important ritualistic resolution to the story?