Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Mythology: Exam

Fall 2018 — Delahoyde
Washington State University


Your last significant obligation to this course will be an exam, questions and answers for which will concern only the works covered from after the midterm exam through the end of the semester: that’s the Greek plays and Metamorphoses, through Lucrece and the other mythological materials such as love, lycanthropy, and kids’ toys during these last several weeks. Here is the plan for the last exam, the in-class portion of which will take place the morning of Wednesday, April 18th.


On the designated day for this second exam, you will rely on the breadth and depth of your absorption of the class materials in order to answer an assortment of questions, primarily identification based. This portion of the exam will be inflicted on you individually at the beginning of the class period on April 18th.

II. QUOTATIONS / GROUP WORK. [Total 50 points; 5 points each.]

For the remainder of that designated day’s class time, you may work individually or with a partner or two in order to answer mostly (but not all) quotation-based questions: combinations of identification and, more importantly, significance questions based on literary quotations, images, or any other class materials. Guard yourself and your mind: you do not need to accept any sniveling latecomer, whom you don’t think you’ve ever seen before, asking, “Can I be in yer group, dude?” To Hell, is your answer.

III. TAKE-HOME ESSAY. [Total 24 points.]

Do this part before you take the other portions on the last day! (I call it Part 3 because it’s the last portion I read and the culmination of your performance in the class, not because it’s an afterthought for you.) The essay should be an original and virtuoso piece of brilliance, with a unified perspective and fine critical thinking, manifested in impressive eloquence, with facile reference to specifics from the class materials (character names, literary moments, even quotations), and amounting to a minimum of three (3) pages, double-spaced.

  • One of mythology’s purposes is to provide wisdom and guidance for our lives, inclusive of our inevitable crises and triumphs. Thus myths can prompt important self-exploration and serve as compasses for our own human adventures, heroic or subtle.
    Why is it that you believe a particular character from Ovid, or any other character from the material of the second half of the semester, still has relevance today. How do that character’s attributes, pursuits, and challenges hold weight in our contemporary culture, and what wisdom does his or her story convey?
    Focus attention on demonstrating your knowledge of the character, his or her mythological context, and the abstract application of the wisdom inherent in the myth. Big points for originality; stop plagiarizing that Icarus essay on file in your sleazy frat, and tell me something new.

BIG DAY:WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18th, 11:10 am.



He was Emperor during Ovid’s time.

“They died from a disease they caught from their father.”

“He was the first to say that animal food should not be eaten.”

“From the moment I put them on,
I knew I had done something wrong.”

“I have no instinct for power, no hunger for it either.
It isn’t royal power I want, but its advantages.”


“a Maeonian girl, / Who, she had heard, was boasting of her talent, / Calling it better even than Minerva’s / In spinning and weaving wool.”

Identify the author.
Who is this girl, and what happens to her?

“Often previously / Though being considered clever I have suffered much. / A person of sense ought never to have his children / Brought up to be more clever than the average.”

Name the character speaking and the author.
How has this character’s cleverness brought about his or her own suffering?

“My guess is that … it was designed for clerical ears, for ecclesiastes, probably celibates who were in no great danger of having their morals ruined by it, but who were intellectually alert and might appreciate a scholastic joke,” says E. Talbot Donaldson, concerning a “work that has generally been treated … not as literature, but as history or sociology….”

What is the work described here, or who wrote it?
What exactly is the joke?