Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Mythology End-of-Semester Exam

Spring 2021 — Delahoyde
Washington State University

MYTHOLOGY END-OF-SEMESTER EXAM


BIG DAY: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21st, 11:00-12:00 noon.

Your last significant obligations to this course will be an exam and an essay, similar to the midterm. Exam questions and answers will concern only the works covered from after the midterm exam through the end of the semester: remind yourself by reviewing the syllabus, but that means the Greek plays and Metamorphoses, through Lucrece and the other mythological materials such as love, lycanthropy, red shoes, the Shakespeare authorship, and monsters during these last several weeks. (For streamlined studying, my web pages on Ovid highlight with asterisks the stories and characters you should recognize; do not worry about the others.) Here is the plan for the last exam.

I. IDENTIFICATIONS. [Total 20 points = 10 questions, 2 points each.]

On the designated day for this second exam — Wednesday, April 21st, at 11:00am — you will receive from me an e-mail containing identification questions similar to those on the midterm exam. Attached will be a Word document with the same questions, so that you can type the answers in whichever mode is safest and preferable to you.

II. QUOTATIONS. [Total 40 points = 8 questions, 5 points each.]

The same e-mail/document will contain bigger questions, mostly (but not all) quotation-based: combinations of identification and, more importantly, significance questions based on literary quotations, images, or any other class materials. You should plan to e-mail your completed
exam back to me by 12:00 noon. You may work in coordinated cooperation with another member or two of the class, in which case only one of you should e-mail back to me with other name designated.

III. ESSAY. [Total 40 points.]

You may have a bit more time for this essay: submit it by Friday, April 23rd, by 12:00 noon, as a separate Word document to a designated space on Blackboard in Discussions. The essay should be an original and virtuoso piece of brilliance manifested in impressive eloquence, perhaps with facile reference to concepts or even specifics from the class materials (themes, character names, literary moments, even quotations or paraphrases), 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. Whether or not “we are our stories,” each of us at least has a personal mythology that explains to ourselves and perhaps to others who we really are. In some cultures, you may have a birth name — the name you were given — and a mythological name — the name you have earned, that captures your true identity.

If only for the purposes of this essay, decide upon and announce your chosen mythological name. (Some past students I came to know as The Wheel, Princess Dancing Feet, Eats-Like-A-Snake, Double-Down, Blue Iguana, Wayward Son, The Time Guy, and Q. I occasionally run into one of these students and know him or her only by the mythological name, and they all still call me Chief Crazy Dog, as it should be.)

Next, create a short myth in story form, literal or metaphoric, that serves to explain your name and identity: your attributes, pursuits, and/or challenges. Be inspired by either Homer, in which case you are probably involved in “the war” of life, or Ovid, in which case your “story” may involve a certain primal energy or deity: love, depression, gender, rage, etc. Or maybe you will find inspiration in some other of our class material. This story does not have to be an archetypal hero’s journey, but the mythological you, or an aspect of you, should be the main character; and the episode, even if fictional or fantastical, should have an authentic center: it should have something to do with an aspect of your life that matters. Any gods, goddesses, characters, obstacles, etc. are welcome as metaphorical representations.

Finally, most importantly, explain. Analyze your own story to make clear to readers the significance of the events or the implications of the narrative: thus, the real reason for the adoption of your mythological name. The best essays will here rise above the merely personal and subjective, and will find ways of contextualizing your own stories amid the goddesses, gods, and heroes; the inevitable human trials and concerns; and the recurring themes of the semester’s materials — displaying an authentic understanding of how mythology is truly about you.


BIG DAY: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21st, 11:00-12:00 noon.
ESSAY DUE: FRIDAY, APRIL 23rd, 12:00 noon.

 

SAMPLE QUESTIONS

I. Identifications.

• Ulysses debated him for the right to inherit Achilles’ armor.

• “You, as you deserve, / Shall die an unheroic death, your head shattered / By a timber from the Argo’s hull.”

• The literal meaning of the phrase “deus ex machina.”

• The meaning of Tyrannosaurus Rex.

• “Though being considered clever I have suffered much.”

• He wrote Oedipus Rex.

• “they’re gonna make her dance ’til her legs fall off.”

• Why does Oedipus limp?

• He said, “You are eating your fellow workers.”

• Who killed Actaeon?

• She had serpents for hair and was killed by Perseus.

• Who is the Roman god of wine?

• He “stood in a pool, his chin level with the water, yet he was parched with thirst and found nothing to assuage it.”

• Another word approximately meaning metempsychosis.

• He was Emperor during Ovid’s time.

II. Short Answer.

1) “What is it that walks on four feet and three feet and two feet and … when it walks on most feet, it is weakest.”

Answer this riddle. Who asked it, and who first solved it?
How does the fact that this person did solve it prove to be an example of irony?

2) “For when a man sees some woman fit for love and shaped according to his taste, he begins at once to lust after her in his heart; then the more he thinks about her the more he burns with love…. Presently he begins to think about the fashioning of the woman and to differentiate her limbs….”

What is the work described here, or who wrote it?
Identify four types of people who are excluded, according to the textbook.

3) “She called the captive women to her, grabbed him, / Dug fingers into his lying eyes, dug out / The eyeballs from their sockets, and kept digging, / In manic fury, with bloody fingers, scooping / The hollows where the eyes had been.”

Who is this character and why is she so vicious?
Name a 16th-century work in which this character is used allegorically.

4) “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?
Not solely with her boasting, how did she really offend the goddess?

5) “I feel like life has blown a great big hole through me.”

Where does this quotation come from, or who says this?
Identify two pieces of advice the work gives for when we all feel like this.