NOTE the chili peppers!!! One means a pretty easy Activity, two means a harder one, and three means a challenging Activity. It is up to you.
1. Read The Trojan War, Chapter 2: "Oral Poetry and the Troy Cycle," and Chapter 3: "Homer's Iliad:
The War at Troy."
2. Explore the links on the Homer and the Troy Cycle page.
3. Read through all the Activity questions on this page before selecting Activities to work with. Some of the Activities are quite easy and may only require reading part of the Iliad, while others are far more difficult, and may require reading more than one text or doing online research plus reading texts.
Select Activities that interest you and are appropriate to the time you have to spend on them. You will not get a higher grade because you select a more difficult Activity. Some Activities that are especially complex will offer double credit; if so, that will be stated in the Activity question.
If you select the double credit option, you must write "double
credit" on your Activity AND you must develop your Activity in
substantial depth, in order to qualify for the double credit.
Select two of these Activities for Unit 1 (one for Activity 1 and one for Activity 2); make a copy of the Activity question to begin your response. Post your response to the Homer Forum in Blackboard.
Achilles bandages Patrocles' wound
While Zeus watches over the war
1. In Book 1 of the Iliad, who do you think is most to blame for the rage
of Achilles, Achilles or Agamemnon? Explain in detail why you take this position, supporting your ideas with specific examples from Book 1.
Compare Agamemnon's explanation of his quarrel with Achilles in Books
1 and 9 of the Iliad (Agamemnon was blinded and made mad by the gods) and in Book 1 (Achilles was
arrogant and insubordinate). Which one do you think is true? Or are they both true? Support your response with
plenty of specific examples from both books.
at least six of the women, mortal and divine in the Iliad and write a brief description of each one, explaining her role in the Iliad.
(Warning: many of these women are in other myths and stories too, so
if you use a handbook of mythology, double check your facts about each
woman with the Iliad itself). Be sure to include Helen and Andromache. Finally, write a paragraph or two summing up Homer's ideas about women in the Iliad--what they are like and how they are treated.
4. Achilles and Agamemnon are the two most outstanding men in the Iliad, yet they behave in ways that are destructive to their men. It is easy to see their negative qualities. However, this question asks you to look for the excellence in each man. List several qualities and/or examples and explain why they contribute to his excellence. Support your response with several specific examples.
You will need to find and review sections of the Iliad where
Agamemnon actually is fighting against the Trojans to judge his
5. Review books 1 and 23 of the Iliad.
Book 1 is about the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles that sets
off the rage and deaths in the story. Book 23 is about the funeral
games for Patroclus, Achilles' dearest friend. Achilles hosts the
contests and there are many examples of anger averted, wise judgments,
and good will. Can you tell from this what could have avoided the
terrible rage that Agamemnon set off in Achilles? Explain in some
detail, using examples from both books 1 and 23.
6. Compare a Homeric hero to a modern hero. In Homer's culture a hero was a mortal man (yep, no women) who risked his life to battle against great odds to gain his goals (e.g. Achilles wanted fame; Odysseus wanted to get home to Ithaka). The modern hero may be a fighter, a ruler, a leader, or an athlete; he may be real or fictional. He may be a she. But remember...a hero risks and often loses his life for his cause. Write a biography of each hero, looking at the specifics of their family lives, beliefs, friendships, activities, heroic behaviors, etc. You will probably want to go to Bulfinch's Mythology for information about your Iliad hero's family life. Then, explain how each hero affects the society he/she lives in and how people feel about
each hero. Finally, what are the most interesting differences between your two heroes and so what?
7. Go to the Images of Bronze Age Troy and Mycenae. Look through the various images and select
at least three that might actually have existed in the world of the Iliad. Describe each image and explain exactly where in the Iliad you would expect to find it, who would use it, own it, live in it, etc., and what you could learn about the Iliad from seeing the image.
Don't just say that a jug was used to hold wine. When and where
exactly in the Iliad might that jug have been used? Support your ideas with
8. Go to the main page for Homer and look through the section: IMAGES BASED ON HOMER AND THE TROY CYCLE. Select three images which deal with the events of the Iliad. Name and describe each image and compare it to the corresponding scene in the Iliad. How has the artist interpreted the characters, events, etc.? Do you agree with the artist's interpretation? Why or why not? Explain using specific examples
from the Iliad to support your points.
9. Go to Bulfinch's Mythology and look up the stories of two or three major gods and/or heroes from the Iliad. Now select one or more specific scenes in the Iliad that can be better understood after reading about the characters' mythological roles. Explain the way the mythology helps you to understand each scene, using specific details
from the Iliad to support your ideas.
10. Go to Thucydides
The History of the Peloponnesian War and read the first half of Book 1, which discusses the Trojan War, its economics and strategies. Compare this analysis to the version you have read in the Iliad. Point out some interesting differences between the two versions and explain why you think they are different. Can you find any interesting similarities? Support your ideas with
specific examples from both Thucydides' History and the
11. Later civilizations disapproved of Homer because "he told lies about the gods." Look in Book 21 for some of these "lies." List and describe several of them
in detail as they are presented by Homer. Do you think Homer actually believed in gods such as he sang about? If so, do you think he was being impious to his gods? Why or why not? Support your position with specific examples from the Iliad, especially Book 21.
12. Review The Trojan War, Chapter 2: "Oral Poetry and the Troy Cycle." Look at the list of Troy epics and the characters and plot of the overall Troy Cycle to get a feeling for the mythic context of the Iliad. Now think about the relations of gods and humans in the Iliad. Select
at least two interesting scenes where gods and humans interact. Describe each scene in some detail and explain its role in the overall story. Do you think these gods were any more or less real to Homer than the heroes? Why or why not? Support your ideas with specific examples from the Iliad.
Option for potential double credit: review book 19 of the Iliad where
Achilles ends his rage at Agamemnon and Agamemnon makes amends to
Achilles. Pay close attention to what Agamemnon says about how he was
deliberately blinded by Atē (a creature of the gods), in order to lead
to the terrible quarrel that destroyed so many Greeks. Now, reconsider
the character of Agamemnon as you have encountered him throughout the
Iliad, paying close attention to books 1 and 9. Also locate
sections of the Iliad where Agamemnon is fighting against the
Trojans. Is he the coward Achilles accused him of being? Is he being
deluded by the gods? (Consider the false dream that Zeus sends to him
in book 2, for example.) If you want double credit for this, you MUST
deal with many parts of the Iliad, not simply one or two of
the books and you will need to write a well developed and supported
essay on the topic.
|14. Option for
potential double credit: read Barry Strauss, The Trojan War: A New History. Simon & Schuster Paperback, 2007.
(Barry Strauss is both a historian and a classicist and he tells a lively story of the war at Troy. He includes much up to date archaeological information to add authenticity to his excellent storytelling abilities. I solidly recommend this to anyone interested in the "war" elements of the Trojan War, from Hittite war politics to Greek body armor to military tactics.) Write a solid, well-developed summary of the book and note at the top that it is for double credit. Remember: to be eligible for double credit, your work must be very well-developed; a thorough summary should include all of the main points and the main supporting examples of the material being summarized. This book is actually great fun to read.
|15. Option for
potential double credit: read my essay,
"Achilles' Wrath and the Plan of Zeus," and then write an essay on human-god interaction in the
Iliad based on your own reading of the Iliad. You will need to develop your ideas fully, using plenty of examples from the Iliad.
You are welcome to either agree or disagree with my opinions. You must indicate on the essay that it is for double credit!
Option for potential double credit: Go to the Bronze Age page of the TROY
site and look carefully through the section on the Hittites. Then
consider the Iliad (you need to read most of it to do this
one) and think about the foreign elements of Troy from Homer's point
of view. You could start with book 2, where the list of Trojan Allies
includes peoples from various parts of Anatolia and elsewhere. Do you
think that Homer was trying to present the Trojans as meaningfully
different from the Greeks? If so how and why? If not, why not?
Remember that although Troy was an outlying part of the Hittite Empire
in the Bronze Age, by Homer's time five hundred years after the Trojan
War the Greeks had moved onto the coast of Anatolia and Homer probably
lived not very far from the remains of Troy. You will need plenty of
supporting examples for this challenging Activity.