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Heroes of the Classical Western World

Heroes of the Classical Western World

This first essay assignment asks you to think about the ancient Greek and Roman works that we have read, the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid. For this essay, you may only reference these three works, though some minor citation and use of secondary sources is allowed. Since this is a close-reading essay, however, please use secondary sources only sparingly. Be sure to focus your essay on a strong thesis, organize it around a few specific main points, and support your response with evidence from the text or texts you are discussing, especially quotations, as you respond to oneof the following prompts:

    • Choose one major hero from the readings so far and discuss that hero in terms of the good choices and the poor choices he makes (please focus on a hero other than Odysseus in The Odyssey). How, overall, do these come together to give you a particular view, positive or negative, of this hero? Be sure to illustrate your thesis and supporting points with evidence from the work you are using.


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    • Consider our two wandering heroes, Odysseus and Aeneas, and compare their actions during their time “on the road.” What seem to be their worst moments and why? Does either seem to out-do the other in finding a real low point in his adventures?


    • Think about one of the heroes we have seen and consider the issue of who you see as that hero’s main antagonist. Identify the conflict between the hero and his antagonist, and create an argument about how that particular relationship fits into the epic model. What makes this an epic conflict?


    • Compare two heroes from different works, and create an argument about how each fits into the definition of an epic hero. What characteristics do they share? What characteristics are different, and how can we stretch the concept of “epic hero” to cover both figures?


  • Make your own topic: come up with your own critical question about the assigned works from this unit, and write an essay arguing for your answer to that question. If you choose to do this prompt, please note that you are required to post your critical question and working thesis to the Week 4 Essay forum so that you can receive feedback from your instructor and classmates.

Please be sure your essay also meets the following guidelines:

  • Has a word count of 600-900 words (check with your instructor before submitting anything longer)
  • Includes thestudent-teacher cover letter
  • Format the essay using MLA essay format (see the attached sample essay) and MLA-style citations, including a works cited list at the end; for help with MLA format, please visit Diana Hacker’sResearch and Documentation Online
  • Spell check, and watch out for homonyms!

Seethis document for the grading rubric that will be used to evaluate the essay. The cover letter questions and final draft checklist can be found

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