Question 1 (1 hr.). Compare and contrast the three Electra plays read in this course: Aeschylus, Libation Bearers, Sophocles, Electra, and Euripides, Electra. First, abstract the story common to the three. Second, identify the peculiarities of Sophocles' version of the story. Third, explain how Sophocles' tragedy construes the story as tragic. What is tragic, if anything, about the revenge of Electra and Orestes on Clytemnestra and Aegisthus? The purpose of your essay is to reach a conclusion concerning Sophocles' handling of the myth. I added the qualification "if anything" because some have argued that this tragedy is not tragic. One of the greatest twentieth-century scholars of Greek tragedy, Albin Lesky, stated: "While it depicts tragic situations of great depth and intensity, it is not as a whole the expression of a tragic world-view." Remember: if you take Lesky's point of view, you have to say why this tragedy is not tragic.
Question 2 (1 hr.). Restate the hypothesis concerning the tragic that you stated on the mid-term. (It is not necessary to restate the distinction between tragedy and the tragic.) Then say how you now reformulate this hypothesis. Then proceed, as on the mid-term, to argue for your hypothesis. Do not refer to Aeschylus, Libation Bearers, Sophocles, Electra, or Euripides, Electra, which were discussed in Question 1. One of the main criteria for the evaluation of your essay will be the breadth and amount of useful reference to the other tragedies read in the course, including Euripides, Alcestis and Bacchae. You may bring your texts to class. Do not waste time copying out long quotations. Refer to specific words or phrases and give page numbers. But a reference to a tragedy that consists solely of a page number is unacceptable. The examination must be composed in class. It may not be written in advance and copied into your bluebook. Notes may not be used. Further instructions: 1. Restrict yourself to tragedy as a dramatic work. Do not discuss real-life "tragedy." 2. Avoid psychological interpretation. 3. Avoid deductive reasoning (e.g., "The Greeks believed X; therefore we find X1 in this tragedy").
Question 3 (Aristophanes) (1 hr.) In
the parabasis of Frogs, the chorus says: "It's the right and the
duty of the chorus to determine / better courses for our city." They
are talking about "good advice and instruction," to translate the Greek
more literally. Because the chorus by convention speaks for the poet
in this part of a comedy, we can be certain that we are dealing with Aristophanes'
view of the function of comedy. (He is certainly not referring to
the tragic chorus at this point.) First, say what Aristophanes thinks
is wrong with Athens, referring to both Clouds and Frogs.
Then say what Aristophanes' "good advice and instruction" are, i.e., how
do the e two comedies show what would be best for Athens?