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 Essay Assignments
Rodin's Thinker

Essay Topics

This semester there will be four essays required, two in the first half of the semester and two in the second half.  However, rather than having these assignments given one at a time with a specific due date for each one, I am giving you all the possible choices now and letting you determine which topics and what dates you follow.  You may choose any four of the following topics with two essays due before March 27, 1999 and two before May 1, 2001.  Obviously, spacing and pacing your work is advantageous to you, but YOU will make your own decisions about what essays are due when.  Please do not, however, delude yourself that I will accept late essays; those two dates are absolute.  You choose the topics and the date for each essay within the parameters described here.

Each essay should be 3-5 pages long (900-1500 words), and each should include the use of at least two outside sources, documented in MLA style.

History and Myth:  

Examine the Sumerian myth of the origin and structure of the universe and the origin of humans in The Enuma elish and explain the relationship between humans and the gods.

Explain the importance of Dionysus in the development of Greek theater, being sure to discuss the essential nature and importance of Dionysus.

Nature of Myth:

Define the term archetype and relate this definition to a significant Greek myth and one from a non-Greek/Roman myth.  How do the myths demonstrate the essential characteristics of an archetype?

Describe the chief divinities in Norse myth and explain their function in both the universe as a whole and the lives of individuals.

Myth and Symbolism:

Explain the importance and meaning of snakes in Great Goddess, Greek, and Christian mythology.

Select two creation myths from the Americas and compare and contrast their presentations of creation.  Explain the symbolism of these myths.

Art and Mythology:

Greek pottery is famous for its figures and depiction of stories.  Select two or three main pieces, provide pictures of them, and explain the importance and meaning of the figures presented.

The cave paintings found in France and Spain are a major source of information about early humans.  Pick one cave and discuss when it was painted, what we know or infer about the artists, what tools and techniques were used, and, most importantly, what the inferred significance of the paintings is.

Myth and the Afterlife:

Concern for the afterlife is always of major importance in mythology.  What happens to an individual after death in Sumerian, Egyptian, or Indian mythology?  What does the belief system indicate about the value and role and individuals in the universe?

How does the Book of the Dead depict the story of Isis and Osiris?  What is the purpose of this presentaion?  How should humans view death? What is the importance of the use of hieroglyphics?

Gods and Goddesses:

Compare and contrast the roles of Athena and Ares in the realm of war.

Select one of the major gods/esses of India and explain the depiction of this figure and how the depiction is related to the function of the figure.

Select one of the major figures from Native American  mythology and explain the depiction and function of this figure.



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