Three of the following topics will appear on the exam on the Thursday after spring break. you will have the entire period to write equally-weighted essays on all three. Essays will be graded not on length per se, but on a) your success in addressing all important aspects of the problem b) the extent to which your essay is clear and organized, and (very importantly) your ability to cite SPECIFIC evidence from your readings of ancient sources to back up your points. (by "specific" I don't mean necessarily verbatim quotes or page/line numbers, but unambiguous and clear references). The more specific evidence you can draw on (while keeping your essay focused and readable) the better. It will also be to your credit if you can cite evidence some of the plays and other readings that you were NOT assigned to read for your group work. Time will be devoted on Tuesday to questions you may have about the exam topics.
1. Compare and contrast the way societies defined gender roles in at least four different times/cultures we have studied (e.g. Athens and Spartra, though both Greek, would count as two different cultures, as would different periods in Roman history). Do the similarities suggest some essential/biological difference between the genders? Are there any historical explanations for the differences?
2. It has been said that in Athenian Tragedy, female characters symbolize the interests of the home and family and male figures symbolize the often-conflicting interests of the city. Do you find this to be true for Tragedy, and is it more/less/just as true for characters in other types of literature (Athenian literature and/or literature from other times and places)?
3. To what extent do Sappho and/or other women poets from Greece and Rome (such as the ones who wrote WLGR 1-27) succeed in escaping the patriarchal "hegemony of discourse" and expressing themselves in a way that is distinctively feminine? To answer this you will probably want to compare them with male poets, both Greek and Roman.
4. When male Greek and Roman writers write about women, or attribute words, thoughts and behaviors to their female characters, what are the typical stereotypes they employ in their characterization? Do all male writers engage in stereotyping? Some less than others? Are any of the male authors you have read 'feminists'? (i.e. supportive of greater rights/respect for women than is generally accorded in their society)
5. In her characterization of the goddess Athena as a 'non-woman', Eva Cantarella suggests that in classical cultures power and influence can be exercised by women only if they act in a 'manly' fashion. Is this borne out by your study of ancient societies? What sorts of power are women able to wield?