LLT 325 --Greek Civilization Essay 1: New World Order

In the half-century after Salamis the art and literature of the Greek world reflects a new awareness of man's place in the kosmos, a new sense of human capability in an ordered universe. Choose one aspect of that emerging worldview and trace the treatment of it in two or more major works of the period.

You must work with (at least) two primary sources. You will probably want to focus on the two  assigned tragedies-- Sophocles' Ajax and Trachiniae. Or deal with one of the tragedies and a major logos  in Herodotus; after all the historian seems to portray his characters with similar dramatic effect and he imparts much the same sense of a changing world to them. You may also draw upon other evidence of art and history, alongside these primary sources.

Method: Begin with a 'thesis-statement,' identifying the theme and indicating how you intend to pursue it (comparison of Ajax and Xerxes, for instance). The body of the paper should then follow a reasoned argument. Cite key passages in evidence, but do not just list what the authors or the characters say; in each section draw out the implications, and then in the conclusion draw these implications together for a broader understanding of the theme. Five pages should be adequate.

No secondary scholarship--no footnotes or bibliography-- is required. You should rather focus your attention on the texts themselves: identify the key passages and study them. Use paraphrase or brief quotation when this is helpful. Do not pad the paper with block quotes (more than 3 lines together). Cite passages in the text by line numbers--for example, Ajax 1340; then in your discussion emphasize key words and phrases, 'enemies' and 'kin,' etc. Refer to art by figure and site, artist or building (e.g. dying warrior, West pediment of Aphaia Temple).

The paper should be submitted as an e-mail attachment in .doc format. or .docx

(I will acknowledge receipt with 24 hours.)

Suggested themes:

1) Loyalty, Right or Wrong -- Part of this new world-view is a painful sense that the old loyalties have been overturned or invalidated (perhaps by the new imperatives of 'nature'), or that conventional ties and obligations are themselves treacherous and destructive. Thus Ajax feels cheated of his proper honor (due to him by eugeneia, inborn nobility of blood): he reflects in his last speeches that one must learn to treat all friendship and enmity as changeable and unreliable and bow to the new hierarchy of loyalties (based upon self-interest, etc.). But in the end he clings to the old justice (that his enemy Menelaos also holds dear), 'help your friends and hurt your enemies'--be true to your own kind. In Trachiniae the doomed hero Heracles also personifies the traditional code of vengeance; his son Hyllus must struggle with the conflict between the old code and a deeper understanding of his mother's error.

2) Human design and 'Gods' Laws-- Some characters in the Ajax seem to reflect a view of the world much like the lesson that Solon taught Croesus: 'count no man happy until his death'; the gods are an inscrutable and vindictive force at work in the world and they may overturn all our best laid plans at the last moment. Other characters seem to reflect a new sense of self-determination and responsibility. Disaster is brought on by human error and arrogance, it is not simply the working of an evil and alien spirit; the 'laws of god' are treated as a known constant that thinking people recognize and respect, and there may be nothing arbitrary about the doom that comes to those who violate those laws. How do the characters of Trachiniae regard the involvement of gods in human affairs--particularly the plan of Zeus for his favorite son? Compare major figures from the two plays; or, again, compare with figures from Herodotus (e.g. Croesus, Xerxes, Themistocles).

3) Recognition or ‘Lessons Learned’ ….