Midterm Exam - Guide and Sample Questions

Midterm Exam


The Invention of the Alphabet - a study of writing systems

    Use the Alphabet Study Guide and the slide shows for review


The Creation of Literary Culture - What is Literature?

Use the Gilgamesh Study Guide to review that short reading.

Use the Iliad Study Guide as an aid for figuring out which names and episodes are important. The study guide lists all books, but you will need to know in detail the books highlighted on the schedule: book 1-3, 6, 9, 14, 16, 19, 21, 22, 24. You should know all listed characters thoroughly, and you should be able to spell the names correctly. As for the episodes, what is listed in the Guide is meant to trigger your memory: YOU ARE EXPECTED TO KNOW ALL EPISODES IN SOME DETAIL for the books listed. See sample questions just below for the format.


Sample Questions for the Iliad:


  1. I.Quick questions:

a. Who is Sarpedon and how does he die?

b. What is the immediate consequence to Agamemnon’s rejection of the ransom offered by Chryses?

c. Give a capsule summary of the events in books 1-3. [YOU WILL WANT TO MEMORIZE THE CAPSULE SUMMARIES FOR THE BOOKS WE HAVE FOCUSED UPON, SO THAT YOU HAVE A STRUCTURE OF THE ILIAD IN YOUR MIND.]


  1. II.Passage identifications. (There will be some, but not much, choice)

1. Identify the context, that is, explain what is going on in this part of the tale, and from what part of the tale the passage is taken (for example, if you were given the lines below, you would want to identify this as Hera speaking to Zeus when he hesitates about whether to save his son Sarpedon, in the book in which Patroclus is the hero and dies [book 16]).

2. Comment on the significance of the passage,that is, how

the passage is significant in the context of the tale, and/or how the passage is more generally significant in terms of Homer's artistic aims and technique (for example, for the passage below, you would want to talk about the relationship between fate and the power of the Olympians, the fragility of the divine ORDER, and how that the divine hierarchy reflects the human hierarchy, equally fragile, in the world below).

Passage #1

"Most dread son of Kronos,

what words you have spoken! You want to relieve from

painful death a mortal man long ago doomed by fate? Do it!

But all the other gods will disapprove. And I will tell you

something else, and you best give it careful consideration:

If you send forth your son still alive to his own home,

consider then whether another of the gods will wish

also to send his down dear son out of the ferocious

contendings.”

[I use a different translation here - on the exam itself there will be Powell’s text]


The Making of History: What is History?

Use the Historiography Study Guide as an aid for figuring out which names and episodes are important for the exam.


Sample Questions for the Historiography:


  1. 1.Quick questions:

  2. a.Who is Themistocles, and what is his character as depicted in Herodotus?

  3. b.Where is the Hellespont, and why is it so important in Herodotus?

  4. 2.Not as quick a question:

  5. a.Describe how historiê in Herodotus differs from that in Thucydides, in terms of narrative strategy, creation of authority, and ultimate goals. Give specific examples for each characteristic delineated.


  1. 3.Stories. Tell the story and then give a capsule summary of the themes (at least two) that the story exemplifies. These must be major themes in Herodotus.

a. Deioces and the Rise of the Medes