Exam Final - Essay Example

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In the play Bacchae, this author prefers to adopt the view of Ian Johnston (, 2001) that Pentheus’ “act of defiance” against Dionysus could be viewed as the legitimate action of a king. Pentheus merely…
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Answer to Final Exams Final Exam Answers Cadmus Wife b. Harmonia 2. Mountain outside Thebes d. Mt. Kithaeron (Cithaeron) 3. Animal Pentheus is mistaken for d. A Lion
4. Oedipus’ adoptive mother b. Merope
5. Echion is d. The spawn of the dragon’s teeth
6. Punishment of Oedipus a. Gouges out his eyes
7. Punishment of Agave b. Exile
8. Ino is a. Autonoe’s sister
9. A thyrsus is b. A long stick (staff of Dionysus)
10 Not a name for Dionysus d. Demeter (goddess of grain, fertility)
1. For 25 points pick either Oedipus or The Bacchae and describe in six sentences why the message in your choice of play is relevant to New York City today.
In the play Bacchae, this author prefers to adopt the view of Ian Johnston (, 2001) that Pentheus’ “act of defiance” against Dionysus could be viewed as the legitimate action of a king. Pentheus merely protected his subjects’ way of life (religion, in the context of ancient Greece) from “forceful conversion” to Dionysus’ cult. It will be recalled that the Bacchants were repeatedly stressed to be non-Greek, coming from Asia Minor and converting cities as they go, and that Thebes would have been the first entirely Greek city to be intruded into by this “new force”. The Bacchants’ rituals were described as wild, rapturous group encounters, drunken ecstatic cavorting, driving them wild so they do not recognize their own children – these all apply to the drug culture of the present day, and in a sprawling and progressive metropolis such as New York City the spread of such a culture is indeed menacing. Thebes, like New York now, was a premier city, prime target from external influences both beneficial and harmful. Pentheus, like New York City’s authorities, was watchful of harmful coercive forces that could threaten the lives of his subjects (citizens), and thus would do anything to resist them and preserve the peace and security of their jurisdiction.
2. For 10 points briefly describe the most exciting part of Oedipus. Explain why your choice is the moist exciting moment.
The most exciting moment in Oedipus was that point when the first shepherd was summoned to divulge what he knows about the infant he was tasked to expose to die. He haltingly and fearfully admits he did not kill it, and suspensefully tells Oedipus that the child was none other than him, the son the Laius. This is the high point on which the play turns.
Oedipus : Didst give this man the child of whom he asks?
Herdsman : I did; and would that I had died that day!
Oedipus : And die thou shalt unless thou tell the truth
Herdsman : But, if I tell it, I am doubly lost.
Oedipus : The knave methinks will still prevaricate.
Herdsman : Well then- it was a child of Laius house.
Oedipus : Slave-born or one of Laius own race?
Herdsman : Ah me! I stand upon the perilous edge of speech.
Oedipus : And I of hearing, but I still must hear
Herdsman : Know then the child was by report his own,
But she within, thy consort best could tell,
Oedipus : What! she, she gave it thee?
This is the most exciting moment because, as in a detective story, it solves the mystery and from that point on, everything falls into place. Before this point, Oedipus’ life is pleasant, prosperous and righteous because he is oblivious of any wrongdoing. After this point, he becomes stained, polluted, deserving of being blinded, exiled, and detested – all because of something done in the past and beyond his control.
3. For 10 points explain why the citizens took so much pleasure in seeing the tragic dramas, you may use any play we read this term as your example.
The tragic dramas have a basic structure and formula. The tragic hero is one who is not entirely morally superior to the average man, to whom the audience can identify. He is subjected to the irrational and sometimes oppressive whims of the gods, which he cannot avoid. He suffers punishment, despite his innocence, and herein the drama revolves. However, despite his tribulations he emerges nobler and wiser. The audience, identifying with the hero, experiences catharsis, or “purging”, in the form of extreme emotions of pity and fear, but when the hero overcomes his trials, the audience triumphs with him and, in the ensuing denouement (resolution), comes away with the added wisdom of a universal truth. For instance, in Antigone, the common Greek could relate with the desires of the heroine to bury her dead brother rather than leave his cadaver exposed for wild animals to feed on. They suffer with her when she is sentenced to the senseless injustice of being entombed alive even as her dead brother is denied entombment, and when she finally commit its suicide, together with her fiancé and his mother, the audience is emotionally purged with the universal realization that filial and family love and duty will conflict with civic duty, but eventually will triumph over it. The audience comes away ennobled by the experience.
3. For 5 points, in The Bacchae, what is the most terrifying moment? Why?
The most terrifying moment is the gruesome killing of Pentheus at the hands of his mother. It is entirely unexpected because one would think a mother would always recognize and protect her offspring. It is also inconceivable, in the range of human experience, that Dionysus should allow such punishment in spite of the fact that Agave is his loyal follower. The depiction is gruesome, graphic, and horrifies in the same way that modern horror movies do to modern audiences. The detailed description is contained in the following verses from Bacchae:
He touched the wild
Cheek, crying: "Mother, it is I, thy child,
Thy Pentheus, born thee in Echions hall!...
But she, with lips a-foam and eyes that run
Like leaping fire, with thoughts that neer should be
On earth, possessed by Bacchios utterly,
Stays not nor hears. Round his left arm she put
Both hands, set hard against his side her foot,
Drew ... and the shoulder severed!--…
And at the other side
Was Ino rending; and the torn flesh cried,
And on Autonoe pressed, and all the crowd
Of ravening arms. Yea, all the air was loud
With groans that faded into sobbing breath,
Dim shrieks, and joy, and triumph-cries of death.
And here was borne a severed arm, and there
A hunters booted foot; white bones lay bare
With rending; and swift hands ensanguined
Tossed as in sport the flesh of Pentheus dead…
. And, ah, the head! Of all the rest,
His mother hath it, pierced upon a wand,
As one might pierce a lions, and through the land,
Leaving her sisters in their dancing place,
Bears it on high!
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