Hi 214: Classical Mythology

Midterm Examination Essay Topics


Guidelines: 50% of the examination grade will be based on essays you write on two of the following topics. You will find out at the examination which questions have been selected. Prepare your answers carefully in advance, but remember that no notes or drafts may be brought to the examination. Each essay should be:

Well written. Write in complete sentences, and organize your points in paragraphs.

Complete. Be sure to address all the topics in the question.

Effectively documented. Back up your points with specific examples. I would like to hear not only what you know but also how you know it.

Persuasive. These questions do not have right-or-wrong answers. You have to present an hypothesis. Show me why it is more believable than alternatives.


  1. What is a Greek myth and what function(s) did myths have in Greek society? Write your own definition of a myth; then show how the definition helps to elucidate a particular myth of your choosing; finally, point out the strengths and weaknesses of your definition.

  2. Compare and contrast the chief male divinity with the chief female divinity in each of the three generations of gods: Ouranos & Gaia, Kronos & Rhea, Zeus & Hera. What is constant, what changes in the relationships between the males and the females? Assuming that one function of myths is to validate social institutions, speculate about the lessons a Greek audience would have drawn from the stories of these gods.

  3. How is sacrifice represented in the myths we have read? What connection is there between sacrifice and the situation of humans in the world?

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