Write a well-developed essay of 4-5 paragraphs on ONE of the topics below. Be sure to refer to the texts to support your main ideas. You might note that some of these topics correlate with those discussed in the Course Introduction.
1. Many of the protagonists from works we have read in Units 4-6 early on face a key dilemma, spiritual or real. Think of the trials faced by such characters as Aeneas (his relationship with Dido), Roland (betrayed and outnumbered), Arjuna (required to fight friends and family), and Dante the pilgrim (lost in the “dark wood” of sin). Compare and contrast how at least two of these protagonists address and/or try to overcome these dilemmas. What are the key lessons to be learned as these characters confront difficult situations? What do these confrontations tell us about the priorities and/or values of their respective cultures?
2. Compare/contrast one of the male/female pairs from Units Units 5 and 6 (for instance, Dante and Beatrice or Lanval and the Faerie Queen) with one of the male/male pairs from Units 2 and 3 (Achilles/Patroclus or Gilgamesh/Enkidu). How are the same sex pairings (whether you view them as homosexual or homosocial male couples) presented in ways that are similar to and/or different from the heterosexual couples? Consider their adherence to, or departure from, heteronormative values of the 21st century. Explore the social and cultural implications in your analysis.
3. Compare/contrast two couples from your readings (at least one couple must be from Unit 5 or Unit 6), taking into consideration the cultural, social, and religious values that each couple is meant to exemplify.
4. Many of the works that we have studied in Units 4-6 present a distinctly religious point of view: Roman piety, The Song of Roland’s militant Christianity, Islamic faith, Krishna’s teachings from the Gita, and, of course, Dante’s spiritual quest. Address this topic in one of two ways: A) Compare and contrast at least two of the religious viewpoints, considering such things as the core beliefs and teachings of the religion and what is expected of the faithful; B) Discuss what you find alien, admirable, disturbing, or uplifting about at least 2 of these religious perspectives (you can choose from these terms or supply your own). If you choose to write on something you found alien or disturbing (negative) about the religion, don’t just be dismissive (don’t just consider it as an error); try, in your essay, to understand the religion as a product of its times and culture.
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