For our final Blog post for Unit One, I want you to run with one of three broad options, which are inspired by the content of our latest readings. Specifically, you may consider and respond to the following:
1) The very first line of Virgil’s Aeneid gets right down to the heart of the matter. In my translation, the famous line reads, simply, “This is a tale of arms and of a man.” In other words, the story of Aeneas is a story about a man at war, a warrior-hero who will fight bravely and who will be, in essence, defined by his valor and prowess on the battlefield. Hence, I’m interested in seeing what you can do here to address the war-making that is so common in mythological stories. Using the Aeneid as a test case, offer some thoughts about the meaning and significance of war in the world of myth (and, please, give us some specific examples or quote some passages to help support your case!).
2) The Roman poet Ovid was widely known as the quintessential love-poet, and indeed one of his masterpieces was appropriately titled the Ars Amatoria (‘The Arts of Love’). Accordingly, I would like you to use the excerpts you read from Ovid as a way into the question of the “arts of love” (to borrow his title) within a mythological context. If you go with this prompt, then, I’d like you to provide some commentary on the meaning and significance of love and sex in mythical narrative – in what ways is Ovid’s verse typical of the handling of these topics, and in what ways is his writing utterly unique within the context of mythical storytelling?
3) For the third and final option, I am curious to hear your thoughts about the mythical Trickster-figure. The Trickster is a commonly-found character who takes great pleasure in breaking rules and playing tricks on both humans and gods. Tricksters are often shape-shifters who flaunt the rules of society, but they also frequently play an important role in the creation of the world or the establishment of important human traditions. They are, in other words, complex figures that raise many questions about the role of the hero and the morality of a specific mythical society. Your response should pick out one of the Tricksters read for class and use him to discuss the general importance and impact of this common character type.