The Mid-Term Exam

with Examples of the Best Responses


Section I: (Suggested Time: 10 Minutes): Choose two of the following three quotations. Identify the excerpt (author and text), then state the significance of the quotation (5 points each; 2 X 5 = 10 points).



Men know me for my many strategems.
My fame has reached the heavens.


Sample Responses:

This quotation is taken from Homer's Odyssey. It is stated by Odysseus. Once again, he he is bragging about himself to a stranger. More than likely he is preparing to engage in one of his many wiles. Often, when finding refuge at another man's home, he recounts his many trials to bad hosts or hostesses, subtly encouraging them to treat him very well. This enhances Odysseus' epithet "man of many wiles." Had it not been for his wiliness, he would have most likely become a slave or been murdered. Because he always, somehow through his wiles, rises above, he feels very little shame and is, therefore, a perfect protagonist for the era in which he lived. Homer's day was a shame culture. Because things were not written down, it was very important to tell everyone of prideful things in an attempt to create a legacy for oneself, which is precisely what Odysseus is attempting to accomplish in this quotation. (Grade: 5+).

This quote is from Homer's Odyssey. In this quote, Odysseus is telling his tale to people who are famed supernatural sailors and who could speed his way home. The significance of this quote is the emphasis once again on Odysseus' being a "man of many wiles." In this society of spectacle, oral and shame culture, all fame and infamy are communicated orally. Everyone must tell their own stories in order to be known. That is, unless a muse inspires a rhapsode to tell it for them. Also, this points to Odysseus' hubris, which is the reason he is being kept so far from home. "My fame has reached the heavens" implies that even gods respect Odysseus. (Grade 5+).

This is Odysseus speaking in Homer's Odyssey. As Odysseus is described many times in the text, he is a "man of many wiles." He is very clever and sly. He plans out many different "strategems" and is very tricky. An example is when he returns to Ithaca dressed like a beggar so that he can plan his attack against the suitors, instead of simply and abruptly showing up and saying "I'm back, so leave my wife alone." Odysseus is a very "wiley" and clever man, so he knows how to approach situations. He may be saying that his fame has reached the heavens because there are many gods involved in this epic, and many of them watch over Odysseus and help him along his journeys, namely Athena and Zeus. (Grade: 5)

This quotation is from The Odyssey by Homer. Odysseus says this about himself. This quotation illuminates Homer's definition of an epic hero. Odysseus is the man of many wiles and strategies, and he is not only well-known on earth but also in the heavens. Through the use his wiles, Odysseus will overcome many obstacles throughout his homeward journey. Also, this quotation shows the hubristic nature of Odysseus. He has an overbearing sense of pride in himself and his abilities. (Grade: 5).


What dire offence from amorous causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things


Sample Responses:

This quote is from Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock. In this quote Pope is, in fact, describing the essence of a mock epic. The subject at hand, of course, is very trivial--the cutting off of a lock of hair, yet the following actions tends to be blown out of proportion. The subjects in The Odyssey and Paradise Lost are far greater. The Odyssey deals with a true epic adventure of a man facing many trials in trying to return home and it concentrates a lot on how society is part of a shame culture. In Paradise Lost the epic seems to have evolved from epics of old in concentrating on "man's disobedience to God" and emphasizing more of a guilt culture. The Rape of the Lock, on the other hand, pokes fun at both of these by concentrating on a subject far more trivial. However, the subject tends nonetheless to exemplify people's attitudes at the time (18th century) when it was more important how one looked than what one was like inside. This quote also is a good example of the use of heroic couplets (rhyming couplets). (Grade: 5+).

This quotation is from Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope. The quote is talking about the act of a gentleman cutting off a tress of Belinda's hair. In effect, these two lines summarize the mock epic. Pope's work was an epic written to make trivial things (such as putting on make-up) seem as if they are important. This is opposed to great acts performed by Odysseus in the Odyssey by Homer and the religious actions of Paradise Lost by John Milton. The Rape of the Lock is actually making fun of epic conventions. For example, in the Odyssey when Odysseus is in Hades (in the nekuia), an epic catalogue lists various famous heroes and heroines, whereas in Rape of the Lock in Book I, there is an epic catalogue listing toiletry items, thus raising them to the same status as the deceased heroes and heroines of the Odyssey. (Grade: 5+)


The Poet, gentle creature as he is,
Hath, like the Lover, his unruly times


Sample Responses:

This is from the Prelude by Wordsworth. This line is found in Book I and Wordsworth is talking about himself--the Poet. At this point in the book, he is trying to figure out what he's going to write this great epic about. He has started to come up with ideas, but then thinks about himself as being the best subject. He at first thinks he's not good enough, but then at this point reconsiders and says that he does have his unruly times and maybe he would be a good subject after all. This is significant because an epic had never been done that way before; no one would ever have considered writing a story about their own life. Homer didn't talk about himself at all in the Odyssey; Milton just described himself briefly in Paradise Lost, so Wordsworth writing about his life would be very different. (Grade: 5+).

The Prelude by Wordsworth. This excerpt signifies that the poet, which in this time period is Romantic, is full of emotion and different thoughts. The Romantic poet is one which has both happiness and sadness but revels in each because it inspires him. This excerpt shows blank verse, which is unrhymed iambic pentameter, which Wordsworth used to relate to the common masses of people which began reading after the Industrial Revolution. He wanted everyone to understand his ideas of godliness in one's self so he wrote in a form which is most like that used in everyday speech. This can be compared to Milton's use of blank verse, which was used to explode poetry and make people notice his work after his involvement in the revolt against the king. (Grade: 5).

Section II (Suggested Time: 10 minutes): Choose two of the following three terms and explain the significance of each (5 points each; 2 X 5 = 10 points).





Sample Responses:

Sublime nature brings about feelings of fear and trepidation. The sublime is often connected with death. The sublime, like death, is unexplainable and untouchable. The sublime includes magnificent, overwhelming nature, such as grand waterfalls or avalanches. The idea of the sublime is heavily used in Wordsworth's The Prelude. It is evident for the first time in Book I, when he stells the story of the stolen boat. Later, in Book VI, when he describes the Alps, the idea of the sublime is also evident. (Grade: 5)

The sublime is the underbelly or shadowy side of nature. It is the part of nature that strikes both fear and admiration in man. Examples of the sublime would be mountains, huge waterfalls, and the Grand Canyon. It is important in understanding Wordsworth's feelings in Book I after he has stolen the boat. It serves as an opposing force to nature's beauty. (Grade: 5).




Sample Responses:

Penelope is the ever-faithful and devoted wife of Odysseus in The Odyssey of Homer. She waited for her husband's return loyally for many years. She was "of lovely shape" and, so, was wooed by many suitors. However, she refused to dishonor her husband. Each day she would weave a shroud, and each night she would unweave it. (Appropriately, the name Penelope also means thread. [Note from Prof. Felluga: Some scholars derive the name, Penelope, from the name of a kind of duck reputed to be faithful to her mate; however, ancient speculation linked the name with weaving or even the term, "weaving-unraveller." One should note, though, that this derivation has been disputed.) In the epic poem, Penelope agreed that when she completed her weaving, she would then chose a suitor. This is what motivated her to unweave each night. Even though she was completely faithful to Odysseus for many long years, Odysseus couldn't help but question her abstinence. After all, Penelope is "always already guilty" according to the misogyny of the tale. The reason for this is the behavior of two other women from the Odyssey: Helen and Clytemnestra. (Grade: 5+)

Penelope is the wife of Odysseus in the Odyssey by Homer. She comes to represent how women should be even though she is already tainted by the acts of Clytemnestra, Agamemnon's wife, who's lover killed Agamemnon upon his return from the Trojan war. Penelope is faithful to Odysseus during his time away from home, even though she did not know if Odysseus was alive or not. She was even respected by Homer, because she was wily herself, as was Odysseus. She uses the shroud-weaving strategey to postpone her choice of a suitor for 3 years. When she tests Odysseus, she says someone has moved their bed, knowing Odysseus would know that part of the bed was a tree, around which the house is built and that it could not be moved. (Grade: 5+)

Penelope--Odysseus' faithful wife. Penelope is significant because she represents a faithful woman. Throughout the Odyssey she and, thus, the reader are reminded of women like Clytemnestra who betray their men. Penelope, however, waits years for her husband. She is also an example of a guileful woman. She concocts her weaving plot to keep the suitors away. This is prized in Homeric society, a society valuing what you can get away with. Penelope and the story surrounding her demonstrate the Odyssey 's emphasis on a more family-oriented epic, as opposed to the Iliad. The Odyssey deals with the wonds of the Trojan war and Penelope is a part of that. Penelope also demonstrates how even good women are the target of misogyny. Telemachus says that you never can be too sure who your father is. (Grade: 5+).


Heroic Couplet


Sample Responses:

Heroic couplet was popular in the eighteenth century. It is iambic pentameter in rhyming couplets, each line being complete in itself, ending in some type of complete syntactical construction. It is found in Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope. This is significant because the heroic couplet showed balance. Not only were every two lines rhyming, but each line within itself was balanced. There is a place to pause in the middle of each line. Balnace was very important to society in the eighteenth century, and the heroic couplet reflects this. (Grade: 5+).

Heroic Couplet--two lines of rhymed iambic pentameter. A poem with heroic couplets would have a rhyme scheme aa, bb, cc.... This was a favorite of writers in the 18th century and was used by Alexander Pope. Usually each line contains one whole idea and all the lines are very structured. This form was used because of the complete structure. The 18th century was a time when great emphasis was placed on appearance, societal structure, and order. The restoration had taken place and there was a belief in the natural order of the universe. All these views are reflected in the heroic couplet. (Grade: 5).

Section III (Suggested Time: 45 minutes): Choose one of the following two questions and write a detailed response in essay form. (30 points).


A) The convention of nekuia has undergone drastic changes since Homer's day. Discuss the development of this convention across three texts we've examined and explain the significance of any changes in the implementation of this convention. Click on this colored text for one sample response.


B) The epic hero varies drastically in each of the texts that we have read in the course so far. Discuss the development of the epic hero across three of these texts and explain the significance of any changes in the representation of this character. Click on this colored text for two sample responses.