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Final Exam – Study Guide

Material Covered:

The Odyssey
The Oresteia
Oedipus the King
Women of Trachis
Classical Mythology, chapter 13 (Dionysus, Pan, Echo, Narcissus)
The Bacchae
The Penelopiad
Class Lectures

Read books 1 – 24 of The Odyssey; make sure you know what happens in each book
(hint: the title of each book is a helpful place to start). Below is a list of characters you
should know. For each character know who they are, what important things they have
done so far and how they relate to the main story/characters.

Important Characters in The Odyssey:













Make sure you understand the difference between the analysts’ and the unitarians’
assessment of Homer’s identity.

Read Sophocles’ The Women of Trachis

Make sure you know who the main characters are and why they are important:

Deianeira, Heracles, Hyllus, Lichas, Iole

Some questions to think about:

-How does Deianeira kill her husband and why?
-What is the story about the centaur Nessus?
-How does she react to his infidelity?
-How does Heracles react to Deianeira’s act?
-What does Heracles ask his son to do after his death?

Read Euripides’ Medea

You should know why the following characters/terms are important:

Jason, Medea, Creon, Chorus, Tutor, Nurse, Aegeus, Deux Ex Machina, Pathei Mathos,
Mathei Pathos

Some questions to think about:

-What does this play tell us about the role of women? What is Euripides himself trying to
convey about the relationship between men and women in ancient Greece?
-What is the significance of the themes of love, passion, fidelity and revenge?
-How does Euripides make use of irony in this play?
-Who is more cruel in the story? Medea or Jason? What are they “guilty” of? How does
Jason justify his “wrong” deeds? How about Medea?

Read Aeschylus’ The Oresteia (Agamemnon, Libation Bearers and Eumenides)

You should know why the following characters/terms are important.

- Alastor
- Chorus
- Erinyes vs Eumenides
- Eumenedies
- The genealogy of the House of Atreus
- Agamenmon
- Clytaemnestra
- Cassandra
- Aegisthus
- Orestes
- Electra
- Pylades
- Cassandra
- Iphigenia
- Furies
- Apollo
- Athena

Questions to help you in your preparation for the Oresteia

- How is each character in the three plays involved in the family vendetta? What role
does he/she play in the blood feud? Why is he/she at fault and/or why is he/she a victim?
- What is the role of the chorus in the plays?
- How are the themes of justice, vengeance and prophecy treated in this trilogy?
- What is the significance of Aeschylus’ decision to end this trilogy in Athens?

Read Sophocles Oedipus the King

You should know why the following characters/terms are important:

- Europa
- Cadmus
- Laius
- Jocasta
- Oedipus
- Creon
- Tiresias
- Catharsis
- Hamartia
- Peripeteia
- Anagnorisis

Questions to help you in your preparation for Oedipus the King:

- How are the themes of fate, free will, prophecy, oracles, vision and blindness treated in
the play?
- The myth of Oedipus and Freud’s psychoanalytical theory
- Why is Oedipus a typical Sophoclean hero?

Read The Bacchae by Euripides. Make sure you know who the following characters are
and why they are important in the play:

Make sure you think about some of these questions:

-Why has Dionysus decided to come to Thebes?
-What happens to the Theban women?
-What does Agave carry at the end of the play? How does her father react to that?
-What is the relationship between the gods and humans in this play?

Read chapter 13 in the M&L textbook.

A lot of the chapter will give you more background on Dionysus and discuss The
Bacchae, which might be helpful for a better understanding of the play. You also need to
know who/what the following are:

-Echo and Narcissus

Read Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad.

Make sure you know who the main characters in the book are (you should remember
most of them from The Odyssey, but now you need to think about why they are important
in Atwood’s story).

Some questions to guide you:

- Who is narrating The Penelopiad? What is special about where the narration is taking
place? Who is the chorus?
- How was Penelope’s childhood?
- How does she talk about her marriage to Odysseus?
- What is her opinion of Helen?
- Why are the twelve maids important for Atwood?
- How would you describe Penelope’s relationship to Odysseus and the maids?
- How does Atwood change some of the scenes from The Odyssey? Why do you think
she does that?