PHILOSOPHY 109 / HUMANITIES 109
PHILOSOPHY AND LITERATURE IN SOCIAL CONTEXT
SPRING SEMESTER 2003
Prof. Hugh J. Silverman
(with Xiaoning Lu, Sean Kieninger, and Tim Ryan)
This is a take-home
examination. You may consult whatever
books you may wish. However whenever you
draw upon a text or source, you must footnote it fully. Your answers must be your own work. The
completed exam should not exceed a total of nine double-spaced typed
pages. The returned exam is due no later
I. CHOOSE FOUR OF THE FOLLOWING SIX TERMS: [40%]
Each of the following terms has been used by at least one of the authors we have studied and discussed this semester. Identify which author(s) use(s) the term, explain what it means, and indicate how it is used in connection with the author’s philosophical views.
3. lex talionis
II. CHOOSE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING THREE PASSAGES: [30% ]
How does this pasaje fit into the work from which it is selected? What does it mean? How does it address issues that we have been discussing in class this semester, e.g. justice, knowledge, law and order, the nature of the divine, human choice and action …
7. “So that what gives truth to things known and the power to know to the knower is the form of the good.”
8. For the following passage we include two alternate translations. (If you select this passage, you should discuss differences in the two translations):
We hold our judgment just and true:
The man whose open hands are pure
Anger of ours shall not pursue;
He lives untroubled and secure.
But when a sinner, such as he,
Burdened with blood so foully shed,
Covers his guilty hands for shame,
Then, bearing witness for the dead,
We at his judgment stand to claim
The price of blood unyieldingly.
We hold we are straight and just. If a man
can spread his hands and show they are clean,
no wrath of ours shall lurk for him.
Unscathed he walks through his life time.
But one like this man before us, with stained
hidden hands, and the guilt upon him,
shall find us beside him, as witnesses
of the truth, and we show clear in the end
to avenge the blood of the murdered.
Speaker A: I see my father offending justice – wrong.
Speaker B: Wrong? To protect my royal rights?
Speaker A: Protect your royal rights?
When you trample down the honors of the gods?
III. ANSWER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING THREE QUESTIONS: [30%]
10. Various rulers appear in the texts we have read so far this semester. Among them, consider Agamemnon and Aegisthus in the Oresteia, Oedipus in Oedipus the King, Creon in Antigone, and Ulysses in Dante’s Inferno. Choose three of these rulers. How do these three rulers match up to Plato’s account of the “ruler” in his ideal state. Explain, in the light of Plato’s Republic, how each rulers fulfills his role as ruler with regard to his state, his people, and the fulfillment of his duties.
11. Who are the Guardians of the Circles of Hell in Dante’s Inferno? Consider, for instance, Minos, Cerberus, Plutus. and Phlegyas. Why did Dante choose these figures, why are they there, and what is their function there? What are they guarding? Compare these guardians with the Guardians in Plato’s ideal state. Compare the differing guardian roles in Plato and Dante.
12. If Sophocles’s Oedipus had been a Christian, where would he be in Dante’s Hell? Explain why? Give detailed reasons that reflect the actions of Oedipus and Dante’s scheme of the afterlife. Also explain what (in his actions and choices) indicate that he comes from a pre-Christian Greek culture.