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BEGC 102

European Classical Literature

IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment July 2023 & January 2024

Section A

Q. 1. Write short notes in about 100 words each:

(i) Greek Tragedy.

Ans. Greek tragedy written for the fifth century Athenians presents the social, moral and emotional aspects that have a bearing on their lives.

The plays do not have any reference to contemporary issues. The stage is distanced from the world of the audience and it deals with issues that have a universal validity for all times.

It does not address to the audience to shape their views on any political or social issue; it also has no personal reference by the dramatist about his views nor any reference to any theatre or actor of the time.

The tragedy teaches the fallacy. It shows the universal truths like life is full of unexpected turns, or no man can overcome his fate or no one is happy until he departs from the world – all three truths can be culled from Oedipus Rex.

Eric Segal says “the audience learns, so far as it learns by way of the whole experience. That is to say, the intellectual burden of the tragedy and its value as teaching has to do with the quality of the audience’s experience.”

When Oedipus walks out after blinding himself from the kingdom, the audience stands transfixed by amazement and bows its head in silence and reverence.

We should not approach the play seeking knowledge and enlightenment, but wholesomely experience them and thereby erase the distance between the stage and the auditorium. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

The audience feel the emotions that are at the heart of any tragedy. The audience feel a personal emotion over the good and bad fortunes of people far removed from us.

These emotions go beyond those of pity and fear which according to Aristotle are central to a tragedy.

The audience will have an overwhelming compassion for those others who undergo pain, suffering, trials and tribulations which are at the core of a tragedy.

At the end of a tragedy, the emotions are complex but all the emotions that we experience exclude hatred and lust for those who are the cause of the tragic experience.

Euripides is one of the greatest authors of Greek tragedy. Born in Athens c. 484 BCE to a well-to-do family, Euripides was the youngest of the city’s other great tragedy playwrights; Aeschylus and Sophocles.

In his youth, Euripides also performed as an actor but as his voice was not strong enough to carry to the back of a typical 14,000-seat Greek theatre, he concentrated on his role as a playwright. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

In ancient Greek tragedy, this meant also being producer and director of the play. Some ancient scholars attributed ninety-five plays to him, but the Suda says it was ninety-two at most. Of these, eighteen or nineteen have survived more or less complete.

There are many fragments of most of his other plays. More of his plays have survived intact than those of Aeschylus and Sophocles together, partly because his popularity grew as theirs declined.

Euripides is identified with theatrical innovations that have profoundly influenced drama down to modern times, especially in the representation of traditional, mythical heroes as ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.

This new approach led him to pioneer developments that later writers adapted to comedy, some of which are characteristic of romance. He also became “the most tragic of poets”, focusing on the inner lives and motives of his characters in a way previously unknown. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

Euripides plays were about real people. He placed peasants alongside princes and gave their feelings equal weight. He showed the reality of war, criticized religion, and portrayed the forgotten of society – women, slaves and old people.

Euripides is credited with adding to the dramatic form the Prologue which set the stage at the beginning of the play. He managed to create the most forceful realism and social criticism of the classic stage.

The Trojan Women, Medea, Hippolyttrs, Cyclops and Alcestis are the well known plays of Euripides.

(ii) Roman Comedy.

Ans. A comedy is a play that employs the comic mode to present a drama. The generation of laughter is a primary product of a comic play.

The comic manner helps to accept distorted portraits of human nature rather than strive for a superficial idea of perfection.

Social contradictions which remain unresolved and create laughter. The contradictions in society vary from one historical period to another.

The mode of laughter thus can also be constructed historically. In this chapter, we will study comic drama in the context of Roman comedy and Roman playwright Titus Maccius Plautus (254-185 BC).IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

Comic drama started from the Greek dramas of Old Comedy. Old Comedy originated from various informal performance modes such as gymnastics, acrobatics and so on.

In this form of drama, the Chorus played an integral part. The characters talked about social situations and dealt with them.

Greek Comedy – Origins: Greek comedy emerged from physical perfor-mances which later were blended with dramatic situations.

A more formalised sense of drama was created by including a sense of music, dance combined with a specific social situation.

In “Lost Theatre and Performance traditions in Greece and Italy”, Hugh Denard says alongside these more or less theatrical traditions were a host of other performance activities by musicians, maskers, magicians, dancers, jugglers, poetry performers, exhibition speakers, tightrope walkers (in all shapes and sizes), sword-swallowers, storytellers, engineers, acrobats, escapologists, performing animals and others.

Paratheatrical performances like these were to be found in the most unexpected places: at funerals, processions, dinner parties, in schools, on the streets, in front of temples, in the marketplace, in the countryside, at horse-races, at athletic and gladiatorial contests as well as on the stage itself.

Playwrights such as Aristophanes made the war with Sparta and submission to it the political backdrop of their plays. Sparta had organised military might and this caught the attention of the Athenian mind. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

These factors ruled the emergence of Old Comedy. Aristophanes, a major proponent of this style, focused on the social, political and cultural life of Athens.

It gradually gave way to the New Comedy that was seen as more liberating despite its narrow focus.

Q. 2. Reference to the Context in about 100 words each:

(i) “…These tribulations and unbearable expenses.
Are just a few of the ills that come with dowries.
But she who brings no cash does bring obedience,
While rich girls kill their husbands with their mischieft and extravagance.”

Ans. Context: These lines are taken from ‘Pot of Gold-II’ by Platus.

Explanation: In this play, Plautus gives us a window into the ordinary people of Rome. These people contribute to society through their work. They are recognised socially for the work they perform.

For example, the character of Megadorus gives an insight into the colourful world of Rome. Megadorus recounts the kind of extravagance the rich women are involved in.

For this, we know about different kinds of things produced in society and the people who are involved in its production. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

For women’s extravagance, the creditors appear are: cleaner, tailor, jeweller, embroiderer, woolifier, linen-maker, fringe-maker, tunic-maker Crimson-dyer, brown-dyer, violet-dyer, salesmen, craftsmen, tradesmen of every sort, boot-maker, sandal-maker, slipper-maker, girdle-maker, dry-cleaner, belt-maker, weavers, the tassel-makers and cabinet-makers.

These people perform small jobs to earn a living. These are skilled workers who will soon go on to become the merchants and tradesmen in the near future. These people give us a wider expanse of the social composition of the times.

It also shows how commodities and the process of buying and selling hold an important place. Megadorus says “these tribulations and unbearable expenses” are just a few of the ills that come with dowries.

Women who bring no cash are obedient, While rich girls kill their husbands with their mischief and extravagance. The women from rich families not only bring a dowry, but also a financial assertion over which the husband has little control.

The women who do not bring a dowry is someone who brings with her “obedience”. Their lives are subject to the will of the husband.

But their situation is doubly fragile. Megadorus’s insights on marriage also contribute in carrying the plot forward in the play.

(ii) “… When my good father taught me to be good,
Scarecrows he took for living flesh and blood. Thus, if he warned me not to spend but spare
The moderate means I owe to his wise care,
‘Twas, “See the life that son of Albius leads!”

Ans. Context: These lines are taken from Satire 1:4 by Horace.

Explanation: The reputation of satirists is someone who exposes the follies of everyone, including their close friends. His reputation as a good satirist is closely tied to his good upbringing by his father. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

The speaker credits his father for setting a good example of living with. Here, his father’s teachings are similar to philosophical teachings of Epicurean philosophy.

His father would teach the young poet by example of others who lived with bad reputation. The father also stressed the importance of good education.

In highlighting the role of his biological father, he distances himself from his literary father Lucilius whose satirical style he finds difficult to follow.

Thus, warning by citing examples of others is the best method of teaching his father adopted.

Section B

Q. 1. Write a detailed note on the difference or similarities between the Homeric Epic and the Roman epic.

Ans. The Homeric epics germinated in early Iron Age Greece. Homer composed in a manner very different from Apollonius of Rhodes, Virgil or Milton.

The most striking quality of an oral technique is its constant use of stock words, phrases or even whole lines. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

Homer depended on a gradually evolved traditional arsenal of fixed phrases for depicting common ideas and situations, like the throwing of a weapon, or the description of the shield or the manner of addressing a person.

The poetry of Homer is more complex and polished in its detail than the kind of oral poetry prevalent in modern societies.

The Iliad, though more simple and less sophisticated than the Odyssey, has a more detailed presentation of character and minor incident and we wonder how the poet, entirely unaided by writing, could observe and maintain a splendid thematic structure in his poem.

The sequence of main events follows a well-defined logical pattern: Chryses, quarrel, wrath, Zeus’ promise, catalogues of the armies, duels and indefinite encounters, embassy to Achilles, wounding of the Achaean chieftains, Trojan irruption into the camp, Patroclus’ intervention and death, renunciation of the wrath of Achilles and his vengeance on Hector, funeral of Patroclus and ransoming of Hector’s body.

Another structural device in the Iliad is the series of delays which are meant to be partly dramatic, to enhance the tension, as the Achaeans hover on the brink of disaster, and partly colossal or monumental, to convey the idea of a long-drawn out fight. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

Thus we can see that the broad structure of the poem is simple and not difficult to master. There is every probability that the general themes must have occurred in other heroic poems of the centuries preceding Homer.

Yet the use of conventional epithets and themes is an essential part of the Greek epic style, and gives the poetry of Homer its rich and formal texture.

This did not rob the poet of his originality, for not every singer of his time would be capable of such systematic creation, of constructing such lines as his and displaying no intrusion of clumsy locations.

Some scholars have traced a highly developed unity in the elaborate patterns and correspondences between one part of the Iliad or the Odyssey and. the other.

The kind of unity the Homeric poems possess is certainly not the kind that we look for in modern literature. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

This unity stems from the Iliad and the Odyssey being oral poems, produced according to an elaborate system developed over centuries of true heroic narrative poetry which is quickly weakened when the poet begins to compose by writing.

The ground for Roman literature was prepared by an influx from the early 3rd century BC onward of Greek slaves. Among them was Livius Andronicus, who is considered to be the first Latin writer.

In 240 BC, to celebrate Rome’s victory over Carthage, he composed a genuine drama adapted from the Greek. He also made a translation of the Odyssey.

For his plays Livius adapted the Greek metres to suit the Latin tongue; but for his Odyssey he retained a traditional Italian measure, as did Gnaeus Naevius for his epic on the First Punic War against Carthage. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

A half-Greek Calabrian called Ennius adopted and Latinized the Greek hexameter for his epic Annales, thus further acquainting Rome with the Hellenistic world. His work survives only in fragments.

Greek character thus imposed on literature made it more a preserve of the educated elite. In Rome, coteries emerged such as that formed around the Roman consul and general Scipio Aemilianus.

This circle included the statesman-orator Gaius Laelius, the Greek Stoic philosopher Panaetius, the Greek historian Polybius, the satirist Lucilius, and an African-born slave of genius, the comic playwright Terence.

Soon after Rome absorbed Greece as a Roman province, Greek became a second language to educated Romans. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

Early in the 1st century BC, however, Latin declamation established itself, and, borrowing from Greek, it attained polish and artistry.

Plautus, the leading poet of comedy, is one of the chief sources for colloquial Latin. Ennius sought to heighten epic and tragic diction, and from his time onward, with a few exceptions, literary language became ever more divorced from that of the people, until the 2nd century AD.

The Golden Age of Latin literature spanned the last years of the republic and the virtual establishment of the Roman Empire under the reign of Augustus (27 BC-AD 14). The first part of this period, from 70 to 42 BC, is justly called the Ciceronian.

It produced writers of distinction, most of them also men of action, among whom Julius Caesar stands out. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

The most prolific was Varro, “most learned of the Romans,” but it was Cicero, a statesman, orator, poet, critic, and philosopher, who developed the Latin language to express abstract and complicated thought with clarity.

Subsequently, prose style was either a reaction against, or a return to, Cicero’s. As a poet, although uninspired, he was technically skillful.

He edited the De rerum natura of the philosophical poet Lucretius. Like Lucretius, he admired Ennius and the old Roman poetry and, though apparently interested in Hellenistic work, spoke ironically of its extreme champions, the neôteroi (“newer poets”).

Q. 2. Evaluate Oedipus Rex as a Roman comedy.

Ans. Oedipus Rex presents the universal truth. It a precursor of the modern drama. It has been increasingly difficult to write tragedies now on the lines of the ancient Greeks. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

This is because the world has moved from monarchy to democracy and in
dictator. In the ancient time, the masses were inspired by the virtue of the king.

The depiction in a Tragedy of the rise and fall of a King or anyone of a high status or of a royal lineage is not possible in modern democracy. In Greek culture, people believe in Fate or Destiny and the power of the Gods.

Thus, in Oedipus Rex, Fate or Destiny plays an important role. Oedipus falls due to his preordained fate as per the Delphic Oracle’s prophesy.

Necessity which had a penetrating hold over the Greeks is different from determinism.

According to Harold Bloom: “Necessity is that set of unalterable. Irreducible, unmanageable facts which we call the human condition… Necessity is first of all death; it is old age, sleep, the reversal of fortune, the dance of fortune; it is thereby the fact of suffering as well as pleasure, for if we must dance and sleep, we must also suffer, age and die”.

In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus endowed with supra human courage drives him into the trap set up by the Delphic Oracle. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

Oedipus’ struggle with necessity, his personal responsibility to unravel the mystery of Laius’ death, brings forth his heroism.

Oedipus acts but all his actions are limited by necessity. The Greeks understood and accepted human actions, collectively shared the tragic experience with Oedipus about the ultimate triumph of destiny over men and bowed in reverence to the heroism of the hero who confronts it.

Oedipus’ entry into the trap is his individual action. It is this primacy of action that Sophocles insisted upon.

Q. 3. Examine Pot of Gold as a Roman comedy.

Ans. Plautus’s plays are generally set in Greek locales and the characters make references to Greek customs though they present to the Roman audience mannerisms that belong to them and not Greece.

Plautus emphasised that his performers were both actors and characters and kept his audience continually aware that the actors/ characters were both Greek and Roman. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

Thus, the “Greekish” was merged with the “Sicilyish” in his plays. Timothy Moore says Plautus played with the setting in such a way as to bring those characters closer to home though his use of Greek settings distanced his characters from his audience’s reality.

Geographical allusions in his plays contributed significantly to both the humour and the metatheatrical nature of his plays. In most of Aulularia, the setting is a vague foreign locale.

There are no explicit allusions to the play’s setting in Athens until, late in the play, Lyconides’ slave enters with Euclio’s stolen pot of gold and crows, “quis me Athenis nunc magis quisquam est homo cui di sint propitii?” (“Who is there in Athens now to whom the gods are kinder than they are to me?”). When the slave’s audacity reaches its height, Plautus underlines the Athenian setting.

Despite a Greek locale, the Pot of Gold has the larger rubric of issues, language and humour, remained Roman. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

The comic effect became increasingly layered and took the audience through complex issues while maintaining a level of ease, given the illusion that this was happening in Greece.

Moore points out this idea was particularly productive when it came to the portrayal of the slaves. These people otherwise expected to be loyal, with only one voice that of the master, were seen playing truant.

They experimented with thoughts and desired freedom, an idea forbidden to them.

Moore’s assertion of metatheatricality in Plautus’s plays is significant as it tells us that the moment the play becomes difficult for the audience to handle it is displaced to its antecedent. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

There is a “theatrical self-consciousness” as Plautus is able to “re-theatricalise an alien drama for his Roman audience”.

A wide range of issues ranging from love and marriage to dowry were presented because of the juxtaposition of the Greek model with the Roman context.

The Roman plays inclined more towards New comedy than to the earlier Greek form of Old comedy. The Old Comedy focussed on issues political, while the New Comedy worked around different parameters.

Costas Panayotakis says the successful adoption and original adaptation of Greek New Comedy by Roman theatrical culture was not an isolated artistic phenomenon, but should be seen in the wider context of the cultural influence Greece – through military conquests and merchants’ travels to Greek-speaking lands – exerted on Roman civilization in terms of literature, morals and material culture, and in relation to the current political circumstances:

it was safer to deride fictional characters and social institutions rather than real individuals, and it was even more convenient if these were associated with a foreign nation. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

The amusingly chaotic world of Roman adaptations of Greek New Comedy, and the subversion of the social hierarchy witnessed in them, served both as a pleasant break from the routine of everyday life and as a case of ‘negative exemplarity’: the plays with their happy endings featuring the punishment of the bad and the reward of the good functioned as a salutary re-enforcement of the values, order and discipline that traditional Romans so strongly advocated for their families and themselves.

Therefore, besides the shift from the wider social canvas to the individual or the family unit, we also learn that there is a sense of “chaos” presented on stage.

And this chaos is “subversive”. The plays might end with restoring order as Panayotokis points out, but it is in the chaos that the challenge to the social order can be located. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

This is the purpose and function of the metatheatricality visible in the play. The critic explains how, “Plautus neither translates faithfully nor adapts loosely his Greek originals: he transforms them into extravagant musical shows, and essentially alters both the substance of Greek New Comedy and the social hierarchy of his time.

And it is in this transformation that the creative genius of the playwright can be seen.

Q. 4. Examine the themes of Horace’s satires, especially Satire 1:4.

Ans. Horace developed a number of inter-related themes throughout his poetic career, including politics, love, philosophy and ethics, his own social role, as well as poetry itself. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

His Epodes and Satires are forms of ‘blame poetry’ and both have a natural affinity with the moralising and diatribes of Cynicism.

This often takes the form of allusions to the work and philosophy of Bion of Borysthenes but it is as much a literary game as a philosophical alignment.

By the time he composed his Epistles, he was a critic of Cynicism along with all impractical and “high-falutin” philosophy in general.

The Satires also include a strong element of Epicureanism, with frequent allusions to the Epicurean poet Lucretius.

So for example the Epicurean sentiment carpe diem is the inspiration behind Horace’s repeated punning on his own name (Horatius hora) in Satires 2.6.

The Satires also feature some Stoic, Peripatetic and Platonic (Dialogues) elements. In short, the Satires present a medley of philosophical programs, dished up in no particular order a style of argument typical of the genre.

The Odes display a wide range of topics. Over time, he becomes more confident about his political voice. Although he is often thought of as an overly intellectual lover, he is ingenious in representing passion.

The “Odes” weave various philosophical strands together, with allusions and statements of doctrine present in about a third of the Odes Books 1-3, ranging from the flippant (1.22, 3.28) to the solemn (2.10, 3.2, 3.3).

Epicureanism is the dominant influence, characterizing about twice as many of these odes as Stoicism. A group of odes combines these two influences in tense relationships, such as Odes 1.7, praising Stoic virility and devotion to public duty while also advocating private pleasures among friends.

While generally favouring the Epicurean lifestyle, the lyric poet is as eclectic as the satiric poet, and in Odes 2.10 even proposes Aristotle’s golden mean as a remedy for Rome’s political troubles. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

Many of Horace’s poems also contain much reflection on genre, the lyric tradition, and the function of poetry. Odes 4, thought to be composed at the emperor’s request, takes the themes of the first three books of “Odes” to a new level.

This book shows greater poetic confidence after the public performance of his “Carmen saeculare” or “Century hymn” at a public festival orchestrated by Augustus.

In it, Horace addresses the emperor Augustus directly with more confidence and proclaims his power to grant poetic immortality to those he praises.

It is the least philosophical collection of his verses, excepting the twelfth ode, addressed to the dead Virgil as if he were living.

In that ode, the epic poet and the lyric poet are aligned with Stoicism and Epicureanism respectively, in a mood of bitter-sweet pathos.

The first poem of the Epistles sets the philosophical tone for the rest of the collection: “So now I put aside both verses and all those other games: What is true and what befits is my care, this my question, this my whole concern.”

His poetic renunciation of poetry in favour of philosophy is intended to be ambiguous. Ambiguity is the hallmark of the Epistles.

It is uncertain if those being addressed by the self-mocking poet-philosopher are being honoured or criticized. IGNOU BEGC 102 Solved Free Assignment

Though he emerges as an Epicurean, it is on the understanding that philosophical preferences, like political and social choices, are a matter of personal taste.

Thus, he depicts the ups and downs of the philosophical life more realistically than do most philosophers.

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