Topics for Third Essay Assignment

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Essay #3
400 to 600 words long
5 – 7 paragraphs
Due Wednesday, November 20

The Development of Writing
Briefly review the contributions of the Sumerians, the Egyptians and the Phoenicians to the development of writing. What conceptual and practical innovations helped writing to become more useful and usable as time went on? As literacy became more widespread, what were the advantages to a society? Were there any disadvantages?

National Character
Both the Greeks and the Egyptians had a strong sense of national pride and a tendency to look down on foreigners– for very different reasons. Show how their geography, their religious beliefs and their accomplishments might have fed their sense of pride while also contributing to their very different national characters.

Athens vs. Persia at Marathon
What factors contributed to tiny Athens’ unexpected defeat of giant Persia at the Battle of Marathon? Which side was better equipped? Which side had better tactics? Which side had stronger motivation to fight? How did the Athenians change as a result of their victory? (Herodotus’ description of the Battle of Marathon is a good source.)

Hubris vs. Metis
We know from examples in their literature that the Greeks thought hubris – excessive pride - would lead to ruin, while metis – craftiness – would succeed. How did the Persian wars validate this idea? How did Xerxes and his army show hubris? How did the Greeks show metis?

Sparta vs. Athens
Contrast of the Spartan and the Athenian ways of life. Why did the two cities both admire and dislike each other? How did their cooperation in the Persian War show the strength of each city?