Antigone Through Dante

Choose ONE of the of the following topic/questions and develop an essay response of approximately 750 words (about 2.5 to 4 double-spaced pages,). LABEL YOUR ANSWER CLEARLY. Provide a title and a well-organized introductory paragraph. An effective tactic is to re-word the topic you choose in that introductory paragraph so that it becomes your thesis statement. As you then go on make a case defending your position, be sure to use supporting evidence from the text(s) for each point that you wish to make. A summarizing conclusion should round things out.

1- In your opinion, who is a greater villain and why: Creon in Antigone or Medea in Medea? Is there a way to see one or both of them as not being a villain? (You don’t have to answer both questions).

2- How are Medea and Dido similar and how are they different (their characters and their circumstances)? What about Jason and Aeneas?

3- How does Ovid portray the ancient gods and how is that treatment different from Virgil’s portrayal of them? If you see a difference, how would you account for it? Remember to use examples to justify your responses.

4- Although their works have very little in common, both Ovid and Augustine are writing about “metamorphosis.” Briefly explain the basic difference in how each author uses this concept — what causes it, who it happens to, etc. Then you can choose one of them — Ovid or Augustine — and explore his use of the concept in detail.

5- How does Virgil’s conception of the underworld and its inhabitants as described in The Aeneid compare with Dante’s vision of Hell in The Inferno?

6- The pagan gods of Virgil and Ovid often interfere with and even control their characters’ lives. Is this the same kind of relationship that Dante and/or Augustine describe between Christians and their god? How do the two concepts differ?

7- Choose at least three of the following characters or historical figures and describe where they might be placed in Dante’s version of Hell and why. Be sure to explain your reasoning. — Creon (from Antigone), Antigone, Medea, Jason, Aeneas, Dido, Ovid, and Augustine’s beggar.

8- Dante obviously considers some sins worse than others. Describe any disagreements you have with his rankings and explain your reasoning (don’t choose this question if you agree with everything). If you were designing his hell, how might you change the layout?

9- What do you think Augustine would think of Dante’s portrayal of Hell and the way people end up there and what happens to them? If Augustine had not undergone his final conversion, what do you believe Dante would expect to happen to him? Would the converted Augustine expect the same thing for his old self? What do you think Augustine would consider “hell?” (This is a tough question because I haven’t specifically prepared you for it, but if you’ve paid attention to these two works and the way these two men view the relationship between God and people you might have noticed some basic differences in their priorities and their concepts).

10- Considering that at the time they wrote both Augustine and Dante were presenting new and unique ways of viewing Christian theology, what parts of their ideas, if any, do you think still strongly influence Christian thinking. Which of their ideas, if any, do you see as outdated, proven false, or reconsidered. If you are a Christian, were you aware of Dante and Augustine before reading their works here, and are there any ideas or beliefs that you have yourself that you didn’t know were first articulated by them? Were there any ideas or imagery they originated that you believed came from another source, like the Christian Bible? (Obviously, you don’t need to take on all of these questions).


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