Guidelines for Reader Responses

Reader Responses

Reader Responses should be 2 pages in length, typewritten in 12-point type, double-spaced with 1-inch margins on all sides, stapled together, and each page must be numbered. Each Reader Response will consist of three principal parts as described below:

  1. Identify some feature within the text (e.g., imagery, theme, incident, passage, narrative structure, framing device, style, sentence construction, message or moral, etc.) which happens to strike you as strange, unfamiliar, remarkable, or problematic, and explain what it is that you find so unusual about that particular element or how it differs from what you might have expected.

  2. Consider how that feature is operating within the text, what function or purpose it might be serving within its immediate context or within the broader narrative as a whole, and why it might have been represented in this particular manner rather than some other way.

  3. Then explain how this feature helps you to interpret the general meaning of the text as you explore the particular implications and consequences of your new understanding.

Oral Presentation Assignment

Presentation Length: 10 minutes

Paper Length: 5 pages, double-spaced, with numbered pages

Research Paper

Choose one of the following topics to explore issues that will provide cultural and sociological background for the literature of the Augustan Golden Age. Use three independent sources (articles, books, websites), no more than one of which should come from the Web. Summarize your findings in the introduction, provide illustrative examples in the body of your presentation, and offer interpretations of significance, consequences and implications in your conclusion.

  1. Roman Religion and Cultic Practice
  2. Roman Family Structure and the Role of Women
  3. Roman Art and Architecture
  4. Roman Military Organization and Ethos
  5. Roman Government and the Politics of the Republic and Empire
  6. Roman Games and Festivals
  7. Roman Funerary Rituals
  8. Roman Slaves and Slave Revolts
  9. Roman Empire and the History of its Expansion
  10. Roman Mythology
  11. Roman Oratory
  12. Roman Philosophy: Stoics, Academics, and Epicureans
  13. Roman Class Structure
  14. Roman Economic Development

In-class Exercise

Answer five of the following questions:

  1. What is strange about Aeneas' response to the frescoes in the Temple of Juno in Carthage, and how does this incident shed light on the relationship between the intention of the artist and the reception of the art work?

  2. All of the following perform the same function in the text: Mercury, the ghost of Hector, the ghost of Creusa, the oracle of Apollo, Helenus, Celeano, the ghosts of the Penates, the ghost of Anchises, the Sibyl, the Tiber. Explain what that function is and why so many have to perform it.

  3. Aeneas founds or helps to lay the foundations for four cities prior to his arrival in Latium. What are the name and location of each city, and why does Aeneas spend so much time founding cities for other people and not fulfilling his own destiny?

  4. Helenor in Book XI has a blank shield. What is the significance of this blankness and what, by analogy, are the implications for understanding the elaborate shield of Aeneas in Book VIII?

  5. Provide four reasons for why Aeneas has to go down to the Underworld in Book VI.

  6. In what respects might Aeneas be more like Mark Anthony than Augustus and how does Vergil treat this resemblance?

  7. In what respects is Drances like Cicero in Book XI, and what are the implications for understanding Augustus' relation to Cicero here?

  8. What are the ancestries of the following and what is the significance for each: Turnus, Evander, Latinus.

Final Paper Assignment

Length:  8-10 pages

  1. Augustan poets continually seek to establish themselves - and the empire of Augustus - in relation to the past (by imitating earlier poets, by referencing earlier works, by employing earlier literary traditions and genres, by recasting earlier historical events). And yet, at the same time, they also seek to mark a clear break with the past, to contain the past in the past, and to show how the present ultimately surpasses the past. Explain how this ambivalent relationship to the past functions in any of the texts studied during the semester, and consider why the past needs to be invoked and then repudiated.

  2. Love and desire - though generally admired - become a recurring problem in these texts of the Augustan Age, whether in the form of ambition and desire for conquest, or of love of liberty and freedom from constraint, or of sexual passion and the pursuit of beautiful things. On the one hand, stirring the emotions is the object of oratory in that it is emotion that leads to political action, according to Cicero. On the other hand, desire leads to all kinds of excess, extravagance, luxuriance, and abuse of power. Show how authors from the period treat the subject of desire as they try to activate its strengths while containing its unruly effects. Explain how the contradictions in their attitudes toward desire get resolved.

  3. Consider the differences in attitudes, beliefs, and values as well as styles between authors who promote or profit from the Republican form of government (Livy, Cicero, Julius Caesar, Agrippa in Cassius Dio) and those who champion the Imperial form (Horace, Vergil, Ovid, Maecenas in Cassius Dio). Then explain what factors, aside from differences in personal temperament, might contribute to the changes in these distinguishing features.