POT 3013 FIU Ancient & Medieval Political Theory Essay

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Paper 1 Assignment

Focused Writing Skill: Using Text as Evidence

This paper will focus on developing your use of textual evidence in making interpretative arguments. Choose one of the quotes and associated writing prompts below and write a paper in response. You should draw on the course readings in making your response. You are not expected to do any research outside of the course materials, and any use of outside materials should be kept to a minimum and cited appropriately if used. If you want to draw on additional sources to help you in formulating your interpretation, I suggest consulting the additional recommended readings first. The paper should be between 1,500 and 2,000 words and will be due onMonday, October 3rd by 12pm (noon).

General writing guide and rubric: Writing Guide and Rubric .doc

Prompt 1:

“The third and most masterly stroke of this great lawgiver, by which

he struck a yet more effectual blow against luxury and the desire

of riches, was the ordinance he made, that they should all eat in

common, of the same bread and same meat, and of kinds that were specified,

and should not spend their lives at home, laid on costly couches at

splendid tables, delivering themselves up into the hands of their

tradesmen and cooks, to fatten them in corners, like greedy brutes,

and to ruin not their minds only but their very bodies which, enfeebled

by indulgence and excess, would stand in need of long sleep, warm

bathing, freedom from work, and, in a word, of as much care and attendance

as if they were continually sick.” – Plutarch, Life of Lycurgus, pg. 9

Why does Plutarch refer to the establishment of common dining in Sparta as “the third and most masterly stroke” accomplished by Lycurgus? What did eating together have to do with the Spartan politeia? How did this institution work and what was it meant to accomplish?

Prompt 2:

“Chorus: Woe on you, younger gods! the ancient right

Ye have o’erridden, rent it from my hands.

I am dishonoured of you, thrust to scorn!

But heavily my wrath

Shall on this land fling forth the drops that blast and burn,

Venom of vengeance, that shall work such scathe

As I have suffered; where that dew shall fall,

Shall leafless blight arise.

Wasting Earth’s offspring, – justice, hear my call! –

And thorough all the land in deadly wise

Shall sctter venom to exude again

In pestilence on men.

What cry avails me now, what deed of blood,

Unto this land what dark despite?

Alack, alack, forlorn

Are we, a bitter injury have borne!

Alack, O sisters, O dishonoured brood

Of mother Night!” – Aeschylus, Eumenides, Morshead Translation, pg. 62.

“Chorus: gods of the younger generation, you have ridden down

the laws of the elder time, torn them out of my hands.

I, disinherited, suffering, heavy with anger

shall let loose on the land

the vindictive poison

dripping deadly out of my heart upon the ground,

this from itself shall breed

cancer, the leafless, the barren

to strike, for the right, their low lands

and drag its smear of mortal infection on the ground.

What shall I do? Afflicted

I am mocked by these people.

I have borne what can not

Be borne. Great the sorrow and the dishonor upon

The sad daughters of night.” – Aeschylus, Eumenides, Lattimore/Grene translation, 810-820.

What grievance are the furies expressing in this passage? How does Athena attempt to calm the furies anger? What arrangement do Athena and the furies reach at the end of the play, and do you think this is a just resolution? Why or why not?

Prompt 3:

“When the tumult was abated, and five days had passed, the rebels against the Magians held a council on the whole state of affairs, at which words were uttered which to some Greeks seem incredible; but there is no doubt that they were spoken. Otanes was for giving the government to the whole body of the Persian people. “I hold,” he said, “that we must make an end of monarchy; there is no pleasure or advantage in it. You have seen to what lengths went the insolence of Cambyses, and you have borne your share of the insolence of the Magian. What right order is there to be found in monarchy, when the ruler can do what he will, nor be held to account for it? Give this power to the best man on earth, and his wonted mind must leave him. The advantage which he holds breeds insolence, and nature makes all men jealous. This double cause is the root of all evil in him; he will do many wicked deeds, some from the insolence which is born of satiety, some from jealousy. For whereas an absolute ruler, as having all that heart can desire, should rightly be jealous of no man, yet it is contrariwise with him in his dealing with his countrymen; he is jealous of the safety of the good, and glad of the safety of the evil; and no man is so ready to believe calumny. Nor is any so hard to please; accord him but just honour, and he is displeased that you make him not your first care; make him such, and he damns for a flatterer. But I have yet worse to say of him than that; he turns the laws of the land upside down, he rapes women, he puts high and low to death. But the virtue of a multitude’s rule lies first in its excellent name, which signifies equality before the law; and secondly, in that its acts are not the acts of the monarch. All offices are assigned by lot, and the holders are accountable for what they do therein; and the general assembly arbitrates on all counsels. Therefore I declare my opinion, that we make an end of monarchy and increase the power of the multitude, seeing that all good lies in the many.” – Herodotus, Histories, Book 3, Chapter 80, pg. 2.

Analyze Otanes’s argument in favor of democracy. What does he think the dangers of monarchy are? How does his analysis of democracy respond to these dangers? Do you think democracy could fall victim to some of the same dangerous tendencies he sees in monarchy – why or why not?

Tips:

  • When using textual evidence, the most important thing to remember is that no quote ever speaks for itself – you have to explain its context, its meaning, and why it matters for your argument. You are using the text of other writers as evidence for your interpretation/argument, and not as a replacement for you having to explain something.
  • A successful paper makes clear how the writer uses different terms. The author whose work you are drawing from uses terms in specific ways, which may or may not match your own intended use of terms as the writer of the paper. It should be clear where you are interpreting the meaning of the author or a speaker within an author’s work (For instance, Pericles may mean something different by “power” or “interest” than Thucydides himself means; or Plato’s Socrates may, at any particular moment in a dialogue, mean something different by “justice” than Plato himself is trying to express through the dialogue taken as a whole). And it should also be clear what you yourself, as the writer of the paper, means by certain terms. As you clarify the meaning of terms within texts, you should also be challenging yourself to figure out whether you agree or disagree with their meaning. This means paying attention to your own situated perspective. What you think of as “freedom” may not be the same as what your authors’ think of as “freedom.” A successful paper strives to make clear what the use of a term refers to at any given moment.
  • It is best to fit quotations into your sentence’s grammatical structure by crafting your sentence structure to fit the quotation, using only part of the quotation, deleting words that impede the grammar and replace them with ellipses, or adding words in square brackets [ ] to help make the sentence grammatically correct.

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