2 Marks

1. Name the Greek family that links all the stories of Metamorphosis.

Ans. The name of the Greek family that connects all the stories in Metamorphosis is Agenor’s family.

2. What was the crime of Acteon? How did Diana punish him?

 Ans. While Acteaon was in a hunt, he lost his way and chanced upon goddess Diana taking a bath in a fountain. He saw Diana naked. Diana became angered by this intrusion. She thought that Acteon had done this on purpose. In order to provide a fitting punishment, she turned him into a stag while his dogs were compared with his own desires which would not let him rest in peace.

3. How did Juno disguise herself when she met Semele?

Ans. Juno disguised herself as an old woman and as the epidaurian nurse of Semele.

4. How did Semele’s child survive? Who secretly reared the child?

Ans. After his mother was burnt he was cut out from his mother’s womb and sewn on to the thigh of Jupiter. He was born after completing his gestation period. Ino reared Bacchus.

5. How did Narcissus die? How did Echo react to it?

Ans. Narcissus tries to make love to his own reflection but fails to do so. He consoles himself by continuously looking at his own reflection. Neither did he eat nor sleep and gradually wasted away. Then he died. Ultimately he was turned into a flower with gold and pale white petals.

6. Who ‘rejected’ Tiersias? What was the prophecy of Tiersias about that person?

Ans. Pentheus rejected Tiresias. Tiresias prophesized that if Pentheus do not worship Bacchus then he will meet a horrible death.

7. To which harbour did Bacchus ask the Lydian soldiers to take him? Name one transformation the sailors were subjected to.

Ans. Bacchus asked the Lydian soldiers to take him to Naxos. One of the sailors was transformed into a crab like creature.

5 Marks


1 .  Briefly relate the dream sent by Zeus to Agamemnon.

Ans. In the second book, to help the Trojans, as promised, Zeus send a false dream to Agamemnon in which a figure in the form of Nestor persuades Agamemnon that he can take Troy if , he launches a full-scale assault on the city’s walls. The next day, Agamemnon gathers his troops for attack but to test their courage, he lies and tells them that he has decided to give up the war and return to Greece.

(2) Briefly narrate how Penthues’ life came to an end after his failure to punish Acoetes?

Ans. Pentheus did not give any more orders and went to mount Cithaeron where the Bacchanals lived and performed their religious rituals. Penthues went to mount Cithaeron to kill Bacchus. Pentheus was attacked by his own mother and his aunts. While Autonoe pulled out his right arm. Ino ripped apart the left arm. Ultimately Agave beheaded Penthues.

(3) Narrate briefly the story of Narcissus and his transformation.

Ans. After Narcissus discovers that he is one of the most beautiful person in the world, he falls in love with his own reflection in a pool. The goddess of nemesis cursed Narcissus that he will not be able to obtain the love of his beloved because he has spurned the love of many.

Narcissus tries to make love to his own reflection but fails to do so. He consoles himself by continuously looking at his own reflection. Neither did he eat nor sleep and gradually wasted away. Then he died. Ultimately he was turned into a flower with gold and pale white petals.

10 Marks

3 (a) i. Write a critical note on the idea of divine intervention with reference to Book I and II of Iliad.

Ans. The gods and goddesses love to manipulate, plot, and ploy against the humans they detest, so pay close attention, because their influence drives battles that ensue throughout the poem.

The Iliad would be nothing if it were not for the gods, as they ultimately decide the fate, or outcome, of the humans. From the very beginning of The Iliad, it is clear that when the gods are offended by the actions of the humans, or when the gods favor one human over another, the humans’ fates are sealed.

For example, in Book 1, when Agamemnon takes Chryses’ (Apollo’s priest) daughter as a prize, Apollo puts a plague upon the Achaean camp until Agamemnon agrees to return the daughter to her father. These gods are not playing around, and have no problem using human suffering as a form of entertainment!

While every instance of divine intervention cannot be listed here, below are some important moments that identify when, and why, the gods stepped in. It is important to note the gods were not necessarily intervening for the benefit of the humans but more for their own interests or tastes. Disagreement, compromise, or spite between the gods often became motivation for intervention. Take a look at the roles of the gods in The Iliad, and try to decide the justification for their intervention.

Here are some examples of the gods or goddesses stepping in to help the Trojans by giving compassion, strength, or even life:

Before The Iliad, Paris was given a golden apple from Zeus, a token to signify the fairest goddess; he chose to give it to Aphrodite, goddess of love. She has shown favor to him, and even had Helen fall in love with him. This is why, during his battle with Menelaus, Aphrodite rescues Paris by concealing him in a thick mist, and then brings Helen to him in his chambers.

Zeus, king gods, men, and universe, claims to stay neutral in this battle; however, he does give more favor to the Trojans by helping Hector more than he initially set out to in his promise to Thetis. He gives Hector strength, symbols from the sky, and protection during battle.

(ii) What is an epic simile? Comment on Homer’s use of epic similes with reference to the books of Iliad you have read.

Ans. According to online Encyclopedia Britanica an epic simile, also called Homeric simile, an extended simile often running to several lines, used typically in epic poetry to intensify the heroic stature of the subject and to serve as decoration.

All the similes used in the text are not homogenous. Some of the epic similes were meant to be a relief from the narrative. Most of the similes are drawn from the world of nature. Here the scale of the events and heroes have been brought into the relief. Most of them occur whenever there is a battle scene or an impending battle.

The similes are used to help digressions occur. Initially, short similes are used and then the epic/extended similes seems to be a later development. Similes could also be used to reiterate whatever has happened earlier. They are also the necessary ornaments that a narrative essentially has.

Similes tend to occur at moments of high emotion, drama and tension, often introducing a change of perspective (e.g. the entrance of a warrior), and they are especially prevalent in battle-scenes. The most common points of comparison with human life and action are lions (used forty times in all), birds, fire, cattle, wind, and water, and boars, thirty-one subjects occur once only: these include mule, ass, worm, rainbow, bean and horse-trainer.

As for their function, these similes introduce a world of peace in a martial poem; they impose the unchanging world of nature on temporary, fleeting human existence of all listeners they give contemporary vividness to the world of the heroic past; and they often create deep pathos, for example the dying warrior likened to a poppy heavy with spring rain. In the similes, perhaps more than elsewhere, Homer speaks most directly to us.

(c) i, Comment on the character of Bacchus with reference to Metamorphoses book III.

Ans. The figure of Bacchus goes directly against the ethos of the militaristic Rome. It was also against something that the Greeks stood for. The Greeks were famous for the not only their cultural glory but also for their military prowess. The image of an effeminate god stands counter to anything that is militaristic. Not only is Bachhus ‘effiminate’ but he seems to be drowsy most of the time with the effect of wine.

Intoxication again is something that goes against the strict conducts of military discipline. Bacchus’ Ovid deliberately draws out attention to the boy’s womanly hair; later on in book 3, the parallel to Bacchus will become obvious. Pentheus scorns the cult of Bacchus as effeminate and urges the dragon born warriors to defend Thebes against this degenerate invasion.

He argues: ‘His gleaming armour is perfumed locks and womanish garlands’ (line 555) Pentheus resists the bigenderous nature of Bacchus’ worship; his death is therefore deeply ironic – he is killed by the women of his own natal family.

Once again, we are able to sense Bacchus’ presence who himself is often described as a pale young boy. Book 3 is entirely devoted to Bacchus, and every story, whether part of the main narrative or not, reflects the deity’s powerful influence. Bacchus is shown to be the god of many things; his presence is constantly tangible throughout book 3 as each theme Ovid touches upon can be traced directly back to Bacchus. Each of these ideas, whether it involves identity, gender, boundaries or tangibility all have one thing in common: Bacchus is able to transgress them.

The extent of Bacchus’ power becomes apparent to us as we come to realize Bacchus’ divine ability to flow back and forth between reality and illusion; this is what makes him present in all accounts. Book 3 is rich with the deaths of Cadmian descendents, in fact the sheer number and predictability of these mortalities dulls our moral judgment. Instead of shock we develop a fascination with Bacchus’ violent revenge on his own family, and this is perhaps the most striking aspect of experiencing the narrative: we forget our own moral principles, because the spectacle itself is so strikingly multi-dimensional.

Bachhus is also drawn to be a fully featured person. Unlike the other gods who appear in the book we find the physical features of Bachhus well delineated. Ovid writes that the crew of Acoetes brought Bachhus who was,”… as pretty as a girl.” Acoetes, understands that there is a god within that mortal form and asks his crew to seek his pardon.

But the crew were adamant on making fun of Bachhus. It is also important to note that Bachuus was found by the crew in a state of intoxication and could hardly follow the crew members. Bachhus being the god of wine and revelry seems to be the only god who takes his position seriously. We find other gods often involved in the dereliction of their duties but not Bachhus.

Yet like other gods Bachhus too has a penchant for horrific punishments for those who dare o cross his path. Here however, the crew did really try to harm him while in the case of other gods the irritations were mostly minor. Bachhus turns all the crew into various sea animals and dropped them in to the sea. Here we find a change of form and not death. Other gods killed people for minor transgressions but Bachhus does not kill the crew changing them in to different shapes.

Perhaps this could be one of the reasons as to why Bachhus enjoyed the status that he did. A less punish happy god could be regarded as a better option than many. Bachhus provides an atmosphere of Carnivalesque to the people of Thebes. This environment helps the war torn and otherwise troubled people breathe easy for sometime at least. We should also pay attention to the fact that Bachhus appears to be a god who sings and dances.

This introduces a non martial way of existence as well. Thus we find that the character of Bachhus though not fully developed in the book has the potential to become a major one in the subsequent books.

Comment on the story of Tiresias in Ovid’s Metamorphoses book III.

Ans. There are two instances where Teiresias have been mentioned in book 3. Once Jupiter and Juno had a debate regarding which gender benefits more from a love relationship. While Jupiter was of the view that it were women who benefitted more, Juno thought that it were men who got more from love.

In order to settle the issue, Jupiter thought that Tiresias could answer the question well since Tiersias was changed into a woman for seven years for disturbing a pair of mating snakes. Though in itself it is not tragic that he became a woman but Tiersias having an experience of a life of a woman thought that women get more out of a relationship than men do. That resulted in his getting blind by a curse of Juno.

Thus this episode where firesias is mentioned signals two issues – first, it highlights yet again the theme of divine punishment. This divine punishment is seen again to be rather too harsh for the ‘crime’ that Tiresias commits. In fact we find that godly punishment is actually too trivial a thing to be taken seriously. Ovid could also be hinting towards the blindness of the fate which does not take into consideration the right or the wrong of the person concerned before dealing out the punishment.

These kinds of punishments could also symbolize the kind of attitude that the Roman penal authority had towards the criminals. If a person was subjected to punishment, they were certainly very harsh. Dismembering and gouging out of eyes was very common in those days. In the case of Tiresias we find that Juno decides to take away the eyes of the prophet. The injury to the eye motif is found in various subsequent writings.

While Freud talks about the motif in his discourse, texts like A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce also talks about the same. Thus we can find that modern English literature owes much of its motifs and symbols from the one established by such texts as The Metamorphoses. Yet Jupiter, in order to compensate for the loss he has suffered, gives Tiresias the gift of prophecy. Thus the story of Tiresias is also symbolic of the theme of divine compensation as well.

Prophesies are also an integral part of the narrative of any story that deals with myths and gods. Tiresias gained a high reputation as a prophet when his prophecy about Narcissus came true. The mother of Narcissus went to Tiresias to know if her son is going to have a prosperous future. Tiresias tells her that until Narcissus discovers himself he will have a carefree life.

It so happened that one day Narcissus saw his own reflection in a pond and fell in love with himself. Since he couldn’t get his object of live he pined for the same and died a lonely life. Thus Tiresias is mentioned yet again at a juncture which hints at the seminal theme of the Book. One of the major themes of the book is unrequited love and Tiresias is connected to the same.

Again when the story of Pentheus and Bacchus is introduced it was Tiresias who says that Pentheus would become lucky when he becomes blind after Pentheus castigates him for talking favourably about Bacchus. Disregarding the predictions of Tiresias attacks Bacchus and he dies as direct result of the same. Thus disregarding the oracles have serious consequences for the skeptic.

Thus we find that the three instances where Tiresias and his story was introduced had significant relevance to the entire book and in fact with the entire work of Metamorphoses. Tiresias acts as a source of unity to the apparently loose structure of the text since his repeated appearances lends a structural consistency to the text.

(d) i. Critically evaluate the use of classical conventions of comedy in the plot construction of The Plot of Gold.

Ans. The Pot of Gold has a compact and close-knit structure. Plautus here picks up a number of themes to establish the very structure of the plot of the play. The play has a single plot which develops in a convincing manner without much digression. The play unfurls the picture of an avaricious and stingy person namely Euclio and his pot of gold.

The way Euclio tries to keep his pot of gold safe is very funny. When the household god bestows the pot of gold to Euclio he becomes instantly possessive and does not leave any stone unturned to keep it safe. The prime focus of the play is on the human avarice and miserliness through the comic portrayal of Euclio.

The second important aspect of the plot is, it shows the romantic desire of Megadorus’ nephew towards Euclio’s daughter, Phaedria. We get to know much about it through Staphyla’s speeches. Through this (sub)-plot Plautus tries to hammer the very understanding of the idea of sexuality (“as it is literally written on the body’).

The use of irony greatly contributes to the humour in this play; and in most cases the comic irony centres round Euclio’s character. It is ironical indeed to see that despite Euclio’s obsessive attempts to protect his pot of gold, it is stolen from him. But, we don’t move into tears by seeing his situation, rather, it evokes a sense of laughter in the readers or the spectators. Interestingly, it is because of his own fault that the slave gets his hands on Euclio’s treasure.

The play reaches to the pinnacle of climax with the aid of each and every event of the play. When Euclio loses his treasure and ultimately gets it with the help of Lyconides we get to see a sudden change in Euclio’s character.

Now, if we look at the very structure of the play we will see that The Pot of Gold has maintained a very compact plot. The playwright has also observed the ‘three unities’, namely unities of time, place and action, in this play. The entire action of the play takes place within a timeline of a few hours. The action begins in the morning when Euclio is seen scolding Staphyla, and when the play ends we imagine that it is probably afternoon or evening.

Having said that, we must not forget that the play has also observed the unity of place very well as the whole action the play takes place (mainly) on a street in Athens. Again, the unity of action is also evident from the fact that the playwright has tried to throw the entire amount of attention on a single theme without allowing much digression.

To speak the truth, a comedy is a story of the rise in fortune of a sympathetic central character. And Plautus’ Pot of Gold is no exception. It shows the fundamental characteristic of comic characters proposed by Aristotle (comic figures are mainly “average to bellow average” in terms of moral character). Again, the play advocates the age-old tradition of ‘happy ending’ which is peculiar to comedy.

(ii) Attempt and analysis of the character of Euclio in The Pot of Gold.

Ans. The plot of the play The Pot of Gold , revolves round Euclio, the central figure of the play. Euclio is above all a character who is defined by his greed and avaricious nature. The play starts with his reproach to Staphyla as he says:

“Go out: go out: I say, and get you gone, You that are looking round with prying eyes!” (Act-I, Scene-I)

From this speech we can decipher how greedy and how insolent he is. At the same time he is possessive regarding the ‘pot of gold’ which he had received from his household god. To speak the truth, the theme of the play is redressed at the very beginning of the play, as Euclio muses:

“Now I (Euclio) will go and see if the gold is there. Just as I hid it, gold which has become A constant source of trouble to myself.” (Act-I, Scene-I)

In particular, the last phrase, (“gold which has become a constant source of trouble to myself”), can be used to show the major theme of the play: i.e., the dangers of greed and the way that possession of wealth does not necessarily come as a blessing to its recipients. One of the fundamental flaws in Euclio’s character is his over-suspicious nature.

He rebukes Staphyla of being over-inquisitive, he suspects Magadorus of having secret designs upon his pot of gold, and even when he finds a number of cooks working in his house, he immediately jumps to the conclusion that they have been sent to his house by Magadorus to steal his pot of gold.

The play beautifully shows a number of transformations that occur in a person’s behavior after a certain point of time. At the beginning of the play we see that Euclio is poor, but when he discovers the treasure (pot of gold) he immediately becomes rich, and when he becomes rich, he becomes avaricious as well as possessive, and when he becomes possessive, he becomes garrulous and quarrelsome. So, one can get the message by reading the play that greed engulfs a man and makes him a mad man.

Plautus exposes the materialistic, acquisitive bent of contemporary Roman society in the figure of Euclio. Again, from this character we get to see how a man fails to distinguish between the importance of a pot of gold and his own daughter when he becomes completely obsessed with his gold.

There is a famous saying, which says,comes an overpowering sense of guilt. Again, Euclio complains to the spectators that he had indeed wanted to spend lavishly on his daughter’s wedding with greed . But when he gets the pot of gold from his household god, he becomes a complete skinflint.

Euclio’s suspicious nature is the reason behind his utter madness. He fails to distinguish between right and wrong, between good and evil. And this thing makes Euclio a comic character. When he suspects Megadorus of having secret designs upon his pot of gold, when he goes to beat the cooks, when he beats Staphyla, we look at him from a distance and laugh at him. He tries to make himself odious and ridiculous in our eyes, though unknowingly.

But, at the end of the play, Euclio undergoes a great change of heart. When he comes to know that he has lost his pot of gold, at first, he laments, but when he receives the pot of gold from Lyconides and the slave he becomes overjoyed and he presents that to Lyconides as a gift, which shows how great he has become, and how beautiful his heart has been transformed into.

There is a famous saying, “all’s well that ends well” and it goes well with this drama. At the very end of the play we see Euclio’s great transformation. From an extremely stingy man, Euclio becomes the most magnanimous man. He is basically a ridiculous fellow, his character is redeemed firstly by the welcome transformation which he undergoes at the end of the play and secondly by his picturesque and rhetorical manner of speaking. And these things make Euclio a unique character.






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