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1(a). Comment on the use of epic similes in the Iliad.
Ans. By definition, an epic is a poem comprising of fictional characters usually maled in huge a war. An epic is usually of great length. We can often find a lot maalitical intrigues. An epic has a very large scale in which things operate. This Ayre scale includes grand clothes worn by characters, long passages of descriptions generally using epic similes, extended metaphors and other figures of speech. We
so have the device of dues-ex-machina. They often help or hinder the characters the epic. Many epics are often about a single hero who conquers many problems during the span of the epic concerned. We have examples like Odyssey, Beowulf, and Ramayana etc. An epic usually considers to be giving us a picture of the society in which it was created .
Since war is a primary theme of an epic, we often find heroic boasts which adds to the element of hyperbole. In epics we often find many digressions. These digressions are but a natural result of the lengthiness of the epic. When an epic begins, the poet generally begins with an invocation.
Iliad was written in a poetic format. Of course all the characters of this epic are fictional. They are involved in war with each other. Sometimes the wars are local and sometimes they are fought on a huge scale. For example, the entire epic describes the war between Greece and Troy. Yet we often find in book I and II, small battles between individuals as well as between tribes. For example – we find that Achilles fights with Agamemnon’s men.
Iliad is also of a huge length. It runs into thousands of lines. However, book I and II taken separately is not of such a huge length. In Iliad as early as in book I we find that there are a number of political intrigues. In fact Helen was only an excuse used by Agamemnon to attack Troy. Agamemnon had always wanted to conquer Troy. All through the two books we find Agamemnon involving himself in various deceits. We find him thinking of abetting Achilles to serve him his purpose.
Al the descriptions in the poem are of large magnitude. From the description of the huge number of Greek ships to the description of the city of Troy and its huge walls. We also find that the great warriors, kings and the queens wear magnificent armours and dresses.
From the very beginning of Iliad we find that Apollo hearing the prayer old Chryse, becomes angry at the Greek and kills them with his arrows. Again, when Achilles prays to his mother then she promises that she will help him in fact Achilles himself is half god and half human. In these two books we often find various god and goddesses interfere in human activities.
Though Iliad talks about a number of heroes. There is no single hero who is portrayed as the all powerful or ideal hero so much so that even the mighty Achilles prays to his mother to help him against Agamemnon. Even the first two books we find our attention divided among Achilles, Hector, Agamemnon and Odysseus. Though we find many heroic acts of the heroes.
Like all epics Iliad also gives us a picture of the society in which it was written. It shows the petty ribaldries among the various, small tribes and nations also come to know about the condition of the women who were not considered anything better than commodities. We also come to know as to how the various policies maintained by the various countries for war and diplomacy.
Digressions are common in the first two books of Iliad. We are often reading about the story of the heroes as they were in their childhood. We often find the stories of the gods and goddess which do not have anything to do with the main story of the epic. I these digressions were not aided in te first draft of the epic but rather with the progress of time, various authors added various stories tot the main text.
Thus we find that Iliad has almost all the qualities that an epic has. Like all other epics Iliad was also composed as a poem. We can safely say that Iliad is an epic.
1. (B) Comment on the role and character of Achilles.
Ans. Achilles was the son of Peleus, a mortal and Thetis, a goddess. Thus, Achilles is demigod. Achilles perhaps is the most important character in Iliad. It is with him that the epic begins. In the first book Achilles gets the most importance. Achilles is presented as the most valiant and sought after warrior in the epic. Yet Agamemnon says that he was great warrior because,”… God made you so.” He could be regarded as the foil on one hand of Hector and on another hand of Agamemnon. While Agamemnon is blinded by is intense desire for material prosperity
, Achilles always maintains a balance between his material desire and his war like attitude Agamemnon was always after wealth and other avenues of fame. Achilles according to the epic always took whatever was due to him. Since Hector’s role and character is not mentioned in the first two books we will not deal with his character much. However unlike Hector who fought to protect his home, Achilles was a mercenary. Thus while Hector is a true prince, Achilles is more of a tribal chief.
Through the behaviour of Achilles we can understand a number of things about ancient Greece and their politics. For example, after being insulted by Agamemnon in book 1, Achilles could have had attacked Agamemnon, But if he had done so, then Agamemnon’s forces would have had attacked Achilles’ home.
Thus Achilles just like an intelligent chief protected his people at the cost of his own insult. Not only is Achilles a great warrior who had a strength of a hundred men but he is also a very intelligent person who tries to reason with Agamemnon’s greed. Through Achilles homer tries to show the heroes of the lore. He can be compared with Mahabahrata’s Arjun.
Adding to the multi dimensional figure of Achilles, his erring and appealing to his mother to punish Agamemnon, he is presented as a common human being who cries and laments. Thus, through Achilles we can find a marvellous creation of a character who is multi dimensional.
(a) Describe the death of Pentheus at the instigation of Bacchus in Metamorphoses (Book III)
Ans. In the case of Pentheus thinks are a little different. Pentheus is not ready to consider to be a god. He insults Bacchus by calling him various names. Then, He incites his men against Bacchus by calling into questions Bacchus’ godliness. He tells his people that they belong to the god of war and should act like that. Instant of singing songs and dancing in the streets, they should fight against a common enemy.
Pentheus thought that if they follow the way of Bacchus then the entire nation will go to the dogs. First he tries to stop the people from worshipping Bacchus by arresting and touching his disciples. When it fails he tries to kill Bacchus. However, he himself dies in a sacrificial ritual at the hand of his mother and aunts, a rare example of female agency. Thus we can see that white Acteon was not at fault, Pentheus was very much aware of his aggression yet they both receive similar fate.
3 (b) Narrate how Tiersias became blind. How was Tiersias recompensed for his loss?
Ans. 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 Tiresias 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.
4 (a) Comment on the character of Euclio.
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, with greed 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, 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.
4 (b) The Pot of Gold portrays the Roman society during Plautus’s time. Elucidate.
Ans. The characters of Roman comedy consist of some stereotyped representatives of various trades and professions as well as classes and slightly individualized domestic characters; they are out-an-out realistic in their apparent appearance but (probably) nct so to the core. The reason why they are not so is because they are actually selected by the playwright under the impression of the traditional or external conditions, which means they are conditioned in a radical way by the society.
So, if one has to portray the contemporary society the way it is then one has to choose some characters that look exactly the real ones. And Plautus does the same thing; he chooses some stock characters who can easily portray the socioeconomic condition of the contemporary Roman society in a very seriocomic way. Plautus is a master of weaving reality and that is why the famous critic Erich Segal most appropriately describes him as “the least admired and most imitated” among all Greek and Roman classical playwrights.
Plautus chooses some stock characters to portray the whole contemporary society and he divides them into some groups to unfold the each and every lacuna of the same society. For example, he chooses Euclio to reveal the immeasurable amount greed in the mind of an individual; again, he depicts the lack of morality prevalent in a society through the portrayal of both Euclio and Lyconides.
Secret relation is one of the prominent issues of that time, and it has been envisaged and presented both beautifully and palatably by the playwright in this play through the secret relation between Lyconides and Phaedria. And last but not the least, through the idiosyncratic character called Eunomia, Plautus tries to demonstrate the sense of unbreakable social convention and custom like dowry which is gnawing the very core of morality little by little.
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, with greed 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, but, when he gets the pot of gold from his household god, he becomes a complete skinflint.
Now, if we dissect the very character of Megadorus we will not fail to see that Plautus has chosen Megadorus to present the simple, virtuous and morally sound side of the Roman society. He is a good person who hates the filthy social custom called ‘dowry’. He makes Euclio understand the value of friendship and human bonding which is more important than money, as he says:
Megadorus: The main thing is still to ally yourself With honest men: hear me: accept my terms, And give your (Euclio’s) daughter to me. And when Euclio says “but I have no dowry”, megadorus again says: Megadorus: Give her none: as long as she Is well conducted, that’s enough for me. (Act – I, Scene – II)
Again, Megadorus is a positive character in the play who is also an excellent guide, advisor and mediator. Through his character Plautus tries to manifest the idea that though Roman society is full of fops and follies but there are some characters like Megadorus who always try to make a balance between good and bad.
The absent Phaedria is a ‘puella’ who is not only the object of both Lyconides and Megadorus’ romantic affections. But also a key element in the wily machinations of Lyconides’ crafty slave. Again her illegitimate liaison with Liconides which leads her to conceive a baby makes us think about the social position of a woman in a male dominated society .
Unanimously, we can say that this play is a fine critique on the contemporary Roman society. The play critiques on the value of money; it says money has value only when it adds to a man’s happiness and increases his contentment. Plautus here wants to uphold the vivid picture of avarice, lust and hypocrisy through the ‘pot of gold.
It is a satire on the contemporary Roman society where the marriage is nothing buť a mere plaything; where women do not share their views or they do not have any social stand; and where predominant moral values uphold the hollowness of male-chauvinism; where malice and rancor are prevalent everywhere.
It depicts the picture of the prevalent burning issues like ‘dowry’, ‘avarice’, ‘miserliness’, ‘suspicion’, ‘liaison’ etc. under the garb of a comedy. To speak the truth, Plautus here shows the dystopian Roman society with the aid of the apparent comical guise of some stock characters. And here lies his mastery.
5 (a) How was Narcissus born?
Ans. Once upon a time Lirope the naiad was taken by the river god Cephisus. From their union Narcissus was born.
(b) Name of the two maidens captured by the soldiers of Agamemnon.
Ans. Chryseis and Briseis are the names of the two maidens captured by the soldiers of Agamemnon
(c) Who finally steals the pot of gold of Euclio?
Ans. Strobilus who was the slave of Lyconides stole the pot of the gold.
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