pandora’s guilt

pandora’s guilt






**Looking at Pandora is fruitful, as long as you’re looking at the complexities of what the evidence it telling you—for the Greeks it’s about a lot more than “the problems caused by women,” and I think it’s clear from the sources that Pandora was understood as a victim of male deities trying to punish male mortals. Make sure to discuss all the aspects of these stories. For your discussion, try to focus on specific moments or passages and discuss what exactly they show about how the women relate to the larger agenda of the gods involved. Pandora’s story is mostly about Zeus’s motivations, so discuss those as they are shown in the sources; also, look closely at what the sources say about why the jar was opened. The story is told in different works and in different ways. Look for differences between the version of the story. What’s significant about the differences? What do they suggest about why the author was telling this story? Remember, your goal is to gain insights into Greek culture through the evidence they left behind in the form of mythology and literature. So in discussing Pandora’s emotions and motivations, the question this leads to is why the story was told this way. What is the depiction of Pandora telling us about how the Greeks understood gender, cultural identity, etc.? However you end up framing the question, the answer is the thesis for your paper***


The assignment:  Write a 6- to 8-page position paper, due at the end of the semester, in which you express an opinion about a topic related to gender in ancient history, and use evidence to back up that opinion. In this paper, you’re taking a side on some question or controversy, and you’re using reasoning and research to support your side of the argument.

We’ll work through it in stages over the course of the semester:

A. Choose a Topic


B. Write a Proposal


For these two stages, see the video and details on the proposal page.

C. Find your Evidence


Research your topic and find at least three sources that will provide you with evidence for your argument; these need to be primary and secondary sources only (see the Research and Citation Center for more on sources). I’ll point you toward some possibilities in my feedback on your proposal.

  • Ideally you should have a mix of primary and secondary sources, but it will depend on the topic.
  • Tertiary sources are not allowed. These include textbooks, encyclopedias, and most websites. See the Research and Citation Center for more on sources.
  • For guidance on finding full-text online primary and secondary sources in the Covid-19 era, see the Research and Citation Center.

D. Make your Argument


  • In your introduction, briefly describe the problem and state the position you will argue as a thesis statement. Your introduction should follow the format of the proposal (see the proposal page).

Sample Introduction

PROBLEM > Hannibal Barca, the great Carthaginian general, brought 37 war elephants with him over the Alps into Italy, and at the climactic Battle of Zama they had a front line that included 80 elephants. Did Hannibal’s elephants really make a difference? Some say that Hannibal’s elephants were crucial in establishing the morale of his troops against the legendary Roman legions and in intimidating other armies along the way into alliances; but others say that Hannibal’s elephants did the Carthaginian side more harm than good in their fight with Rome. I believe that Hannibal’s use of elephants was a mistake, not because war elephants were a dumb idea in general, but because Roman adaptability meant that the Romans would inevitably find a way around them.
  • In the body of your paper, make three assertions as to why your thesis statement is valid. For each assertion, describe and discuss the evidence from the primary and secondary sources.
    • Each section starts with an assertion followed by evidence, and each section builds on the previous sections to make an overall argument.
  • End with a conclusion that shows how your three assertions came together to support your thesis.

Your essay must have citations for all quotes, paraphrases, and ideas from your sources. There must also be a bibliography that lists your sources. We’ll talk about this in class, and see the Research and Citation Center for more.

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