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FOCUS QUESTIONS: PRIMARY SOURCE READINGS IN TEXT
PREHISTORY & THE BEGINNINGS OF CIVILIZATION
READING 0.1 - CREATION TALES (BOOK 1)
- Compare how the creation of human beings is related in these excerpts.
MESOPOTAMIA, EGYPT, THE HEBREWS: SOCIETY, LAW, & RELIGION
READING 1.2 - FROM THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH (BOOK 1)
- Who was Gilgamesh? What was he searching for?
READING 1.3 - FROM THE CODE OF HAMMURABI (BOOK 1)
- What types of activities were regulated by Hammurabi's code? What types of penalties were called for?
- How are women treated differently from men under Hammurabi's code? Are there protections for women?
- How are different social classes treated?
READING 1.4b - FROM THE HEBREW BIBLE (EXODUS) (BOOK 1)
- How do the Ten Commandments and other Hebrew laws compare to Hammurabi's Code?
GREECE: VALUES AND POLITICS
READING 4.2 - FROM THUCYDIDES' PELOPONNESIAN WARS (c. 410 BCE) (BOOK 1)
- Who was Pericles? What is the theme of the Funeral Speech? In what ways does Pericles find Athens unique?
THE CLASSICAL WORLD: PHILOSOPHY
READING 4.5 - FROM PLATO'S CRITO (c. 390 BCE) (BOOK 1)
- What arguments does Socrates give Crito for refusing to escape from prison?
READING 4.6 - THE "ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE" FROM PLATO'S REPUBLIC (c. 375 BCE) (BOOK 1)
- Explain the main elements of the Allegory of the Cave.
READING 6.2 - FROM SENECA'S ON TRANQUILITY OF MIND (c. 40 CE) (BOOK 1)
- What does Seneca single out as "the greatest source of affliction to humanity"?
THE CLASSICAL WORLD: ART & ARCHITECTURE
READING 5.1 - FROM VITRUVIUS'S PRINCIPLES OF SYMMETRY (c. 46-30 BCE) (BOOK 1)
- According to Vitruvius, what is the basis for architectural design?
READING 5.2 - SAPPHO'S POEMS (c. 590 BCE) (BOOK 1)
- What are the basic characteristics of Sappho's poetry?
READING 5.3 - FROM PINDAR'S ODES (c. 420 BCE) (BOOK 1)
- According to Pindar, how are men and gods different? Similar? What should men strive for?
ROME: RISE & DECLINE OF EMPIRE
READING 6.5 - FROM VIRGIL'S AENEID (c. 20 BCE) (BOOK 1)
- How does this excerpt from Virgil's Aeneid differ from the Iliad? In what ways is it similar
- Why must Aeneas leave Dido?
READING 6.3 - FROM CICERO'S ON DUTY (44 BCE) (BOOK 1)
- What image does Cicero present of Roman society and values?
READING 6.4 - FROM TACITUS'S DIALOGUE ON ORATORY (c. 100-105 CE) (BOOK 1)
- What role did oratory play in Roman life, according to Tacitus? Is oratorical skill still important for those in political life today?
READING 6.1 - JOSEPHUS'S DESCRIPTION OF THE ROMAN ARMY (c. 70 CE) (BOOK 1)
- What does the Description of the Roman Army by Josephus tell you about Roman military life?
MEDIEVAL EUROPE: SOCIETY & THE ARTS
READING 11.2 - FROM THE SONG OF ROLAND (BOOK 2)
- What feudal ideals are reflected in the Song of Roland?
- What is the medieval Christian attitude toward Muslims, as reflected in the Song of Roland?
READING 12.2 - FROM POPE INNOCENT III'S ON THE MISERY OF THE HUMAN CONDITION (c. 1200 CE) (BOOK 2)
- What attitudes toward humanity are reflected in Pope Innocent's sermon?
READING 11.3 - FROM CHRETIEN DE TROYES'S LANCELOT (c. 1170 CE) (BOOK 2)
- Compare Roland (from the excerpt from Song of Roland) and Lancelot as heroes. What "brave deeds" do they undertake? What do they value?
THE ISLAMIC WORLD: SOCIETY & THE ARTS
READING 10.1 - FROM THE QURAN (BOOK 2)
- In this reading from the Quran, what do the terms "unbelievers" and "devotees" refer to?
- What, according to the Quran, did Muhammad think of the Hebrew prophets and Jesus? How does the Muslim perception of Jesus differ from the Christian?
- Describe Muslim equivalents of heaven and hell. Are they the same as in the Judeo-Christian tradition?
- How do the features of Muslim paradise reflect the wishes of a desert people?
READING 10.4 - FROM THE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS (c. 850 CE) (BOOK 2)
- What is the moral of the tale from The Thousand and One Nights?
- How would you describe Al-Datma? What concepts about gender are suggested by the story?
READING 8.4a - FROM THE BUDDHA'S SERMON AT BENARES (RECORDED c. 100 BCE) (BOOK 2)
READING 8.4b - FROM THE BUDDHA'S SERMON ON ABUSE (RECORDED c. 100 BCE) (BOOK 2)
- What are the main concepts advanced by the Buddha in these sermons? How do they compare to the ideas of Jesus?
READING 3.2 - FROM THE DAO DE JING (c. 550 BCE) (BOOK 1)
- Give examples of the "positive" and "negative" elements contained within the selection. How does the selection force the reader to look at things from a different perspective?
READING 7.1 - FROM THE ANALECTS OF CONFUCIUS (BOOK 1)
- Briefly describe the teachings in the Confucian Analects. What do these teachings suggest about Chinese values? How does this work compare with some of Aristotle's ideas?
READING 7.3 - A SELECTION OF HAN POEMS (BOOK 1)
READING 14.3 - POEMS OF THE TANG AND SONG ERAS (750-900 CE) (BOOK 2)
- With what themes were Chinese poets most concerned?
- What insights into Chinese society and values are revealed in these poems? What attitudes towards time and nature are reflected in Chinese poetry?