College of Arts and Sciences

Classical Studies

Preparing for the M.A. Greek Literature Exam

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Students should be prepared to demonstrate both a broad and keep knowledge of Greek literature on the M.A. Exam. Read widely in the various genres and periods in translations to broaden your repertoire. Know some authors and works well enough to cite examples and discuss details from more than one perspective.

To learn the literary and historical context, use handbooks (listed below) and introductions in commentaries and translations. Some of the recent translations in the Oxford World Classics series have introductions by leading scholars. The Oxford Classical Dictionary (4th ed) should also be consulted.

Cambridge History of Classical Literature: Volume 1, Greek Literature. Edited by P. Easterling and BMW. Knox. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

Dover, K. J., ed. Ancient Greek Literature, 2nd ed, with contributions by M.L. West, J. Griffin, E.L. Bowie. Oxford University Press, 1997.

Read something of and be able to discuss the following genres and authors.

Poetry

Epic
Homer (incl. hymns)
Hesiod
Apollonius Rhodius

Lyric/Elegiac
Pindar
Bacchylides
Theognis
Lyric poets
Callimachus
Theocritus

Tragedy
Aeschylus
Sophocles
Euripides

Comedy
Aristophanes
Menander
Prose

History/Biography
Herodotus
Thucydides
Xenophon
Plutarch

Philosophy
Presocratics
Plato
Aristotle
Lucian

Oratory
Demosthenes
Lysias
Other orators (e.g. Aeschines, Andocides,
Antiphon, Isocrates, Isaeus, Lycurgus)

Other genres
Novel
Science/medicine
Satire/parody

Format of the Exam

The Exam sets two essay questions and 12 identifications. There will be choice in both categories, but the candidate is reminded to demonstrate breadth and depth overall.

In preparing for the essays, consider the development of the genres and how individual works have shaped the conventions both innovating and responding to literary models. Know the literary arsenal: Be able to talk intelligently about, e.g., oral and written tradition, performance contexts, meters and rhetorical figures, historiography, periodic structure, and dialect. Be as familiar with the historical contexts of authors and works: When and where were they composed? What was happening in the Greek world at the time? In what ways does the work interact with Greek religion, politics, and culture? Think in terms of what you will want to be able to share with your students when you teach these authors.

As with all essay exams, it is useful to prepare outlines in advance. E.g. how would I answer a question on Comedy? Oratory? Marshal your ideas and your examples. Write up some sample thesis statements. Although you may not bring any notes or materials to the exam, this advance work will help you on the day of the exam.

Identifications will be drawn from the lists below. In a sentence or two or three, be able to report the who, when, where, and why for each. For authors, know something about what they composed. Be sure to know why each item is significant for Greek literature, and remember that there may be more than one significant context for each. For example, Pericles is of course important as a statesman, but why is he on a literature exam? Any author on the list above may also appear as an identification (boldface in the list below). In the list of persons, the name commonly used is underlined. N.B. These lists are also something of a study guide . . .


Persons
Aeschines
Aeschylus
Aesop
Alcaeus
Alcman
Anacreon
Anaxagoras
Antiphon
Archilochus
Aristophanes
Aristophanes of Byzantium
Aristotle
Bacchylides
Callimachus
Callinus
Corinna
Croesus
Democritus
Demosthenes
Empedocles
Eubulos
Eupolis
Euripides
Gorgias
Hecataeus
Heliodorus
Heraclitus
Herodotus
Hippocrates
Hipponax
Homer
Ibycus
Isaeus
Isocrates
Longinus
Longus
Lucian
Menander
Mimnermus
Parmenides
Pericles
Pindar
Plato
Polybius
Pythagoras
Sappho
Semonides
Simonides
Socrates
Solon
Sophocles
Stesichorus
Theocritus
Theognis
Thucydides
Tyrtaeus
Xenophon

Works
Aetia
Aethopica
Anabasis
Antigone
Apology (Plato)
Argonautica
Bacchae
Clouds
Daphnis and Chloe
Dyscolus
Frogs
Gorgias



Works (cont.)
Hippolytus
Homeric Hymn to Apollo
Homeric Hymn to Demeter
Iliad
Lysistrata
Medea
New Testament
Nicomachean Ethics
Odyssey
Oedipus at Colonus
Oedipus Rex
On the Crown
On the Murder of Eratosthenes
On the Mysteries
On the Sublime
Oresteia
Parallel Lives
Philippics
Poetics
Republic
Symposium
Tetralogies (Antiphon)
Theogony
Works and Days


Terms/Things
Aeolic (dialect)
ag┼Źn
Alexandrian poets
Attic (dialect)
Atticism
choral lyric
choregia
chorus
City Dionysia
cordax
deliberative oratory
didactic poetry
dithyramb
Doric (dialect)
ekphrasis
elegy
epic
Epic Cycle
epigram
Epinician
epithet
epode
fable
forensic oratory
funeral oration
hamartia
hexameter
hymns
iambic trimeter
iambus
Ionic (dialect)
koine
Lenaea
Melian dialogue
middle comedy
mimesis
monody
mythos
old comedy
paean
parabasis
priamel
ring composition
Rural Dionysia
satyr play
Seven Sages
sophia
sophistry
stasimon
stichomythia
sympotic poetry