Essay Exam: The Song of Songs&The Golden Ass
Directions: Read the following questions carefully and choose the one you feel most confident about answering; write one well thought-out essay that responds to all parts of the question with appropriate specific examples supporting your claims; plan for as long as you wish, but try to hold writing time to about an hour. 50 points. Due by next class period.
A. The Shulamite and her lover sometimes compare each other to wild animals—deer or gazelles, e.g. Lucius, on the other hand, is actually transformed into an animal (albeit a domesticated one), an ass. Compare the animal images of The Song of Songs to Lucius’s experience of being an ass. What do these animal images suggest about how love/lust/desire are imagined in both books? Try to identify both differences and similarities in how the poem and the novel make use of animal imagery.
B. In ancient literary works about action-adventure or warfare men are always the heroes, but women are sometimes portrayed as heroes in romantic tales. What are the qualities that make a character a hero, and discuss how the Shulamite, Psyche, and Charite should or should not be thought of as the heroes of their respective stories.