Select ONE of the following paper topics. Papers are to be 5-7 pages long, double-spaced, with 1 inch margins, and in 12 point, Times New Roman or Garamond font. Papers are due TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, at the beginning of class. Whenever appropriate, make sure you support your arguments and claims with textual evidence. Don’t over-quote, however; it is often enough to refer to the relevant passage with a parenthetical reference (Thucydides, p. 10) or a footnote. If you have an edition of any book different from the ones listed on the syllabus, make sure you indicate this in a bibliography or a footnote. Note that, for the purposes of this assignment, the professor’s lectures are considered to be in public domain: you don’t need to cite them. However, when the professor says, “Sophocles thinks blah blah blah,” then you need to cite the appropriate places in Sophocles.
1. In what sense can we understand the tragedy found in “Oedipus the King” as a response to the problem of nihilism? Be sure to explain what tragedy in general is and how it relates to the problem of nihilism.
2. What is the tragic conflict in “Antigone” and should we see this conflict as tragic (i.e., as irresolvable and/or inevitable)? Given your answer, what sorts of consequences follow for the principles that ought to guide forms of political action or engagement? Hint: You may want to draw upon or criticize Bonnie Honig’s article to address this question.
3. In his descriptions of Pericles’ early speeches, Thucydides presents an account of the Athenian virtues. What is this system of values, and how do they compare to the forms of values that Antigone represents? Which system of values is more useful for political life? Explain your answer.