1. Choose any two readings from the first six chapters of the Sourcebook, and discuss how they explore the idea of human suffering. Why is human life filled with pain? What causes suffering, and why? What consolation is there in life for the suffering we endure? [For this topic I recommend – but I do not require – that you compare readings from two different cultures.]

2. Except for the Romans, every ancient society we have examined was – at least for a time – a monarchy. Why was this so? Look at any two specific societies and compare how the authority of a/the king was portrayed. Where did their authority come from? What powers did they have and not have? What roles did they play in the broader culture?

3. We have selections in each chapter of the Sourcebook that represent fictional, legendary, or mythological texts. Of what use is such material? Why did societies produce, write down, and preserve such material? What lessons and/or pleasures did such writing aim to produce?

4. The Hebrews, the Greeks, and the Romans were the first ancient cultures to write history (apart from the mere recording of events in chronicle-lists). Pick any two of them and compare/contrast the ways in which they “did” history. What was the purpose of historical narrative, to them? What methods were acceptable or unacceptable?

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