Step 1: Task Definition
Step 3: Research Paper: _______________
Your essential question is the one that your research paper will answer
and explain. Essential questions cannot be answered with just a yes
or no, nor can they be answered merely by reporting facts you find
in your sources. After considering your assigned myth and comparing it to
others (from your classmates' presentations), you will be able to draw some
conclusions about it. Your essential question will arise from these conclusions.
If your topic is a hero, consider reading the stories of other heroes and
comparing them. If your topic is a story or quest, look for other similar
myths and compare them. (Find common plots and themes.) If your topic isn't
a character with human qualities--e.g., oracles, rivers, monsters--think about
what role it played for the ancient Greeks and determine what plays that role
for us today; compare the cultures. Big Time Hint: Pay attention
to your classmates' presentations! If you hear one that would make a good
comparison or contrast to your own topic, you might fashion your essential
question/thesis statement for your own research paper from it.
Here are some essential questions that will lead to good thesis statetments:
How is the story of _____________ similar to other myths or familiar stories?
How does the story of ________________ illustrate some of the common themes in Greek mythology?
How does the myth of _______________ illustrate the ancient Greek ideal of _____________ (a hero, war, pride, etc.)?
How do we see the personality/influence of ___________ in modern culture/literature/entertainment?
How does the story of ____________ illustrate similarities and/or differences between classical mythology and modern religion?
How does the story of ____________ illustrate the similarities and/or differences of people in ancient Greece and in modern America?
Your thesis statement is a complete sentence that answers your essential question. You then spend the rest of the paper providing organized and specific evidence to prove your thesis statement. The evidence comes from the facts you learned while researching your topic, and you organize it in the standard academic essay format. Here is an example of an essential question and one thesis statement that might result from it:
Essential Question: How does the myth of Orpheus illustrate themes common to other heroic myths?
Thesis Statement: The myth of Orpheus illustrates this theme common to other heroic myths: Love can make a man "soft" and cause him to bring destruction on himself. (The writer of this paper would then organize it into sections that explain the similarities between the myth of Oprpheus and other heroes who suffered in a similar way because they fell in love. Each body paragraph in the essay might compare Orpheus to a different hero, so by the end of the story the reader not only knows the story of Orpheus, but can also clearly see how his story illustrates a theme that appears in the other myths as well.)
In order to learn about the mythology you will teach, you may need to research in books like Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, as well as those in libraries. You will also find a lot of information about mythology on the Internet, but be sure you use information from reputable sites. Also, remember that many mythological characters didn't wear much clothing, so if you are looking for pictures to include in your presentations, be tasteful. Here are a few sites that might help get you started:
More Greek Mythology
Women in Greek Myths
About Greek Mythology
Wikipedia: Greek Mythology
Infoplease: Greek and Roman Mythology
Internet Public Library: Mythology