The Shahnameh and Dante’s Inferno

Unit 1 B’s introduction to the Five Great Themes of World Literature states with regard to the hero: “The surest way to understand what a culture of the past most values is to focus on what it considers heroic, in that a culture recognizes its heroes as embodying its most important ideas, the values that are essential.” Discuss the diverse values that our two epic heroes, Rustem and Dante, embody. Which values embodied by these epic heroes are endorsed or celebrated by their societies? Are any of their values condemned or rejected by their societies? Illustrate your discussion with specific examples of the heroes’ obligations to their societies and what their values reflect about their cultures.
Although two very different literary works, both the Shahnameh and Inferno deal centrally with the existence of human suffering and mortality. Discuss how the two deal with such issues as
what causes human suffering; what seems inevitably tragic about human existence; how one should deal with suffering; what one should learn from an understanding of human mortality. From the Shahnameh your essay will of course focus on Rustem; for Dante, you have many options, but the following characters and their sad stories make especially good choices for the subject (but you can choose others if you wish; just one will do): Virgil, Francesca, Pier della Vigna, Brunetto Latini, Guido de Montefeltro.

Sample Solution

ACED ESSAYS