GRE Reading Comprehension

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Source: CHP

Of Homer's two epic poems, the Odyssey has always been more popular than the Iliad, perhaps because it includes more features of mythology that are accessible to readers. Its subject (to use Maynard Mack's categories) is "life-as-spectacle," for readers, diverted by its various incidents, observe its hero Odysseus primarily from without; the tragic Iliad, however, presents "life-as-experience": readers are asked to identify with the mind of Achilles, whose motivations render him a not particularly likable hero. In addition, the Iliad, more than the Odyssey, suggests the complexity of the gods‘ involvement in human actions, and to the extent that modern readers find this complexity a needless complication, the Iliad is less satisfying than the Odyssey, with its simpler ?scheme‘ of divine justice. Finally, since the Iliad presents a historically verifiable action, Troy's siege, the poem raises historical questions that are absent from the Odyssey's blithely imaginative world.

Question List: 1 2 3

The author uses Mack's "categories" (lines 4-5) most probably in order to

  • A argue that the Iliad should replace the Odyssey as the more popular poem
  • B indicate Mack's importance as a commentator on the Iliad and the Odyssey
  • C suggest one way in which the Iliad and the Odyssey can be distinguished
  • D point out some of the difficulties faced by readers of the Iliad and the Odyssey
  • E demonstrate that the Iliad and the Odyssey can best be distinguished by comparing their respective heroes

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