image of Samson and Delilah

Week 3. Vulgata: Samson.

Background | Background Quiz | Starting Assumptions | Resources | Extras
Vocabulary | Etymology | Grammar | Perseus Dictionary | Perseus Tool

Reading Overview | Reading Quiz: English
| Reading Quiz: Latin
Discussion Questions | Latin Composition | Weekly Checklist

Discussion Questions

Please choose 3 of the following questions to answer and send your response in an email to the instructor ( Each answer should be a solid paragraph (150-250 words for each English discussion question, 500-750 words for the overall assignment).

You should then post your answers to the class Discussion Board. You need to have sent the email and posted your answers by Friday midnight. At some point you will also be posting at least two replies to comments posted by the other students; you may do that at any time during the week, until Monday midnight.

1. Samson the folk hero. In what ways is Samson a typical folk hero? Give two examples of folkloric elements in Samson's story. Does he remind you of any other folk heroes? (Achilles? Superman? others?) And in what ways is Samson also a typical religious hero? Give two examples of religious elements in Samson's story. Does he remind you of any other religious heroes from the Bible or other religious tradition? How is it possible for Samson to combine the roles of folk hero and religious hero? Do you see any conflict between these two roles, or do they reinforce one another?

2. Samson's two wives. Compare and contrast the way in which Delilah betrays Samson and the way in which his first wife betrays him (Judges 14). Point out at least 2 elements that the stories have in common and at least 2 important ways in which the betrayal is different. If you had to pick one Latin adjective to describe Samson's first wife, what would it be? What Latin adjective best describes Delilah?

3. Magic elements in Samson's story. When Samson pretends to reveal the secret of his supernatural strength do Delilah, he uses objects and rituals that seem to have special supernatural qualities. Give examples from all 3 of Samson's deceptive confessions that have a magical or supernatural aspect to them: what makes these objects and rituals into "magical" objects or rituals? is there anything in common between these objects and rituals and the sacred and supernatural elements that we saw last week in the story of Moses? in what way is Samson's "sacred" status like the sancta terra where Moses found the burning bush?

4. The word "nazareus" in Latin. Why do you think Jerome decided to include the Latinized version of a Hebrew word, "nazareus", instead of simply translating the word into Latin? Why does he also give a Latin translation of the Hebrew word ("consecratus Deo")? What kind of attitude does Jerome display towards the Hebrew language in this particular case? What is it about this word that merits this special treatment?

5. Favorite image for the week. Was there one of the images for this week which made a big impression on you? Provide a link to the webpage where that image is found, and give a detailed description of the image. What attracted your attention to this image? What are the details that stick in your mind? Do you think that image fits in well with the words of the text? What makes this image stand out from the other images that we looked at this week?

6. Reflecting on the week. Take a look back at what you wrote as your "starting assumptions" for this week, and look at the starting assumptions of the other students in the class. Did anything you read or studied this week make a big change in your starting assumptions? Did the assignment turn out to be pretty much what you expected? More interesting? Less interesting? What surprised you the most? If you were going to continue with this topic, what kind of research and reading would you want to do? What questions are still left unanswered?

7. Grammar revelations. Did you have a Latin grammar crisis this week? Did you get through it? What did you learn? Is there something you grasped this week that was never really clear to you before? A grammar epiphany? Is there something you are still really struggling with? What do you do when you are having trouble understanding a passage in Latin? Where do you look for help? In general, was the reading this week easier or harder than expected? What are you going to concentrate on in your Latin work in the coming week?

8. Website critique. Pick one of the websites that you visited this week as part of your work for this class (it could be a website about this week's topic, or a website for learning Latin). Provide a link to the site, and a brief desription of its contents. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this website? Who would find this website useful? What did you use this website for? What did you find there? Do you think you will visit this website again?

Modern Languages 4970 / MRS 4903: Medieval Latin. Spring 2003 Online Course at the University of Oklahoma. Visit for more info.
Laura Gibbs, University of Oklahoma - Information Technology © 2003. Last updated: December 29, 2002 7:12 PM