What is an arguable question for a Greek Mythology research paper?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

An argumentative paper is one about a specific claim on which even experts disagree. One of the central such issues in the study of Greek mythology is whether myths developed to account for pre-existing ritual practices or whether rituals developed to enact myths. This debate has been central to the study of Greek myth and religion for over a century, dating back to efforts of groups such as the Cambridge Ritualists to counter textualist biases.

Since researching all of Greek mythology would be the work of a lifetime rather than a single academic term, you might focus on one particular myth for which we have substantial evidence concerning both myth and ritual. One of the most well-studied is Eleusinian Mysteries in relationship to stories of Demeter, such as the "Homeric Hymn to Demeter." You could look at the relationship of the "things said" with the "things done" in the actual ceremonies in light of historical studies of Mycenaean and Minoan religion to try to determine the historical core of the cult.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

For something different, you might consider arguing that the stories of Greek mythology tend to be either misogynistic or the feminist in their treatment of women.

Another argument you could make is that the Greek myths glorify war or, again, the opposite—that they don't glorify war.

One could argue that the sexual behavior in many Greek myths is not consistent with the widely-held idea that myths are meant to suggest and model appropriate behaviors.

A topic that would require a little more research would be to argue that there are parallels or similarities in the stories of Greek myths found in those of earlier or concurrent cultures in other parts of the world.

A final idea would be to argue that too much emphasis is placed on the value of teaching Greek myths in American schools when so many other cultures have myths that could be explored.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are many arguments to be made concerning Greek mythology, or any other culture's mythology, for that matter.  Here are some suggestions:

1. It could be argued that Greek mythology is the basis of our literature of superheroes.  This would allow you to try to trace a direct line between the gods and heroes of old and the superheroes in today's culture.

2. It could be argued that Greek mythology reflects the culture from which it emerged.  What attributes of this body of literature show what Greek culture was really like?

3. It could be argued that Greek mythology has much that is valuable to teach us in today's world, about various attributes of character, for example, heroism or hubris, about love, hate, and envy.  Humans have not really changed in many ways, and the stories these myths contain are arguably lessons for us still.

4. It could be argued that Greek mythology was an attempt to explain phenomena in the world that the Greeks did not understand.  This is generally true of most mythologies. 

5. It could be argued that science has destroyed mythology, and there is really negative literary evidence for this. When was the last time a culture added to its body of mythological literature?

6. It could be argued that Greek mythology is very different from Roman mythology.  Of course, this would entail research into both. 

7. It could be argued that mythology was the Greeks' text for its religion, much as the Bible is for Christians and Jews today. There is historical evidence of Greek religious practices to support this, along with plenty of archaeologic evidence. 

I hope this helps you, or at the very least, inspires you to come up with an entirely new idea!

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial