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(1) Apollo, the Greek god of music and healing, always maintained that he was the greatest musician in the world, until Marsyas, who was part animal and part human, played the flute. Apollo's jealousy and insecurity drove him to eventually slay Marsyas so that his status as the greatest musician remained unchallenged. One’s usual imagination of a god is a being who is all-knowing and pure in every intention. What makes the Greek gods interesting is that they are shown as flawed beings who do not always act like ‘Gods’. 

(2) In appearance, the gods resemble mortals, whom, however, they far surpass in beauty, grandeur, and strength; they are also more commanding in stature, height being considered by the Greeks an attractive feature in men or women. They resemble human beings in their feelings and habits, marrying and having children with them. They require daily nourishment to maintain their strength, and sleep to restore their energy. Their blood, a bright magical fluid called Ichor, never causes disease, and, when shed, produces new life. 

(3) The Greeks believed that the mental qualifications of their gods were much higher than those of men, but, nevertheless, displayed human passions like revenge, deceit, and jealousy. In mythological tales, the gods always punish the evil-doer and administer dire punishments to any mortal who dares to neglect their worship. They often visit mankind and partake of their hospitality, and in many tales, both gods and goddesses become attached to mortals. Although there were so many points of resemblance between gods and men, there remained the one great characteristic distinction: immortality. Still, the gods were not invulnerable, and were often wounded and suffered so much that they’d pray for death. The gods could transport themselves to incredible distances with the speed of thought. 

(4) They could be invisible at will, and could take the forms of men or animals as it suited their convenience. They could also transform human beings into trees, stones, or animals. Their robes were like those worn by mortals, but were perfect in form and much finer in texture. Their weapons also resembled those used by mankind. They often used spears, shields, helmets, bows and arrows. Most of these divinities lived on the summit of Mount Olympus, each having his or her own palace. Magnificent temples were erected to their honour, rich gifts were presented to them, and living creatures were sacrificed on their altars.

(5) In Greek mythology, the gods take every opportunity to reveal and establish their divinity but also fall prey to human impulses. Perhaps the Greeks did so to help generations of readers reflect on important life lessons to avoid tragic downfalls. 

- E. M. Berens

Source (edited): 'Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome' -

gutenberg.org/cache/epub/22381/pg22381-images.html#page7

(448 words)

Answer the following questions based on the passage above.

(i) '... they are shown as flawed beings who do not always act like 'Gods'.

(paragraph 1)

Which of these are examples of the above statement?

I. Gods getting attached and falling in love

II. Gods punishing mortals for their wrongdoing

III. Gods showing kindness and compassion to all

IV. Gods deceiving everyone for their personal gain

V. Gods killing a mortal out of jealousy and insecurity

Select the correct option.

A. Only I and III

B. Only II and V

C. Only I, IV, and V

D. Only II, IV, and V

ii Which of these would Apollo most likely say about Marsyas' musical ability?

A. 'Why does everyone think he plays music well? It is obvious that he doesn't have talent.'

B. 'Why is he challenging me like that? I wonder what is troubling him that I can heal.'

C. 'How can an animal play the flute? Such creatures must know their place.'

D. 'How dare he play better than me? I am supposed to be the best in the world.'

iii. Why does the author begin the passage with a description of Apollo? 

A. to show that the Greek Gods have immense power and influence over the mortals 

B. to emphasise the point that the Greek Gods are based in interesting stories 

C. to highlight the point that the Greek Gods are more human-like in nature 

D. to state that the Greek Gods are also allowed to make mistakes 

iv. What is ironic about Apollo being the one who slays Marsyas? Answer in about 40 words.  

v. Based on your reading of paragraph 3, explain what 'invulnerable' means. Answer in one sentence. 

vi. In 40 words, state any two ways that the Greek gods are superior to human beings.

vii. Complete the given sentence with ONE word. 

From the fact that the Greek gods punish any mortal who neglects their worship, we can infer that they are _____________. 

viii Imagine that someone was born from Ichor. In which of these situations would the Ichor be most useful? 

A. a natural disaster that causes the earth to split apart 

B. a pandemic that has been caused by a contagious virus 

C. a war that requires transforming into another form quickly 

D. a competitive entrance exam that is very tough to qualify for  

ix. What does the author mean by 'tragic downfalls' in paragraph 5? Give an example of a tragic downfall in current times in about 40 words.

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Best answer
(i) C. Only I, IV, and V

[The descriptions in I, IV, and V exemplify the given statement as they show Gods as flawed and behaving like a human being might. ]

(ii) D. 'How dare he play better than me? I am supposed to be the best in the world.'

[The passage mentions that Apollo felt jealous and insecure after hearing Marsyas play. Therefore, he is likely to say something that shows how offended he is about not being the best musician in the world.]

(iii) C. to highlight the point that the Greek Gods are more human-like in nature

[The author concludes paragraph 1 by making the point that the Greek Gods were 'flawed' and would not act like 'Gods' sometimes, or that they would behave like a human being would. This option best captures why the author begins the passage with Apollo's story.]

(iv) ♦ It is ironic as he is the god of 'healing' and he brought about destruction;

♦ The god of healing acted on an impulse that shows that he himself needed healing;

♦ The behaviour of the god is unexpected as he is supposed to show behaviours that would 'heal' mortals.

(v) ♦ It means to be immune.

♦ It means to be protected against harm or damage.

♦ It means to be safe.

♦ It means to be indestructible.

♦ It means to not be vulnerable.

(vi) ♦ they are more beautiful and grand

♦ they are stronger and taller

♦ they have magical blood, Ichor

♦ they are more intelligent

♦ they are immortal

♦ they can transport themselves anywhere with a thought

♦ can be invisible at will or take any form they desire

♦ wear robes of finer texture

♦ have temples erected to them,

♦ have creatures sacrificed in their name

♦ they were given rich gifts

(vii) ♦ vengeful/revengeful

♦ egotistical/egoistic

♦ conceited

(viii) B. a pandemic that has been caused by a contagious virus

[Ichor, as described in the passage, never causes disease. Therefore, someone born of Ichor and having it flow through their veins would also not contract any disease. A pandemic caused by a contagious virus would, therefore, be a situation that such a creature would be able to survive successfully.]

(ix) Explanation:

♦ He is referring to the ugly consequences of our actions when we act based on an impulse or out of jealousy, insecurity, etc.

♦ He is referring to those actions that we do to others with the intention of causing harm, destruction, or taking revenge.

♦ These are those situations that we may regret but have no way of reversing as they have dire consequences.

♦ It means starting from a place where we are put on a pedestal and falling to a level where we are looked down upon.

Example:

♦ A person breaks a friendship between two people because they feel jealous of how close the friends are. The person is shunned, as a result.

♦ One commits a serious crime, like theft or destruction, because one wants to take revenge on someone. One may go to jail, as a result.

♦ We agree to cause harm to someone else because a loved one asks this of us. As a result, we destroy someone's life who did no harm to us.
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