Allusion Assignment

AP Literature and Composition Assignment:
(Combest/Chapman, adapted from S. Strock)
Much of the reading you will do in AP Literature will require an understanding of common
biblical and classical allusions. These allusions add depth of meaning to poems, essays, and
stories. When you miss the allusion, you sometimes miss the point.
We all know that it is inconvenient and awkward to stop reading and look up an allusion, so you
frequently don’t bother. More often, you don’t even know there is an allusion in the piece, and
you are just left wondering why the author said his or her idea so oddly. You sort of recognize
something is going on but don’t know what.
There are 20 biblical and 20 classical/mythological allusions listed on the back. Research each
story you do not already know. Be honest with yourself. It is to your own personal benefit that
you understand these references. Therefore, if you need to research all 40, research all 40. For
each allusion, create a reading log that will allow you to quickly refresh your memory. The log
should contain the following information:
 WHO is involved? (Give yourself enough context that you can place them later on. Often
a name is not adequate. Be smart, not lazy!)
 WHAT is the basic plot?
 Does the story EXPLAIN some aspect of the human condition, LAUD/DISPARAGE
some behavior or trait, or ANSWER a common human question/concern? What’s the
 Other information you deem noteworthy, including perhaps where you have seen it
referenced already. (Obviously this component will not always be included in your
EX: Biblical - The Flood
Who: God, Noah & Family
Plot: The world had gotten full of evil and God decided to flood it and kill everyone off. He told Noah to build an ark
and sent two of each animal to him. When the 40 day/40 night rain started, God told Noah and his family to take all the
animals into the ark, seal it and wait. He did. Eventually the water receded and Noah sent a dove out 3x to see if land
was back. The 1st time, nothing happened except the dove returned; second time the dove brought back an olive branch,
and the 3rd time it didn’t return so they knew it was OK to open the ark. God sent a rainbow as a promise that he would
never again destroy the earth by flood. Noah and his family repopulated the planet eventually.
Point: Story exalts obedience and disparages evil – shows that even God has a limit to his generosity and forgiveness.
Answers some geological oddities like seashells in mountains.
Other: Symbol of a dove with olive branch for peace comes from here, as does the rainbow as a symbol of unity and
calm after a storm and the idea that the 3rd time is the charm.
Make this a usable document by clearly labeling each entry and organizing the information
for ease of access. The idea is that you are generating a living document you will add to as we
continue our studies. You may use bullet form, paragraph form, or chart form. The format should
be one that works for you, and will not be graded. Only the content will be graded.
Finally, leave space to add new information as it comes along, and space for new entries as well.
You may handwrite, though it is recommended that you type this document in Google docs and
keep it in your Google drive for easier future access. Again, format is not important. It is your log.
You will be the one referencing it, perhaps for years to come! At the very least, it will be handy
for the test we will eventually take.
The log is due Monday, January 4, 2016.
Common Biblical Allusions
1. Ten Plagues
2. The Sermon on the Mount
3. Lazarus
4. The Last Supper and the Holy Grail
5. Sampson and Delilah
6. Jonah and the Giant Fish
7. David and Bathsheba
8. Daniel and the Lion’s Den
9. The Fall of Adam and Even
10. King Nebuchadnezzar
11. Cain and Abel
12. The Four Horsemen
13. Tribulation and Rapture
14. Seven Deadly Sins
15. 12 Tribes of Israel
16. Mary Magdalene
17. Joseph and His Brothers
18. The Good Samaritan
19. The Prodigal Son
20. Sodom and Gomorrah
Common Classical/Mythological Allusions
1. Pandora’s Box
2. Echo and Narcissus
3. The Birth of Zeus and the Defeat of Cronus
4. The Labors of Hercules
5. Pyramus and Thisbe
6. The Judgment of Paris
7. Aphrodite and Adonis
8. Atlanta the Athlete of Greece
9. Oedipus
10. Chaos
11. King Midas and the Golden Touch
12. Apollo and the Python
13. The Nine Muses
14. Icarus
15. Achilles’ Heel
16. Athena and Poseidon Vie for Athens
17. Prometheus
18. Persephone and Demeter
19. Faithful Penelope
20. Hippolyta and the Girdle