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Question of the Day: AP English Literature

From “Essay on Liberty” by John Stuart Mill

Mankind can hardly be too often reminded, that there was once a man named Socrates, between whom and the legal authorities and public opinion of his time, there took place a memorable collision. Born in an age and country abounding in individual greatness, this man has been handed down to us by those who best knew both him and the age, as the most virtuous man in it; while we know him as the head and prototype of all subsequent teachers of virtue, the source equally of the lofty inspiration of Plato and the judicious utilitarianism of Aristotle, "i maëstri di color che sanno," the two headsprings of ethical as of all other philosophy. This acknowledged master of all the eminent thinkers who have since lived—whose fame, still growing after more than two thousand years, all but outweighs the whole remainder of the names which make his native city illustrious—was put to death by his countrymen, after a judicial conviction, for impiety and immorality. Impiety, in denying the gods recognized by the State; indeed his accuser asserted (see the Apologia) that he believed in no gods at all. Immorality, in being, by his doctrines and instructions, a "corrupter of youth." Of these charges the tribunal, there is every ground for believing, honestly found him guilty, and condemned the man who probably of all then born had deserved best of mankind, to be put to death as a criminal.

To pass from this to the only other instance of judicial iniquity, the mention of which, after the condemnation of Socrates, would not be an anti-climax: the event which took place on Calvary rather more than eighteen hundred years ago. The man who left on the memory of those who witnessed his life and conversation, such an impression of his moral grandeur, that eighteen subsequent centuries have done homage to him as the Almighty in person, was ignominiously put to death, as what? As a blasphemer. Men did not merely mistake their benefactor; they mistook him for the exact contrary of what he was, and treated him as that prodigy of impiety, which they themselves are now held to be, for their treatment of him. The feelings with which mankind now regard these lamentable transactions, especially the later of the two, render them extremely unjust in their judgment of the unhappy actors. These were, to all appearance, not bad men—not worse than men most commonly are, but rather the contrary; men who possessed in a full, or somewhat more than a full measure, the religious, moral, and patriotic feelings of their time and people: the very kind of men who, in all times, our own included, have every chance of passing through life blameless and respected. The high-priest who rent his garments when the words were pronounced, which, according to all the ideas of his country, constituted the blackest guilt, was in all probability quite as sincere in his horror and indignation, as the generality of respectable and pious men now are in the religious and moral sentiments they profess; and most of those who now shudder at his conduct, if they had lived in his time, and been born Jews, would have acted precisely as he did. Orthodox Christians who are tempted to think that those who stoned to death the first martyrs must have been worse men than they themselves are, ought to remember that one of those persecutors was Saint Paul.

Why does Mill mention that Socrates lived “in an age and country abounding in individual greatness”?

To overcome a bias about Athens in Socrates' day

To stress the mutable character of all opinions

To stress the gravity of the charges against Socrates

To show how truly great Socrates was

To praise the men of Athens in Socrates' day

The study of English Literature can be a time-consuming task, simply because in order to truly grasp the concepts of it, you sometimes have to read lengthy passages. Because of this, it can be difficult to find resources that are truly effective when it comes to the study of English literature. However, one study tool that you may find to be helpful is the AP English Literature Question of the Day, one of Varsity Tutors’ Learning Tools. Through the practice you get using the Question of the Day, plus the information and tools it provides, you can work to improve your English literature skills on a daily basis. Whether you need English tutoring in TampaEnglish tutoring in Denver, or English tutoring in Seattle, working one-on-one with an expert may be just the boost your studies need.

The AP English Literature Question of the Day allows you to study one concept each day. The Question of the Day provides a passage to read, along with a multiple-choice AP English Literature sample question that pertains to the passage. The questions vary in difficulty, so on any given day, you may receive a question that will test you at a different level. The question will typically relate to a passage from a written work. The types of material that is covered by the Question of the Day will be similar to those that are on the actual AP English Literature test. This may allow you to become more comfortable with the style, content, and type of questions that will be asked. Varsity Tutors offers resources like free AP English Literature Practice Tests to help with your self-paced study, or you may want to consider an AP English Literature tutor.

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When it comes to AP English Literature, your success will rely on being able to fully grasp the intricacies of the English language. You will also have to have an understanding of what the authors of great works of literature were trying to convey in their writing. With the help of Varsity Tutors’ Learning Tools, like the Question of the Day, you will get a daily reminder of what you need to know in order to succeed on your upcoming exam. The Question of the Day is a perfect way to work some AP English Literature review into every day.

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