Professor: The most important function of epic poetry is to transmit the values by which a group of people is to live...

Kath on November 16, 2019


Could you explain this question? The terms are so nuanced. I can barely distinguish the explicitly in the question stem and in the C. I also think the many groups of people in E is of no problem.

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Skylar on November 16, 2019

@Kath, happy to help!

The passage tells us that the most important function of epic poetry is the transmission of values by which a group of people should live. It goes on to specify that this transmission occurs through embodiment of heroic figures seen as role models, not through explicitly discussing the values. [Here, "explicit" means directly stating. For example, a poem that describes why the value of honesty is good would constitute an explicit discussion of that value.] Lastly, the passage says that imitating the role models in epic poems gives meaning and direction to the audience's lives.

This is a must be true question, so we are looking for the answer choice that has to follow from the information given in the passage.

(A) is incorrect because it discusses poetry in general, whereas the passage is limited to discussing epic poetry specifically. Perhaps giving meaning and direction to lives is important in epic poetry only and not in other forms of poetry, which would make (A) untrue.

(B) is correct because it correctly summarizes information given in the passage. We know that epic poems accomplish their most important function - transmitting values - by the embodiment of heroic figures presented as role models - which it states gives meaning and direction. Therefore, (A) connects the first and the last sentence of the passage and must follow. '

(C) is incorrect for the same reason that (A) is. It speaks of poetry in general, and we only know information about epic poetry specifically. Perhaps other forms of poetry explicitly (AKA directly) discuss values.

(D) is incorrect because of the phrase "for many groups of people." We do not have any information about the audience reading/listening to epic poems, so we cannot conclude that heroic figures serve as role models for many groups. Perhaps only one group of people engage with epic poetry, in which case the phrase would constitute a problem because it would make (D) untrue.

(E) is incorrect because we do not have enough information to say that epic poetry is the ONLY form of poetry that uses heroic figures in this way, We know that epic poetry does do this, but the passage does not mention anything about other types of poetry, so it could be the case that other forms of poetry do this as well.

Does that make sense? Let us know if you have any additional questions!