The Office of Assertion outlines five basic sorts of introductions (The Office of Assertion, pp. 49-53). Below, each of these five types introduces an answer to the following prompt:
Are Homer’s epics great literature, even today? Why or why not?
1. The triangular introduction opens by stating the topic in broad terms, gradually narrowing the scope of the topic until the narrowest part, the thesis. Envision an upside-down triangle with the thesis as the bottom point.
Great literature offers its readers experiences they might otherwise miss. Through a great book, readers encounter new emotions as characters act and suffer. Such is the case with Homer’s Iliad. Again and again, this book exhibits greatness by revealing new emotional experiences through figures such as Patroclus, Hector, and Achilles.
2. The “inquisitive” introduction opens with a problem that deserves attention.
Books profoundly influence their readers’ thoughts, feelings, and actions. Given this fact, how should one determine what books to read? Although many factors make a book great or mediocre, one sign of greatness is the ability to analyze and expose emotions. Homer’s Iliad presents the complexities of human feeling and thereby discloses a fuller view of human nature than readers might otherwise possess. The Iliad is a great book because, through characters such as Patroclus, Hector, and Achilles, it encourages reflection on the human heart.
3. The “paradoxical” introduction first implies that the thesis is implausible before stating that it is true.
At a first reading, the characters of Homer’s Iliad may seem overdrawn. Agamemnon is a bully, Achilles a brat, Hector a swooning knight, Helen a boring beauty. But despite any apparent melodrama, the Iliad actually investigates human emotions more deeply than many modern books. This ancient epic proves its own greatness by highlighting probable human responses to complex situations through the actions of Patroclus, Hector, and Achilles.
4. The “corrective” introduction offers to remedy a faulty analysis.
For some, the Iliad has become an artifact, valuable only for what it says about ancient daily life. Because some people find archeology boring, they may conclude that the Iliad is boring. But the Iliad offers more than evidence; it paints an insightful portrait of human nature. The Iliad remains a great book because, through characters such as Patroclus, Hector, and Achilles, it presents the depths of human emotion.
5. The “narrative” introduction summarizes a story that leads naturally into your topic.
After quarreling over a victory-prize, Achilles defies the other Greek soldiers, including their leader, Agamemnon, and withdraws from the Trojan War. This emotional decision sparks a series of equally emotional conversations and conflicts which lead the reader from Books 1 to 24 of the Iliad. Homer’s epic poem remains a great book because, through characters such as Patroclus, Hector, and Achilles, it presents the depths of human emotion.