Vocabulary Builder
Fill-in-the-Blank Essays
Read each essay and supply the best word from your flashcards for each of the blanks. Words are used only once; each blank requires a unique word.
Set 1

“I have ________ that which no man has yet withstood: I have kissed the hands that murdered my son.”

      Achilles, Greek paragon of war, gazed in wonder at the kneeling king of Troy . . . and then in equal wonder at his own mighty hands, hands that had ripped Prince Hector’s life from his body. How many others had suffered the same fate at these hands?

      But even as King Priam’s noble act of supplication thrust a spear at Achilles’ rage, that rage parried. Had not Hector killed his beloved friend Patroclus? Had not Hector stripped Patroclus of Achilles’ armor and worn it as his own? Outrageous! He was right to ________ such an insolent ________. He was right to drag Hector’s bloody corpse back to the tent in which Hector’s father now begged for the chance to show honor to that corpse! To have done anything less to that murderous prince would have ________ Patroclus’s spirit. Anything less would have shown complete ________ for the vengeance and honor his beloved friend deserved. Anything less would have been a ________ denial of Achilles’ warrior code, of his personal ________. In fact, perhaps he had not done enough to Hector to avenge his friend. He should have eaten Hector’s flesh raw—the gods themselves would have deemed it just! Achilles

glanced at his sword, eyes ablaze, rage again to the fore, hands itching to hew this ________ king’s head from its body. How foolish he had been to have ________ for this sonless king, how ________ was this weak king’s supplication!

      He met Priam’s gaze . . . and hesitated. ________ had once more crept past the sentries that had always protected Achilles’ implacable honor. He watched as Priam’s eyes overflowed. Tears of loss mingled with tears of rage, but those tears were ________ by nobility. In Priam’s eyes, godlike Achilles caught a first fleeting glimpse of himself. In a flash, he grasped Priam’s superiority. Could Achilles have acted thus if a son of his had been killed? Would love for his own son have overcome his rage against his son’s killer? As he gazed at Priam, Achilles’ thoughts flew to his own father, far away, who, like Priam, was never to see his most beloved son again. For Achilles had chosen to follow Hector into death and glory. Achilles’ rage and contempt ________________ into the night air, replaced by ________ for this most majestic of kings. He had finally met an ________ over whom he could not triumph. Achilles, for the first time in his life, and with great relief, submitted. He ________ the old king’s actions, dropping to his knees and embracing Priam, tearfully promising to ________ the king’s wishes.

      For a long time, Achilles wept with the king. He wept for Priam’s son, for his own father, and for all sons and fathers. Above all, he wept for the needless losses our rage inflicts upon one another, and upon ourselves.

Set 2

How do living cells ________ the energy they need? Inside living cells are specific structures, called organelles, that provide the energy necessary for life. In plants, chloroplasts trap sunlight and use its energy to create energy-carrying molecules. In animals, mitochondria create the same energy-carrying molecules, called ATP, by using oxygen to break down ________ organic compounds into carbon dioxide and water. Mitochondria and chloroplasts are about the same size and have the same biochemistry as bacteria. They even have their own DNA ________ and divide within the cell on their own schedule. Bacteria are known as prokaryotic cells because they lack most organelles. The more complex cells found in animals and plants are called eukaryotic cells; they contain many organelles. One of the most fascinating ________ to come out of biology in the last half century is that these key structures inside the cells of all multicellular life forms were once free-living organisms. This notion is called endosymbiosis.

      In endosymbiosis, a “guest” and a “host” species coevolve to the point of fusion—the guest species is absorbed into a host species and spends its entire life cycle within the host. The arrangement is not parasitic: one or both of the species benefits. So, how did the precursors to eukaryotic cells acquire mitochondria- and chloroplast-like prokaryotes? In what manner could a microorganism’s bodily ________ be breached? The evolutionary ________ has been reconstructed as follows: the story goes that amoeba-like precursors to eukaryotic cells assimilated all kinds of prokaryotic organisms. Most were simply broken down and absorbed, but some hardy proto-organelle organisms survived—even flourished—in the new, nutrient-rich environment.

      This hypothesis can never be conclusively proven, but its plausibility has been increasingly ________ as various lines of evidence and ________ have been recorded and conclusions have converged. If true, the endosymbiotic origin of mitochondria and chloroplasts ________, or at least challenges, two long-held tenets. First, we are used to seeing bacterial invasions as just that—causes of disease that constrict life functions. These ancient and ________ guest species have actually radically ________ their hosts’ evolutionary horizons. Ironically, we owe our very existence to endosymbiosis. Aside from ________ the development of ever more complex organisms, endosymbiosis solved a critical issue for life on Earth—the increase in oxygen levels. Early life was entirely anaerobic, meaning energy was created without oxygen. In fact, oxygen was the by-product. Oxygen, ________ as it may seem, is

actually a poison. This highly reactive element effectively ________ the emergence of terrestrial life. But oxygen-eating proto-mitochondria filled the niche, creating an alternative energy source for their new hosts. Thus, the inclusion of these guest species into the architecture of the eukaryotic cell made complex terrestrial life possible.

      Second, since all plants and animals feature these once free-living organelles, the ________ of endosymbiosis challenges our notion of what we take to be an individual organism. The boundaries between self and environment and between individual and colony can seem ________ when one takes the long view of endosymbiosis. Inside our trillions of cells, we carry opportunistic little creatures whose energetic surplus fuels all the varied activities of plants and animals, from the creation of the wood pulp from which the book you’re holding was manufactured to the operation of the brain that is now puzzling over this vocabulary-building exercise. So take a deep breath, and reward your oxygen-hungry mitochondria with a well-deserved treat!

Set 3

That all buildings embody the belief systems of the cultures that built them is beyond ________. However, not all buildings are equal. Some are ________ more by functions common to all societies rather than by those culturally specific functions that are central to an entire belief system. For example, modern-day takeout restaurants in New York City look remarkably similar to Roman takeout restaurants still preserved at Pompeii—an L-shaped bar featuring holes for hot pots. Classic architectural monuments stand out because they provide an impressively ________ and immensely complex structural manifestation of the function that reflects, or even ________, a culture. Size and scale also help to denote a classic building: if you want to look closely at what a culture’s priorities were, ________ the structure that required the highest investment of ingenuity, resources, and political power. The heart of a culture lies in its greatest buildings.

      One such building is the Hagia (pronounced Hi-ya) Sophia, the Great Church of the Holy Wisdom, in Istanbul. Istanbul was once known as Constantinople—the City of Constantine, built as a new capital by the Roman emperor who had made Christianity the state religion in the fourth century A.D. Two centuries later, the western Roman empire had fallen, but the eastern empire—known to historians as the Byzantine Empire—had not merely ________, but was in the process of temporarily reconquering the western lands that were once Roman. Justinian, who reigned from 527 to 565, was the ________ of this territorial expansion, which was seen by ________ as restoring the glory and power of the Roman Empire. The restoration was not merely military; Justinian also ordered the codification and clarification of all Roman law as a new, rational basis for civil order. The “Justinian Code” served as the foundation for modern-day law in most European countries.

      The restoration of the glory that was Rome can also be seen in Justinian’s signature building, the Hagia Sophia. After a riot that destroyed the original Hagia Sophia, and which nearly ________ him, Justinian marshaled a tremendous effort to adapt secular Roman architecture to a new kind of building that epitomized Byzantine power. Unlike most pagan temples, which served mostly as a holy backdrop for outdoor ritual, the Hagia Sophia fused a unique Roman temple—the Pantheon, or “Temple of All the Gods”—with a typical secular building: the basilica, a long, rectangular hall used for law courts or markets. The Pantheon, built by the emperor Hadrian in the early second-century A.D., featured a huge dome resting on a cylindrical drum. At the apex of the dome was a large hole, the oculus, which provided the only natural

light. The ________ of the disc of light from the oculus across the floor and walls of the building served to animate this architectural representation of the ordered Roman universe.

      Hagia Sophia’s dome rested not on a drum, but, radically, on a perfect square. To get from square walls to a circular dome, the Byzantines invented pendentives, curving, concave triangular forms that rise from the corners of the cube and spread toward each other, allowing for the transition from cube to hemisphere by rounding off the corners of the cube. The sides of the cube rise toward the base of the dome, progressively rounded off by the ________ pendentives rising from the corners until the gravestone-like curved apex touches the base of the dome. The base of the dome itself—where the four pendentives finally intersect—is punctuated by a series of windows. Hagia Sophia’s dome seems to float above the building, “as though suspended from Heaven by a golden chain,” as one contemporary observer put it. Arrayed around that dome-on-a-cube was a larger complex of vaulted aisles, half-domes, and upper galleries, all of which opened upward, complementing the immense central space under the dome.

      Why did Justinian’s architects risk putting a dome on a perfect square? No one had ever attempted this—and despite Justinian’s announcement that he had surpassed Solomon as a builder, the dome fell not once but three times in the subsequent 1,500 years, first collapsing a mere thirty years after completion. The answer lies in the near- ________ use of large religious buildings to identify imperial power structures with the Divine. Byzantine religious practice, and the central relation between that practice and Byzantine state power, ________ that a Roman dome be placed on a Roman basilica. The patriarch (the leader of the Byzantine church) and the emperor were seen as the two halves of the earthly manifestation of God himself, united in leading an ordered, divinely sanctioned society. Byzantine Christianity purposely cultivated the “Great Mystery” of faith, to which only the patriarch and the emperor were privy. All faith was mediated through these two figures via an elaborate set of rituals, just as all political power was mediated through a Byzantine court bureaucracy so complicated and convoluted that Byzantine entered our language as an adjective meaning “of labyrinthine ________.”

      Citizens crowded into the Hagia Sophia to view elaborate, half-hidden rituals. Only the emperor, the patriarch, and their attendants could walk beneath the dome in the central open space. All others were packed into the aisles and galleries on the periphery, with purposely half-obscured views of the proceedings. That is why Byzantine churches adopted the rectangular basilica—they appropriated the Roman form that was designed to accommodate the multitudes. Not only were the

rituals semi-hidden, but full appreciation of the interior domed space of the Hagia Sophia was denied to anyone viewing it from the periphery—which meant everyone but the uppermost elite of the political system. Since that interior space was itself meant to be an architectural representation of Creation, full appreciation of Hagia Sophia’s interior space meant full apprehension of Creation itself, a privilege granted only to the elite, and on which the legitimacy of its power rested. Like the Pantheon, the Hagia Sophia was designed to show that the divinely ordered universe was reflected by and embodied in the political structure of society. The implication was purposeful—the political structure was thus sanctioned by Heaven itself. ________ to the regime was the ________ not only of one’s loyalty but also of one’s piety. Any and all ________ to the regime was thus evil.

Set 4

Many students either ________ the SAT, refusing to have anything to do with such a misguided—even evil—test, or merely ________ it, assuming that by refusing to pay attention, the nasty test will just go away. I believe that fear causes these two reactions.

      In order to test this proposition—or, in other words to ________ this ________—we need to thoroughly ________ a current misunderstanding of tests like the SAT. While it is true that the SAT stemmed from the intelligence-testing wing of applied psychology eighty years ago, it is no longer accurate to characterize the SAT as a ________ and anachronistic manifestation of controversial IQ testing. The one clear trend in SAT history is a continual, ________ retreat from “puzzle-solving” item types in all tested areas. However, decades of welcome ________ to the SAT’s IQ-testing background have yet to ________ many, if not most, of the public. Furthermore, many of those who ________ the SAT in the media seem to agree with the test’s detractors, holding to the ________ that the test measures “intelligence,” whatever that may be. Thus, students are forced to confront a ________ image of the SAT in which a test designed to ________ the achievement of acquired skills and knowledge becomes a nefarious __________ to __________ the unintelligent from the rewards due to the ________.

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