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The Griffin Warrior: Amazing Archaeological Discovery on Pylos

On a drizzly May morning in an unremarkable olive grove two archaeologists made the discovery of a century. They found an ancient tomb rich in bronze, ivory, gold, and incredible stories. They found the tomb of the Griffin Warrior. For classicists around the world this may be the discovery of the century. For husband-wife archaeologist team Jack Davis and Sharon Stocker, this is the discovery of a lifetime. The find certainly ranks with the likes of Heinrich Schliemann who found the legendary city of Troy and the remnants of the ancient Mycenaean culture, home of Agamemnon. It ranks with the likes of Carl Blegen who unearthed the Palace of Nestor on the Greek island of Pylos. Read the rest of this entry »

Scripture Memory

My New Year's Resolution? This year it began in August. I am in the process of joining my daughter and her classmates in memorizing the book of Philippians. This exercise is part of a vision that began in 2010 when my 7th grade ancient humanities class first memorized the book of James. Since then our school, Grace Academy, has challenged our students to commit an entire book of the Bible (or extensive passage) to memory each year, hiding God's Word in their hearts. The Association of Classical Christian schools asked me to write an article for Classis, their quarterly journal, about the vision and implementation of our Scripture Memory program. I share it here with all of you. Read on to learn the historical precedent, the present implementation, and the fruit this work is bearing in the lives of our students. Read the rest of this entry »

Gingerbread Pantheon

Augustus was said to have found Rome a city of brick and left it a city of marble. Our Classics Club at Grace Academy is rebuilding Rome as a city of gingerbread! Each year our students take on the task of rebuilding a significant piece of ancient architecture from gingerbread and other edible materials. This year our group took on the Roman Pantheon. We entered the finished piece in the Georgetown Library's annual Edible Extravaganza contest where it won first place in its division. This post shares some of the secrets behind the triumph. Read the rest of this entry »

Imitation in Writing through Latin

l believe the purpose of learning the Latin language is in order to study Latin literature. By studying Latin literature, I mean studying the Great Books. These are great pieces of literature of outstanding merit that have stood the test of time. Such works reflect the worldview of the culture and time in which they were written. Such works have often influenced not only the people of their own time, but the people of times that would follow. Such works should demonstrate some combination of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. By studying such works we better understand the flow of human thought over the course of history. We better understand our civilization when we know from whence it came. We better understand what is truly great literature. By studying Latin literature, I mean Read the rest of this entry »

Latin Composition: Thanksgiving Theses

The philosopher Seneca is quoted as saying "docendo discimus" [by teaching we learn]. The idea behind this statement is that one must learn something really well in order to turn around and produce that learning for someone else. We teachers could also say "linguam scribendo discimus" [by writing we learn language]. I love for students to practice the grammar and vocabulary they have learned by reading authentic Latin literature. We can take these lessons a step further by challenging students to practice these same tools by producing a composition that imitates the literary works they read. These are two very different disciplines that engage the students in language from two different angles. Such assignments allow them to Read the rest of this entry »

It’s All Greek or Latin to Me!

Each year the Grace Academy Classics Club designs a club t-shirt sporting a witty phrase that shows off the joy of the classics. This year we could not choose just one!  Instead all students contributed their favorite Greek or Latin sayings to a classical word cloud in green.  Each saying gives a nod to something special: literature, logic, theatre, theology, and some are just plain ol’ fun.  At the center of them all is our school motto, “Soli Deo Gloria” [Glory to God Alone].  On the reverse the astute will find our clever theme for the year, “It’s all either Greek or Latin to me” written in alternating Greek and Latin script (see caption for picture below).

We wear these shirts on school spirit days, to our club events, Junior Classical League competitions, and just whenever the mood for a cool witty shirt strikes our fashion fancy.  The 2016 shirt has quickly become a favorite.  The shirt design won first place in the club t-shirt competition at the Texas State Junior Classical League with the judges commenting “I want one!”  See below for a list of the featured quotes.

 

It is all either Greek or Latin to me!

Μοι omne η Ηελλην aut Latinum εστιν!

Read the rest of this entry »

Language Tree Project

The Latin Family Tree is a beautiful creation. Its roots run deep into the Proto-Indo-European language spoken through most of Europe c.5,000 B.C. Its trunk reveals beautiful hues of Italic languages influenced by the Etruscans and the Greeks. Its lofty branches reach far and strong to provide the arboreal beauty of modern Romance languages: Italian, Spanish, French, Romanian, and Portuguese. What delight to play in its shade and admire its beauty! Chapter 5 of Latin for Children, Primer A offers young students a peek at the Latin Family Tree. Our third grade class at Grace Academy engages in this study through this simple yet delightful two-day project. Read the rest of this entry »

Loki Loves Latin!

I have always wanted to create a course on the classical origins of comic book heroes.  So many of them have strong ties to classical mythology.  The Norse themes of the Thor series are among the most notable. So imagine my pure delight to learn that actor Tim Hiddleston, who played Loki in the recent Marvel movies for Thor and the Avengers, holds a Classics degree from Cambridge!  What better training could there be for such a role?!  In the following clip Hiddleston offers a wonderful answer to the question, “what do you do with a classics degree?”

Be prepared to take notes.  You will want to write these answers down!

Ten Basic Rules for Reading Latin

 

 While perusing the LatinTeach website I found this wonderful article with reading tips for students.   I often find students “paralyzed” in trying to read Latin with their English brains.  What I mean by that is that students have trouble leaving behind their English rules for syntax and word order when trying to read Latin.  They often want to read words in the order in which they appear or jump to derivatives for meaning.  Latin has its own syntax, which is really very logical.  Students have to get our of their English brains and learn to read Latin as Latin.  This article by Dexter Hoyos has some wonderful tips for doing just that.  Click on the title below to view the article.  There you will find a pdf with his rules available for easy print out.

Dexter Hoyos – The Ten Basic Rules for Reading Latin

Rather than trying to find the “hidden English” in Latin, these rules will help you read Latin as the original authors intended — in the actual Latin word order.  Professor Hoyos demonstrates that the Romans were entirely logical in how they composed their writing and that it is possible to train yourself to read in Latin word order by understanding how they grouped words.

 

Poetic Art Assignment

In a recent post (July 5) I discussed my love for exploring the connections between Latin poetry and art in my classes.

Within that post I shared suggestions for a class lesson that would integrate the analysis of poetic imagery with pieces of art.  In such lessons we must begin with the work of master artists.  We learn what is truly beautiful by studying the work of those who have mastered the art form, whether that be in the visual arts or in the literary arts.  The next step in the art-poetry study is for the students themselves to become creative interpreters of the poem.  In my last post we looked at the story of Pyramus & Thisbe from Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Liber IV).  So let us continue with that same story in our next art lesson.

We begin by reading the story in the original Latin and soaking up the masterful wordcraft of the poet Ovid.  We discuss word choice, arrangement, imagery, and all sorts of literary devices.  We next look at works by master artists to see how they interpreted Ovid’s poem upon their canvases.  We discuss the art in light of the poetry (see July 5 post for guidelines).  Next, I assign the students the task of producing their own piece of art that interprets one scene one moment from the poem.  After looking upon the work of masterful artists this naturally causes a bit of intimidation.  I comfort the students by assuring them that I don’t expect a masterpiece.  I do expect their best work, careful, neat, thoughtful, with attention to the detail in the poem.   I am pleased to share the work of one of my freshmen ladies below.  This is her interpretation of Book IV, Line 71:

saepe, ubi constiterant hinc Thisbe, Pyramus illinc

Kirk_Ovid_05_2016

 

What I absolutely love about this particular piece is the manner in which she interprets the chiastic imagery from Ovid’s work.  A chiasmus is an ABBA word pattern.  Here the word arrangement highlights the tortuous juxtaposition of the two lovers separated by the wall.  The wall itself becomes an impersonal character within the story.  Later on the young lovers would talk to the wall both chastising it for their separation while also expressing gratitude for the crack (seen here above Pyramus’ head) that allows them to share secret whispers of gentle affection.  The astute observer may notice that the artist did change one word from Ovid’s verse.  The artist writes semper [always] where Ovid wrote saepe [often].  This is and intentional change.  The artist has chosen silhouettes to illustrate the spirit that remains for these young lovers – always and forever juxtaposed against the wall in Ovid’s story. Many other pieces I receive have used the death scene (my students seem to love gore) and include a greater multitude of details. This piece, however, was bold enough in its abstract simplicity to drive home the image of the wall and the manner in which it divided the two lovers, here Thisbe, Pyramus there – always.

Well done, my young poetic artist!