Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Iliad - Teaching Pagan Literature from a Christian World View

I'm teaching Dd#1 and a good friend's daughter Literature of the Ancients this year.

Doesn't that sound nice? Academic and high schoolish. One problem. I can't read it. I mean...I CAN sound out the words and put meaning to the words. But all of it together...nope. (It doesn't help when I set aside 1 hour of reading time and I counted 13 child-interruptions in that hour before I gave up. That's 13 times they CAME to me to interrupt me. That doesn't count the thumps, bumps and cries from the other room they didn't bring to me but I heard regardless.)

We just started. Right now, we're struggling through the Iliad. Dd#1, having been immersed in a Classical Education for the previous 8 years is doing the best. I am doing the worst.


  • Heroes of the City of Man: A Christian Guide to Select Ancient Literature, Peter J. Leithart - although this isn't a Catholic work, this is a FANTASTIC christian author who makes reading pagan authors much more palatable by his world view. Rather than encouraging his young readers to divorce themselves from their Christianity in reading these B.C. authors, he helps students read with an understanding of a lack of Christ in these characters. This purchase will help us with Homer's Iliad, Odyssey & Virgil's Aeneid. It also contains information for reading Theogony, Eumenides by Aeschylus, Oedipus Tyrannus by Sophocles, The Bacchae by Euripides, and Clouds by Aristophanes.
  • A Companion to The Iliad by Malcolm M. Willcock - This is keyed to Lattimore's translation, which is closer to the Greek. My library had a copy of this. It's all the footnotes that you wish were in the Iliad to explain places, literary references, cross-references, character information, historical perspective, etc.
  • Iliad of Homer, translated by *Lattimore - It seems funny to use the book itself as a help to read the book. It's because Lattimore's introduction, while fairly boring, gives INVALUABLE help to read the book. Thematic, character and historical summaries as well as where the book fits in the literature cycle of the Trojan war...this was a BIG help and I've been referring back to the introduction over and over again as I read/teach.

*Another option would be read Fagles translation of the Iliad. It isn't as academic, but gives a good feel of the story. In the end, digesting and enjoying what is read is more important than having an erudite experience that was lifeless. Homer meant for his audience to enjoy his stories and Fagle allows you to be swept away in the story!

Dd#1 is enrolled in Kolbe and she is using their lesson plans. My friend's daughter isn't. I've been surprised that I've needed to dig deeper as a teacher even though I have access to Kolbe's lesson plans. We're just in our first few weeks of this, so I'll keep you updated.
Other teacher helps have been

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