Epic of Gilgamesh (Penguin Classics)
Includes the glossary as well as a detailed introduction that examines the narrative and its historical context; 128 pgs, pb.
This ancient Babylon story tells about the powerful king Gilgamesh and his friendship with Enkidu, a being created to destroy him. The two share many adventures and win many battles against monsters, but eventually Enkidu is killed and Gilgamesh is devastated. He undertakes a desperate (and ultimately impossible) mission to find the secret of immortality. We carry two unabridged editions of this timeless tale, both translated by N.K. Sandars. ~ Rachel
Imagine a classically-based history course where your child reads great history books and period-related literature, keeps a running timeline of the period studied, writes outlines and summaries of important people and events, completes history-related map work, and does all of this without extensive planning on mom's part. Although it may sound too good to be true, luckily for you it's not! Author Kathleen Desmarais has done an awesome job of combining an excellent variety of resources and activities and presenting it all in a very straight-forward, professional way that takes the stress of lesson planning off of you and puts the accountability and expectations squarely on your history student.
History Odyssey is basically a series of study guides, with one guide covering one era of history (Ancients, Middle Ages, Early Modern, or Modern) in one year. There are three levels to the program, so if you completed the whole series, you would cycle through world history three times - once in elementary, once in middle school, and once in high school education. The first level is intended for grades 1-4, the second level for grades 5-8, and the third level for grades 9-12. There will be twelve guides when the series is complete; currently, there are still several guides in production. The guides are loose-leaf and 3-hole punched, designed to be placed in a binder. You'll probably want a thick one; students will be adding a lot of material!
Although the same eras in history are covered in each level, the expectations on the student become more sophisticated, following the classical education progression. In Level 1 (the grammar stage), students are encouraged to approach history as a great story as they read (or are read to) and complete map work, History Pockets activities, copywork, and coloring pages. This level will require more attention from the parent than the two upper levels. Depending on the reading ability of the child, some reading selections may need to be read aloud or read together. There will also be copies to make and supplies to gather for each lesson. Level 2 (the logic stage) introduces the timeline, outlining as a writing skill, research, and independent writing assignments. Students are expected to read all assignments on their own, and critical thinking and analysis are emphasized through the assignments. Parental involvement should be reduced at this level, as parents should be only checking the quality of each day's work and making sure that it has all been done. By Level 3 (the rhetoric stage), students will be reading much more demanding history selections (including classic literature) and will be writing plenty of expository, descriptive, narrative and persuasive essays. Research, timeline work, and map work are continued from Level 2 but are more in-depth at this level. For each level, history, geography, and writing are strongly represented. Although the writing practice is extensive, you will probably want to be using a separate course in English and writing.
Now that you're familiar with the basics of the course, let's look at the lessons. Lessons are presented to the student in a checklist-type format. All assignments, including reading, timeline, writing, and others are listed for each lesson with a box to check when the task is complete. In Level 1, lessons are structured a bit differently, in that there is some parent preparation (highlighted in gray), a "main lesson" of assignments, and then several "additional activities" listed. Lessons typically include a mix of readings from resource books, map work, timeline work (in the upper two levels), and writing assignments/copywork to be added to the student's master binder. Exceptions may be lessons which ask the student to begin reading a required book. In this case, a recommended time frame is given in which the book should be read, and follow-up writing assignments may be listed. Occasionally websites may be listed to check out more information, but these are not absolutely necessary to the course if you are not able to visit them. Following the lessons, you'll find worksheets referred to in the lessons, outline maps used in map activities, and several appendices. Although the guide is not reproducible, the author does give permission to copy the maps and worksheets for your family's use only.
There are several important aspects of this course. First of all, with the exception of Level 1, there is little parent preparation. A "Letter to Parents" at the beginning of the guide explains the course, while the "How to Use This Guide" lists required resources and other necessary supplies, describes the organization of the student's binder, and briefly discusses several aspects of the program. For the upper two levels, parents will be primarily making sure the necessary books and resources are on hand and ensuring that each lesson's work has been done and is complete. This leads to my next point, which is that at the end of this course, the student will not have "completed a workbook," but will have compiled their own meaty notebook with all their work from the course. Instruction is given at the very beginning of the course on how to organize the student's notebook, and from that point on, the student will be putting all of their work into the binder. The binder will be not only a tremendous keepsake but a collection of all work done in the course. Finally, the timeline is a very important tool used in Levels 2 and 3 of History Odyssey. This can be made by you, or you may choose to purchase Pandia Press's very attractive Classical History Timeline, which is described below. Events and people studied are added to the timeline throughout the course, and when they're finished with the guide, the timeline can be folded up and included in the student's binder.
One bonus to the course is that they use well-known resources and literature that you may already own! Level 1 heavily uses Story of the World books, A Child's History of the World and History Pockets. My sample of Middle Ages Level 2 lists the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, The Story of Mankind, Usborne Internet-Linked Viking World, The Door in the Wall, Tales from Shakespeare, Beowulf: A New Telling, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Castle (by David Macaulay), The Canterbury Tales, and many more. Check out the lists of resources beneath each History Odyssey Guide below - I'm sure you'll see many familiar
Please note that this curriculum was originally written to use with the 4th edition of History of the World by J.M. Roberts. That book is currently on its 6th edition and while technically still useable, it does not match up with the curriculum well. The publisher has put the History Odyssey curriculum for this level out of print until it is rewritten at a later date for a newer edition of History of the World.
Please note that the Level 3 History Odyssey curriculum was originally written to use with the 4th edition of History of the World by J.M. Roberts. That book is currently on its 6th edition and while technically still useable, it does not match up with the curriculum well. The publisher has put the History Odyssey curriculum for this level out of print until it is rewritten at a later date for a newer edition of History of the World. We will have stock on this curriculum while quantities last.
After being out of print, it's a pleasure to have this study once again available. With an emphasis on interactive discussion and worldview, the guide provides a lesson-by-lesson framework for studying some of the major works of ancient literature - The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone. Using an inductive approach, the student is encouraged to use three steps - observation, interpretation, and application - in coming to an understanding of the literary piece. Only after spending some time reading, absorbing, and comprehending the selection does the student seek to discover what others have said about it. The goal is for the student to be able and prepared to evaluate the opinions of others because they have formed their own thoughts first as opposed to just internalizing what others have thought and written.
The course is divided into 24 lessons, each one taking about a week to complete. This is just about right for the literature component of a high school English course. You could easily lengthen the course to encompass the entire school year (30 or 36 weeks) by inserting writing assignments between the sections. As an example, let's look at the study of Oedipus Rex, which starts with some background information on the Greek Theater. This is to bring the student "up to speed" so to speak and includes all the basic information that a Greek theater-goer would know - such things as the story of Oedipus, how the play is organized, and who appears in the play. There are five lessons covering this reading selection, each organized similarly. First is a list of People and Places along with vocabulary that the student is expected to be able to identify and define. Then follows some reading sections, each accompanied by a set of comprehension questions (i.e. who, what, describe, how, etc.) An early lesson in the series gives some instruction on a literary analysis device - Dramatic Irony - and subsequent lessons ask the student to look for examples. In the second lesson in the series, an Overview Chart is introduced. The student uses this graphic organizer to identify and organize the main events and characters from the play. The series of lessons concludes with an in-depth Essay Question. The course includes four lessons on biblical literature and the Epic of Gilgamesh, four on The Odyssey, five lessons on Oedipus, five on Antigone (please note that both Sophocles' Antigone and the twentieth century play by Jean Anouilh are studied), and a final summary lesson.
The text is designed as a consumable student workbook providing space to write the short essay answers to the comprehension/discussion questions. It could easily be used as a non-consumable by having the student keep answers in a separate binder/notebook. There are no answers given or an answer key. The parent/teacher is encouraged to be a participant along with the student in completing the readings and discussions. Although I understand this rationale and even agree that this approach is optimum, nevertheless, speaking as a mom, I would have appreciated some talking points.
Compared to some, this is a relaxed study. This should not be interpreted as "lightweight." There's plenty here - both in organization and in the literature selections and discussion - to provide a challenging examination of ancient literature. One of the best features of the entire course is the fact that it starts with a four-lesson study of Daniel (the literature and culture of the Babylonians) and Genesis (creation, flood, and Tower of Babel) in order to assure that the student is well-grounded in biblical events and principles. Another excellent feature is the final worldview lesson. Although most ancient literature is the literature of pagans, this study provides the biblical grounding to make certain the study is profitable.
Although a specific book list is not provided, it's obvious that specific versions of these works are being referenced because of the page numbers given throughout the lessons. ~ Janice