Plutarch's Lives Vol. 1
From the captivating introductory question “Why study this stuff?” to the glorious full-color artwork representations to the sheer comprehensiveness of the coverage, these books are enthralling. Omnibus is Latin for “all encompassing; everything.” The publishers couldn’t have picked a better title for this project that has as its goal a six-year theology, history, and literature curriculum that will literally “talk about everything” - all the important ideas from all the ages will be put on the table to explore.
The Omnibus curriculum desires to enable the student to unlock the treasure chest of ideas contained in the Great Books – those which have guided and informed thinking people of western civilization. While you might associate the term with the list compiled and edited by Mortimer Adler, the publishers and editors of the Omnibus have established their own list that overlaps with Adler’s.
Omnibus is both classical and Christian. It was written from a distinctly Protestant viewpoint that is best summarized by the Westminster Confession of Faith. Omnibus I (Biblical and Classical Civilizations) and Omnibus II (Church Fathers Through the Reformation) are 7th and 8th grade texts with emphasis on the logic stage. Omnibus IV - V covers similar time periods but with emphasis on the rhetoric stage. Omnibus III & VI covers modern (1563 to present) times with logic and rhetoric emphasis respectively. In other words, grades 7-12 grades are covered in two, three-year rotations.
Each Omnibus is divided into two semesters with primary (traditional Great Books) and secondary (other) book selections for each. These selections and the course built around them are rigorous; very rigorous. Some parents might be concerned about portions of the content. The editors are clear about several things. First, they assume that evil is to be conquered rather than evaded. Secondly, they assume that godly oversight and protection will accompany the student through this coursework. Thirdly, they see the Christian home as a boot camp where students are taught to handle their weapons - under godly, patient supervision. Lastly, since the Bible includes the same topics as these books there is no subject that this curriculum will raise in the minds of junior or senior high students that would not also be raised as he reads the Bible.
If you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed, relax. These texts will instill confidence even as they make the job easier for you. In essence, they’re comprised of stand-alone guides for reading, studying and understanding these Great Books and the Great Conversation of ideas they represent. Beginning with an introductory worldview essay, a session is outlined for each day a book is to be studied. The number of weeks in a study varies with the selection. Discussion is a major part of every book study. Some days the discussion is general with an eye on comprehension but more often the focus is textual, cultural, and biblical analysis. There are daily reading assignments and almost daily writing assignments plus a large selection of optional activities. The really comforting thought is that the Teacher CD contains complete and thorough answers and talking points for every discussion or question raised.
In addition to the wonderful artwork, other excellent resources are evident. Appendix I outlines a two semester reading schedule. Appendix II is a parallel timeline of events in history, literature, and theology, with miniature art representations or a book cover. The Teacher CD-ROM includes the entire text on PDF files with answers and talking points inserted into the discussion session notes. Additionally, lesson plans, teaching tips, and midterm and semester exams with answers are included. It also includes a grading calculator - an Excel file where you insert a student’s grades. The text does not include the reading selections; you will need to obtain them separately. The editors also mention two beneficial references - Western Civilization by Spielvogel and the History of Art for Young People (we have it listed as Short History of Art) by Janson & Janson. As you look over the reading selections, don’t be surprised to note, “I read this book in college.” These are academically (and spiritually) challenging courses. ~ Janice
First Semester Primary Books: Genesis, Exodus, Epic of Gilgamesh, Code of Hammurabi, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, Odyssey, Histories, Oresteia, Plutarch's Lives.
First Semester Secondary Books: Chosen by God, Till We Have Faces, The Magician's Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Horse & His Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Minor Prophets.
Second Semester Primary Books: Theban Trilogy, The Last Days of Socrates, The Early History of Rome, Luke & Acts, Aeneid, The Twelve Caesars, Julius Caesar, Revelation.
Second Semester Secondary Books: The Silver Chair, The Last Battle, The Best Things in Life, The Unaborted Socrates, Galatians, Romans, James, The Eagle of the Ninth, The Screwtape Letters, The Holiness of God.
Plutarch was a famous philosopher, writer, and moralist who lived at the beginning of the second century A.D. His most famous contribution was these volumes, which give mini-biographies of dozens of ancient Greeks and Romans. The biographies are rich and full of stories, detailing events in each person's life and culture while pointing out the character and moral fiber the individual. Often Plutarch gives biographies of one man from Greece and another man from Rome and then compares the two figures so readers can see how their personalities and life events differed. The first volume contains profiles and comparisons of such powerful figures as Romulus and Theseus, Numa and Lycurgus, and Fabius and Pericles, while the second contains those of Demosthenes and Cicero, Pompey and Agesilaus, Demetrius and Antony, and many more. These volumes are Modern Library Classics editions and contain the 1683 Dryden translation that was revised in 1864 by Arthur Hugh Clough, whose notes and prefaces are also included, along with an index that makes it easy to find specific profiles. They also have a bonus introduction by James Atlas and a six-question discussion guide that prompts readers to take further insights from this influential work. Volume One has 766 pgs; Volume Two has 706 pgs; both are softcover. ~ Rachel
Instead of isolating Bible and Christian history from what was happening in the rest of the world, the folks at Veritas aim to incorporate it. They offer four different history time periods (each aimed at a different grade level and designed to take one school year) which take students from creation to the present. The program originally had three parts: teacher's manual, history cards (an absolutely essential element of the curriculum) and a memory song on audio CD. The song is sung by a woman with a pleasant voice at varying tempos and is designed as a type of auditory time line.
The history cards are fantastic! They have many interesting facets (the more you study them, the more you learn). The cards from the various time periods are color coded and numbered - there are 32 cards in each pack. If the cards also relate to Bible history they have another color and another number. Each card has a picture (usually in full color) representing what it is about. For example, the card for Creation has a reproduction of the Creation of the sun and moon from the Sistine Chapel Ceiling by Michelangelo. Many of the other pictures on the other cards are famous paintings as well. Each card has a title and a Scripture reference (if appropriate). They also contain a summary of the event they represent and a list of resources. This information can only be found on the cards and is not duplicated in the Teacher Manual. On the Creation card, examples of the resources are: Child’s Story Bible, pages 3, 4 and Streams of Civ, Vol 1, pages 11-14. Reading whatever is set out on the cards provides the ‘text’.
The Teacher Manual is split into 32 weekly lessons. Each lesson has a worksheet, a project or two, and a test. An example of what you might find in the appendix is a literature unit, an Egyptian decor bulletin board pattern, an Egyptian Feast project, reproducible sheets, great games, and lyrics for the memory song. An enhanced CD-ROM is also available, which includes the memory song for that level, an electronic version of the Teacher Manual, and an instructional video. The enhanced CD will work on either Windows or Macintosh. Because the enhanced CD contains the complete Teacher’s Manual, we sell two kits; one which includes the Teacher Manual book, the card set, and the audio CD (Homeschool Kit), and one which includes only the enhanced CD and the cards (Homeschool Kit w/ CD). ~ Genevieve