Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Myths and Legends

Back around Christmas I read an excellent book about home schooling.  This really isn't a good option for my family but I've been using it as something of a supplement for the school learnin' that my kids are having.  (Or will have.  I've got three kids, ages 3, 5 and 7.)  One of the things that it stressed is using myths and legends to teach kids about the classical period.  Shortly after I read that, I spoke with someone else about a completely unrelated subject and he told me that his kids got virtually no coverage of Greek myths in our modern multi-cultural age.  Perhaps this is the way that it has to be but it didn't quite set well with me.
I took a flyer and got a simple book of Greek myths that is aimed at youngish kids.  The book has about 15 stories, each around ten to fifteen pages long, usually with at least one illustration.  Not surprisingly, the kids loved it.  (The middle one has become a huge fan of Hercules.)  I got a book of Roman myths from the same publisher and that's worked well too.  As a plus, I've gotten to explain how the Romans came after the Greeks and adopted many of their stories.  We've also looked at some of the locations on maps.  Maybe most importantly, we've talked about their daily lives and how they differed with our bustling technological society.
I followed this up with a history/picture book of Egypt, Greece and Rome that is aimed about third grade or so.  This led to a book of Egyptian myths, though that hasn't been as popular.  Last week I broke out an old book of 'Arabian Nights' and that has proved to be a winner.  It seems that if a story has been passed down for more than a thousand years, it just might have some value to it.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Links to the Past

(I'm trying out a new name for this.)

Dating tips from Ovid link

Why Study Latin link 

How Thucydides Can Help Explain Greece's Problem with Germany link

Blogging through Thomas Aquinas link

Most Ubermensch Man in the World (Existential Comics) link

(Btw, the autocorrect on the last link wants to change 'ubermensch' to 'lumbermen' which I find delightful!)

Monday, April 6, 2015


Biography of St Augustine

Biography of Thomas Aquinas.

These are two of the most important thinkers of the church.  St Augustine was around at the tail end of the western Roman empire.  Thomas Aquinas is on the other side of the 'great gap'.  He came in when at a time when Aristotle was reintroduced to the west and it shows.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Author Timeline

Euripides 480-406
Plato 428-348 
Aristotle 384-322

Augustine 354-430
Aquinas 1225-1274
Montaigne 1533-1592
Galileo 1564-1642
Bacon 1561-1626
Descartes 1596-1650
Newton 1642-1726
Locke 1632-1704
Hume 1711-1776
Kant 1724-1804
Melville 1819-1891
Dostoyevsky 1821-1881
James 1842-1910

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Readings for April

Two meaty pieces:

St Augustine: Confessions (books 9-13) link
St Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologica (part 1, QQ 16-17 and 84-88) link

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Books Read in March

It feels like I read a ton this month but looking back, I'm not so sure if that's true.  Let me write down what I can remember and see if that jogs any further memory.

  • The Drawing of the Dark, by Tim Powers - This is a reread for me.  Historical fantasy/fiction that takes place during the siege of Vienna.  A wonderful book that connects a number of dispersed European mythic figures.  The 'dark' in the title refers to some very special beer.
  • The Cave and the Light, by Arthur Herman - Not the first time I mentioned it and probably not the last time I'll refer to it.  This was simply a great book for organizing various philosophical schools of thought.  The idea behind it is that western philosophy can be seen as a very long argument between Plato and Aristotle.  Highly recommended.
  • The Plague by Albert Camus - A plague hits the town of Oran and the entire town is quarantined.  Camus uses the closed of town as a metaphor for life.  Every one is trapped there with the constant threat of life.  How do they handle it?  Who do they blame for it?  Very good book.
  • The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford - This is a long first person account and it gave me trouble.  There wasn't quite enough plot or dialogue to hold on to me.  This is supposed to be a very good novel but I came away disappointed.  (This could be the era.  It reminded me of Henry James' 'Portrait of a Lady', which I also didn't like.)
And the short stories.  I made up some ground from last month.  I think I'm ahead by some amount.

Black is My Favorite Color by Malamud - very sad
Ancestor Money by McHugh - good
The Mad Talmudist by Peretz - interesting
The Fluted Girl by Backgalupi - very good
The Wife by Singh - good
Why I Became a Plumber by Maitland - lovely
Signs and Symbols by Nabakov - interesting

Friday, March 27, 2015

Classic Links

Why study Greek link

Why evolution depends on Platonic forms link

The Mysteries of Medieval Maps link

Re-imagining Lost Masterpieces of Antiquity link

Existential Birthday (Existential Comics) link