Thursday, October 18, 2007

Those Blasted Greeks

As most of you know, we home-school our children. Before anyone starts to jump to conclusions or anything, we are not your militant home-school family. We do it because it works for us and it's how we believe that God is leading at this time. There may come a day in the not to distant future where we look at other schooling options. We are open to that. With that stated, we also realize that there are some specific education options that we can offer our children now that they would be unable to get anywhere else.
For four years now I have taught a history class once a week to a few other home-school families. We have used the fantastic history curriculum that is published by Veritas Press. It is a curriculum that starts with the Creation, the actual beginning (what a novel idea!), and then works through Biblical and historical events chronologically. Through this curriculum the overall emphasis is God's sovereignty in the events of human history. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the class in the early years was seeing how Biblical and world history intertwined. We are now in our fourth year and just getting to U.S. history.
However, as good as the history class has been, I wanted a little more for my children to prepare them for life as they get older. So this year Alex, my oldest son, and I are tackling the Veritas Press seventh grade curriculum Omnibus. It is a Biblical and Classical curriculum that is history, theology, and literature all rolled up into one. It also includes plenty of writing and tremendous amounts of logic. There is a Primary reading list and a Secondary reading list and we are doing both of them. So far Alex is enjoying the curriculum. It is time consuming and mentally taxing, but very rewarding. So far this year, Alex has read the following books; Genesis, Exodus, Epic of Gilgamesh, Code of Hammurabi, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, Chosen by God, and Till We Have Faces. He is currently reading The Magician's Nephew and has just started the Odyssey. By the end of the year, Lord willing, he will have read, analyzed, discussed, and essayed 41 different books. With the exception of the Code of Hammurabi, he has really enjoyed the curriculum. The time that he and I get to spend together discussing these books has been very enjoyable and rewarding. I personally wish I had the time to read each of these books and maybe over many years, I will.
This extremely long-winded post was necessary for me to explain my first problem with the curriculum. I know there are somethings that I understand and other things that I don't. Mostly, they fall in areas of interest, like cars. I don't understand cars. I know how to do the very basic of maintenance on them, but that is it. Guess what, I don't care that I don't understand cars because they don't interest me. Back to my problem. Alex and I began the Odyssey this week and one of the things the textbook brought out was that the Odyssey is an epic poem that is written in dactylic hexameter. That means that each line of the poem in the original Greek language was made up of six metrical "feet", or dactyls. Each dactyl foot has three syllables with the accent always on the first syllable except for the last dactyl. The English equivalent the text book gives is
"strawberry strawberry strawberry, strawberry strawberry jam pot"
The textbook then goes on to give a list of English sentences of which some are written in dactyl meter and some are not. We are suppose to determine which ones are.
Here is the rub. I don't get it. I want to understand how it works because literature interests me, but I don't get it. I understand how it is suppose to work, but I can't hear the meter. I have the answers in front of me as to which sentences are written in dactyl meter and which aren't, but I still don't understand. This of course leaves me somewhat frustrated and muttering under my breath, "Those blasted Greeks".

1 comment:

d4v34x said...

In the example the textbook gives, the last foot only has two syllables. Typical?

Since poetic meter is a means to control rhythm of speech, try thinking of drum beats. BAM-dit-dit Bam-dit-dit, etc.

Unfortunately, some of the stressed syllables in the english language can be tough to discern.

God bless the English and their beloved iamb!