Thursday, March 11, 2010

Aeneid Class: Week 5: Furor and Pietas

This post relates to my literature class for children at Homeschool Out of the Box co-op in Norfolk, VA. This semester we are reading The Aeneid, using Penelope Lively's book In Search of a Homeland, and other supplemental materials. For other lessons, please click the Aeneid tag at the bottom of this post.

Welcome: Today the kids got three new pages in their scrapbooks. The 9:30 class also got to paste in some photos of our Roman dinner party, but due to an error at Walgreen's photo processing center the other classes didn't print, so they'll get theirs next week. Encourage the kids to embellish their scrapbooks with whatever drawings, photos, notes, and stickers they like, particularly drawings they may create while listening to the story or after reading the story. The three new printed pages were as follows: Roman Virtues Fast Facts, the new song "I Will Be Roman," and a new poem excerpt, "Horatio at the Bridge."

We didn't take a quiz today, because we had way too much to do. Next week we'll take a mega-quiz that will cover Roman games, the Roman dinner party, and the Roman virtues. Prepare to write many Ts and Fs!

Lesson: Our lesson today covered the story of Dido and Aeneas, and a discussion of Roman virtues. I picked 15 virtues for the kids to learn, which are detailed on the Fast Facts sheet. We talked about how people in different families, different countries, and different time periods value different things based on what they want to accomplish. For example, we teach our children to be kind and share, whereas the Romans valued the ability to inflict and tolerate pain. A little different.

We talked about the story up to this point and hit all the major plot points, then discussed the situation that Dido and Aeneas found themselves in.

In the story, Dido represents "furor" which to Romans meant to be ruled by passions and selfishness, following the excitement and emotion, the precedence of the individual over the group. While she starts out the story as a good ruler, building her city and society, she is overwhelmed by her love for Aeneas, and becomes irrational, letting her personal agenda override her community's agenda. Aeneas, in this story, represents "pietas" which to the Romans meant dutifulness, doing what was right for the family, the community, the civilization, and the gods. We talked about how Virgil separates these two traits into two characters to illustrate the conflict between them, but how they really both exist within any human.

We talked about how in some situations you need to be ruled by your pietas, but in some situations it's okay to be ruled by your furor. Safety and duty are good, but in our society we also love that passion that pushes you down a ski slope, or toward a work of great art, or into political rebellion. I would love it if the parents would take over helping the kids to see these two pieces of themselves, and help them become more aware in situations that require furor and pietas to balance.

We talked about the other Roman virtues on our fast facts sheet. Next week we're going to play "Roman Virtue Charades" so the kids will have a chance to act out some of these virtues. Check out this link for an even greater list of Roman virtues. Next week we're going to read our excerpt of "Horatio at the Bridge," which is an illustration of Roman virtue. Or actually an illustration of Victorian romanticization of Roman virtue. But we aren't going to unpeel that layer!

Memory Work: This week Celia recited the entire excerpt from the Aeneid in Latin, and she did it with such impressive expressiveness that she sounded like a native speaker! Exciting! The kids seem to be working hard on the memory projects -- remember it's not mandatory, just for fun. Anyone who has run out of things to memorize can start memorizing "Horatio at the Bridge."


We made mosaics using sticky cardstock and tiny tiles. I forgot my camera, but here are pictures of the materials and where to get them.

We also used some other stuff as mosaic tiles... sparkly jewels, sequins, and other things. These no-glue collage boards are awesome. You peel them like a sticker and the sticky surface is very sticky. Some kids did geometric designs, some did pictures, some just enjoyed the materials in random and pleasing ways.

Assignment: For next week please read the chapter "Funeral Games." We're coming up to our gladiator games event, so we'll be planning that in class next week. The children will get to choose roles -- lions, gladiators, emperor, spectators, guards, etc. If you own the movie "Gladiator" and you've watched it enough to be able to choose scenes strategically so the kids won't see anything awful (and there are plenty of awful things in the movie) it would be great if they could see at least some of the coliseum scene, to get an idea of the scope of it. I don't recommend it for the younger kids, of course, but some of the older ones will benefit from certain scenes. We will be mixing gladiator fun with versions of the funeral games that the Trojans engaged in to honor Anchises, so look forward to that too! Volunteers are welcome, and let's hope for a sunny day so we can go outside.

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