Ancient World Now: Athens II

Listen to my podcast on the ancient Athenian: Episode #40: The Rise of the Warrior Citizen

THE ACROPOLIS IN ATHENS
Today we went to the acropolis, which is the rocky outcrop upon which the Athenians built their most important temples. The structure in the center of this great old postcard is the entryway to the sanctuary and is called the Propylaea. It has always been the only way to get into the sanctuary, so everyone in history who has visited the Parthenon has walked through this monumental gateway. The walkway is marble and has been polished by thousands of years of foot traffic. How humbled it makes you to walk in the footsteps of the great philosophers, writers, orators, and statesmen! This is truly sacred ground. The photos show the Erechtheion with the famous Caryatid porch. You can see the same building on the postcard at the elbow of the giant statue of Athena. This building is the site of the mythical contest between Athena and Poseidon. The two gods were charged with giving a valuable gift to the city in return for the devotion of the people. Poseidon struck his trident in the ground and caused a salt-water spring to appear, while Athena struck the ground with her sword and sprouted an olive tree. Athena won the contest because the olive tree is valuable in so many ways. It is said that there has always been an olive tree on the very spot, and as you can see in the photo, an olive tree graces the edge of the porch.ErechtheionAcropolis_artwork

There were originally six Caryatids on the “maiden porch,” but one of them was removed by Lord Elgin and is in the British Museum. It is said that the maidens cry out at night at the loss of their sister, and tears streak their faces in the rain. The maidens in the photo to the right are copies. I am standing with the real Caryatids in the photo below, which was taken this afternoon at the new Acropolis Museum.photo

photo (1)Finally, I had a photo taken in front of the Parthenon holding my book, which has been such a central part of my life and continues to direct me in new ways.

HELLO ROOM 5! This section is addressed to you!

Trip Notes: Today we visited the big buildings in the picture. Do you recognize the maiden columns called the Caryatids?

Food I Ate Today: A special Greek confection made with sesame seeds and “mastic,” which is a type of pistachio tree. It grows around the Mediterranean and was mentioned in the Bible. Mastic has been used as a chewing gum for several thousand years. On the island of Chios, the Greeks make cuts into the bark of the tree and cause it to “weep” a sticky resin, which they harden and make into yummy treats.

I Wonder: I wonder what chewing gum is made from today.

Lesson and Activity: To help find our way around the world, we use lines of longitude and latitude. You can imagine the lines like a net thrown over the globe. Half the lines run up, or north to south, and we call them longitude—and half the lines run around, or east to west, and we call them latitude. If you know the latitude and longitude of any location, you can pinpoint it exactly on a map. The coordinates for Redwood City are: latitude 37 degrees North, and longitude 122 degrees West. If you have a globe or atlas at your house, find the lines of latitude and longitude. You can also look at our globe in the classroom.

 

Ancient World Now: Athens I

2011 265This once in a lifetime trip is dedicated to my writing partner of so many years, Achilles, who died four weeks ago. Named after the great Greek warrior, Achilles was my constant companion and bestie. Hail to thee, great warrior, Achilles!

After decades of writing and thinking about it, I finally made it to Greece! This once in a lifetime trip is being led by Stanford professor Patrick Hunt, who is a National Geographic fellow and the world expert on Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps. Hunt frequently appears on National Geographic, the Discovery channel, and the History channel. Every quarter I enroll in night classes at Stanford where they have amazing world-renowned classics scholars. I just finished a class on Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War and another on Ten Great Battles of Antiquity. I traveled through eight time zones yesterday, so I spent today resting up for the fast-paced tour that begins tomorrow (Saturday, here in Greece) and only ventured out for a taxi ride to Mt. Lycabettus with a 360-degree view of Athens, a quick look in the National Archaeological Museum, and a leisurely bookstore visit where I bought a dozen great ancient world books for the classroom. This famous statue, the Artimesion Jockey, which dates to around 150-140 B.C.  was found in 1926 in an ancient shipwreck. The boy appears to be nine or ten, and reminds me of the story I told Room 5 of how twelve-year old Alexander the Great tamed Bucephalus, the wild-spirited horse, who was HIS constant companion and bestie for many years!jockeyofartemision

HELLO ROOM 5! This section is addressed to you!

Trip Notes: This trip fits in perfectly with our Social Studies unit theme Then and Now. And in May, when our school hosts it’s own Olympic games, I will give a presentation at an assembly on my visit to Olympia next week, which was where the first Olympic games were held! I have planned this trip for a year now, and am extremely excited to finally be here. However….I do miss you all! Be good!

Food I Ate Today: an egg scramble with Greek Feta cheese atop a delicious bread slice. Scrumptious, but my body may take some getting used to these new foods. I also drank a glass of carrot juice, which I love!

I Wonder: I wonder if they had carrots in ancient Greece!

Lesson and Activity: Daylight comes at different times to different communities around the world. Time Zones were invented a little over a hundred years ago to help people when they wanted to travel by train, which was a new invention at the time. Here is a map of the world that shows the time zones. Have you ever traveled to a different time zone? Ask your family if they know anyone who lives in a different time zone.Standard_World_Time_Zones

 

Ancient World Now: Brutus, Part III

Click here for direct link to audio podcast Episode #70.

Henry Fuseli, The Death of Brutus

Henry Fuseli, The Death of Brutus

Click here for previous audio podcasts.

Bru. Hold then my sword, and turn away thy face, while I do run upon it.

Alas, poor Brutus. Shakespeare read his Plutarch, and so should you!

Today’s episode ends our reading of Plutarch’s Lives for Boys & Girls, retold by W.H. Weston, and illustrated by W. Rainey, published in London & Edinburgh in the early 1900′s.

Ancient World Now: Brutus, Part II

Click here for direct link to audio podcast Episode #69.

Click here for link to previous audio podcast episodes.

Quite early one morning, a couple of months ago, our backyard was inundated with water from someone’s broken sprinkler system. I threw on my robe and drove up the hill to try to locate the neighbor whose house had the leak. I knocked on the door to a house that appeared to be awake, and a kind, calm gentleman opened the door and invited me in. As we were trying to figure out which yards backed up to mine, I noticed that his house had a full-on Greek theme going on! He determined that the leak was from his neighbor’s yard, and we very soon stood at the door again, saying farewell. I reached out to shake his hand in thanks, and asked his name. Imagine the shock when he said his name was “Achilles!” I nearly fell down to the ground in disbelief! Of all names on Earth, his name happened to be Achilles! I told him about my work with ancient world stuff and about my cat Achilles, and we decided to get the neighbors together for a party. So, on Saturday night, some neighbors gathered together here at our house and we all bonded over costumes and scripts. What a treat it was, to have Katerina invoke the muse in her native Greek language! Here are a couple of pics from the night. (above: Achilles and his family, with me on the right)

Today’s episode is our second installment on Brutus, from Plutarch’s Lives for Boys & Girls, retold by W.H. Weston, and illustrated by W. Rainey, published in London & Edinburgh in the early 1900′s. Enjoy!

(below left: Larry, Cathy, Katerina, David, Melina, Scott, Estelle, and Debra—thanks for being such good sports! and below right: my David!)

photophoto(8)

Ancient World Now: Brutus, Part I

Click here for direct link to audio podcast Episode #68. et-tu-brute-trashcan

Click here for link to previous audio podcast episodes.

Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar.” ~ Julius Caesar: III,ii,77. William Shakespeare.

Brutus was all that a Roman father wanted in a son: piety, integrity, and loyalty.
Brutus honored his duty to his family and he honored his duty to the state.
He was a patriot to the very idea of Rome, and in a time of civil upheaval, that meant taking sides and
making choices. We have all learned that Brutus betrayed his friendship with Julius Caesar
and struck the final blow that brought him down, but what were Brutus’s motives for his action?

For an excellent teaching resource from the Washington State Courts, check out:et-tu-brute

The Republic of Rome v. Marcus Brutus Mock Trial

Today we begin our final series from Plutarch’s Lives for Boys & Girls, retold by W.H. Weston, and illustrated by W. Rainey, published in London & Edinburgh in the early 1900′s.

Enjoy!

Ancient World Now: Julius Caesar, Part III

Click here for direct link to audio podcast Episode #67. pompey's head is brought to caesar

Click here for link to previous audio podcast episodes.

Here, Caesar receives the decapitated head of Pompey the Great. The Civil War was over, but the battle for political supremacy was just beginning…

Shrewd Caesar re-erects the statues of Pompey in a bid to placate the public after the devastation of the Civil War he put them through, but the tragedy is too deep and tiny slights are nursed into monumental grievances until Caesar steps boldly into the morning light of the ides of March.

Ironically, the end of the road for Caesar was at the foot of a statue of Pompey surrounded by his many “friends.”

Check out today’s episode from Plutarch’s Lives for Boys & Girls, retold by W.H. Weston, and illustrated by W. Rainey, published in London & Edinburgh in the early 1900′s. Our final installment of our 3 part series on Julius Caesar.

Enjoy!

Ancient World Now: Julius Caesar, Part II

Click here for direct link to audio podcast Episode #66. caesar crosses the rubicon

Click here for link to previous audio podcast episodes.

Alea iacta est….The die has been cast….One of my favorite ancient texts is Lucan’s Civil War, translated by Susan H. Braund (Oxford University Press). I was lucky enough to take three of Professor Braund’s classes—Nero, Virgil, and Lucan, while she was at Stanford. Lucan’s epic describes the waves of terror loosed upon Rome by the act of Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon. Lucan gives one the sense of the affectionate regard the Romans had for Pompey, while at the same time showing the decline of a great man. On the other hand, all that Caesar did in this noble epic is washed with his ambition. Read it and let me know what you think.

Today’s episode is from Plutarch’s Lives for Boys & Girls, retold by W.H. Weston, and illustrated by W. Rainey, published in London & Edinburgh in the early 1900′s.

Enjoy!

Ancient World Now: Julius Caesar, Part I

Click here for direct link to audio podcast Episode #65. Julius Caesar First Folio

Click here for link to previous audio podcast episodes.

Shakespeare studied Plutarch’s keen commentary on the character of Julius Caesar and then wrote some of the most beautiful lines in all of literature. This is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays because the tragic main figure is rendered with such depth. I never tire of picking up my little palm-sized New Temple edition published by J.M.Dent & Sons, Ltd., with engravings by Eric Gill. One afternoon I read it straight through while waiting for some eighth graders on their Physics Day amusement park field trip. An unforgettable pleasure!

Today’s episode is from Plutarch’s Lives for Boys & Girls, retold by W.H. Weston, and illustrated by W. Rainey, published in London & Edinburgh in the early 1900′s.

Enjoy!

Ancient World Now: Caius Marius, Part III

Click here for direct link to audio podcast Episode #64. sulla and the civil war

Click here for link to previous audio podcast episodes.

Here is our final episode on Caius Marius, in which he turns to savagery against his own people.

Today’s episode is from Plutarch’s Lives for Boys & Girls, retold by W.H. Weston, and illustrated by W. Rainey; published in London & Edinburgh in the early 1900′s.

Enjoy! Next week we start Plutarch’s portrait of Julius Caesar!

Ancient World Now: Caius Marius, Part II

Click here for direct link to audio podcast Episode #63.Cimbri Women Defend

Click here for link to previous audio podcast episodes.

The European tribes that defied the Romans have always appealed to me. I especially like to read of open defiance in the face of death, like this excerpt describing the Cimbri warriors marching through the Alps, from the Modern Library edition of Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, translated by John Dryden:

“…the barbarians…came on with such insolence and contempt of their enemies, that to show their strength and courage, rather than out of any necessity, they went naked in the showers of snow, and through ice and deep snow, climbed up to the tops of the hills, and from thence, placing their broad shields under their bodies, let themselves slide from the precipices along their vast slippery descents.”

On a darker note, Plutarch goes on to tell of the Cimbri women, “…standing in black clothes on their wagons, slew all that fled, some their husbands, some their brethren, others their fathers; and strangling their little children with their own hands, threw them under the wheels and the feet of the cattle, and then killed themselves. They tell of one who hung herself from the end of the pole of a wagon, with her children tied dangling at her heels.”

Would you have surrendered yourself and your loved ones to the enemy?

Today’s episode is from Plutarch’s Lives for Boys & Girls, retold by W.H. Weston, and illustrated by W. Rainey, published in London & Edinburgh in the early 1900′s.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner