Great Books I: Foundational Texts of Ancient Greece
his rigorous Socratic tutorial covers the literary, historic, and philosophic classics of the ancient Greeks. The class provides a unique vehicle for understanding the roots of our culture: the fundamental concepts and choices of the past 4500 years.
This class meets once a week. Classes are two hours in length. Students should expect approximately 6 hours of homework (reading, study questions, and composition) per week. Because of this rigorous amount of work, the course may be counted for up to two high school credits, depending on your state's requirements.
Great Books I is a course in Literature, Composition, and History:
Major themes in the course come from the works themselves including the values they endorse and the metaphors for understanding life they offer. Learner-active strategies are employed including a wide range of student response essays and engaging Socratic discussions. Texts include the following in their entirety:
1) Homer - Iliad, Odyssey
2) Aeschylus - Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, Eumenides
3) Sophocles - Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone
4) Euripides - Medea
The composition component of Great Books I covers the history and basic principles of classical rhetoric. Students learn how to determine the structure of spoken communication (speeches, debates, arguments) and of written works of many genres. Students read and discuss primary sources from the Great Books I Literature and History texts and compose weekly summae – written responses of approximately 300 words in response to ideas presented in the texts. Other writing assignments include classical rhetorical exercises, literary analysis, writing about history, persuasive writing, and occasional creative responses to texts. The writing process is emphasized — from outline to draft to revision. Students receive extensive feedback from the instructor at each stage of this process with multiple opportunities to revise and re-submit their work. Students learn to use MLA format for in-text citations and bibliographic references for each essay and summa.
To study and understand the long stream of history and thought, and to comprehend our place in that stream, is to increase our appreciation of our cultural inheritance, our ability to use wisely and build faithfully upon that inheritance, and our ability to understand and respond to history. This course will engage with the events, persons, and ideas of Greek antiquity through Socratic discussion, debate, and analysis. Texts include the following in their entirety:
1) Herodotus - Histories
2) Thucydides - Peloponnesian War
3) Plutarch - Greek Lives
4) Plato - Euthyphro, Apology, Republic
5) Aristotle, Ethics
Thank you for the amazing experience of your Great Books class. The reading selection was so wonderful and had an amazing historical arc. I loved the study questions and enjoyed the writing topics. I especially enjoyed writing the summae which were a great way to practice writing within a loose structure while still having lots of room for creative topics. This class really pushed me in directions I didn't even know I could go. My writing has improved a tremendous amount.
I am appreciative of the many email conversations we had and the time you spent giving me advice. For my first online class, this was outstanding! I don't think I will ever forget this class as long as I live. - Dominic G, Michigan
The CLRC Great Books program focuses on literary and historical primary sources from the ancient world through the Renaissance and the early modern world. The literature is read for its own merit and studied within the historical and cultural time period in which it was written.
In Year 1, as we read the Iliad and Odyssey, the backdrop of Homer’s great epic is an assumed faith in the Olympian pantheon. Students are not required to express belief in Zeus, Hera, Apollo and the other Olympian gods. The class will not seek to criticize or disprove the religious underpinning of the text. However, students must understand that this is the religious assumption on which the epic is based. Similarly, Year 2 focuses on the Foundational Texts of Ancient Rome. In the first semester students study the pre-Christian authors Vergil, Caesar, Livy, Sallust, Tacitus and Plutarch. The second semester moves on to the period of history which is dominated by the rise of the Christian Church. Students read Eusebius, Augustine, Athanasius and other early Christian writers. These texts and this period of history are essential to an understanding of the texts studied in Great Books 3 – the period of the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance – which is dominated by the conflict of Faith and Reason. As with the religion of Ancient
Greece and Rome, students are not required to subscribe to belief in particular Christian doctrines, but they should understand that foundational texts of the Christian faith will be read in the second half of Year 2.
Students from all faiths and creeds are encouraged to read, understand, and write about the texts through the lens of their own beliefs, in an environment of open, caring, and conscientiously moderated discussion. Students who have questions or doubts reading ancient Greek and Roman texts, or texts of the early Christian church, may wish to contact the instructor for more information or choose a CLRC Literature and Composition class instead.
"The level of analytical and critical thinking skills taught in Mrs. Turscak’s Great Books class is remarkable. Great Books is the single best homeschool class that any of my children have taken! I am beyond thrilled with the thoughtful and careful reading that is required and taught, with the writing assignments that are given and produced, and above all, with Mrs. Turscak's detailed feedback on every assignment!!" -- Tanya D., Massachusetts
"I have been homeschooling my son since 1st grade and I consider your class to be the best I have ever experienced. My husband teaches at Georgetown University and has a similarly high view of your class. We are quite grateful to you for what our son has learned and how he has been challenged - all in a caring environment." - Liz C., Virginia
"By reading the “Great Books” we gain the insight and knowledge of our ancestors and begin to understand how we have been formed. These books are our guide through life by giving us morals, understanding, and perspective beyond ourselves.
These fundamental themes of Western Culture help us come to a better understanding of how our society was formed, and help us understand the problems and issues we face in our daily lives."
For the complete text of this student's essay, CLICK HERE.
Students in this course are REQUIRED to use the SPECIFIC EDITIONS of the texts listed below.
In a course based on detailed discussion of classic works, it is imperative that students use editions with the same pagination, section divisions, and line numbering. These particular editions also contain helpful maps, summaries, etc. which are extremely valuable for students.
Amazon links for textbooks and materials are provided for the convenience of our parents and students.
The CLRC is an Amazon Associate.
Aeschylus: The Oresteia
Sophocles: The Theban
Euripides: Medea and Other
The Landmark Herodotus
The Landmark Thucydides
Plutarch’s Lives: Volume 1