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Monday, April 3

Iliad & Odyssey Review (aka How to Engage Your Teenaged Boy...)

We’ve got one kid who is into all things ancient civilizations….including Rome and Greece (his favorites!). He’s in those early teenage years when school is just so-not-cool, and I’ve had to frame math, or science, or whatever the offending subject of the day is within the context of Ancient Greece or Rome just to get him into schoolwork. (Yes, I know, that’s a whole ‘nother battle on character…) So when Memoria Press gave us the opportunity to review their new Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set, naturally we jumped at it!

This is a great set for high school language arts – it covers two of the greatest books, written by Homer, about the ancient world. When my son found out that these were considered textbooks in ancient military tactics, he was utterly hooked. If you are unfamiliar with the texts, the Iliad is about the Trojan War (yes, like the Trojan Horse), while the Odyssey is the story of an epic adventure about coming home from that war.
The set covers both the Iliad and the Odyssey, broken into 48 lessons that would be appropriate to use over the course of a school year. It includes all materials necessary for a complete history-based language arts course, including :
  • Iliad 
  • Iliad Student Guide 
  • Iliad Teacher Guide 
  • Iliad DVDs 
  • Odyssey 
  • Odyssey Student Guie 
  • Odyssey Teacher Guide 
  • Odyssey DVDs 
Each of the Student Books has several appendices that will help your student to better understand the text. There are sections on genealogy (Trojan / Greek), Friends & Foes, story characters, Weaponry & Armor, and Ship Terminology. I’ll let you guess which one has seen the most action in this house…. (Hint : weapons)
  
There is also an accompanying Teacher Guide for each Student Book, complete with a full-text answer key, discussion questions and helpful hints, test questions / answers, teacher notes, essays, and other assignments. Background and fact drill are included, too, which is nice for the younger learner.
The DVDs for each book are valuable learning tools, if for no other reason than to have the correct pronunciation of each proper name! They are professionally done, and the instructor does a good job of keeping the kids interested while imparting some (occasionally dry) historical background information that will help them to better understand the text and story line.

Being a younger learner, my son had quite a bit of trouble understanding the text. The DVDs helped with that somewhat, but it was really a Goodwill store find that helped to bring everything into focus for him. We discovered “The Iliad for Boys and Girls,” by Alfred Church, and I highly recommend it for younger teens wanting to tackle this series. I also recommend it as a read-aloud for families with younger children who are interested in ancient history.

Two other resources that we used to gain a better foothold on the text were a video covering the cause of the Trojan War and a Lego Odyssey video. The introduction to the Iliad is all about the cause of the Trojan War – without understanding that, the rest of the book can be an enigma. Therefore, we recommend this video. As for the Lego Odyssey movie….my kids love all things Lego, and this just helped us get the younger ones involved with the discussion going on at the kitchen table!

While he was much more interested in the Odyssey, it is the Iliad that occurs first, chronologically, and so that is where I started him with this set. I suppose you could put them in any order that you choose, however. Plan to take about a semester per book to fully comprehend and complete all of the activities. This is a rigorous course, particularly for younger teens, and would be a good accompaniment to your World History or Ancient History course – typically freshman or sophomore year. We have yet to find something at Memoria Press that we haven’t liked, and this was no exception!

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