Dr. Thomson (Ivy Literature)
Dear Ivy Parents,
The Meditations of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius is a unique work in all of world literature. Here we encounter the musings of a soldier-emperor, written while he was on campaign in the northern provinces, over the last twelve years of his reign. He wrote here to himself alone, not contemplating a present or future audience. Aurelius, steeped in the Stoic tradition and quite comfortable in the Koine Greek of the common man, addressed the “big questions”: life, the cosmos, justice, kindness. It is a work of timeless value: our current Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, always carries a copy with him.
Work accomplished in class:
I showed them from my own library 4 different sorts of reference works which historians of classical antiquity depend on to understand the Romans and the Greeks who were so important to the Founders of the United States, and to such subjects we still study as philosophy, geography, literature, the sciences….
Assignments (due by next week 9/29):
1) Read the complete text of the Meditations of the Roman Emperor (161-180 A.D.), Marcus Aurelius (i. e., about 120 pages)
2) Identify a single passage in that work which made an unusual impression upon them.
3) Write a 250-300 word composition further developing the passage. I stressed, of course, that their writing must be word processed, clear and grammatical. (At some point down the road I may ask them to print out copies for each other, for class criticism – this, however, I did not mention to them.)
4) Work sheet: Meditations.pdf (download)
Download: 3 Worksheets: Meditations-2, Meditations-3, Meditations-4.
Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Dover Thrift Editions, 1995
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845) flashed across the American literary landscape like a bolt of lightning. None of the white Abolitionists of the day could have matched the searing, first-person authenticity of Douglass’ years in wretched bondage, or his incandescent excoriation of slavery, in language redolent of the Old Testament prophets. He set the stage for the third act in that national tragedy, when Martin Luther King Jr. assailed segregation.
Download 1 Worksheet: Fedric Douglass - 1.pdf
Nobel Peace Prize awardee Elie Wiesel’s Night is likewise an autobiographical account of his internment in two of Hitler’s death camps, Auschwitz and Buchenwald. Many high schoolers in the US are familiar with The Diary of Anne Frank; Wiesel’s work adds depth to our understanding of the word “Holocaust”.