Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Carols

"Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song." - Psalm 149: 1

This picture is from a medieval collection of Christmas Noels or carols from the 16th century.

Our daughter's school had their Christmas concert last week and we were treated to a marvelous concert of Puer Natus in Bethlehem, In Dulci Jubilo, and Psallite. It was a remarkable concert, all the more amazing because it is such a small school (150) and a school that originally grew from homeschooling families. Click here to listen to an excerpt. The string quartet was made up from the parents, but the singers were all 2nd-12th graders. It was beautiful.

This History of Christmas Carols site suggests that a Roman bishop in AD 129 was the first to advise that an Angel's Hymn be sung at a Christmas service. St. Francis of Assisi was credited for reviving Christmas songs when he included canticles in his nativity plays in 1223.

If you like to learn some of these old carols (especially wonderful if you are learning Latin together), you will love Choral Wiki. There is a treasure trove of free choral music (piano music included), MIDI files, and other resources to sing them at home.

Ever since we were married, we have watched a video of Lessons and Carols from Kings College every Christmas. On, we found an excerpt, Once in Royal David's City. Enjoy!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Snowflake Templates, Snow Crystals

It's that time of year again! Here are some of our favorite sites for enjoying the beauty of snowflakes, reading about the science and mathematics of their formation, and making your own to put up on the window or Christmas tree.

Snowflake Templates at Yarn Owl
More Snowflake Patterns

For more Snowflake Study consider Koch Snowflake (Fractal) and the beautiful Snow Crystals site.

Do you know where the saying about no two snowflakes are alike came from? The research of a self-educated Vermont farmer who became fascinated by the beauty of snow crystals.

"Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated., When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind."

We have both the Caldecott medal winner Snowflake Bentley and the book which contains many of his original photographs Snow Crystals.

If you freeze a piece of black velvet, it keeps individual snowflakes long enough so that you can see their individual details more clearly.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Classical Writing: Progymnasmata - Aesop's Fables: The Sick Lion

We've found progymnasmata exercises to be a fun and helpful way for our kids to learn how to write. Here's two progymnasmata exercises our 10 year-old daughter (5th grade) recently did for her class. If you have a reluctant writer, see if reading these examples might help encourage them to get their feet wet.

First is the Aesop's fable; the second, a re-telling; the third, an imaginative elaboration. She was told to include hydrographia (description of water), topographia (description of place), and pragmatographia (description of event) in addition to working in: a who/which clause, 2 "ly" words, a "because" clause, and 5 "quality" adjectives.

#1: The Original Aesop's Fable: The Sick Lion

A Lion, unable from old age and infirmities to provide himself with food by force, resolved to do so by artifice. He returned to his den, and lying down there, pretended to be sick, taking care that his sickness should be publicly known. The beasts expressed their sorrow, and came one by one to his den, where the Lion devoured them. After many of the beasts had thus disappeared, the Fox discovered the trick and presenting himself to the Lion, stood on the outside of the cave, at a respectful distance, and asked him how he was. “I am very middling,” replied the Lion, “but why do you stand without? Pray enter within to talk with me.” “No, thank you,” said the Fox. “I notice that there are many prints of feet entering your cave, but I see no trace of any returning.”

He is wise who is warned by the misfortunes of others.

#2. Re-Telling of The Sick Lion

Once there was an old and weak lion with dull, ruffled, brown fur, who couldn't take care of himself. He thought for a long time, then decided to feed himself by pretending to be sick. He quickly returned to his den. Before he entered, he jumped over a shining river that had tiny little waves that rippled in the sunlight. His den had a hole for an entrance, leaves for his bed, with a tiny puddle of water to drink from near his bed. Animal bones were scattered throughout his den.

Because a shiny black crow saw the Lion looking sick, the news spread like wildfire. Soon all the animals from the youngest mouse to the oldest turtle knew the Lion was sick. Immediately he was visited by hundreds of animals who expressed their sorrow. The Lion quickly, messily, and hungrily devoured them.

In a few days, the Fox who had shiny orange fur and a black tail came to visit the Lion. Amazing, but true, he discovered the Lion's trick before he entered the den. He stood outside the Loin's den and asked, "How are you Lion?"

"I am very sick, come in and talk to me," the Lion replied.

"No," said the Fox, "I saw many tracks going in, but none going out," and he left.

He is wise who is warned from the misfortunes of others.

#3. Re-Telling of The Sick Lion with a Twist

"Mr. Psychiatrist," said Holon the Lion, "I am having problems. I used to get lots of food, but now I'm getting none."

"Right, right," grumbled Grendlen the Bull. "Tell me the whole story, Holon." Holon comfortably sat down on the psychiatrist's couch and the Bull sat on a chair beside the couch. "Well," said the Lion, "When I was returning from a cruise I had won in a contest, the water was beautiful and sparkly, but the water made me sick. Waves were crashing against the boat when we landed. I was anxious to get to my tropical paradise. The beautiful shoreline was filled with zebras, giraffes, elephants, and antelope. The seagulls were driving me crazy! Then I collapsed in my bed for I had arthritis.

The next day, I carefully stalked a zebra. The smell wafted into my nostrils. As I pounced, a sharp pain struck me on the leg making me cry out, scaring the zebra awa. I stumbled back to my straw den, and thought for five days until I thought of an idea to fool the animals by inviting them to a feast and eating them both."

"Nice, nice, Lion, nice," said Grendlen. "Let's continue the story, Lion."

"Fine," growled the Lion. "Two animals came, both zebras. I ate them all. Then a mean, evil, cruel fox called Argiana, decided to tell everyone that I was eating all my guests. Now at that time I did not know that was bad manners. Argiana was so cocky and stuck up and was like, "You're in big trouble." I thought, "I'll show her!"

"Enough, Lion!," Roared the Bull. "I diagnose you with Food Obsession Disease!" Furthermore, I have to make you eat some Blue Grass of Kentucky and water from the Himalayas."

"What??" yelled the Lion. Then "Whoa!"

For the Bull had tossed him out the window.

"Golly if I didn't throw him out, he would have eaten me," said the Bull. He then put up a sign "No carnivores!"

He who is wise learns from the misfortunes of others.

Aesop's Fables: The Sick Lion

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving Resources

One of our favorite Thanksgiving websites is the interactive site at Plimoth Plantation. The two guides are children whose ancestors were at the 1621 Harvest Celebration.

Another good site is the History Channel's History of Thanksgiving

George Washington's original Thanksgiving Proclamation can be seen below (

An easier to read copy can be found here. May find joy and many blessings this Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mind Mapping Ancient History

After a few months in Greek history, I found my son was beginning to swim in dates, ancient names, and battles. Here are two quick mind maps we made to keep the details about Thermopylae and Miltiades straight...

Strong visualizers (strong visual imagery) may also find that learning or review details in this way simplifies their retrieval of information when their summarizing chapters or writing essays.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Our Autumn Leaf Lab

This year we seemed to have just enough good weather conditions to have beautiful fall colors for Washington state (warm days, cool but not freezing nights).

Working our way through the Periodic Table, we came to magnesium, which is to chlorophyll as iron is to hemoglobin.

These are easy experiments, and if you have autumn leaves, it's a perfect time to do them. Pluck a variety of leaves, cut or tear them into cups. Add alcohol (isopropyl, ethanol, or even alcohol-containing hand wash will do in a pinch) and mash them up with a spoon. Cover with foil and let stand for 1 hour. Then cut strips of coffee filters into the solution and watch for colors that migrate up the filters.

We generated hypotheses before starting the experiments. Hypothesis #1: In plants that drop their colored leaves, the change in color is due to a loss of pigment, rather than an increase in pigment (for instance, yellow leaves have lost their green, not gained yellow). Hypothesis #2: Plants with colored leaves that do not drop have an increase in a new pigment rather than pure loss.

I'm not completely sure you can see the results, but it was interesting. For the red and purple bushes, we could see an extra band of blue that wasn't present in the green or yellow leaves. Chlorophyll a is blue-green and chlorophyll b is yellow-green. It seemed as if the red and purple leaves had chlorophyll a.

We also made other observations as through the course of the experiment. We found the yellow leaves were the easiest to dissolve with alcohol (due to early breakdown of their cell walls?) and thought about the various designs of the leaves. The big maples seemed particularly well designed to catch sunlight (large surface area), but perhaps the addition of blue chlorophyll conferred some energy advantage on the smaller red leaved bushes? Also the bushes had more leaves and were much smaller than the big maples.

When we looked back at our hypotheses, it looked like the behavior of the green and yellow leaves supported Hypothesis #1. Although it doesn't show clearly in the picture, we extracted much more chlorophyll from the green leaves than the yellow. Hypothesis #2 was less clear because we used two red / purple-leaved bushes, one that dropped its leaves, and one that didn't. Both seemed to have both yellow-green and blue-green chlorophyll, and we couldn't determine quantity. Not surprising, more sampling would be necessary to determine something like this!

Early Science and the Study of Chlorophyll and Photosynthesis
Science of Fall Color pdf

Friday, October 12, 2007

Rough Science

My son has a 2 week break from his Great Books & Latin courses so we've been catching up on science labs. I'm beginning to think that like the need to teach practical theology within the context of our post-modern world, there is also a need to teach science recognizing that we live in a post-modern world.

One common mistake of today's post-modern man or woman is realizing we often know less than we really think we know. For the post-modern science student, the ignorance may be even greater because they lack enough world experience to see how much occurs without a carefully designed lesson plan. When we memorize a list or table of facts, do we really know it? So what is it that we do know, and what is it that we don't?

One nice discovery on my search for links to complement our Fizz, Bubble, and Flash experiments, was the Rough Science science reality show. If you are a Netflix subscriber, you can stream these episodes any time for free. A team of scientists (chemist, physicist, biologist) is dropped in a deserted area with few materials and a challenge to design, make, or find something in the surrounding terrain. How many of us can do this? Maybe we need to think more about our science and get out of the printed page. The first episode we watched challenged scientists to find gold in a gold mining area, purify it and quantitate it using only materials they could find in deserted saw mill.

The experiments we tinkered with this week included Electrolysis of Water using a 9 volt battery, water, and copper wires. The Rough Science team washing using electroysis to make silver iodide so that they could make a camera.

To top off our electrolysis learning we also watched this homemade Exploding Hydrogen video. It was pretty good! Even the outtakes!
Some Rough Science Challenges
Make Your Own Compass, Sea Water Batteries, Silver Iodide via Electrolysis for Camera

Monday, October 1, 2007

The History of Chemistry

The earliest history of chemistry is murky because many of the activities of early chemists or alchemists was shrouded in mysticism (fire, black magic) or greed (making gold). Many of the earliest dabblers in chemistry or alchemy acted in secret or were quietly funded by wealthy individuals hoping to grow wealthier.

In the 1500's, Theophrastus Paracelsus was a colorful personality who became interested in rescuing chemistry from the alchemists who were motivated by "pagan natural philosophy", instead finding a Christian alternative use for the chemical sciences. Paracelsus was interested in how chemistry could be used to help free people from disease.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia: "He sought the cause of pathological changes, not in the cardinal humours, blood, phlegm, yellow and black gall (humoral pathology), but in the entities, which he divided into ens astrorum (cosmic influences differing with climate and country), ens veneni (toxic matter originating in the food), the cause of contagious diseases, ens naturale et spirituale (defective physical or mental constitution), and ens deale (an affliction sent by Providence)..."

Modern chemistry took another great leap when Robert Boyle decided to use his scientific expertise "to seek for God's purposes in nature. His Skeptical Chemist was an important work, moving chemistry from the world of alchemy into the realm of science. Boyle believed the orderliness of the universe reflected God's purposeful design. God established the universe according to certain natural laws, so that it worked like a mechanical clock, once the Designer had set it in motion. The scientist's duty was to discover what laws God had established. Boyle himself formulated what became known as "Boyle's Law:" the pressure of a gas is inversely proportional to the
volume it occupies."

For a pretty interactive Periodic Table clickhere.

We're working our way through the experiments in Fizz, Bubble, and Flash. It has plenty of cartoons, silly jokes and poems, and easy-to-perform home experiments.

Wikipedia: History of Chemistry
Chemistry Lab Demo Movies at Purdue (QT)
More Home Chemistry Ideas:
Popular Science

Monday, September 24, 2007

In Search of Historical Troy

The real story of the discovery of what some archaeologists believe may be Homer's Troy is like an adventure story itself.

As a boy, Heinrich Schliemann became fascinated by his father's reading of the Iliad, so as soon as he was old enough, he set out to discover the lost city of Troy. Despite no formal archaeological training himself (he had only been on one dig before), he managed to excavate the site Hissarlik that some believe today could be the ancient city of Troy. To some archaeologists, he was huckster who was more interested in proving he had found Troy than assessing whether he had; nevertheless, he made some of the greatest finds from Antiquity, and today Hissarlik is the site of Troy VI, the best known candidate site for Troy. Of note, Schliemann would also find remarkable relics at Mycenae including the "Agamemnon's mask" at right. To Schliemann's credit, his documentation and logging of archaeological finds improved over the twenty years of his life's work.

Some archeologists believe Troy VI is too well fortified to be the Troy of Homer's Iliad, but dating suggests that Troy VI was at least be a city contemporary to the time of Homer's writing.

If you are tempted to see whether any recent Hollywood treatment of the Trojan War is worthwhile, check out Troy's Fallen! for the Archeology Magazine's mournful description of what that reviewer calls a "chronological train wreck." I think we're better off reading a Classic Comic of The Iliad.

This past week we got a board game called Hector and Achilles and it's really fun. We kept getting confused about the names, cities, and events in the Iliad, so this could both help with the people and places, and kick our regular card games up a notch. It's amazing how quickly I got used to cringing when I saw Achilles appear for the Achaens!

In Search of the Trojan War: Greek Art and Archeology
Virtual Reconstructions of Troy
Evidence from Homer about the Site of Troy
Heinrich Schliemann: The "Father" of Modern Archeology
Mask of Agamemnon
Reconstruction of Troy

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ancient Greece: The Iliad

We've haven't started Koine Greek, but as our son was asked to memorize the opening stanza of the Iliad, we've been talking about translations. If you know Greek, the opening stanza is this:

But look at the dramatic differences in translation.

From Lattimore, assigned by his teacher:

Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus' son Achilleus
and its devastation, which put pains thousand-fold upon the
hurled in their multitudes to the house of Hades strong souls
of heroes, but gave their bodies to be the delicate feasting
of dogs, of all birds, and the will of Zeus was accomplished...

And from Fagles:

Rage -- Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles,
murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,
hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,
great fighters' souls, but made their bodies carrion,
feasts for the dogs and birds,
and the will of Zeus was moving toward its end.

Good translators need to have a deep understanding of both languages, the importance of word order, the associations of particular words in the language and culture, a good understanding of the rhythm and music of different languages (especially for literary and poetical works), as well as over-arching themes.

For interesting practice, check out the first link below which addresses the two translations side-by-side, including worksheet-type practice at word choice and ideas for writing assignments.

The second link shows how high tech is allowing more people to access antiquity - The oldest most complete Iliad (645 page parchment manuscript), only photographed in 1901 because of its delicate condition, is now being scanned in at high resolution in digital form.

The Iliad in Translation - What Difference Does It Make?
Robot Arm Scans Ancient Iliad Manuscript
The Iliad at Wikipedia

Monday, September 10, 2007

Classical Donald Duck in Mathemagic Land

Ok, this is knowledge-light, but it was recommended by our kids to post on this Classical School Blog. Watch the video Donald Duck in Mathemagic Land. I still vividly remember watching this in my math class with Mr. Timmons in the 7th grade.

There are a few classic math jokes (e.g. square roots) and math tidbits from antiquity (like the secret Pythagorean society).

C.S. Lewis and Fairy Tales

As a family, we're re-reading our way through the Narnia stories, and I am struck by how many wonderful new discoveries I am making - not just details I hadn't noticed before, but deeper realizations and assents, sometimes at profound levels. I think maybe I had stopped reading fairytales all too soon.

Some Christians (and non-Christians, for that matter) are embarrassed by fairy tales or feel they should be put away for more realistic tales by the time a child reaches the age of school. But, I like Lewis' response to the challenge that fantasy is mere escapism - causing children to retreat into a world of wish-fulfillment.

"The other longing, for fairy land, is very different. In a sense a child does not long for fairy land as a boy longs to be the her of the first eleven. Does anyone suppose that he really and prosaically longs for all the dangers and discomforts of a fairy tale?...It would be much truer to say that fairy land arouses a longing for he knows not what. It stirs and troubles him (to his life-long enrichment) with the dim sense of something beyond his reach and, far from dulling or emptying the actual world, gives it a new dimension of depth. He does not despise real woods because he has read of enchanted woods; the reading makes all real woods a little enchanted..."

Lewis also makes this additional worthy point: "And I think it possible that by confining your child to blameless stories of child life in which nothing at all alarming ever happens, you would fail to banish the terrors, and would succeed in banishing all that can ennoble them or make them endurable. For in fairy tales, side by side with the terrible figures, we find the immemorial comforters and protectors, the radiant ones; and the terrible figures are not merely terrible, but sublime. It would be nice if no little boy in bed, hearing, or thinking he hears, a sound, were ever at all frightened. But if he is going to be frightened, I think it better that he should think of giants and dragons than merely of burglars. And I think St. George, or any bright champion in armour , is a better comfort than the idea of the police."

C.S. Lewis: On Stories
Tolkien: On Fairy Stories

Monday, September 3, 2007

Learning in Wartime - Our Homeschooling Year

As our school year begins in the midst of our family's medical crisis, I was encouraged by reading C.S. Lewis' Learning in Wartime from his Weight of Glory essays. Lewis was reflecting on how the seemingly mundane activities of university life could continue when it looked as if all Europe would fall:

" can we--continue to take an interest in these placid occupations when the lives of our friends and the liberties of Europe are in the balance?..."

But the answer is in seeing our true situation in all its perspective: "The war creates no absolutely new situation; it siply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it. Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun. We are mistaken when we compare war with "normal life." Life has never been normal..."

"The work of a Beethoven and the work of a charwoman bcome spiritual on precisely the same condition, that of being offered to God, of being done humbly "as to the Lord."...

As we begin this school year, I realize it's our most ambitious one yet in terms of workload for our 12 year old son. We are encouraging him to be more independent with managing his workload and time management, and he will be taking 4 online courses, two at the high school level.

Two resources that might be helpful for saving money on books and curricula: allows you to swap already read (or outgrown) paperbacks for free with other members. You only pay postage when you mail it to another member, and in return they pay postage when they send it to you. We use Paypal to print mailing labels and just mail the books by putting them in our mailbox (no trips to the post office).

Another resource we've found helpful is Homeschool Buyer's Co-op. Membership is free. They block together to obtain discounts for curriculum. Discovery's United Streaming membership is now $70 cheaper ($129 per year) because 200 people have signed up.

Homeschooling 2007-8

Latin 1 - Schola Tutorials
Intro to Great Books - Schola Tutorials
Logic - Biola Logic
Etymology / Vocabulary - CTD Northwestern
Chemistry - - CyberEd and Apologia Chemistry
Writing - - Progymnasmata through
Math - -, Saxon, Mathematics: A Human Endeavor
Music - : Enjoyment of Music and Norton Online Listening Lab
Art - Teaching Company A History of European Art

Monday, July 9, 2007

Patience and Perseverance Through Trials: Book of James

The sermon we heard before we left for Boston was from James:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." - James 1: 2-6.

The Greek word used for patience is or hupomeno, literally meaning under (hupo) and abide or remain (meno). It is an action word, not passive, and it speaks to fortitude that undergirds you, not a facade of resignation or stoic denial. To me it seems like the "guts" of faith, something that can't come from you alone. It has to come from God.

This passage in James is tough...but it rings true. Believers and unbelievers can reach the point of resignation or surrender, but joy has to come from faith.

Thank you all for your prayers on behalf of us; we are closer than ever, deeper in our faith, and grateful for the blessings of each day. I discovered Great Songs of Faith in a Boston bookstore, and found the daily Bible passages and stories behind the writing of hymns to be an inspiration. We've been reading Psalms and meditating on hymns individually and together as a family. Our daughter is a big Amy Grant fan, so we'll share this link YouTube video of Thy Word.

Reflections on James
Endurance, Perseverance, and Patience
Prayer in Paintings

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Poetry: A Father's Introduction to the Classics

Robert Browning

MY FATHER was a scholar and knew Greek.
When I was five years old, I asked him once
“What do you read about?”
“The siege of Troy.”
“What is a siege, and what is Troy?”
He piled up chairs and tables for a town,
Set me a-top for Priam, called our cat
—Helen, enticed away from home (he said)
By wicked Paris, who couched somewhere close
Under the footstool, being cowardly,
But whom—since she was worth the pains, poor puss—
Towzer and Tray,—our dogs, the Atreidai,—sought
By taking Troy to get possession of
—Always when great Achilles ceased to sulk,
(My pony in the stable)—forth would prance
And put to flight Hector—our page-boy’s self.
This taught me who was who and what was what:
So far I rightly understood the case
At five years old; a huge delight it proved
And still proves—thanks to that insructor sage
My Father, who knew better than turn straight
Learning’s full flare on weak-eyed ignorance,
Or, worse yet, leave weak eyes to grow sand-blind,
Content with darkness and vacuity.

It happened, two or three years afterward
That—I and playmates playing at Troy’ Siege—
My Father came upon our make-believe.
“How would you like to read yourself the tale
Properly told, of which I gave you first
Merely such notion as a boy could bear?
Pope, now, would give you the precise account
Of what, some day, by dint of scholarship
You’ll hear—who knows?—from Homer’ very mouth.
Learn Greek by all means, read the “Blind Old Man,
Sweetest of Singers’—tuphlos which means ‘blind,’
Hedistos which means ‘sweetest.’ Time enough!
Try, anyhow, to master him some day;
Until when, take what serves for substitute,
Read Pope, by all means!”
So I ran through Pope,
Enjoyed the tale—what history so true?
Also attacked my Primer, duly drudged,
Grew fitter thus for what was promised next—
The very thing itself, the actual words,
When I could turn—say, Buttmann to account.

Time passed, I ripened somewhat: one fine day,
“Quite ready for the Iliad, nothing less?
There’s Heine, where the big books block the shelf:
Don’t skip a word, thumb well the Lexicon!”
I thumbed well and skipped nowise till I learned
Who was who, what was what, from Homer’s tongue,
And there an end of learning.
Had you asked
The all-accomplished scholar, twelve years old,
“Who was it wrote the Iliad?”—what a laugh
“Why, Homer, all the world knows: of his life
Doubtless some facts exist: it’s everywhere:
We have not settled, though, his place of birth:
He begged, for certain, and was blind beside:
Seven cities claimed him—Scio, with best right,
Thinks Byron. What he wrote? Those Hymns we have.
Then there’s the ‘Battle of the Frogs and Mice,
’That’s all—unless they dig ‘Margites’ up
(I’d like that) nothing more remains to know.”

Thus did youth spend a comfortable time;
Until—“What’s this the Germans say in fact
That Wolf found out first? It’s unpleasant work
Their chop and change, unsettling one’s belief:
All the same, where we live, we learn, that’s sure.”
So, I bent brow o’er Prolegomena.
And after Wolf, a dozen of his like
Proved there was never any Troy at all,
Neither Besiegers nor Besieged, nay, worse,—
No actual Homer, no authentic text,
No warrant for the fiction I, as fact,
Had treasured in my heart and soul so long—
Ay, mark you! and as fact held still, still hold,
Spite of new knowledge, in my heart of hearts
And soul of souls, fact’s essence freed and fixed
From accidental fancy’s guardian sheath.
Assuredly thenceforward—thank my stars!—
However it got there, deprive who could—
Wring from the shrine my precious tenantry,
Helen, Ulysses, Hector and his Spouse,
Achilles and his Friend?—though Wolf—ah, Wolf!
Why must he needs come doubting, spoil a dream?

But then, “No dream’s worth waking”—Browning says:
And here’s the reason why I tell thus much.
I, now mature man, you anticipate,
May blame my Father justifiably
For letting me dream out my nonage thus,
And only by such slow and sure degrees
Permitting me to sift the grain from chaff,
Get truth and falsehood known and named as such.
Why did he ever let me dream at all,
Not bid me taste the story in its strength?
Suppose my childhood was scarce qualified
To rightly understand mythology,
Silence at least was in his power to keep:
I might have—somehow—correspondingly—
Well, who knows by what method, gained my gains,
Been taught, by forthrights not meanderings,
My aim should be to loathe, like Peleus’ son,
A lie as Hell’s Gate, love my wedded wife,
Like Hector, and so on with all the rest.
Could not I have excogitated this
Without believing such man really were?
That is—he might have put into my hand
The “Ethics”?
In translation, if you please,
Exact, no pretty lying that improves,
To suit the modern taste: no more, no less—
The “Ethics:” ’tis a treatise I find hard
To read aright now that my hair is gray,
And I can manage the original.At five years old—
how ill had fared its leaves!
Now, growing double o’er the Stagirite,
At least I soil no page with bread and milk,
Nor crumple, dogs-ear and deface—boys’ way.

Development - Robert Browning, Book, etext

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Happy Father's Day - Flashes from the Past: A Great Dad

"My father...was the best man I ever knew. He combined strength and courage with gentleness, tenderness, and great unselfishness. He would not tolerate in us children selfishness or cruelty, idleness, cowardice, or untruthfulness."

As a young man, he was small and weak from asthma, and schooled at home. His father set up a little area at home to build up his strength and told him, "You have brains, but you have a sickly body. In order to make your brains bring you what they ought, you must build up your body; it depends upon you." As a child, he read him books (like those about knights and chivalry) that lauded physical bravery and heroism.

This Flash from the Past's time did come. He became Teddy Roosevelt, one of the most physically active U.S. Presidents, Rough Rider and cowboy, wielder of the Big Stick, the builder of the Panama Canal, avid conservationist, and buster of big corporate trusts.

On Father's Day Weekend, we thank and laud all the wonderful fathers out there who inspire us and encourage us to greater things. Theodore Roosevelt Sr. was apparently always a big, strong, healthy fellow who had special care and concern for the deprived and weak. Though a very successful businessman, he taught every 7 days in a Mission school, and worked tirelessly for many good purposes, like founding the New York Children's Aide Society and New York Orthopedic Hospital.

Teddy Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ancient, Modern, and Fantasy Maps: Ptolemy, GPS, and Tolkien

Lots of people love old maps. A 500 BC map, the Soleto Map was recently unearthed in southern Italy.

We have a special fondness for Ptolemy and his geography. His original maps don't exist, but he was rediscovered in the 1300's, and maps were made based on his descriptions in text. The beautiful map below is based on Ptolemy's coordinate system (before Descartes!). Ptolemy's maps would influence navigation for 1500 years, but his inaccuracies about the Earth's circumference (Eratosthenes was closer) were thought to be responsible for Columbus' underestimate of the time it would take to sail around the world.

Maps are often an essential feature of many tales of fantasy and mythology. J.R.R. Tolkien used map throughout his books to make his worlds more vivid and his son Christopher illustrated many maps like the one below.

If you have spatially-gifted kids, they may love to explore the History of Cartography, as well as the high tech combination Google Earth / NASA plus sites like Flash Earth. GPS / GIS technology has excited today's students about Modern Cartography and some may consider cartography as a career.

If you have GPS, a fun summer activity is Geocaching with the kids. Here's another site with ideas for geocaching with your family and the official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site.

Mathematics and Maps pdf
Ptolemy and his Maps at Wikipedia
Ptolemy's Works at the Vatican
Tolkien and Maps Cliff Notes Lord of the Rings

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

End of the Year Testing & Medieval Faire

The school year has finally come to a close. Our daughter's school took the SAT-9 as their end-of-the-year test, and in our homeschool, we used Piedmont Education Services to administer the ITBS. We've been administering either the ITBS or CAT at the end of every school year, and it's been helpful to give us reassurance that we're covering the necessary skills of traditional school as well as giving feedback about where more work may need to be done. Standardized tests are a reality for many hoops in the educational process, and most kids would benefit by a little exposure to them before they are really "high stakes." Another source for homeschool testing is Family Learning Organization. Here's info about Washington state homeschool test providers at the WHO site.

Our daughter had a wonderful medieval faire the next to last day of school. The children's costumes were wonderful (including some royalty, clergy, and Joan of Arc), and the children built catapults, a medieval village, and did calligraphy.

The castle (see below) was great fun to build. We printed the castle templates on glossy brochure paper, used spray adhesive / glue stick to attach it to posterboard, and then folded and taped to put it all together. We printed out the paper medieval soldiers and assorted characters, as well as relevant weapons like the trebuchet, cauldron, battering ram, and ballista. It was great fun!

Classical School Blog: Ancient Warfare: Medieval Siege Weapons

Monday, June 11, 2007

Classical Education and Satire

"Difficile est saturam non scribere." - Juvenal (It is difficult not to write satire.)

The word satire is thought to originate from the Latin word satura for medley, and possibly influenced by Greek satyr plays. The first recorded Roman satirist was the poet Horace, although he also acknowledges Lucilius before him.

In many classical curricula, explicit mention of satire is absent; it may be because satirical literature is often felt to be a "lower" form of expression, and many works may stray over the line of propriety in their invective or ridicule.

Satire has had an important role to play in every place and time, however, and it often reflects the voice of the outside critique, and so it often reflects an important source of dissent and current for reform or change. It is not by any accident that some of the greatest satirists of the literary world had reasons why they may have felt themselves outcasts of one sort or another (Aesop was a slave, Horace's father was a slave, Pope was a Catholic in a Protestant England with a deformed spine, Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels) was an Anglo-Irishman, and Byron and Orwell, Anglo-Scots), and satire with its mockery of power, has always had special appeal among young adults and the mature who might feel they are at the margins.

The boundaries between pure comedy, satire, and invective, are often blurred, but whether the Pilgrims in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales or the Chancery court lawyers in Dicken's Bleak House, well-directed satire can powerfully convict hypocrisy and deceit, swaying the tide of public opinion, and allowing individuals to see others as well as themselves in a completely different lights.

There is much that is good to be found in curricula such as Charlotte Mason's, but young satirists-at-heart will view some of her proponent's "twaddle-free" lists skeptically. And well they should. There is a lot of disagreement what constitutes Great Books, and much variability among the works of Great Authors, too. Satire has been with us throughout the Western Canon. It's been used for many purposes, to get a chuckle out of the reader, to purge the writer, to convict the guilty, and to rescue the downtrodden.

We haven't even really talked about visual satire like political cartoons or musical satire like Gilbert and Sullivan...we'll add them in some follow-up posts.

Horace Picture

Friday, June 8, 2007

History of Music: Rounds and Canons

The oldest known found is Sumer is icumen in (Summer has come in) from the mid-13th century. The manuscript is written in Middle English and Latin (red ink), too, and it was written for several voices. One singer would begin, then the second singer would start when the first singer had reached the red cross (see below).

Here in the United States, children learn rounds through Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Frere Jacque, or Dona Nobis Pachem (Give Us Peace). Rounds are a great way to introduce singing in harmony to children. Here's a nice collection of rounds lyrics from Swarthmore. A shorter listing of rounds with short sound clips can be found here.

Rounds and canons both have repeating sequences of melody, but in canons, the repetitions can be complex, with backwards or upside down imitations, variations in the durations of sounds, and changes in pitch. In Pachelbel's Canon in D, repeated sequences are shown in different colors to make the pattern easier to see.

To listen to a brief excerpt, click here: Johann PachelbelCanon

Pachelbel's Canon has a remarkable history in recent history. It burst on the musical scene in the 1970's in relative obscurity, and then was played in countless versions and arrangements, and still enjoys a great deal of popularity among all age groups and musical traditions. One of the top ten watched videos at was of an apparently young baseball cap-wearing electrical guitarist playing a pretty incredible Canon in D variation here. It has been been viewed over 21 million times.

Round (music) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Canons and Rounds

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Progymnasmata Examples

Cindy Marsch at has posted updates to her samples of Progymnasmata. Free downloads at the link below include a Progymnasmata Overview, and chapters on Narrative and Fable. Examples are wonderful, and her approach straightforward:

1. Warm-Up 5 W's and an H (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How)
2. "Aerobic" (Expand)
3. "Anaerobic" (Change)
4. "Cool-Down" (Imitate the style of one great sentence)

If you have a reluctant writer, you might considering trying an online Progym tutorial over the summer when there won't be pressure from other assignments. If you're homeschooling, it can be a lot less stressful having someone else critique your student's papers.

It's easy to see Marsch's simple template can help overwhelmed students. It should also help focus listening and improve note-taking efficiency.

When your student listens to a Teaching Company lecture, or reads a chapter in a book, see if he or she can remember to cover the main points in the 5W/H framework. If your student is already practicing taking notes, you can critique their note-taking to see whether they are taking down only the most relevant information, or getting mired in the "junk words" not essential to meaning. One helpful template for taking notes is the Cornell method.

Expanding text may be difficult for students, and some may need to use a thesaurus (electronic or otherwise). In some cases, it may be important to highlight key words that are the best candidate for expansion (e.g. what does this really mean, what is an example).

The change step is particularly valuable for giving students more command of the structure of sentences (syntax, grammar). This may sound dull, but it may make all the difference between a charismatic writer and someone who everyone wants to tune out. Marsch's examples of expansion: slant, direct and indirect declarative, interrogative, comparative.

Finally, style imitation step can be great fun as well as training students on the skills that make up the art of great writers. One humorous example of this is Henry Beard's delightfulPoetry for Cats.

Example from "Samuel Taylor Coleridge's cat":

In Xanadu did Kubla Kat
A splendid sofa-bed decree
With silken cushions soft and fat
A perfect feline habitat
Set on a gilt settee.

With imitation, a writer tries to capture emotional feeling, the word choice and structure of phrases, the imagery, and the music of what is said.

I've also added more links to more Progym sites and examples on the Internet.

Marsch's Progymnasmata Examples Downloads page
Rick Librarian Poetry for Cats Excerpts
Bert Dill's Progymnasmata Samples
Short Progym Example from Jonathan Swift
Sonnet Analysis - Not Exactly Progym, but Finding Rhetorical Devices in Sonnets
Short Progymnasmata Examples with Rhetorical Device Prompts
More Progym Examples, U Texas
One Progymnasmata Example: Proverb

Monday, June 4, 2007

Ancient Greece and a Classical Christian Education

Classical Christian schools are undergoing a revival in the United States, jumpstarted from Douglas Wilson's Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning in 1991 and Susan Wise Bauer's The Well-Trained Mind in 1999. Of course, more continuous history of classical Christian education can be traced from classical Catholic educators.

The question of how to incorporate ancient Greek history, mythology, and philosophy often arises between different groups as well as different parents and educators. Here are some reflections from a book I'm reading by Gilbert Highet: "We read them not because they are "historic," but because they teach us, they make us think. Nowhere else in the entire literature of the world, in any language or any single period is there such a rich, varied, and deeply thoughtful collection of books as those produced by the Greeks and their successors the Romans...A wise man of our own time was once asked what was the single greatest contribution of Greece to the world's welfare. He replied "The greatest invention of the Greeks was (or "on the one hand") and ("on the other hand"). Without these two balances, we cannot think. The Greeks therefore taught one another, by thinking and talking, and writing."

Highet adds, "One of the chief pleasures of studying aesthetic and intellectual history is to see how their ideas...reappear in distant times...If we open Dante's Comedy...we recognize the moral system of the Greek philsopher Aristotle. If we see Shakespeare's Macbeth, we reflect that form of the tragedy and its basic sense were both created by the poets of Greece. The balance of powers on which the American constitution rests was first formulated by a Greek historical thinker, and Greek teachers first stated that lofty ideal, the brotherhood of man..."

And we all live among ancient Greek thinkers, today. One does not have to look far to find Stoics, Sophists, Skeptics, Aristotelians, Platonists, and Epicureans. Recently, John Mark Reynolds posted a rebuttal to a Heart of Wisdom article that suggested "adoption of classical methods but rejection of classical literature." In the spirit of and , I invite you to read and reason through both.

Certainly there are different ages when it would more appropriate to introduce the people and philosophical debates of ancient Greece, but Highet is right. If we teach ancient Greece as only a collection of historical facts, we have missed important lessons for our next generation.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Classical Education of Queen Elizabeth I

As a child, Queen Elizabeth I was clever and verbally precocious. She received a language-rich classical education (Latin, Greek, French Italian), and also studied the Bible, ancient philosophers and history, and poets and orators. Roger Ascham said his aims of teaching were three: 1. to instill moral principles, 2. to provide an intellectual guard against adversity, and 3. to set an example for others to follow.

Elizabeth's palace-schooling routine was split into a morning and an afternoon session:

"The mornings were usually devoted to readings of the Greek New Testament, after which Ascham chose readings from the orations of Isocrates , the tragedies of Sophocles, and the works of Demosthenes to complete the lessons of the day.

Non‐scriptural readings were carefully selected by Ascham to instruct Elizabeth in areas that “would be of value to her to meet every contingency of life” (I lxiii). Furthermore, as Ascham notes, the texts chosen were of those “best adapted to supply her tongue with the purest diction, her mind with the most excellent precepts, and her exalted station with a defense against the utmost power of fortune”. Other works that Elizabeth is known to have studied include those texts by St. Cyprian and the Commonplaces of Melanchthon, Luther’s disciple. These would have influence the development of her religious concepts.

Elizabeth’s afternoons were devoted almost entirely to the reading and studying the entire repertoire of Cicero and a significant part of Livy...Additional study time was divided between French and Italian, which she spoke as well as she spoke English."

Elizabeth didn't just sit with her books, though. She was also an avid horseback rider, danced, hunted. Elizabeth's training held her in good stead for the challenges she faced with the Protestant-Catholic tensions and attack by the Spanish Armada. She inspired her country with the following words in 1588:

"My loving people, we have been persuaded by some, that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear; I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects. And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honor and my blood, even the dust. I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of England, too; and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realms: to which, rather than any dishonor should grow by me, I myself will take up arms; I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already, by your forwardness, that you have deserved rewards and crowns; and we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the mean my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble and worthy subject; not doubting by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and by your valor in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over the enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people."

Ascham's The Scholemaster.
The Early Education of Queen Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I portrait at PBS
Queen Elizabeth I's Speech Against the Spanish Armada

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Mid-Week Nonsense Poetry: The Diplomatic Platypus

I found this delightful poem in Gilbert Highet's The Art of Satire. Really wonderful!

The Diplomatic Platypus
by Patrick Barrington

I had a duck-billed platypus when I was up at Trinity,
With whom I soon discovered a remarkable affinity.
He used to live in lodgings with myself and Arthur Purvis,
And we all went up together for the Diplomatic Service.
I had a certain confidence, I own, in his ability,
He mastered all the subjects with remarkable facility;
And Purvis, though more dubious, agreed that he was clever,
But no one else imagined he had any chance whatever.

I failed to pass the interview, the board with wry grimaces
Took exception to my boots and then objected to my braces,
And Purvis too was failed by an intolerant examiner
Who said he had his doubts as to his sock-suspender's stamina.
Our summary rejection, though we took it with urbanity
Was naturally wounding in some measure to our vanity;
The bitterness of failure was considerably mollified,
However, by the ease with which our platypus had qualified.

The wisdom of the choice, it soon appeared, was undeniable;
There never was a diplomat more thoroughly reliable.
He never made rash statements his enemies might hold him to,
He never stated anything, for no one ever told him to,
And soon he was appointed, so correct was his behaviour,
Our Minister (without Portfolio) to Trans-Moravia.

My friend was loved and honoured from the Andes to Esthonia,
He soon achieved a pact between Peru and Patagonia,
He never vexed the Russians nor offended the Rumanians,
He pacified the Letts and yet appeased the Lithuanians,
Won approval from his masters down in Downing Street so wholly, O,
He was soon to be rewarded with the grant of a Portfolio.
When on the Anniversary of Greek Emancipation,
Alas! He laid an egg in the Bulgarian Legation.

This untoward occurrence caused unheard-of repercussions,
Giving rise to epidemics of sword-clanking in the Prussians.
The Poles began to threaten, and the Finns began to flap at him,
Directing all the blame for this unfortunate mishap at him;
While the Swedes withdrew entirely from the Anglo-Saxon dailies
The right of photographing the Aurora Borealis,
And, all efforts at rapprochement in the meantime proving barren,
The Japanese in self-defence annexed the Isle of Arran.

My platypus, once thought to be more cautious and more tentative
Than any other living diplomatic representative,
Was now a sort of warning to all diplomatic students
Of the risks attached to negligence, the perils of imprudence,
And, branded in the Honours List as 'Platypus, Dame Vera',
Retired, a lonely figure, to lay eggs in Bordighera.

The Diplomatic Platypus by Patrick Barrington

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Art History : Caravaggio and Three St. Matthews

Michelangelo Mrisi da Caravaggio was a rebellious and impetuous personality who burst onto the art scene in the late middle ages, ushering in the Baroque style of art. Compared to the flat, emotionally placid, and stationary look of Saint Matthew in the Lindesfarne Gospels (below), baroque painting was life-like, moving, and often conveying powerful emotional feeling.

Above is Caravaggio's The Inspiration of St. Matthew. The figures are boldly appear out of the darkness and the angel swirls above Matthew to guide his thoughts. Interestingly, this painting was not Caravaggio's first on this subject - his first, below, was rejected by the Chapel San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome - perhaps because it portrayed St. Matthew in too humble an image. In the painting below (unfortunately destroyed in World War II, only this black and white photograph remains), Matthew is dressed as a poor man (rather than aristocratic philosopher)and the angel is seen to guide even his hand as he reads the lines of a book.

The three St. Matthews demonstrate the different interpretative choices that an artist must make when translating an event or a story into visual form.

By the way, it's thought that the word Baroque originated from the Portuguese word barroco, meaning an unpredictable and elaborately shaped pearl.
At left is the famous Canning Sea Dragon made in the late medieval period from baroque pearls.

For more about Caravaggio or helpful art history sites, check out the links below. Interestingly, there have been some recent startling Caravaggio finds in Church backrooms and lofts. Paintings of Doubting Thomas and Emmaus were found and verified just last year (for more, click here), and The Taking of Christ was found in a Jesuit House dining room in 1993 after it had disappeared some 200 years earlier.

Boston College: Biography of Caravaggio
Art and the Bible
Art History Today Blog

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, we remember the brave men and women who gave their all. Our thanks, too, to all the brave servicemen and women currently serving overseas.

"The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it."
- Thucydides

Remember Our Heroes on Memorial Day

Thursday, May 24, 2007

More Medieval Poetry Fun & Games

William the Conqueror (by Chesterman)

William the Conqueror, 1066,
Said to his captains, 'I mean to affix
England to Normandy. Go out and borrow
Some bows and some arrows, we're starting tomorrow.'
So William went conquering hither and thither
'Til Angles and Saxons were all of a dither
He conquered so quickly you couldn't keep count
Of the counties he conquered, I think they amount
To ten, or a doxen, or even a score,
And I haven't a doubt he'd have conquered some more,
But death put an end to the tactics, thank Heaven,
Of William the Conqueror, 1087.

Henry the VIII (by Farjeon)

Bluff King Hal was full of beans
He married half a dozen queens
For three called Kate they cried the banns
And one called Jane, and a couple of Annes.

The first he asked to share his reign
Was Kate of Aragon, straight from Spain
But when his love for her was spent
He got a divorce, and out she went.

Anne Boleyn was his second wife.
He swore to cherish her all his life,
But seeing a third, he wished instead
He chopped off poor Anne Boleyn?s head.

He married the next afternoon
Jane Seymour, which was rather soon,
But after one year as his bride
She crept into her bed and died.

Anne of Cleves was number four.
Her portrait thrilled him to the core,
But when he met her face to face
Another royal divorce took place.

Catherine Howard, number five,
Billed and cooed to keep alive.
But one day Henry felt depressed,
The executioner did the rest.

Sixth and last was Catherine Parr
Sixth and last and luckiest far
For this time it was Henry who
Hopped the twig, and a good job too.

For education-lite breaks, check out these Games and Animations:

Tudor Britain
Elizabethan Spying Game
Re-enact the Battle of Hastings
Odd Man Out Game (What Doesn't Belong?)
Dress King Henry
Build a Medieval Arch Animation

Poetry Library Quotes

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Poetry: An Overworked Elocutionist

by Carolyn Wells (1869-1942)

There was once a little boy whose name was Robert Reese;
And every Friday afternoon he had to speak a piece.
So many poems thus he learned, that soon he had a store
Of recitations in his head… and still kept learning more.
And now this is what happened: He was called upon one week
And totally forgot the piece he was about to speak.
He brain he cudgeled. Not a word remained within his head!
And so he spoke at random, and this is what he said:
“My beautiful, my beautiful, who standest proudly by,
It was the schooner Hesperus–the breaking waves dashed high!
Why is this Forum crowded? What means this stir in Rome?
Under a spreading chestnut tree, there is no place like home!
When freedom from her mountain height cried, “Twinkle, little star,”
Shoot if you must this old gray head, King Henry of Navarre!
Roll on, thou deep and dark blue castled crag of Drachenfels,
My name is Norval, on the Grampain Hills, ring out, wild bells!
If you’re waking, call me early, to be or not to be,
The curfew must not ring tonight! Oh, woodman, spare that tree!
Charge, Chester, charge! Oh, Stanley, on! and let who will be clever!
The boy stood on the burning deck, but I go on forever!”
His elocution was superb, his voice and gestures fine;
His schoolmates all applauded as he finished the last line.
“I see it doesn’t matter,” Robert thought, “what words I say,
So long as I declaim with oratorical display.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ancient Egypt: Puzzles, Pyramids, and Math Papyri

A French architect thinks he's solved the mystery of how the Great Pyramid of Giza was built. At an elaborate 3D visualization site (Pyramid of Khufu), Jean-Pierre Houdin shows how he thinks the pyramid was built with a combination of an external ramp and a spiraling internal ramp.

"The crucial piece of evidence in support of an internal network of spiral tunnels comes from a microgravity test carried out in 1986, he said. French scientists found a peculiar anomaly - a less-dense structure in the form of a spiral within the pyramid.
"They had it in the drawer for 15 years because it could not be explained. But when we put my drawings over it, there it was," M. Houdin said. "It is strong evidence, but not proof, that the tunnels still exist inside the pyramid and that they were not filled in," he said."

The Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza is the only remaining Seven Wonders of the World as listed by the Greek historian Herodotus. Not all of its mysteries have been solved, though. At Who Built the Pyramids and Why?, read more about the mathematical wonders in the detailed design of this pyramid. Excerpt:

"It consists of a line drawn from North to South which is a mere three minutes and six seconds deviant from the celestial meridian which means that the Pyramid was built to face true North. The measurements are staggering. Its base length is 230m 36 cm 4mm. And the circumference is 921m 45cm 6mm. In other words, if we consider a circle with a radius of the Pyramid's height, they will be identical. This speaks to the geniusness of the ancient Afrikans in the B.C. era.

If we multiply the length of the side of the Pyramid by 2 and divide the result by the height, the answer will be 230. 364 multiplied by 2 and divided by 146.599 equals 3.14 which is the modern day Pi, that is, the ratio of the circle's circumference to its diameter contained in the Pyramid. This degree of accuracy proves that the ancient Afrikans- Kemites were well aware of the spherical nature of the earth. They possessed this advanced knowledge of mathematics. They had already calculated the radius and circumference of the earth."

When the Rhind papyrus' hieroglyphics were finally deciphered in 1842, archeologists were surprised discover many math puzzles written on the 18 by 1 foot long papyrus now known as the Rhind papyrus. One puzzle is very similar to the St. Ives puzzle:

"One of these is: Seven houses contain seven cats. Each cat kills seven mice. Each mouse had eaten seven ears of grain. Each ear of grain would have produced seven hekats of wheat. What is the total of all of these?"

The St Ives puzzle: "As I was going to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives. Every wife had seven sacks, and every sack had seven cats, every cat had seven kittens. Kittens, cats, sacks, and wives, how many were going to St. Ives?"

The answer to the first is 19,607. The answer to second is 2800 going to St. Ives.

The Nile Valley may have been the birthplace of algebra and trigonometry, but unlike the mathematical abstract philosophers of ancient Greece, the ancient Egyptians had more practical uses for their math in business and building (of course!).

Does your head hurt from all these calculations? Maybe you should take a break by playing this Mummy Maker Game at BBC History.

Here you can Write Your Name in Egyptian Hieroglyphs.

Reference Links:
Fox News: Houdin and the Great Pyramid
Independent: Khufu Pyramid
Inside the Pyramid
PBS: Travel Into the Pyramid
Rhind Papyrus

Previous Latin Sayings of the Week

"Soli deo gloria." - For the glory of God alone.

Christus resurrexit! Vere resurrexit! - Christ is Risen! He is risen, indeed!

"Lex malla, lex nulla." - St. Thomas Aquinas
(A bad law is no law.)

"Cantantes licet usque (minus via laedit) eamus. " - Let us go singing as far as we go: the road will be less tedious.

"Caelitus mihi vires." - My strength is from heaven.

"Magnificat anima mea Dominum, et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo Salvatore meo" - My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior (Luke 1:45)

In Omnibus Ipse Primatum Tenens “That in all things He (Christ) might have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:16-18)

"Qui bene cantat bis orat." - He who sings well, prays twice - (St Augustine)

"Nos fecisti ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te." -
Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee. (St Augustine)

"Caelitus mihi vires
." - My strength is from heaven.

"Ubi caritas et amor Deus ibi est." - Where there is charity and love, God is there.

"Nisi credideritis, non intelligetis ."

Unless you will have believed, you will not understand. - St Augustine

"Deo vindice" - With God as Protector

"Credite amori vera dicenti." - Believe love speaking the truth. (St. Jerome)

De vitiis nostris scalam nobis facimus, si vitia ipsa calcamus." - If we tread our vices under feet, we make them a ladder to rise to higher things. (St. Augustine)

Dei gratia - By the grace of God

Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum. - The Word of the Lord Endures Forever.

"Est autem fides credere quod nondum vides; cuius fidei merces est videre quod credis." - Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe. (St. Augustine)

"Deo iuvante" - with God's help

"Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus." - That God may be glorified in all things

"Pax vobiscum." Peace be with you.

"Jubilate Deo." Be joyful in the Lord.

"Ille vir, haud magna cum re, sed plenus fidei." He is a man, not of ample means, but full of good faith.

"Facit enim mihi magna qui potens est." - For He that is mighty does to me great things.

"Oremus semper pro invicem." - Let us ever pray for each other.

"Distrahit animum librorum multitudo." - Seneca
A multitude of books distracts the mind.

"Nullam est nunc dictum, quod sit non dictum prius." - Terence
There is nothing said now, that has not been said before.

"Nosce te ipsum." - Plato
Know thyself.

"Non mihi, non tibi, sed nobis" - Not for you, not for me, but for us.

"Primum non nocere." - First, do no harm (Hippocrates)

"Est autem fides credere quod nondum vides; cuius fidei merces est videre quod credis." - Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe. (St. Augustine)

"Deo iuvante" - with God's help

"Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus." - That God may be glorified in all things

"Pax vobiscum." Peace be with you.

"Jubilate Deo." Be joyful in the Lord.

"Ille vir, haud magna cum re, sed plenus fidei." He is a man, not of ample means, but full of good faith.

"Facit enim mihi magna qui potens est." - For He that is mighty does to me great things.

"Oremus semper pro invicem." - Let us ever pray for each other.

"Distrahit animum librorum multitudo." - Seneca
A multitude of books distracts the mind.

"Nullam est nunc dictum, quod sit non dictum prius." - Terence
There is nothing said now, that has not been said before.

"Nosce te ipsum." - Plato
Know thyself.

"Non mihi, non tibi, sed nobis" - Not for you, not for me, but for us.

"Primum non nocere." - First, do no harm (Hippocrates)

"Dei plena sunt omnia." - Cicero (All things are full of God.)