My oldest son, Nathan, has been asking to study Homer’s epics. I’m familiar with them both, but not enough to teach them and do them justice. Thankfully, Memoria Press solved my dilemma by generously sending me their Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set to review. Included are Memoria Press’s paperback books of both epics translated by Samuel Butler, Student Guides, Teacher Guides, and Instructional DVDs.
The Memoria Press editions of The Iliad and The Odyssey are high quality paperbacks. The font is easy to read and the pages are nice and thick. Black and white illustrations are sprinkled throughout both books. The Iliad is 447 pages and The Odyssey is 358 pages. Both books begin with a preface written by the translator and a handy chart of characters.
The Student Guides are arranged by book and include key places and characters, comprehension questions, quotations, and discussion questions. These are consumable workbooks and both have appendices that show genealogies, characters, weaponry, and more. The Teacher Guides include reduced versions of the student pages with answers included, helpful background information, discussion help, which questions to have students mark for tests, and teacher notes. Also included are tests and answer keys.
I’m going to be honest here. I’ve looked at this product before and while I might have purchased the student guide and teacher guide, I probably wouldn’t have bought the DVDs because they’re on the pricey side. And that would have been a mistake because the DVDs are what make this program astounding! The lessons are taught by Sean Brooks, a teacher of classical studies and Latin at Highlands Latin School in Louisville, Kentucky. Each video lesson corresponds to each book of the epic and run approximately 30 minutes per lesson. The Iliad lessons are on 5 DVDs and The Odyssey lessons are on 6 DVDs. Mr. Brooks does a fantastic job of putting the story into context and giving the student additional information to help him understand the great works of literature. I’m so impressed with these instructional lessons that I plan to go through them myself. They are informative of course, but they are also really interesting.
The way the program is set up, the first thing the student should do is watch the introductory lesson to get an idea of what’s in store. Then read Book 1 and watch the corresponding video for Book 1. Watching the lesson first will make filling in the student guide a little easier since it summarizes what happened. After completing the student guide pages for that book he should go over the questions with the parent/teacher and discuss.
An understanding of Greek gods and goddesses is helpful so I recommend reading or studying mythology before tackling these epics. Memoria Press has this built into their curriculum and has The Iliad and The Odyssey placed in 8th grade with a suggested grade range of 7th to 12th.
We are using this at home and only with my oldest son, but this would make a great co-op class or group study. There is just so much to discuss here and having other people talking it over would make for an amazingly rich experience.