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The Romans: Old Western Culture

The Romans: Old Western Culture
This class is currently archived, but if you're interested in it being taught again, you can express your interest here!
08/21/2023 - 05/10/2024
Full Year
3.0 credits in Humanities
Grades 9-12

Taught by:

About the course

Old Western Culture is a Christian approach to the Great Books. The Romans is a full-year literature and history curriculum for high school students (and above). Guided by storyteller and veteran teacher Wesley Callihan, travel through Vergil's Aeneid, the masterpiece of epic literature which has shaped story for centuries. Learn how Rome was founded, and how its culture and technology prepared the way the spread of the church. In the second unit, The Historians, watch the rise and fall of the Roman Empire through the eyes of its historians. In the third unit, Early Christianity, come alongside the early church fathers as they struggle with a collapsing empire and terrible persecution. In the fourth unit, Nicene Christianity, experience the struggle against heresy and the fight for proper doctrine through the creeds and councils of the early church and meet St. Augustine, one of the greatest theologians.

Course Objectives:

  1. To become proficient in the conversational approach to learning: close readings, interpretive questions, and Socratic discussions of the texts.
  2. To gain a grasp of the literary figures and the historical framework of the time period.
  3. To develop lateral thinking skills by analyzing and synthesizing themes and motifs.
  4. To cultivate an appetite for learning as a way of life (the life of the mind).
  5. To cultivate a desire to pursue the highest things.
  6. To be able to think Christianly and write persuasively about perennial human questions.

Texts and Required Materials:

Students taking this course will need to purchase the Old Western Culture: The Romans lectures and readers (students may access the PDFs of the readers free of charge). Roman Roads Media provides Kepler students with a 25% discount on all OWC Materials. See the link below for details.

THE AENEID (Roman Roads Reader unavailable for this unit)

  • The Aeneid
  • Ovid’s Metamorphosis Book 1, 8, 10, 11, 15
  • Excerpts of other Roman epics (included in the Student Workbook)

THE HISTORIANS (Roman Roads Reader recommended for this unit)

  • Sections from Livy’s Early History of Rome Book 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Sallust’s Jugurthine War, Section 1-16, 26-29; Conspiracy of Catiline, Section 1-17, 23-31, 36-37, 56-61
  • Sections from Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars, Book 1, 4, 5, 6, 7
  • Sections from Tacitus’ Annals, Book 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 15
  • Plutarch’s Life of Demosthenes, Life of Cicero, Comparison of Demosthenes and Cicero, sections from the Life of Alexander, and the Life of Caesar
  • Sections from Cicero’s Against Verres, Against Antony, On Duties
  • Sections from Suetonius’ Life of Augustus
  • Correspondence of Pliny the Younger and Trajan Letter 97, 98
  • Sections from Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria, Book 1

EARLY CHRISTIANITY (Roman Roads Reader recommended for this unit)

  • The Didache
  • First Letter of Clement
  • Letters of Ignatius
  • Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians
  • Letter of Athenagoras
  • Epistle to Diognetus
  • First Apology of Justin Martyr
  • Irenaeus’ Against Heresies, Book 3, 5
  • Clement of Alexandria’s Exhortation to the Greeks
  • Eusebius’ Church History

NICENE CHRISTIANITY (Roman Roads Reader recommended for this unit)

  • Athanasius’ On the Incarnation
  • Athanasius’ Life of Anthony
  • Basil the Great’s On The Holy Spirit, Chapters 1-7, 27-30
  • Chrysostom’s Baptismal Lecture, 1 and 2
  • Chrysostom’s Paschal Homily
  • Gregory Nazianzus’ Funeral Oration, Section 1-7
  • Augustine’s Confessions, Book 1-9
  • Selections from Augustine’s City of God, Books 1, 5, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22
  • Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy

About the teacher

Ryan Griffiths Ryan Griffiths lives in Taylorville, Illinois and has a Master's degree in English from the University of Illinois. He has taught composition and critical reading to college freshmen, and enjoys English literature, creative writing, and film.