Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memoria Press Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set (A Review)

We've appreciated the opportunity to use and review a number of classical curricula over my time on the TOS Homeschool Review Crew. This time Memoria Press  has generously sent the Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set (grades 7-12) for us to review. Other members received First Form Greek Complete Set for grades 7-12 and another group of crewmates were sent both 200 Questions About American History and The Story of The Thirteen Colonies & The Great Republic for grades 5-8. Be sure to click the link at the end of my review to head their reviews.

While Homer's epics were among the primary works typically studied in Ancient Greece and Rome, they have become somewhat less common in today's society. In fact, I am fairly certain that if you were to question the average adult on the street, they will most likely be familiar with the titles, but not really have any idea what they are about. This was somewhat true for myself, in that I had never read the Illiad, although I had a reasonable recollection of the Odyssey. It turns out that my familiarity is somewhat backwards in that the Odyssey relies upon the foundation of the Illiad in order to be fully understood and appreciated. Because this was pointed out, I decided that my sixteen year old would start with The Illiad, which is indeed an epic tome of 447 pages (The Odyssey on the other hand, is only 358 pages of text… :) )

There are a number of components to this set~ the texts, the student guides, the teacher guides and the comprehensive sets of instructional DVD's for each title.

The texts have a very "soft, smooth" feel to the cover that makes them lovely to hold and read. That may not be a big deal to some, but I appreciate a book with a good hand. Samuel Butler's translations, which are used for the text, are interesting in that he chose to translate both works from their poetic form into prose. This makes them more accessible to today's readers, and at an earlier age than the typical college .

The student and teacher guides are typical of  Memoria Press ~ very straightforward, no fancy bells and whistles, just the facts with blank lines to write them in.

The DVD's are the highlight of this set in my opinion, as they offer the opportunity to have a classical scholar come lecture in the comfort of your own home. Without Sean Brooks' instruction I would find it very difficult myself to pull out the background information (both literary and cultural) that is interesting as well as helpful in understanding these ancient works.

When I first received the set I handed the book and student guide to my son and asked him to get started, and we would check out the DVD's later as we had time. I didn't realize that the best order would be to watch the DVD introduction to the entire book first, then read the text, watch the DVD lecture for that section, and then work through the student guide. Now you know, so don't make the same mistake... you can thank me later. ;) OH, and of course, *you* will want to look the teacher guide over before you begin the whole thing, but I'm sure you already knew that, just figured I'd make sure my suggestions were complete for the entire set. ;)
Screen shots of the samples (not including text) found on the Memoria Press website along with the corresponding page from my son's student guide. Note that thee Teacher Guide includes the (answered)student guide on the right portion of the paper with background information and helps surrounding.  

Sean Brooks is a delight to watch (from my parental/educator perspective) because he so clearly loves his topic and really wants to pull his audience into his great enjoyment of this Ancient Literature and its fusion of myth and history and treatment of the human condition. My son appreciates the way Sean explains things and makes the cultural and historical context of the Greeks more accessible while clarifying some of the characters and events of the story.

While I am appreciating the study of The Illiad, I checked out the DVD Introduction and first lesson for The Odyssey, and am looking forward to sharing the adventure of that epic with my son next. More of the same good information, and I think he will continue to be surprised at all the phrases he will find that continue to be a part of our culture today (like Achilles' Heel). It seems that Homer and Shakespeare may collectively be responsible for the greatest portion of literary allusions used even today.

If you visit the product page listed below you will find links to sample pages from each of the books and guides as well as sample videos, so that you can get a feel for the program yourself. If you are looking for quality Classical Education with a Christian Perspective, I suspect that you will be very pleased with what Memoria Press has to offer. 

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
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