To Be Indiana Jones…

September 11, 2016 at 4:46 am (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

2359468Title: Babylonian Life and History

Author: E. A. Wallis Budge

Genre: History/ Archeology

So, I want to be Indiana Jones when I grow up. Who doesn’t? Although a friend advised me that to be Andi “Tex” Klemm would be far cooler, and I have suggested that I just might have to embroider this onto a fedora.

In the meantime, I study as much history as I can.  I also subscribe to the Archeology magazine.  And the way I go all fan-girl at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, well, it’s part of what makes me awesome… right?

So my “grown-up reading time” during my 5 year old’s ancient history year was Babylonian Life and History by E. Wallis Budge.  It was neat teaching her the bare bones of the Babylonians and Assyrians out of Susan Wise Bauer’s Story of the World, and memorizing tidbits from the Classical Conversations curriculum, while getting a deeper dose for myself. I’ll continue this effort of furthering my education while I begin hers as long as I can. If you don’t have time for that, I understand completely; but if you do, this is a worthy book to select.

E.A. Wallis Budge never ceases to amaze me. Every time I think I have everything he ever wrote I think I find 3 new titles. He’s so prolific and seems to be the end all be all on Ancient History. Found some tidbit of from the ancient world you’d like to investigate? – there’s probably a Budge book for that. His prose is nothing special, and at times even a little boring, but I love reading his work and hope to read it all before I die.


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Ptolemy – Dwight Howard – Same Thing…

May 18, 2015 at 2:01 am (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

I’ve never felt like a bigger idiot than when trying to read Ptolemy’s The Almagest.  First of all, I inevitably always pronounce the P when speaking about it.  And constantly get corrected, but can’t stop doing it.  Secondly, I switch the m and the g of “almagest” in my head so often that in my deepest heart I’m not reading The Almagest, I’m reading The Algamest.  Third, it’s a lot of information that I’ll never remember.  I hate knowing that what I’m reading is not going to sink in… it’s all just a passing whimsy and I’ll be able to tell you nothing of value about it when I’m done with it.

Nevertheless, I’m enjoying reading it.  Mostly because I’m a glutton for punishment, I think.  Also, it’s included in The Great Books, it’s fat (roughly 600 pages), and it’s part of our ancient history – which I’m a huge sucker for.

Reading stuff like this is kind of like watching certain sports for me.  I can follow the games, I know what’s going on, and I thoroughly enjoy them – but I don’t have sports lingo dripping from my lips and I rarely will discuss them with people because I know I’ll just sound like a moron.  I like the ambiance of the game and the thrill of hard work and athleticism paying off.  Just like I love the exertion it takes to read things slightly outside my knowledge base.  They are similar experiences for me.  Dropping me into a martial arts ring is more like breezing through fiction – I know it so well I can function there with my eyes closed.

It sounds completely absurd, even as I type it – but Ptolemy is like watching The Rockets play.  I’m there.  I get it.  I’m enjoying. I love it.  I will devour it – with chips, salsa, and beer.  I will not, however, scream and shout with the other fans or talk about it tomorrow; and if you try to talk to me about it, I’ll clam up. Mention apogees in anything other than reciting a chant from Bedknobs and Broomsticks and you’ll see the same blank expression on my face when people shout “Wet!”  I read that, I heard that… I internally absorbed it somewhere in my brain.  But please, please, don’t quiz me.  That’s recipe for an anxiety attack right there.

There are some things in life we should be allowed to simply enjoy without analyzation.  Therefore, just like I will never be any good at fantasy leagues, I will also never be able to give an intelligent lecture on Ptolemy and his great work.  But I’ll have fun being a half hearted amateur/ closet fan of both.

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Pythagoras, History , Music, and Reality

May 6, 2015 at 4:39 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

51emwyTkxmL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Pythagorean Theorem: the Story of Its Power and Beauty

Author: Alfred S. Posamentier

Genre: Mathematic History

Publisher: Prometheus Books

Length: 320 pages

I’m not sure why I picked it up.  I didn’t even particularly care for math in school.  Geometry was not my strongest suit – but it was fairly easy math that I slithered through with the least possible amount of effort of any of my math courses.  But I was at the library one day and this geometric tree design was staring at me – I’d been collecting everything I could on trees because I am determined to become a certified arborist by the time I turn 40 – and upon impulse I through it in my “shopping” bag.

It might have been because I saw that it was about the Pythagorean theorem, and just a few years ago I attended a MENSA meeting where Andy Tang spoke on the topic.  The lecture was riveting, the discussion entertaining, and the wine pretty great for free stuff.  The event coordinator in me wanted to host his art exhibit at one of the bookstores I work with.  This didn’t happen, but there was such an exhibit led by him in Austin:

The community art exhibition “Pythagoras (and Austinites) Discovering the Musical Intervals” invites you to discover the story of what Pythagoras heard at the blacksmiths’ workshop. Continuing the tradition of passing down this ancient tale, this art show showcases Austin-area artwork through interactive, musical, and visual interpretations. (

Whatever it was that possessed me, I picked up the book.  I read the book.  I enjoyed the book – a lot.  More than I could have thought I would enjoy a math book.

Although, let’s be honest, I enjoyed it for the philosophy and history, not so much for the endless diagrams and presentations on how the theorem works.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I took that math class, I get it, and it’s cool, but I was really into the book for the tidbits about Fibonacci and then later, Bosman.  Bosman, by the way, is the guy that came up with the Pythagorean tree featured on the front cover.

I read this book for the whole chapter on music – that ties into that Andy Tang lecture I loved so much.  I read this book because I was a “Choir Queer” in high school and loved chamber music and found it completely fascinating how much math and music were so intertwined.  And of course, any one who does math and attempts music theory ends up asking the same questions:

“[…] do we simiply measure the distances between pitches or do we seek some measurable property of the pitches themselves that allows us to determine their relationships to other pitches […]”

Pythagoras had an answer.  And he’s an old, dead dude, and I love reading ancient history and things on or by old, dead dudes.  Except, naturally, Pythagoras was a top secret kind of guy and left no writings of his own behind and everything we know about him is second hand at best.)

Which leaves me diving into Philolaus, Plato, and Aristotle, and itching to get into Xenophon and see if anything is mentioned there because Herodotus didn’t spend nearly enough time on him.

I read this book thinking about Alyssa Martin’s Pythagoras cake bust.  She owns The Martin Epicurean – and cake that looks like a face – how cool is that?

I read this book because I will pretty much read anything, but especially because I love science more than my student transcripts could possibly portray – mostly because I avoided science courses like the plague.  I like the philosophies of science and concepts… I don’t care for the formulas and the math, but I’ll learn them ok if there isn’t any testing. Oh God, my test taking anxiety is insane… but reading up on it all, I love that.  After all, it suits my passions:

“Science is the discipline that attempts to describe the reality of the world around us, including the nature of living organisms, by rational means.” – Dr. Herbert A. Hauptman, Nobel Laureate

This one is a keeper.  I checked it out from the library, but I plan to purchase it when it comes time for kiddo to read it.  It’s an educational must-have.

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Literary Journal Monday – Mapping My Mind

March 10, 2014 at 10:14 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I am not ADD, but my mind is often many places at once. It goes and goes… it races… it is unstoppable.

hungerI’ve been reading Hunger by Michael Grant.  It’s one of my niece’s books – the second in a series she introduced me to.  No, that’s not how I want to start this post – is it?

I was craving a little bit of dystopian society literature after reading Herodotus.  My brain spinning in a circular momentum about democracies, oligarchies, and dictatorships.  Darius and then Xerxes tyrading around ancient lands building the Persian Empire.  A thousand utopian and dystopian variations of all societies throughout history – a million possible outcomes for our modern world – twisting about in my mind.  Conveniently, it was at this moment that a trailer for the movie Divergent came on and I thought, “It’s about time I read Veronica Roth.”

Cue discussion of autism I’ve been having on and off with people since reading Not Even Wrong written by Paul Collins. Collins is an amazing author and obscure historian. Still suffering from story hangovers from Divergent and the movie Tonight You’re Mine (all about instantaneous human connections) – I found myself thinking about my niece’s Gone series.

Set in a town in California, all the kids fifteen and under have been left in a supernatural bubble – all adults over puberty have vanished, leaving kids and babies to fend for themselves and create a new government. Not unlike Lord of the Flies, different factions have formed. One is under the leadership of Sam Temple, another under his half brother Caine (the biblical implications of Caine and Abel not to be lost on readers, of course). Sam and his new girlfriend, Astrid, are two of the oldest left behind. They have formed a parental union for the younger kids, caring for all the helpless, including Astrid’s autistic brother.

Like bumper pool – or pinball, if you missed out on the bumper pool phenomena – the synapses in my brain spark and twitch and leap bringing me back to Paul Collins/Not Even Wrong/ McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. Then, I find myself thinking, “Goodness, it’s Literary Journal Monday.

tonight you're mineTonight You’re Mine still echoing in my gut (I’m pretty sure I love that movie far more than what is considered healthy or normal), I veer toward the London Magazine when selecting my Literary Journal Monday feature. (Tonight You’re Mine is set in Scotland – not England, but for an American like me, it is the closest I can get in Literary Journals once I mentally cross the pond.)

London Magazine February/March 1981 Vol. 20 Nos. 11 &12

The Private Letters of Tennessee Williams and a piece on Gore Vidal catch my eye. I flip through the first few ads, the table of contents, then stop dead on a heading: FINAL REMINDER.

“If we are to survive the next issue we need 1,000 new subscribers or their equivalent, and we need them immediately […]”

P1010303My reading screeches to a halt and I turn to the shelf. Were there more? Did they have to cancel the magazine? Did they get their 1,000 readers? Ah, sigh, they survived. At least until 1989 where the collection at the bookstore stops. So clearly, they got their 1,000. I wonder who these 1,000 were and if this final reminder is what provoked them to officially subscribe. Or were they friends and family of existing subscribers, terrified their favorite magazine would cease to exist if they didn’t recruit others to love what they loved?

My thoughts have veered so far off track that I forget what I was reading altogether. I flip through the journal in my hand trying to grasp the reason I had sat down to look at this in the first place.

It’s March. St. Patty’s Day is coming up. Irish authors keep popping in and out of my mind. Ireland… Scotland… Tonight You’re Mine… music… poetry… Derek Mahon, an Irish poet’s name blinks at me from the page of the literary journal in my hand. Literary Journal Monday, of course. I read the poem “The Elephants” first. I love elephants. Then my eyes skip over to “April in Moscow” and I read “Spring burst into our houses…” It does, doesn’t it? Just bursts right in and none too soon. At the end of the poems there is an ad for the Poetry Society Bookshop at 21 Earls Court Square in London. I wonder if it is still there.

If they do still exist, I bet they have a copy of Lang Leav’s Love & Misadventure. I’m dying for a copy. Leav has been speaking to my soul lately. Misadventures stuck in the cogs of the mind of a woman turned 30.

A line from Grant’s book swings into full view of my mind’s eye:

“He buried his face in her hair. She could feel his breath on her neck, tickling her ear. She enjoyed the feel of his body against hers. Enjoyed the fact that he needed to hold her. But there was nothing romantic about this embrace.” – pg. 21

There rarely is when a hug is really needed. It’s that moment Leav writes about…

When words run dry,
he does not try,
nor do I.

We are on par.

He just is,
I just am
and we just are.

– Lang Leav

The lack of selfishness between the characters at this point is refreshing in fiction and real life.

In a 2014 American Society of infantile adults who never learned to fend for themselves and work hard without constant praise, we are fascinated by literature and movies where children and teens are forced to grow up overnight and be adults.

It’s sad when the idea of fifteen-year-olds co-leading a community and making wise, unselfish decisions for themselves and each other sounds absurd and fictional. My associative mind leaps back to all the ancient history I’ve been studying, back to the likes of King Tut – pharaoh at age nine – dead by nineteen, married somewhere in between.

We believe in responsible marriages like the Romans, but we chase telepathic connections like the Greeks. What a very convoluted and contradictory way to live – the reality of a dystopian society is that every society is a dystopia – even a society of one. Our minds are everywhere and nowhere. Of course we are in conflict.

I suppose you Literary Journal Monday followers got a little more than you wanted. I bit off more than I could chew today. I attempted to map my own mind and identify all the associations and patterns, leaving myself somewhat exhausted from chasing whimsies.

At least I got to spend a few stolen moments in this room…


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Herodotus and Me

March 2, 2014 at 6:10 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , )

On Wednesday one of my book clubbers emailed me about my reading status.  How far along was I in preparation for our discussion for Monday (now tomorrow).

We will be discussing The Histories by Herdotus.

When he emailed me I was only on Book 3 (out of 9), roughly 200 pages into the historian’s account (out of 953).

I sat down, promising myself I wouldn’t go to bed until I had complete Book 4…

I had to stop myself after completing Book 6.

It is not going to be difficult to finish this book by Monday.  Now, Sunday afternoon, I’m to Book 9 and I didn’t read anything at all yesterday.  You would expect Herodotus to be dry and boring, another clubber said it was like reading the bible.  My best friend read the reblog of the North Africa post and said, “I WISH that sounded interesting to me.”

The fact that it doesn’t astounds me.

Ancient History fascinates me  I’m riveted.  Hooked.  I want to know everything.  So much that when I stopped to take a bath I took The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides with me.  The book and the historian are mentioned tirelessly in the footnotes of the Landmark Herodotus and is chronologically next in line (and Landmark Herodotus isn’t bath tub friendly).  I’m looking forward to him… then Xenophon.

Wednesday and Thursday alone, I read through most of King Darius I’s reign.  I learned a long forgotten word from some government or history class long passed – oligarchy – and contemplated the reality of governments.

I also did a bit of research on Parnassus and enjoyed pulling my Oxford English Dictionary down to inspect with my handy-dandy turtle magnifying class, and I felt quite studious.  These are the things that bring me joy.


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Herodotus Notes Continued

February 17, 2014 at 4:07 pm (Education) (, , , , , , )

Session Two – in which I sat outside in the beautiful Sunday outdoors of a Valentine weekend, drank my coffee, and devoured some history while the kiddo painted.  Like so,


Yes, she paints with TWO hands, and doesn’t even have to look at the canvas, she is that awesome.  Also, I have x-ray vision and can read through the book boards.  Not really, I just really like the front cover of the Histories edition I’m reading from.

Today, while I was reading, I got caught up in a bit about the sacred animals of Egypt.  Herodotus takes time to discuss this topic in a bullet point type fashion and very little detail.  I suppose he had so much information to relay that this was not high on his list of things to be extraordinarily well researched.  He simply mentions which ones are sacred and plods happily along with his narrative.

Except he mentions otters.

Otters were sacred to the Ancient Egyptians.

Otters are in my top ten list of favorite animals of all time.

lizzy&andi ottersHowever, most of my adoration comes from watching them for prolonged period of times at the zoo, or in sharing adorable pictures of them with my friends on facebook… like these ones on the right caught kissing.  (How adorable is that?!)  I actually know very little about otters, much less that they are native to Egypt.  I am a little bit obsessed with Ancient Egypt and consider myself a very amateur budding Egyptologist of sorts [very, very amateur who buds quite slowly].  Somehow, until now, the otters have escaped me.

The World Book Encyclopedia describes an ottter as a “fur-bearing animal that spends much of its time in the water.”  They are flesh-eaters and hopelessly cute.  Of course, I’m drawn to them – but the encyclopedia offers no explanation or even reference to the fact that the Ancient Egyptians would care.

So, of course I google it and find this.  If you’re not in a link hopping, article reading mood, I shall spare you and share only this highlighted introduction paragraph:

Four otter species occur in Africa. The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) occurs only in the rivers rising in the Atlas mountains. Three species are endemic to Africa: The Cape clawless otter (Aonyx capensis), the Congo clawless otter (Aonyx congica), and the spotted-necked otter (Lutra maculicollis). Throughout the high rainfall regions (i.e. within the 500 mm isohyet) of sub-Saharan Africa at least one of these species, often more, can be expected to be present. Otters are absent from only six countries on the African continent: Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Somalia, and Western Sahara. With the exception of Egypt, these counties probably do not have sufficient permanent water for otters.

Absent from Egypt.  Still sacred to Ancient Egyptians.

Of course, this led me to more questions.  More googling.  (And even more plans to visit a bookstore and the library in search of answers as soon as humanly possible .)  Which led to this little gem… Otter or Mongoose?.

Despite my extensive personal library I am constantly shocked by what is not in it – and I have nothing on otters… or mongooses for that matter.

I also have nothing on Queen Tomyris of the Massagetai and she, too, though not as thoroughly as the otters, piqued my interest today.  How have I not heard of this woman?  This semi-psychotic warrior queen who is responsible for the death of Cyrus the Great.  Obviously, I need a biography on her stat.  Well, not too stat, as I’m currently in the middle of The Life of Charlotte Bronte and I’ve yet to finish a whole host of other fabulous biographies that are piled around the house.  Rest assured, however, I have taken note in my handy dandy notebook of all things Ancient History and Queen Tomyris will not be forgotten.  The wonderful thing about scholarship is that there is always more to study.  The terrible thing about scholarship is that I have to be patient with myself knowing that I can only read as much as I can read in a day and that there will always be more to read.

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Histories and Education

February 3, 2014 at 10:14 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , , , )

Landmark-HerodotusIn my pursuit for knowledge, and for schooling my own child, I have been pretty diligent about reading as much history as I have the mental capacity to remember.  That means I read at least one non-fiction book a month (whether history or not) and I include one non-fiction book per quarter in the Half Price Books Humble Book Club line up.

This quarter we’re planning to discuss Herodotus’ Histories in March.  (We meet the first Monday of the Month at 7:30 pm.) This isn’t just a fascinating work to read for book club, it was also on my life long list of books to read before I die.  It’s a tome; but it’s important, I think.

Not only is it important, I have a pretty awesome copy (The Landmark Herodotus) that I find completely beautiful as well as an extra ratty paperback copy for scribbling in.

So as I make my way through this book, that could serve as a book press for other books if I ever needed it to, I will share with you the gathered notes of our club members:


(Notes provided by Glenn Ray)

Book 1 CLIO

Below are the important kings and many of their exploits from book 1 ‘CLIO’. There are 9 books in all.

The ‘¶’ below is used to represent chapter #’s in this book.

A vertical line ‘|’ on a row by itself means next person down is child of this king.

NOTE: Where there is not a ¶ starting the line, then these are mostly from Wikipedia.

Below are 3 lines of kings, not all ancestral succession:

  1. Lydia (modern day western Turkey) kings: Gyges, Ardys, Sadyattes, Alyattes, Croesus

  2. Mede/Persian kings: Deioces, …Cyaxares, AstyagesCyrus the Great, … Tomyris of Massagetae (not Mede or Persian) …

  3. Darius I


(¶8 Candaules was king of Sardis & Lydia before Gyges,

& his favorite spearmen was Gyges;

Candaules shows Gyges his wife (Nyssia) naked)

(¶11,12, 13 Gyges, at Nyssia’s command, kills Candaules, becomes king; but

that vengeance for the Heracleidai (descendants of Heracles (Hercules)) will come upon the descendants of Gyges in the fifth generation [that being Croesus below].)

(Gyges reigned from 716 BC to 678 BC (or from c. 680–644 BC).)

(¶14 led an army against Miletus)



(Ardys II or Ardysus II) 678-629 BC (or 644-c.625)

(¶15 became king of Lydia; and continues daddy’s fight against Miletus)



(629-617 BC (or c.625-c.600))

(¶16 became king of Lydia for 12 years; made war vs Cyaxares – king of Medes)

(¶18 and continues daddy’s fight against Miletus)



king of Lydia (619–560 BC)

(capital Sardis, & controlled all Asia Minor west of the River Halys, except Lycia.)

(fought against Cyaxares – king of Media, during the Battle of Halys, /wikipedia)

(¶18 and continues daddy’s fight against Miletus)

(¶25 reigned 75 years)


Croesus (pronounced ‘KREE-sus’)

(GLR: some info below is from:

King of Lydia 560-547 BC (palace of Croesus was at Sardis.)

(GLR: Croesus, you will see, is one mean grandpa)

(funded construction of the great Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. /

(¶30 asks Solon who is happiest).

(Solon was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet)

(¶53 Croesus is also famous for asking the Oracle at Delphi whether he should go to war against Persia. And… destroy a great empire)

(¶55 Croesus consulted the Oracle & was told …a mule of the Medes shall be monarch…)

(¶69 alliance with the Lacedemonians)

(¶73 marching into Cappadokia to fight Cyrus, who to avenge his brother-in-law Astyages (who was defeated by Cyrus)

(¶79 Croesus’ horses feared the camels of Cyrus and ran.)

(¶84 Cyrus’ man Hyroiades scaled the wall of the citadel at Sardis and Croesus is defeated)

(¶86-7 Croesus in the Pyre)

(¶91 Croesus learns the mule = Cyrus)

Deïokes (or Deioces)

(In the late 8th century BC)

(¶96 – was the first king of the Medes per Herodotus.

(¶97…his decisions proved to be according to the truth)



king of Media 665 – 633 BC)

(Phraortes started wars against Assyria, but was defeated

and killed by Ashurbanipal, the king of Neo-Assyria.)


Cyaxares [or Kyaxares in Gutenberg version]

king of Media 625–585 BC)

(¶73 Scythians serve Cyaxares human meat, and Scythians runaway to Alyattes at Sardis for protection)



(king of Media 585 BC-550 BC)

(ruled in alliance with his two brothers-in-law, Croesus king of Lydia

and Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, whose wife, Amytis, Astyages’ sister,

was the queen for whom Nebuchadnezzar was said to have built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon)

(¶108 dream abo vine from Mandane; ordered Harpagos to kill grandson [Cyrus])

(¶118, 119 Astyages serves Harpagos his own son)

(Bible xref: Daniel 13:65(1)(1)This is per the “Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition” of the Bible, note the KJV stops at chapter 12.)


¶107 Daughter – Mandane married Cambyses from Persia


Cyrus the Great,

king of Persia, 600 BC or 576 BC–530 BC

(¶55, 56 & 91 Cyrus is the mule)

(Bible xref: 2 Chron 36:22-33; Ezra 1:1-8, 3:7; 4:3,5; 5:13-17, 6:3,14, Isaiah 44:28, 45:1,13; Daniel 1:21, 6:28, 10:1,

and 1 Esdras 2. [Note: Church councils rejected 1 and 2 Esdras as non-canonical])

(was the monarch under whom the Israelites Babylonian captivity ended / Wikipedia)

(was prompted by God to make a decree that the Temple in Jerusalem should be rebuilt / Wikipedia)

(¶79 Cyrus uses camels against Croesus’ horses (horses fear the camels and ran.)

(¶84 Cyrus’ man Hyroiades scaled the wall of the citadel at Sardis and Croesus is defeated)

(¶141 Cyrus spoke fable to the Ionians and Aiolians, piper played for the fishes in the sea)

(¶155-156 Cyrus takes on his mean grandpa Croesus [who multiple times tried killing Cyrus] as closest councilor)

(¶178-183 Cyrus plans  & does to conquer Assyria & Babylon; Describes city of Babylon)

(¶205 Cyrus attempts to conquer Massagetae & their queen Tomyris)

(¶209 Cyrus dreamed Dareios/Darius would attempt to over throw him)

(¶211, captures 1/3 of her army & son Spargapises sleeping)

(¶213 -214, After Tomyris’ son, commits suicide, she defeats & kills Cyrus & give thee thy fill of blood.)

(¶216, Massagetae custom: when a man becomes very old, he is slaughtered, flesh boiled and the family banquet upon it.)

Darius I 550–486 BC

the third king of the Persian Achaemenid Empire

(Reigned 522 BC to 486 BC (36 years))

(Darius is mentioned in the Biblical books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel, Haggai, and Zechariah.)

(¶187 Darius attempts to rob Babylon Queen Nitocris’ grave)

(¶199. Now the most shameful of the customs of the Babylonians…)

More notes to come as we progress through our readingXenophon. And when I’m done with Herodotus, I plan to conquer Xenophon…

I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I challenge everyone to pick up any ancient history book and learn something about the world they didn’t know before this year.  The most fascinating thing to me about it all is that, even though civilizations change and grow and change and grow… people essentially, are always – at their core – pretty much the same.  I love learning about the world today through the eyes of our past.

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Papyrus – truly a thriller

January 21, 2014 at 3:08 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

papyrusTitle: Papyrus

Author: John Oehler

Genre: Suspense, Historical Fiction

Length: 326 pages

I’ve wanted to read this book since the second I saw its cover.  Mainly because John Oehler wrote it and I really enjoy his writing.   I read and reviewed Aphrodesia awhile back and I swear I blushed for a month, so I knew Oehler’s writing was phenomenal.  Add my obsession for all things Egyptian, and I was completely sold.

Many times this level of anticipation won’t work out well for a reader.  There’s too much pressure on the book.  How could it possibly live up?

Papyrus took my expectations in stride and out did itself.

Historical fiction all the way, there are still two different timelines – the ancient past (the 18th Dynasty of Egypt) and the not so ancient past (1977, during the war between Eritrea and Ethiopa).  I enjoyed the banter and flirtation between these timelines and the story.  It was woven together well and never missed a beat or left the reader feeling out of sorts with the rhythm of the tale.

In 1977, Oehler’s Rika Teferi is both a scholar and a warrior of Eritrea.  This was an attribute so enticing for my black belt and book nerdy self that I spent two hours in a local Starbucks devouring this book instead of watching the Broncos beat the Patriots on Sunday.  I loved her for her strength, her beauty, and ultimately for her intelligence.

Dive into ancient Egypt and Queen Tiye is completely riveting, especially since most my academic studies have focused on Hatshepsut and Nefertiti.  It was refreshing to have Akhenaten’s mother be the focus, as I don’t think she is as common a fictional pursuit as other Eqyptian Queens.  (The only one I can think of off the top of my head is Pauline Gedge’s The Twelfth Transforming – also stellar writing, but I was apparently so disappointed with the story it seems I have given that title away.)  I do not own any nonfiction work devoted primarily to Tiye either, but Oehler’s version of her offered a pretty tempting reason to go find some.

As always Oehler handles the story arch with such grace and ease – I am jealous.  He writes stories where things happen. Not just anything, but powerful and exciting things.  Foreign countries, different times, bombs, planes, diplomats, ancient manuscripts, tombs, revolutionaries, romance…!  His books are award winners with good reason and he is one of Houston’s best kept secrets.  It is amazing to me that this was Oehler’s first novel.


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October 2, 2013 at 6:49 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Measured-EarthTitle: The Librarian Who Measured The Earth

Author: Kathryn Lasky

Illustrations: Kevin Hawkes

I stumbled on this book by complete accident.  Most my homeschooling tools I seek out or find while searching the non-fiction section with a thought in mind.  This book I merely acquired and had no idea it was going to be added to our core curriculum.

Although I love the Sir Cumference books, I often wondered how I would properly include those books into a classical education for my child when studying the circumference belongs in the times of Ancient Greece.  Now I have my solution.  Sir Cumference will be fun re-iteration of facts learned.  Where The Librarian Who Measured will definitely be a part of our first years of school.

EratosthenesI’m sure I learned about this guy at some point in school, but it didn’t sink in.  His name didn’t even sound vaguely familiar when I started reading this story to kiddo before bed last night.  But as I read, my mind raced to the day we will sit and discuss Eratothenes in context.  We will talk about Ancient Greece and the ancient libraries.  We will discuss oranges and circumferences.  We will talk about the planet and maps of the world.  We will study things in a manner in which she will remember it – as opposed to a passing one liner in a text book.  This book made me happy for days of school in our future.


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The Olympians

September 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

thelightningthief__spanWe finally finished The Lightning Thief (book one of the Percy Jackson series) a week or so ago.  Man, reading that thing out loud was a bit of  a doosey and took us a whole month of before bedtime reading.  While reading Percy Jackson by night, bless his little adventurous demi-god heart, we’ve been going over our next Magic Tree House Adventure by day…

Magic Tree House #16: Hour of the Olympics

Magic Tree House Research Guide: Ancient Greece and the Olympics (which we just finished this morning over breakfast and coffee).

Also during this little stint we’ve read and re-read the Golden Books: Disney’s Hercules… over and over and over again.  And the little Grecian wanna-be has enjoyed the movie probably too many times than can be good for her little developing brain.

Hercules_DisneyThe Odyssey retold by Robin Lister is a gem, but at this point – with kiddo not even three yet – we’ve only browsed through the pictures while actually reading Gods & Goddesses in the Daily Life of the Ancient Greeks.  Kiddo is really into all this stuff and is still insisting we have her “Percules Birthday Party with three candles.”  Which is poor people code for: all the children shall wear sheets and we’ll do a laurel wreath craft and play with cardboard swords because I’m not buying decorations.  Also, it will be a good excuse to serve a lot of grapes…

All in all, tromping through this stuff now with her so little has helped me wrap my brain around the plans we have for ages 5 & 10, roughly.  Keep lots of wiggle room in mind.

Ancient Greece & Rome Lesson Plan/ List Age 5

Start Latin Lessons

Haywood pages 46-57

Black Ships Before Troy – Sutcliffe (Iliad) along with Haywood pg. 206

The Odyssey Retold by Lister

Memorize some facts about the people listed on Haywood pgs. 50-51

Haywood pgs. 108-115 (2 crafts)

Gods & Goddesses from Greek Myths

Haywood pgs. 168-175 (2 crafts)

Haywood pgs. 228-233 (2 crafts)

Haywood pgs. 342-349 (3 crafts)

Haywood pgs. 404-411 (3 crafts)

In Search of a Homeland – Lively (Aeneid)

Haywood pg. 466 + Mosaic project

Haywood pgs. 472-477 (2 crafts)

Of course I’d like to include a trip to the museum.

Relevant Magic Tree House Books: #13 Vacation Under a Volcano, RG Ancient Rome & Pompeii, and of course #16 Hour of the Olympics, RG Ancient Greece & The Olympics

Relevant Magic School Bus during any Pompeii study: #15 Voyage to the Volcano (although this title occurs in modern Hawaii, it explains in true Magic School Bus form all the inner workings of a Volcano)

Then come age 10-ish, we will start repeating the Ancient school lessons, as per our classical education plan.  We’ll re-use Haywood, do projects we may have skipped over, repeat ones she liked a lot… but add these things…

Ancient Greece & Rome Lesson Plan/ List Age 9-10

Start covering the Greek Alphabet (we hope to be pretty Latin literate by then)

Archimedes and the Door of Science

Gods & Goddesses in the Daily Life of the Ancient Greeks

The Usborne Encyclopedia of the Roman World

The Odyssey as Retold Mary Pope Osborne (to be read on her own or together as a family), the author of the Magic Tree House books.

The Percy Jackson series by Riordan


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