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The teacher can develop the students’ reading, liStening, acting, artistic, and writing skills through the myths, because of time and space limitations, this unit will deal with the mythologicaL or possible origins of the names of the months from January to June: the days of the week: a retelling of the Creation according to the Greeks: and descriptions of many of the gods which in one way or another are related to the origin of the month or the day being studied. All of this will be organized in six lesson plans, one for each month, from January to June.
The following is an outline of what will be covered in the lesson plans each month. The names of the gods and goddesses will be Roman to make it easier to trace the origin of the names of the months and days of the week.
|B. The Creation of the World|
|C. Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto|
|D. The Creation of Man|
|B. Venus, Cupid|
|C. Sunday and Monday|
|A. Mars, Minerva|
|B. Vulcan and Hebe|
|A. Possible origins|
|B. Apollo and Diana|
|A. Maia and Mercury|
|B. Wednesday and Thursday|
|A. Juno and Jupiter|
|B. Friday and Saturday|
- 1. To provide experiences with myths and mythological figures. By studying the ancient, classics, the students will be able to develop a sensitivity to the beliefs, values, attitudes, and views of man’s development at that time.
- 2. To increase the students’ vocabulary in English and their ability to use it in other situations.
- 3. To improve the students’ reading and writing skills, through the reading, analyzing, and rewriting of the selections.
In this lesson as well as the other lessons, the information about the month will be made up of two or three paragraphs, Beginning ESL Students will study the first paragraph, intermediate ESL students will study two paragraphs, and the advanced ESL students will study the whole selection.
Vocabulary lists will be made for the students. with at least ten words from each paragraph. Vocabulary is to be studied in context and later used in a sentence or a rewriting of the given information. After copying the paragraph(s) from the chalkboard, the students will circle on their papers and on the board the words that they are not familiar with. All words or phrases should be explained orally and then written in their notebooks.
January, the first mont of the year, is named after the Roman god of doors, Janus.
named after—in honor of
god—a supernatural being with many powers, something or someone invisible one prays to or asks for guidance.
Other new words in the first paragraph can be protector, gateway, heaven, statues, coins, forward, backward, distinctive, equivalent.
Other possible activities in January are to have the students draw %heir conception of a two-faced god, and to discuss the term ‘two-faced‘ or Janus-faced‘ and its meaning today.
This first lesson is quite extensive but it provides plenty of information for both teacher and students about Greek and Roman creation myths. Since the lesson starts with the beginning of the year, as an extension the beginning of the Earth and of Man can follow. Each story should take a day or two to complete. These stories can be told orally or in written form. The students can be asked to find books on mythology in the library and to report on one of the gods in the myths they read. They can draw illustrations of the articles and animals sacred to the gods and a bulletin board or boards can be used to display their art. The students can also write their own versions of the creation of the world and of man.
For our purposes, the names of the months and days of the week remain unchanged from the Roman times and these will be studied through mythology. The months of January through June are related in some way to mythology. July is named after Julius Caesar, August is named after Augustus, and the names of the months September through December are left from the original ten-month Latin calendar thus September was the seventh month, October the eighth, etc. July was originally the fifth month Quintilis and August was called Sextilis, the sixth month.
In Roman times, a temple was built to honor Janus, It was a double arch with doors. When the Roman Empire was at peace, the gates were closed, when it was at war the doors were open. These doors were closed only once between the reign of Numa and that of Augustus. The temple, in the Forum, faced east and west, for the beginning and ending of the day. The Romans believed that Janus opened the gates of heaven at dawn to let the morning in and closed them at dusk,
Janus was invoked publicly on New Year’s Day. On this day one looks back to the old year and makes plans or resolutions for the new year. He was invoked on the first day of each month. He was the bringer of good beginnings which insured good endings. He was called upon when wars were started. Janus is also called the god of civilization and sometimes Consivius, the Sower.3
Where did the World come from?4
The Greek myth of the Creation is the account of the origin of the World. The world, in the Beginning, was what was visible to the eye of the beholder. The Earth, all of it, was what on could see all around him or her. There were also the sky and the ocean, and the sun, moon, and the stars. The sun was visible during the day and the moon and stars were visible until the sun came back again.
Before all of this, however, was Chaos, which was composed o Void, Mass, and Darkness. Then came Mother Earth (Gaea), Love (Eros), Tartarus, Erebus, and Night. Erebus and Night, children of Chaos, were joined and from them were born Aither (Sky, the light of the heavens) and Hemera (the Day). Earth produced Ouranos (Heaven), the Mountains, and Pontus (the Sea). Later Ouranos and Earth joined and brought forth the Titans, the Cyclopes (one-eyed giants), and the Hecatonchires (hundred-handed giants). There were twelve Titans: Cronus, Oceanus, Iapetos, Rhea, Tethys, Themis, Coeus, Crios, Thia, Phoebe, Mnemosyne, and Hyperion. The Cyclopes were three in number: Brontes (Thunder-man), Steropes (Lightning-man), and Arges (Shiner), Also three in number were the Hecatoncheires: Kottos, Briareos, and Gyes.
Ouranos was disgusted with the Hecatoncheires and the Cyclopes. H hated these offsprings so much that he would hide them in (the) Earth every time one of them was born. Earth groaned in pain; so Ouranos decided to send them to Tartarus, the darkness of the Earth. Earth was so upset at all this that she sought help from her other children, the Titans. She explained to them what had happened to the others but only Cronos, the youngest of the Titans, would help his mother. The other Titans were too afraid to go against their father.
Earth and Cronos devised a plan. Cronos was to hid and wait for Ouranos to come to Earth at night. Ouranos, overcome with desire, came upon Earth. Cronos sprang out with a sickle and castrated his father and threw his organs into the sea. This event also meant the separation of Heaven and Earth forever. From the blood that fell on the earth were born the Erinyes (Furies), the Giants, and Meliaii The organ itself landed in the sea, and from the foam which formed while it floated sprung the goddess Aphrodite or Venus.
After this, Cronos became the king of the Titans, but Ouranos prophesied that one of Cronos’s own sons would someday dethrone him. is sister and queen, Rhea, bore him three daughters, Vesta, Ceres, and Juno and three sons, Pluto, Neptune, and Jupiter. Cronos swallowed his children as they were born. Rhea fooled him into thinking that he had swallowed Jupiter, the sixth child, by wrapping a stone in baby’s garments. Jupiter was sent to Crete to grow. When he became a man, he conquered Cronos and through a drink given to Cronos by Rhea, Cronos then vomited the stone and the other children, all intact and fully gown.
A great war broke out between the Titans and the Olympians. Prometheus, one of the Titans, tried counseling Cronos to release the Hectonchcires and the Cyclopes but Cronos did not listen. He gave the same advice to Jupiter, who did as Prometheus suggested, With the help of the Cyclopes’ deafening thunder and blinding lightning, and the Hecatoncheires’ stone-throwing power, the battle turned in Jupiter’s favor. The Titans were forced into Tartarus, all except Prometheus. The war lasted for ten years.
Jupiter had an insatiable sexual appetite and he had many children from mortals and immortals. He married Juno but continued having affairs with other women. Although Jupiter was the youngest of the three sons of Cronos, he became the king and father of gods and of men.5
Neptune resided beneath the Aegean Sea and his were all the oceans, rivers, and streams. Although he was a strong god he was no match for Jupiter. His wife was Amphitrite, and he was not as successful as Jupiter in romantic encounters. His symbol of power was the trident, with which he could control the seas at will. It was a gift from the Cyclopes. His children were Triton, Benthesikymen,(Wave of the Deep), and Rhode. He also had a son by the nymph Thoosa, Polyphemus, a Cyclops. He had other Less important 6 affairs. Neptune also had the power to provoke earthquakes.
Pluto, the third son of Cronos, ruled the underworld. He was given a helmet by the Cyclopes that made him invisible. He was not evil but he was unwelcome. He represented the forces of death but without judgment, His wife was Proscrpina, who ruled with him for two-thirds of the year.7
The Creation of Man 8
As soon as order was in effect with Jupiter’s reign, the earth had seas, land, rivers, night and day, heat and cold, rain, snow, wind, thunder, lightning, the sun, the moon and stars. It was ready for the creation of man.
There are varied versions of the beginning of man, It has been said that the gods themselves created man and all the living creatures. Others say that it was Prometheus, who helped Jupiter to his victory over the Titans, who molded clay into different animals that live on the earth. His brother Epimetheus gave each creature a special attribute with which to survive,
Prometheus favored man above all his other creations, By the time he made man( Epimetheus had given away all his gifts, so Prometheus decided to give man a little bit of each attribute. Minerva was also pleased and she breathed a higher spirit into man.
Man had problems. He did not know how to use his XX attributes, Jupiter was also angered by the uselessness of these creatures and intended to eliminate them. Prometheus enlightened his creation; he taught man to understand and use his knowledge to survive and progress. Jupiter became pleased with man. He even let Man have the use of fire.
On one occasion, Prometheus invited Jupiter to a feast. He cut up a sacrificial bull and divided it into two unequal portions. In one pile was the meat of the bull, in the other were the bones and the fat, the latter being larger and more appealing than the former, He gave Jupiter the choice of whichever portion he wanted. Jupiter was not fooled and was greatly angered. To punish Man, Prometheus’ creation, he took away fire, but Prometheus stole some fire from Vulcan’s fore and eave it back to Man.
Jupiter, with the help of Vulcan and other gods, shaped a creature in the form of a woman. All the gods gave her gifts and she was called Pandora, or All-Gifts, The woman was given to Epimetheus, who had forgotten not to accept gifts from the gods. Pandora became Epimetheus’s wife.
The gods had given Yandora a sealed vase which she was not to open. She could not resist her curiosity to see what was inside and opened the vase. Out came plagues and other terrible things: sickness, jealousy, hatred, greed, lust, falsehood, and many others. Only hope remained beHind and was sealed inside. All these things were to cause unhappiness and misery to man.
Jupiter still had to get even with Prometheus for his trickery. Vulcan took him to Mount Caucasus and pinned him to the mountainside. His punishment was to be deprived of the sight and sound of man, whom he loved so much. An eagle would eat his liver during the day. The liver would grow back during the night. He was punished for a long time until he was released by Hercules.
The most important festival, held on February 15, was known as the Lupercalia. The object of the festival was, by expiation and purification, to give life and fruitfulness to fields, flocks, and people,
In this festival, he-goats and a dog were sacrificed. Two young men were touched on the forehead with a knife and smeared with the blood of the goats, which was then wiped off with wool dipped in milk. After the sacrificial feast, the young men were crowned and anointed. These two, wearing only an apron of goatskin, ran around the city with thongs cut from the skin of the sacrificed goats in their hands. Women would place themselves in their way to receive blows from the tongs. This was believed to be a charm against barrenness.10
The thongs were called februa , from the old word februare “to purify”, the day, dies februaris “the day of purification”, and the whole month, februarius, “the month of purification.”
purification, to cleanse, soul, spirit(s), expiation, fruitfulness, fields, flocks, sacrifice, feast, anoint(ed), thong, to receive, blow(s), barrenness, capricious, unfaithful, offspring.
February usually has 28 days, but every four years it has one extra day, The reason for this is that a regular year has 365 days and six hours, Every four years, these extra six hours add up to 24 hours or one full day. When February has 29 days, the year is called a ‘Leap Year’.
In many countries, Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14. This day is special for those who are in love. Hearts and Cupids are seen everywhere. Cupid, the son of Venus and Mercury, was the Roman god of love. He made mn and women fall in love by shooting his unerring arrows. He was thoughtless and capricious, because sometimes he would get the wrong people or gods to fall in love.
Venus, Cupid’s mother, was the goddess of love and beauty. She is believed to have been the daughter of Jupiter and Dione or to have been born from the foam formed by Uranus’s organs floating on the ocean. She was married to Vulcan but was very unfaithful, She had many offsprings and many lovers. Sacred to Venus were the swan, the dolphin, the sparrow, the dove, and the rose.11
Monday is dedicated to the moon goddess, Diana, Apollo’s twin sister. She was Apollo’s counterpart, where he represented the sun, she represented the moon.13
In Roman times, March was dedicated completely to the worship of Mars. He was the son of Jupiter and Juno. He wore a gleaming helmet with a floating plume. He had a leather shield and a spear of bronze. Other names given to Mars are ‘the Slayer‘, ‘the Avenger‘, and ‘the Curse‘.
March is a month of storms. There is often thunder and lightning. Sometimes the wind blows strongly.
Minerva, he goddess of war, sprang from Jupiter’s brain. She was the goddess of storms, lightning, thunderclouds and rushing winds. In contrast to Mars, who was the foe of wisdom, she was the goddess of wisdom, Skill, and contemplation, She wore the aegis( a breastplate of goat skin that had fixed on it the head of Medusa that turns those who look at it into stone.15
war, gleaming, helmet, plume, leather, shield, spear, bronze, slayer, avenger, curse, storms, thunder, lightning, fertilizing, thunderclouds, foe, wisdom, contemplation, breastplate.
He was lame, but his lack of physical beauty and grace were made up in his skill as a craftsman. He was a kind and good-hearted god. His wife was the unfaithful Venus. The fire in Vulcan’s workshop is said to still burn when a volcano erupts.16
Hebe was another daughter of Jupiter and Juno. She was the goddess of youth and the cupbearer to the gods. She was succeeded by Ganyede when she resigned to that post when she married Hercules.17
blacksmith, scepter, lame, grace, craftsman, workshop, erupts, youth.
Tuesday is also named in honor of the god Mars. In Spanish, martes and in French mardi, the derivation from the Latin root Martius is very evident. The root for Tuesday in English comes from the Norse god Tyr (Ziu or Tiw), the god of battles, He is the equivalent of Mars.
Tellus was an Italian goddess of mother earth. She was invoked during earthquakes. She was also the goddess of marriage. Pales was the goddess of the shepherds, Ceres was an old Italian goddess of agriculture. Her festival was held from April 12 to April 19, It celebrated the reunion of Ceres and her daughter Proserpina, Flora was the goddess of spring, flowers, and blossoms, She was responsible for the prospering of the fruit of the fields and trees, Fortuna was the goddess of good luck and she gave good luck to women in their relations with men.
The Fornicalia was held on April 15. It was a sacrificial ceremony where unborn calves.were taken out of the pregnant cows and burnt. Their ashes were kept by the Vestals to be used at the Parilia, another ceremony, This festival was in honor of Pales, and the ashes were used to : procure the fertility of the corn which was growing in the ‘womb‘ of mother earth.
aside, invoked, earthquake, shepherds, agriculture, blossoms, prospering, luck, unborn, calves, pregnant, procure, fertility, womb,
His twin sister, Diana, was the goddess of the moon, the goddess of hunting and guardian of wild beasts. She was a virgin goddess and the ideal of modesty, grace, and chastity. Sacred to Diana were the cypress tree, the bear, the boar, the dog, the goat, and the hind.21
retain, twin, eloquence, wolf, roe, ram, dolphin, swan, modesty, grace, chastity, boar, hind.
On May 1, a ritual was held at the temple of Bona Dea. Only women were allowed to participate in this ceremony. A pregnant sow was sacrificed, and no wine or myrtle was used.
May, like February, is a month of purification. Men are at work in the fields and the time for harvesting is growing near. It was considered to b bad luck to marry in May and it is still so in many parts of the world.
contradiction, ritual, allowed, participate, sow, myrtle, support, judgment.
Mercury was born at dawn; by noon, he had made and was playing the Iyre, and that evening had stolen Apollo’s cattle. Mercury played a trick on Apollo by diving the cattle backwards to the sea. Apollo was confused and angered. When he was found in Maia’ cave, Mercury denied the charges. They argued and the situation was taken to Jupiter to resolve. Jupiter ordered that Mercury had to return the cattle to Apollo. After this incident the two gods were reconciled. Mercury presented Apollo with the Iyre, and Apollo gave Mercury his staff and made him keeper of the herds.
Mercury was the messenger of the gods on Mt. Olympus and Hades’ messenger as well, He was in charge of guiding the dead to Hades. He had many other responsibilities: he was the patron of traders and also the patron of thieves. He was the god of good and bad luck. He wears a petasus, a broad hat with wings, and the staff given to him by Apollo is known as a caduceus.
cave, Iyre, cattle, denied, resolve, incident, reconciled, staff, patron, traders, thieves.
Thursday, also takes its name from a Norse god. Thor, the thunderer, was the strongest of the gods and men. He was the equivalent of Jove or Jupiter.26
In June, beans were harvested and on June 1, Carna’s Day was celebrated. Prayers were offered to the goddess Carna for the preservation of many internal organs, such as the liver and the kidneys. Her sacrifices were beanmeal and lard, This ceremony belonged to the age of ancient Latin agriculture
enough, evidence, prayers, tale, preservation, ancient.
Jupiter, son of Cronus and Rhea, was the most powerful of the Olympian gods. H was the ruler of heaven, earth, and all the gods and men. He was married several times before marrying Juno. He had many children with goddesses and mortals alike. The sky was Jupiter’s chief domain, and he controlled the weather; he sent favorable winds and was the cloud gatherer and thunderer. Sacred to Jupiter were the eagle and the oak tree.29
guardian, childbirth, jealous, vengeance, peacock, groves, pastures, pomegranate, ruler, eagle, oak.
Saturday is the day of Saturn. Saturn was the king of the Titans, He was the all-powerful leader until his son Jupiter dethroned him. There was a great war called the Titanomachia, in which the Olympian gods defeated the Titans with the, aid of Prometheus, a Titan who turned against Saturn.31
actual, all-powerful, dethroned, defeated, aid, turned against.
The students will learn: (1) the origin of the name of the.month of January, (2) the Greek version of the Creation of the world, (3) the powers of Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto, and (4) the Creation of Man. Please refer to the section on January.
E.S.O.L. A (Elementary Level)
- 1. Students ar to copy the first paragraph explaining the origin of the name of the month of January and the god Janus,
- 2. The students will circle those words in the Paragraph(s) that they are not familiar with.
- 3. The students will write new sentences with the words after these have been defined. The words, definitions, and sentences will be kept in their notebooks.
- 4. Students will draw their own conception of Janus. The drawings will be put up ‘collage-style’ on a bulletin board.
- 5. The students will discuss the terms two-faced, Janus faced.
Each level of E.S.O.L. should be given work appropriate to its ability. I suggest the first paragraph for E.S.O.L-A, paragraphs one and three for E.S.O.L-B, and all three paragraphs for the other levels. To avoid repetition in writing the lesson plans, the above format may be used in developing the other monthly plans.
The teacher is to dccide how much information from the unit that he or she wants to give to their students, since much of what can be done in each classroom depends on the ability in English the students have acquired up to January.
Students in the different levels of E.S.O.L. will learn: (1) the origin of the name of the month of February, (2) of Venus and Cupid and the possible relation to Valentine’s Day, and (3) the origins of the names of Sunday and Monday. Please refer to the section on February.
- 1. Students will look up the definitions of the vocabulary words and use them in sentences of their own, or will rewrite the paragraphs using synonyms.
- 2. The following suffixes will be studied: -tion, -ness, -ess, -ful, -al. Their grammatical functions will be defined and further work with suffixes will follow.
- 3. Students will write a report on the lunar or solar calendar.
- 4. Students will decorate the bulletin board(s) with drawings, pictures, and/or reports on Cupid, Venus, Apollo, and Diana .
Students in the different levels of E.S.O.L. will learn: (1) the origin of the name of the month of March, (2) about Vulcan and Hebe, and (3) the origin of the name of Tuesday.
- 1. After reading and defining the vocabulary in each selection, the students will write a short summary of the information presented.
- 2. The students will illustrate the powers of each god discussed and decorate the bulletin boards with their art work.
- 3. The students will write sentences with the new vocabulary using three or more new words in one sentence.
A note to the teachers using this unit:
April, May, and June may be taught using any or all of the activities given in the three lesson plans. Followup or evaluation activities may be spelling quizzes, word definition match ups, fill-in-the blanks in sentences, and oral or written reports on the origins of the months and days, and gods.
Carpenter, Thomas H., Gula, Robert J., Mythology, Greek and Roman, The New American Library, New York, 1962. This is a very readable and enjoyable source on mythology. It includes a summary of many of the transformations found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses,
Fowler, W. Warde, Roman Festivals, Macmillan and Co. Ltd., New York, 1954. Based on Ovid’s Fasti, this book offers many interesting theories on the origins of the names of the months, It is a very well researched presentation,
Grant, Michael, Myths of the Greeks and Romans, The New American Library, New York, 1962, A collection of the outstanding Greek and Roman literary works. The works are summarized and discussed in depth.
Hamilton, Edith, Mythology The New American Library, New York, 1954. As in Bullfinch’s The Age of Fables this book presents myths in story form. It is wonderful reading material.
Innes, Mary M., The Metamorphoses of Ovid, Penguin Books, Middlesex, England, 1955. This translation of the Metamorphoses makes it easy to read and to understand these fascinating tales of gods and mortals.
Johnson, Otto T., Editor, Information Please, Almanac 1983, A & W Publishers, Inc., New York, 1982. The section on the calendar and its changes proved useful in explaining the present calendar used today.
Mills Gayley, Charles, The Classical Myths, Blaisdell Publishing Company, 1893. This book may have been used as a text in earlier times, It is very thorough in providing details, illustrations, and exercises dealing with mythology.
Perowne, Stewart, Roman Mythology, The Hamlyn Publishing Group, Ltd., London, 1969. A beautifully illustrated book. It is a very useful and interesting source on Roman mythology.
Rose, H,J., A Handbook of Creek Mythology, E.P, Dutton, New York, 1959. This handbook is an authoritative guide in the field of mythology, and an indispensable reference source.
Seyffert, Oskar, Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, Meridian Books, Inc., New York, 1956. A handy alphabetical guide of mythological terminology.
Zimmerman, J.E., Dictionary of Classical Mythology, Harper & Row, 1964: A dictionary of terms—mythological, historical, and biographical. Very, very useful and well written.
Contents of 1983 Volume II | Directory of Volumes | Index | Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute