Saturday, May 6, 2017

Days of the Week: India

I'm testing out a new thematic approach to the reading in this class, using Google Sites to build each unit as a separate little site of its own. The goal is for these thematic units to be half of a week's reading (an hour or less to read), offering more flexibility for mix-and-match reading each week.

I'm also keeping the story texts at GoogleDrive, and embedding them in each story page. That way, I can reuse the same story in multiple units. So, for example, this first unit is about the Days of the Week in India, with a different story associated with each day. I will probably also be using some of the stories in this unit in other units, like a unit devoted to the god Shiva or the goddess Parvati, etc.

So, without further ado, here is the unit:

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Story of the Seven Sleepers

I've been adding new books to the Freebookapalooza blog, and I was excited to see the story of the Seven Sleepers in Stories of the Saints by Grace Hall.

You can read more about the Seven Sleepers at Wikipedia; this is like a "Rip van Winkle" story, and it is a famous legend in both the Christian and Muslim tradition.


Now, as to the Seven Sleepers, these were seven young Christians who lived in the time of the Emperor Decius. They were Maximian, Malchus, Marcus, Dionysius, John, Serapion, and Constantine. They were accused before the ruler because they refused to offer sacrifices to the gods, but they escaped to Mount Coelion [near Ephesus] and hid in a cavern. They were, however, betrayed and discovered as they slept, and by order of the Emperor were sealed into the cave.

But two Christian men, Theodorus and Rufinus, wrote an account of their martyrdom and laid the parchment, closed with silver seals, among the stones that blocked the cave's mouth.

Two hundred and eight years later, when the Christian Emperor Theodosius was reigning, he sorrowed over the heresy which had sprung up, denying the resurrection of the dead. Daily he retired to a secret place in his palace and mourned in sackcloth and ashes. God in the following manner rewarded and justified his faith.

A certain burgess of Ephesus, in digging to make a stable on Mount Coelion, came upon the cavern; the light and air entered it, and the sleepers awoke, thinking that they had slept but over night.

One of their number, Malchus, was selected to go to the city to buy food. He set forth with fear and trembling, supposing his life and that of his companions to be in great danger.

He advanced cautiously toward the city gate and was startled at the sight of a cross placed above it. He tried another gate, there found another cross. He believed himself to be dreaming, but covering his face he entered the city and went to buy bread. Hearing everywhere the name of Christ spoken boldly and openly he was more and more puzzled.

Finally he arrived at a baker's and bought bread. In payment he offered a coin the like of which the baker had never seen; the baker therefore came to the conclusion that Malthus had found some ancient hidden treasure; he immediately accused him, and Malchus knew not what to say for dread. When the bystanders saw his confusion they put a cord round his neck and haled him before the consul and the bishop.

After much questioning, the truth was discovered, and Malchus led all the principal men of the city, followed by the multitude, to the cave in Mount Coelion. There within sat the other youths, "their visages like unto roses flowering" and shining like the sun. Also they found the letter of Theodorus and Rufinus, sealed with its seals of silver, among the displaced stones at the mouth of the cave.

The Emperor was sent for and came in haste. Entering the cave, he with tears embraced each of the seven, saying: "I see you as if I should see our Lord raising Lazarus!"

Maximian then said to him: "Believe us, O Emperor, for our Lord has raised us before the Day of Judgment to the end that thou believe firmly in the resurrection of the dead!"

After these words, they all inclined their heads to the earth, and rendered up their spirits to God.

The Emperor wished to make sepulchres of gold and silver for them, but they appeared to him that night and bade him suffer them to remain on the earth of the cave (on their right side), as they had so long lain, until the day of the final resurrection.

Here is a Russian icon that depicts the sleepers:

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Forgotten Tales of the Brothers Grimm

There are several units in the UnTextbook that contain stories from the Brothers Grimm, so I thought you might enjoy this article at the Public Domain Review: The Forgotten Tales of the Brothers Grimm by Jack Zipes.

Here are two quotes from the article:

Broadly speaking, the Grimms sought to collect and preserve all kinds of ancient relics as if they were sacred and precious gems that consisted of tales, myths, songs, fables, legends, epics, documents, and other artifacts — not just fairy tales. They intended to trace and grasp the essence of cultural evolution and to demonstrate how natural language, stemming from the needs, customs, and rituals of the common people, created authentic bonds and helped forge civilized communities. 

The Grimms have often been criticized, especially by critics in the last 50 years, for having changed and edited the tales from the first to the seventh edition. That is, they never lived up to their own words that the task of the collector is to record the tales exactly as they heard them. In other words, various critics have complained that the Grimms’ tales are inauthentic folk tales. But this is a ridiculous if not stupid argument, for nobody can ever record and maintain the authenticity of a tale. It is impossible. And yet, the Grimms, as collectors, cultivators, editors, translators, and mediators, are to be thanked for endeavoring to do the impossible and to work collectively with numerous people and their sources to keep traditional stories and storytelling alive. In this respect their little known first edition deserves to be rediscovered, for it is a testimony to forgotten voices that are actually deep within us. Hence, the irresistibility of the Grimms’ tales that are really not theirs, but ours.

You can read more about the Brothers Grimm at Wikipedia, and you can also read more about the author of the article, Jack Zipes.

1819 edition of Kinder- und Hausmärchen
illustrated by Ludwig Emil Grimm,
younger brother to Jacob and Wilhelm.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Early Films: Jack and the Beanstalk

You probably know the story of "Jack and the Beanstalk" (you can refresh your memory at Wikipedia), and below you can watch a very old film made of that story from all the way back in 1902! You can find out more about this early film at Wikipedia:

And here is a version from 1917:

With a poster:

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Hero's Journey

This diagram comes from the Wikipedia article on The Hero's Journey, which is based on the work of the mythologist Joseph Campbell, quoted here:
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
Here is the diagram, and see below for more details about Campbell's scheme:

Campbell's 17 Stages:

1. The Call to Adventure
2. Refusal of the Call
3. Supernatural Aid
4. Crossing the First Threshold
5. Belly of the Whale

1. The Road of Trials
2. The Meeting with the Goddess
3. Woman as Temptress
4. Atonement with the Father
5. Apotheosis
6. The Ultimate Boon

1. Refusal of the Return
2. The Magic Flight
3. Rescue from Without
4. The Crossing of the Return Threshold
5. Master of Two Worlds
6. Freedom to Live