Books III & IV:  Diogenes
Progymnasmata Maxim & Chreia • 7th - 8th grade

Theory The Diogenes Series of Books
Analysis & Imitation What to Buy
Practice (Writing Projects) Frequently Asked Questions

In 7th and 8th grade, respectively, the students study Maxim and Chreia in the progymnasmata sequence. Athen’s famous cynic Diogenes of Sinope is our mascot for Diogenes: Maxim, and Diogenes Laertes, the biographer of philosophers, is our mascot for Diogenes: Chreia.

Essay writing and analysis is the focus of both levels of our Diogenes books. Those books provide instruction for junior high to early high school students as the necessary foundation for our advanced writing courses.

Diogenes: Maxim is for the beginning essay writer, typically 7th grade or higher. The literary models used include selections from Erasmus, Shakespeare, Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill.

Diogenes: Chreia is for the advancing essay writer, typically 8th grade. This book is also appropriate for a high school course. Literary selections (models) in Diogenes Chreia include selections from Sophocles, Aeschylus, Seneca, early church fathers, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Alexander Schmemann.

To write well, students must be well and broadly read. Beginning with Diogenes: Maxim, we include (optional) reading schedules with selections from the Great Books of the western tradition.


To accompany the studies in Diogenes, we recommend a concurrent study of Harvey’s Elementary Grammar. In response to requests from teachers, we have produced Workbooks and Answer Keys which make it very easy to use Harvey's Elementary Grammar.  You may use another program if you prefer.

Theory learned from the grammar program is practiced as the students parse, diagram, and imitate sentences from the literary models.

The progymnasmata paragraph types for the essays learned in Diogenes are introduced one at a time: encomium, paraphrase, cause, opposite, analogy, examples, testimony, and epilogue. Students are also introduced to rhetoric theory and formulation of a thesis statement in preparation for the modern academic five paragraph essay.

Diogenes: Chreia teaches expository essay writing. Modern paragraph conventions, how to write proper citations, as well as timed essays are covered to prepare the students for testing and writing at the university level.
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Analysis and Imitation

Words, sentences, and paragraphs are read and discussed, the author’s use of rhetoric is analyzed, and the essay is summarized. The students learn to write a précis, a short (one to two sentences) summary of the essay. Through study of classical literature selections students develop style and grace in composition.
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Practice (Writing Projects)

The writing projects begin with a familiar maxim as the subject. The students write to demonstrate the wisdom of the maxim, using the paragraph types learned in the theory lessons. The final unit of Diogenes: Maxim focuses primarily on the modern five paragraph essay.

In Diogenes: Chreia, the writing projects teach expository essay writing. Development of both thesis statements and topic sentences for each paragraph is emphasized.
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The Diogenes Series of Books

The two levels of Diogenes are written directly to the student, but teacher involvement is crucial. All the material needed is covered in the text. Even if you are a teacher to whom these concepts are new, the material is explained in such a way that you will be able teach it. Learn along with your student through active reading and dialoguing and writing!!

The non-consumable Diogenes: Maxim and Diogenes: Chreia texts each contain about a year’s worth of composition work. The layout of the books is linear. Students start in Unit 1 at Lesson 1 and work straight through the text through Unit 5’s final lesson. The students cover the material in these books simply by working through the lessons in sequence.

We strongly recommend that the majority of our teachers and students should use the consumable Student Guides available for each level of Diogenes.

The material in the Diogenes is challenging, and is best encountered with the strong organizational foundation that the Student Guides provide: weekly schedules with check lists, coordinating lessons, grammar work, writing projects, and reading for each unit. The Student Guides include copies of the models, charts and tables for analysis and imitation, as well as space for most of the diagramming work. Also included are the planning forms and editing checklists for each writing project. The weekly checklist also schedules each week’s assignments in Harvey’s Elementary Grammar and provides room for you to write in assignments from your own grammar text. Finally, the Student Guides have extensive Answer Keys which you will find invaluable as a time and stress saver! Workbooks and Answer Keys for Harvey’s Elementary Grammar are also available.

The Student Guides divide the work in Diogenes: Maxim into 26 weeks, and the work in Diogenes: Chreia into 24 weeks. This leaves time in the traditional 36 week school year to complete our optional but highly recommended Intermediate Poetry (16 weeks) during these two years as well.

View the Scope and Sequence for Diogenes:Maxim and Diogenes: Chreia

Using Diogenes in a CoOp Setting

We are currently beta-testing Student Guides and Answer Keys for both Diogenes books that are specifically formatted for a CoOp or classroom setting. These Student Guides feature a Weekly Introduction day to help teachers plan a weekly class meeting more easily and efficiently. Some home educators may also find this format helpful. If you are interested in being part of our beta-testing team, please contact us.

Additional Teaching Help for Diogenes

For those who would like a course overview and teacher training, the recorded webinar How to Teach Diogenes may be helpful. There are also recorded tutorials and Writing Project evaluations available for both Maxim and Chreia at Classical Writing Tutorials.

Also available - the popular tutorial Maxim & Chreia Accelerated, a four session 'crash course' covering all the the intermediate analysis and writing skills needed by older students before they move on to our advanced courses.  This is also excellent intensive teacher training for home educators as well as co-op and private school teachers. Students should be at least 9th graders.

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What to Buy for Diogenes: Maxim

Diogenes: Maxim (2nd Edition)
• core text needed for Diogenes: Maxim
• non-consumable
• lessons laid out in units
• prerequisite: Homer
• one year of work for a typical 7th-8th grade student
• Student Guide is highly recommended
Preview Sample Pages


Diogenes: Maxim Student Guide (2nd Edition)
• consumable
• 26 weeks of assignments covering all of Diogenes: Maxim
• weekly schedules for all assignments
• optional reading schedule
Harvey's Elementary Grammar work scheduled
• all models, charts, and tables needed
• editing checklists for each writing project
• answer key included
Preview Sample Pages

What to Buy for Diogenes: Chreia

Diogenes: Chreia
• non-consumable core text for Diogenes: Chreia
• lessons laid out in units
• prerequisite: Diogenes: Maxim
• one year of work for a typical 8th-9th grade student
• Student Guide is optional, but recommended
Preview Sample Pages

Diogenes: Chreia Student Guide
• consumable
• 24 weeks of assignments covering all of Diogenes: Chreia
• weekly schedules for all assignments
• optional reading schedule
Harvey's Elementary Grammar work scheduled
• all models, charts, and tables needed
• editing checklists for each writing project
• answer key included
Preview Sample Pages

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Frequently Asked Questions 

How do I know if my students are ready for Diogenes: Maxim?

The beginning Diogenes: Maxim student should have completed Homer.

What else should my student be studying along with Diogenes: Maxim?

Your student will need a grammar program to accompany Diogenes: Maxim. We recommend Harvey's Elementary Grammar, which is a thorough and simple classic grammar text. However, you may use any basic grammar text, and we provide information to help you schedule your students' grammar lessons.

We have also developed Workbooks and Answer Keys to go with Harvey's Elementary Grammar.

If your students are not proficient at typing, we highly recommend that they complete a typing program. 

Although we give sentence diagramming instruction in both Diogenes texts, if you are completely new to diagramming, a reference like Mary Daly’s First Whole Book of Diagrams may be helpful. Online diagramming resources are also listed on our Helpful Links page.

Again, we highly recommend a study of Intermediate Poetry along with Diogenes: Maxim and Diogenes: Chreia.

I’d love to buy Classical Writing but we are on a tight budget, and I have many students coming down the line.

Diogenes: Maxim and Diogenes: Chreia are both non-consumable books, so they can be reused.  It may be possible to only purchase one Student Guide and use it as a non-consumable book by having your students do their work on the computer or on separate paper instead of marking up the book.

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