Classical Writing Herodotus

Book V:  Herodotus
Progymnasmata Confirmation, Refutation, and Commonplace ~ 9th grade

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

In 9th grade and up, the students study Herodotus, which covers the progymnasmata of Confirmation, Refutation, and Commonplace. The mascot for this book is Herodotus, the Greek father of history with his vivid narratives of Egypt and the Persian Wars.

Argumentative essay writing and analysis is the focus of Herotodus, arguing for and against the likelihood that a certain account is accurately recalled, as well as arguing for and against different issues. Students who complete Herodotus will have received writing instruction which is at least on par with a standard K-12 writing scope and sequence.

The literary models used in this book include selections from Herodotus’ Histories, the Greek myths, Athanasius’ On the Incarnation of the Word of God, Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, and Aeschylus’ trilogy The Oresteia, just to mention a few. The weekly reading schedule suggests that the student read through many of these classic works during the course of the school year. This book is also appropriate for two semesters of literature and writing at the high school level.


Herodotus continues adding to the student’s battery of paragraph types with advanced treatment of introductory and concluding paragraphs as well as specific instruction in writing paragraphs arguing for or against an account of an event being is clear, credible, possible, plausible, and appropriate. Students are also introduced to consideration of audience and occasion, and to stasis theory.

Where Diogenes: Maxim and Diogenes: Chreia focused specifically on deliberative rhetoric, Herotodus’ emphasis is on judicial rhetoric, the rhetoric of the court room. We begin with an analysis of Aeschylus’ Oresteia, which shows how humanity went from personal vengeance to a third party neutral justice system to settle disputes between claimants.   

With this theme of Confirmation and Refutation, the students write argumentative essays arguing for and against issues of credibility, clarity, possibility, plausibility, expediency, and propriety. The final essay in this volume is the modern argumentative essay.

Modern paragraph conventions, how to write proper citations, and timed essays are covered to prepare the students for testing and writing at the university level.

Chapter 5 of Herotodus covers material logic, and beginning formal logic. We recommend going through a beginning logic course such as Memoria Press' Traditional Logic I concurrently. Instruction in syllogistic logic will be given in more detail in Demosthenes, our 11th and 12th grade text.
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Analysis and Imitation

Words, sentences, and paragraphs are read and discussed; the author’s use of rhetoric, particularly logic, is analyzed.  Students continue to write summaries and précis, a short (one to two sentences) summary of the essay. The thorough study of selections from classical literature helps students develop style and grace in composition.
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Practice (Writing Projects)

The writing projects begin with retelling a narrative from a particular point of view, and for a particular audience. Students will also argue for or against the plausibility of a narrative account. The final chapters of Herodotus focus primarily on the modern argumentative essay.
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The Herodotus Books

The non-consumable Herodotus text contains about a year’s worth of composition work. The layout of the book is linear: start in Chapter 1 at Lesson 1 and work straight through the text to Chapter 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 that accompany this book.

The material in Herodotus is challenging, and most students and teachers will need the strong organizational foundation that the Student Guide provides: weekly schedules with check lists and coordination  of lessons, grammar work, writing projects, and reading for each unit. Lessons and assignments are laid out in a format that will work well in either a home or a co-op setting. The Student Guide 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 also lists each week’s assignments in Traditional Logic
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View the Scope and Sequence for Herodotus.

What to Buy for Herodotus:

• core text needed for Herodotus
• non-consumable
• lessons laid out in weeks with a co-op friendly format
• prerequisite: completion of  Diogenes: Chreia is recommended
• appropriate for 9th-12th grades
Student Guide is highly recommended

Herodotus Student Guide
• available in print version or <a target="_blank" http:="""" shop="" kathy-weitz="" herodotus-student-guide="" ebook="" product-17549243.html"="" class="hyperlinkSmallColor" data-cke-saved-href="" href="">PDF download
• 24 weeks of assignments covering all of Herodotus
• weekly schedules for all assignments
• co-op schedules included
• optional reading schedule for literature to accompany Herodotus
Traditional Logic I work scheduled
• includes all models, charts, and tables needed
• editing checklists for each writing project

Herodotus Answer Key
• non-consumable paperback
• answers to most exercises in Herodotus
• space for teacher notes
• optional, but strongly recommended

Frequently Asked Questions 

How do I know if my students are ready for Herodotus?

The best preparation for Herodotus is  Diogenes: Chreia. However, students new to Classical Writing can start with this text. It is recommended that students have had at least some experience with retelling narratives.

What else should my student be studying along with Herodotus?

We recommend a logic study to accompany Herodotus. Our top choice is Traditional Logic 1: Introduction To Formal Logic by Martin Cothran, which is a thorough and simple logic text. We highly recommend that you buy the accompanying Answer Key.  However, you may use any basic logic text. We provide information to help you schedule your students’ logic lessons.
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