The Progymnasmata

The following material should get you a bit acquainted with this ancient form of writing instruction.  I offer Progymnasmata Tutorials  for all levels of these exercises, and all course materials are available with a Resource Membership.

For an overview of how these exercises and my consultation have worked in one teacher's classroom, please see this pdf version of an article that appeared in Classis, the magazine of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools:  "Pro-gym-nas-what?!..."

The "progymnasmata" (pro-gym-nahs-MAH-tah, according to some) are time-tested ancient rhetoric/writing exercises that my materials apply in both traditional and contemporary contexts. The options for tutorials and evaluations make this material adaptable to the needs of homeschools and classrooms of students as young as third grade, of students themselves above sixth grade, and of adults--even professional writers. Through imitation, expansion, condensing, and other techniques, these exercises explore the elements of rhetoric in these areas:

 Narrative  Retell a brief narrative with change of narrator, etc.
 Fable  Retell a familiar fable for a particular purpose.
 Proverb  Analyze and "amplify" a proverb with examples, etc.
 Description  Carefully consider time, place, character to present a scene or action. 
 Anecdote  Amplify as with the proverb a larger narrative.
 Refutation/Confirmation  Follow a logical format to demonstrate the truth of an assertion.
 Common Topic  Explore the characteristics of a vice shown in particular people.
 Encomium/Invective  Praise or blame a person for his character.
 Comparison  Argue the worth of one person in light of another.
 Characterization  Portray a literary or historical figure at a particular point in time.
 Thesis  Set forth an assertion and prove it.
 Proposal of Law  Create an argument for presentation in a legislative body.

I also recommend Frank D'Angelo's book, Composition in the Classical Tradition, and the excellent Silva Rhetoricae web site as teacher resources.




Progymnasmata Tutorials are courses offered in six-week sessions of intense work with frequent evaluations, using materials such as those sampled below. Your enrollment offers your choice of assignments and access to assignments at all levels, as well as downloadable materials you may use on your own.

Progymnasmata Tutorial: Beginning, Intermediate, or Advanced (CRT) $100 - 600
Click Here for Product Details! Six-week sessions, repeatable, of the Progymnasmata exercises at Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced levels. Course hosting at CRTeacher.com includes access to all my Progymnasmata materials and an extensive file of evaluated assignments. A "Resource Membership" is good for independent educators, including forum discussion, without evaluations.

The Progymnasmata:  Preliminary Rhetoric Exercises

Part One

This resource was the original basis for my Progymnasmata Tutorials and makes an ideal teacher's guide for those who wish to teach the Progymnasmata themselves. It covers narration, fable, proverb, description, anecdote, and refutation/confirmation, and is available for those who order a Resource Membership or are enrolled in Progymnasmata Tutorials.

Download Sample showing the table of contents, introduction to the Progymnasmata, and a full Narrative section. 
Download Sample of how I have used the Proverb exercises with different age groups.

Progym:  Classical Writing Workouts

Narrative, Fable, and Proverb (3 workbooks)

These resources are best for those who want to concentrate on individual exercises over an extended period of time and are available for those who order a Resource Membership or are enrolled in Progymnasmata Tutorials. One of the challenges facing modern Classical educators, particularly those with a Christian world view, is coming up with appropriate assignments for their students.  These workbooks present fifteen full exercises each, using sources from Great Books and good books across the ages, offering great flexibility to schools and home schools.

Download Sample Narrative Workbook, including table of contents
Download Sample Fable Workbook, including table of contents
Download Sample Proverb Workbook table of contents