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 courses and evaluations make this material adaptable to the needs of teachers of students as young as third grade, of students themselves above sixth grade, and of adults - even professional writers. Through imitating, expanding, condensing, and other techniques, these exercises explore the elements of rhetoric in these areas:
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|
Set forth an assertion and prove it
|Proposal of Law||Create an argument for presentation in a legislative body|
For an overview of how these exercises and my consultation have worked in one teacher's classroom, please download below the article "Pro-gym-nas-what?!" from Classis, the magazine of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools. I also recommend as teacher resources Frank D'Angelo's Composition in the Classical Tradition and the Silva Rhetoricae website.