Analyzing Vergil - KU Edtech

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“A Brainstorming Activity for Understanding the Process Analyzing Vergil”
For this activity, students will use inquiry skills to explore the process of
analyzing a passage of Vergil using the Inspiration software. They will answer the
question “How does the text of Vergil's Aeneid help to convey its deeper meaning?”
They will then think about questions such as “How do rhetorical devices come into play”
and “How does the language itself convey the meaning?” Students will work together in
small groups and will go through three steps in their inquiry: first, students will need to
investigate and gather information on the major aspects of Latin poetry that they should
consider. In order to do this, they will need to first of all have a solid foundation of Latin
grammar and forms, for example the material covered in Latin 104 and 108 at the
University of Kansas. Beyond knowing Latin grammar, students will need to do research
in grammar books and textbooks to find out in a sense what makes poetry poetry. They
will need to use books such as Cambridge's A Student's Latin Grammar, Wheelock's
Latin, Pharr's Aeneid, Books 1-6, and Charles E. Bennet's A New Latin Grammar. All of
these texts are standard in first through fourth semester Latin courses at KU and contain
helpful information on poetry analysis.
Next, students will need to organize the information that they have collected
concerning poetic techniques. They will use the Inspiration software to help them start
with major categories and then break each category up into more specific areas to be
considered. By using the Inspiration software, they will be able to visualize and work
with the natural flow of questions to be considered in a sequential manner. After
inserting and brainstorming their ideas for poetic techniques in Inspiration and then
accordingly organizing them, they will apply them to a particular passage in the Aeneid.
For example, an A-level student might create an Inspiration file that begins with
the question of poetry analysis and then moves into three main categories: rhetorical
devices, language, and sentence structure. The rhetorical devices box would then be
further carried to list various types of rhetorical devices. Language might inspire him or
her to examine the type of constructions used, like purpose or obligation, whether verbs
were in general more active or passive, and whether there was use of impersonal
constructions. Sentence structure might be further broken down to include factors such
as word order and emphatic positioning and periodicity. The student would then apply
all of these factors to a particular passage of Vergil and come up with ideas such as “the
use of anaphora in repeating Aeneas' name and the fact that he always appears as the
active subject of the verbs rather than the passive subject emphasizes his agency and
importance in taking action and fulfilling the prophecy of the gods”.
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