(Note: I do not know who wrote the forward or translated this letter)
Advice to All Christian Women, But Especially New Brides
by St. Gregory of Nazianzus (“the Theologian”)
We are in Constantinople, in 384 AD. There is a festive event taking place: the wedding of two well-known youths of that time. They are both from upper class families.
The bride, Olympiatha, is a remarkable young lady, quite wealthy and a descendant of the imperial family. She is an orphan whose uncle Prokopios (an eparch of the Imperial State that is also her protector) undertook the responsibility for all of the wedding arrangements, including the invitation list. Olympiatha is marrying a wonderful man by the name of Nevrithios who is the eparch of Constantinople and overseer of the imperial fields.
According to the historians of that time, all of the “who is who” are in attendance of the wedding ceremony, including a sizeable group of bishops. St. Gregory the Theologian (the Patriarch of Constantinople and spiritual father of the bride) is unable to be present due to personal illness. He sent a personal letter to Prokopios expressing his regrets for being unable to attend due to illness. As the spiritual father of Olympiatha, he is pleased about the wedding and passes in writing his immense joy about the wedding of the “golden Olympiatha.” He calls her golden not because of her immense family wealth but rather her golden heart that is evident in the bride’s character and demeanor. In his letter, St. Gregory refers to her as “my child,” i.e., my spiritual child; as such, he is in position to know the depth of her character and quality of her soul as no one else.
Within his letter to Prokopios, he writes that “I am next to you, celebrating the event, and with you I place the right hand of the one youth upon the right hand of the other and then both of them upon the hand of God.”
Later on, St. Gregory sends to the young bride an original wedding gift: a poem with 111 verses, written in ancient Greek and with quite old-fashioned language (even for that time). Through this gift, he passes to his spiritual daughter the wisdom of pertinent advice and thus paints the ideal type of an Orthodox Christian wife.
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For your wedding, I, your spiritual father Gregory, offer you this poem as a gift. And I consider it to be the best possible advice a father could offer to his beloved daughter.
Listen to me Olympiatha: I know that you desire to be a true Christian. As such, be aware that a true Christian must not only be one but she must also appear accordingly. This is why I ask you to pay special attention towards your personal appearance. You must be simple! Gold, attached to precious stones, does not add any value to women of your stature. This is even more so with make-up. It is very improper for you to alter your face, which represents an image of God, for the sole purpose of attraction and admiration by others. Know that this constitutes vanity that is unbecoming of a young lady of your character. I therefore ask that you overcome the feminine vanity that is abundant among young ladies of our time and remain simple in your appearance. The expensive and fancy dresses must remain for
those women that have no desire for the life beyond and do not know what the meaning of spiritual struggle and attainment of virtues is all about; this type of woman cannot possibly comprehend the spiritual radiance and brilliance of a life in Christ. You have aimed towards greater goals and for a higher purpose for your life. These goals demand your full and undivided attentiveness and care.
First of all, you must respect and love God and immediately after Him you must respect and love your husband in the same manner as our Lord and Savior and in accordance with the instructions of our Holy Gospel. I thus ask you, how is it possible for a woman to love her husband in this manner if she has not met, has not respected and has not loved Her Lord and Creator in this same manner?
In your marriage, fondness, affection and love must be strong and persistent for him whom God has selected to be your life partner. This man is now the eye of your life and the delight of your heart. And if you ever perceive that your husband possibly loves you more than you love him, do not take advantage of his feeling by attempting to gain the upper hand in your marriage. That is plainly wrong as it is totally against the writings of the Holy Gospel!
You must respect him and love him unconditionally, as you love God. Be aware that you are a woman and you have an important and great purpose and destiny; however, your purpose and destiny is different than that of your husband who must be the head of your household. Set aside the silliness of equality among the sexes, that some of your contemporaries preach, and attempt to comprehend the obligations of marriage. In the realization of these obligations you will discover the great patience and endurance that is necessary to fulfill your family duties; it is in this manner that you will also discover the great strength that you as a woman possess.
You must surely be aware of how easily anger overtakes men. They cannot maintain and they often appear as wild lions. It is at this exact moment that a woman must remain stronger and display her superiority. You must play the role of the lion-tamer. What does a lion-tamer do when the beast starts
roaring? He becomes even calmer than usual and through kindness and persistence he overcomes his wrath. He speaks to him kindly, in a soft but firm voice, he caresses it, he attends to it, he pets it and little by little calmness is restored.
You must never criticize, scold or become derogatory towards your husband for something that he has erred. Likewise, you must avoid any contempt towards any inaction or indecision by your husband, even when the outcome is not favorable or something that you greatly desire or consider proper. Be aware that demons are always around attempting to penetrate your household, and break up the couple’s harmonious spiritual cohabitation.
You must share everything, joys and sorrows alike. The Holy Sacrament of Marriage has indeed made all common to both of you. This is equally important towards the daily obligations and duties as they apply to running the household; it is the only way that a strong foundation will be built for your marriage. Let both of you provide your views and opinions; in the end, however, allow your husband to have the final say.
When you observe your husband to be sorrowful, share in his sorrow and provide him the needed relief;
the support of the person closest to you in moments of sorrow and despair is of great value and relief. Immediately, however, let your facial expressions become calm, clear and collected; let peace prevail upon your demeanor and forego the temptation of any thoughts of despair. The wife is the calm harbor
for the sea wave-stricken husband.
Your presence within your home is irreplaceable; you must accordingly love your home with all the cares and concern of a dedicated housekeeper. You must view it and consider it as your kingdom and you should be judicious about how often you exit its entrance. Let your husband take care of many of the outside cares and obligations while you concentrate towards those within the home.
Be extremely careful with whom you associate and the company that you keep. Be especially careful of the social gatherings that you may be participating in. Do not allow yourself to enter entertainment centers of questionable background; these represent extreme danger towards your purity and the sanctity of your marriage. These types of social interactions remove the instinct of shame, eyes cross with eyes, and once shame is not there to guard from any impropriety, the demons are able to exercise
their influence and give rise to evils of unspeakable magnitude.
On the other hand, social interactions with friends of substance and of firmly grounded spiritual state must be pursued. In this manner, words of value get implanted within you and you either benefit from them or are able to confront and resolve any weaknesses that you may recognize. Concurrently, you are able to cultivate social interests and get to know people who will benefit your household’s spiritual state.
Do not be anxious to keep company or even appear in public and in the company of others for no reason. You should instead dedicate your precious time in the company of your wiser and more prudent relatives, priests, and seriously-minded people, young and old alike.
Stay away from conceited and ostentatious women whose mind is pre-occupied with external appearances and social circles, all for the purpose of vainglory and public display. This should be the same for any men that you consider respectful and spiritual but whom your husband has not allowed toenter your home, irrespective of how highly you may regard them. For is there anything more precious for you than your good husband whom you love so dearly?
Your thoughts must aim high but you must never behave as intolerable or snobbish.
I applaud women that are known by only a few men. Do not run towards worldly feasts and celebrations, even when those are for weddings or birthdays. It is around those types of gatherings that the passions of the flesh are aroused with the many dances, the drinking, the laughter and the false joys that are capable of deceiving and misleading even the pure and the wise. Always remember that purity is extremely fragile—it is like bee wax exposed to the rays of the sun. It would be prudent to limit and at times avoid the worldly feasts, even within the confines of your own home. If we were capable of controlling the desires and many appetites of the stomach we would be well served in our struggles against the many passions of our flesh; we would be in a position to conquer them instead of being subdued by them.
Keep your face calm and collected and do not alter it with extreme laughter or with grimaces of dismay, anger or disappointment towards others. Your ears should be decorated not with pearls but instead with the sounds of proper language and with locks for all the improprieties that may enter your nous [heart] through them. Thus, whether they are open or closed your sense of hearing will remain pure.
As far as your eyes, they are the ones that display the contents of your soul. Let them be the source of blush and virgin purity that pours below your eye lashes. This way, your presence and eyesight will invoke modesty, decency and the shame of innocence to all that lay their eyes upon you, perhaps even your husband! It is best and for many reasons that you keep your eyes closed or indifferent to the events around you and you should make it a habit to always maintain your sight low.
And now for your tongue. Your husband will always be your enemy for as long as your tongue is uncontrolled, even if you are to be blessed with thousands of other talents. A foolish tongue often endangers even the most innocent of people. It is preferred to maintain quiet, even in cases that you are correct. This is because you risk the expression of an unintended improper word or characterization. No matter how greatly you desire to say a lot, it is best that you limit your words and instead choose your presence to be a quiet one.
Be attentive even of the manner that you walk; it matters greatly towards a prudent presence.
And now pay close attention and be mindful of the following advice: You must never exemplify or maintain an uncontrollable desire for the flesh. Persuade your husband to respect the holy days of the Church and the fasting periods. This is because God’s laws are of much greater importance than the
image of God. Be mindful that the institution of marriage was established by the Son of God to aid His creation so that a balance is maintained, as some depart this world while others arrive.
If you have benefited from this old man through some spiritual words of value I ask that you keep these words and advice guarded well within the depths of your soul. In this manner, through everything that you have benefitted and through the grace of your moral stature, you will be capable of healing your excellent husband and well known politician from the evils of vainglory and pride that constantly surround him.
This is my gift and heirloom that I offer to you. And if you desire my blessing, I pray that you become a vineyard of descendants, with many children, and many children from these children, so that our God may be glorified by more of us, for it is for Him that we are born and to Him that we should aim our earthly paths.
Your spiritual father,
Patriarch of Constantinople
A Homily given by Hieroschema Monk Nilus of St. Arsenius Hermitage.
The First Ecumenical Council and who can interpret the Holy Scriptures
Beloved of God, today, as we commemorate the Holy Fathers of the First
Ecumenical Council, let us consider Scripture interpretation, and
specifically ponder the question: Who is trustworthy to interpret the
Holy Scriptures? I pose this question because Arius, whom our Holy
Fathers withstood, based his heretical teaching upon his personal
interpretation of the Scriptures. So let me ask again: Who is
trustworthy to interpret the Holy Scriptures?
I would like to begin answering by bringing forward a comment of the
contemporary monk Theocletos of Dionisiou Monastery on the Holy
Mountain. Father Theocletos is mentioned in the book “Anchored in
God” as a noteworthy monk of the Holy Mountain. This book is authored
by Constantine Cavarnos who visited Athos in the 1950’s and wrote of
his experiences there. When I visited the Holy Mountain in 1986 I
heard about Father Theocletos as a monk who is both spiritual and
scholarly. At that time he was living a semi-reclused life, residing
in a house just outside the monastery. I visited him and asked a
number of questions. One, which I had often been asked by
Protestants, was, “Why is it that we Orthodox have so little of the
New Testament in our services?” So Father answered: “It is
Protestantism to read the Scriptures and interpret them. In the
Orthodox Church we go by the writings of the Holy Fathers. The Holy
Fathers lived the Gospel commandments, they were purified, they were
illumined by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and their writings
proceeded from the illumination they received.” He then encouraged me
to read the Holy Fathers.
In addition to this we could also make reference to St. John Cassian.
Somewhere in his writings he poses the question, “Why is it that we
find variant opinion among commentators of the Holy Scriptures?” And
he answers, “Because before being purified from the passions they rush
into the work of interpreting the Scriptures.”
So, for us, our Holy Fathers, such as those we commemorate today, are
the interpreters of the Holy Scriptures and they are our theologians;
they set down doctrine for us. Let us also consider what theology is,
since this also speaks of the state of grace acquired by the Saints
which enabled them to interpret the Scriptures. Archimandrite
Zachariah explains this well in relating how his spiritual father,
Elder Sophrony defines theology. He writes:
For Elder Sophrony, theology is above all an abiding in God. It is
accompanied by the saving and regenerating power of the Spirit, Whose
nature although it cannot be declared, nevertheless conveys an
illuminating revelation. The man who bears this state bears ‘the word
of life’ (Phil. 2:16)….
In his book on Saint Silouan, Elder Sophrony confirms that true
theology is neither the fruit of intellectual erudition, nor the
conjecturing of man’s reason, but rather the narration of an important
occurrence which is the encounter between the spirit of man and the
Living God. (Man the Target of God, pp. 101-2)
And Father Sophrony compares the rational approach of man to theology
with that which is the fruit of man’s experience of grace as follows:
With iron drills men drill the earth’s crust for oil, and are
successful. With their intellectual powers they drill heaven for the
fire of Divinity but are rejected of God because of their pride.
Divine contemplation is accorded to man, not in those precise moments
when he seeks it, and it alone, but when his soul descends into the
hell of repentance and does really feel that she is the meanest of
creatures. Contemplation forcibly attained, as it were, through the
reason is not true but only seemingly contemplation. To accept such
contemplation as truth creates conditions in the soul which may
prevent the action of grace and make genuine contemplation impossible.
Knowledge revealed in the contemplation which proceeds from grace
surpasses even the most sublime creations of the imagination, as St.
Paul affirmed when he said, ‘Eye hat not seen, nor ear heard, neither
have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared
for them that love Him.’ (ICor. 2:9) When man, as happened with the
Apostles, has been caught up by grace in to a vision of Divine Light,
he afterwards translates into theology the things he has seen and
known. Authentic theology consists, not in the conjecture of man’s
reason or the results of critical research but in a statement of the
life into which man has been introduced by the action of the Holy
Spirit. (Saint Silouan the Athonite, pp. 169-170)
Let us, therefore, put our trust in our Holy Fathers who experienced
this state and thank God for the great inheritance of their
writings—their expositions of true theology—which He has bequeathed
us. We should not expect to acquire the state of grace nor
illumination they experienced. However we shyuold be grateful to God
for their teachings. This is also a reason to grow in our love for
our Lord for He has not left us orphaned but has raised up for us the
Holy Fathers to preserve the Faith for us. Through the prayers of our
Holy Fathers may our Lord Jesus Christ hold us fast in the true faith
and save us. Amen.
A good follow-up to this article:
How to Study Scripture from An Orthodox Perspective
I want to say something about this prayer, which my spiritual father wrote and gave me almost 20 years ago now:
"O Lord Jesus Christ our God Who didst come into this world not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give Thy life as a ransom for many. Help me, I beseech Thee in my ministry of caring for the children Thou hast given me. Enable me to be patient in tribulations, to instruct with a meek and gentle spirit, to reprimand with inner tranquility and a sober mind, and to serve in humility of heart with love. May I thus live in Thee alone, by Thee alone and for Thee alone showing forth Thy virtues and leading my family upon the path of Thy saving commandments. That we may glorify Thee together with Thine unoriginate Father and Thine all-holy Spirit both in this world and that which is to come. Amen."
When our family came into the Church in 1996, large families were extremely rare and very few Orthodox homeschooled. I myself, grew up in a very broken home and desperately desired role models to look up to. As a part of my conversion process to Christianity, I became convicted that children were a blessing from God and that homeschooling was the easiest way to live a God-centered lifestyle and to transmit our growing faith to our children. But at the time, few shared those convictions in Orthodoxy and the Internet wasn't a source of extended community support yet. So rather than providing me other women I could look up to, God provided me a spiritual father who would help heal me from my past wounds and transform our life spiritually. He authored this prayer in one of his especially poignant letters he sent when I was particularly down and depressed. I later received a blessing to share it on the Paidea Classics website as well as a couple of his letters that I also had.
Monasticism has something deeper to offer than peer support. Not only does the ascetic life of monasticism help the spiritual father or mother to understand and have compassion for the ongoing struggle of self-denial and constant serving of others demanded by motherhood, he or she better understands sin and suffering and helps you overcome temptations, and transform sorrows into means of ascent and spiritual growth.
Today, there is a lot more material out there being written and published to help families. But there remains a special chrism of spiritual fatherhood (or motherhood), that cannot be put into books and generally goes unnoticed by the mainstream Orthodox public. But in the case of this prayer, it is important for me that people realize it is the product of a holy monastic life, steeped in ceaseless prayer, and serving others through the role of spiritual fatherhood. It is a selfless gift to the Church by a person who is looking to acquire nothing from it himself.
The first 450 years of Church history is a foundational time period during the establishment of the Church of Christ. All later history depends on the precedences set during these early years. Paidea Classics initial publications focus heavily on this critical time period.
I have uploaded a pdf sample of Stories from Church History, Volume 1.
You can see how it correlates with A Children's History of the Church here:
Here is a sample of Stories from Church History, Volume 2.
These three volumes including Stories from Church History, Volume 2, which is coming out, hopefully by the end of August, provides good coverage of the first 450 years of Church history.
A Children's History of the Church is the history spine which connects the overall events of history during this time period together, describing in more detail the councils, the heresies, and major happenings of various geographical regions. While the two volumes of Stories from Church History compliment it by providing short stories of major historical figures and saints, often only briefly mentioned in A Children's History of the Church. These short stories more effectively capture the child's heart and interest in the historical narrative. The history spine alone would be too dry and fast paced. The stories alone would fail to provide necessary context in relationship to the greater story line and major concurrent events. The three volumes together provide comprehensive and balanced coverage that is both broad in scope while also engaging, helping the child to figuratively enter into the experience being shared in story form.
There is a chart in the appendix of both volumes of Stories from Church History that correlate the stories with the pages where their references are found in A Child's history of the Church. This chart is intended to simplify lesson planning. A reading can be done first from A Children's History of the Church, which is then followed by a complimentary short story.
Paidea Classics also publishes, and carries titles from other publishers, that compliment this time period as well. These volumes together, form a very comprehensive study of the early Church that is both informative and a joy to read.
"The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom"
(Proverbs 9:10; Psalm 111:10)
A homily by a hieroschema monk that can apply to the transmission of wisdom to our children:
The first 2 verses in today's Gospel read: "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!"
St Anthony the Great once commented on this excerpt from the Gospels and his words are preserved for us in the writings of St John Cassian in the talk of the Egyptian monk Abba Moses on discretion. So Abba Moses spoke as follows:
"I remember that while I was still in my youth, in the region of Thebaid, where the blessed Antony lived, the elders came to him to inquire about perfection, and it was discussed at great length what virtue or observance could preserve a monk always unharmed by the snares and deceits of the devil, and carry him forward on a sure and right path, and with firm step to the heights of perfection. And each gave his opinion, and some said it consist in zeal in fasting and vigils, because a soul that has been brought low by these, and so obtained purity of heart and body and are more easily united to God, others said in despising all material things, as, if the mind were utterly deprived of them, thus it would come more freely to God, as if from then on there were no snares to entangle it; others thought that withdrawal from the world was the thing needful, i.e., solitude and the isolation of the hermit's life, since living in this way a man may more readily commune with God, and cling more especially to Him; others laid down that the duties of charity, i.e., of kindness should be practiced, because the Lord in the gospel promised more especially to give the kingdom to these; when He said 'Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungred and ye gave Me to eat, I was thirsty and ye gave Me to drink, etc..'"
"Then at last the blessed Antony spoke and said: 'All these things which you have mentioned are indeed needful, and helpful to those who are thirsting for God, and desirous to approach Him. But countless accidents and the experience of many will not allow us to make the most important of gifts consist in them. For often when men are most strict in fasting or in vigils, and nobly withdraw into solitude, and aim at depriving themselves of all their goods so absolutely that they do not allow even a day's allowance of food or a single penny to remain to them, and when they fulfill all the duties of kindness with the utmost devotion, yet still we have seen them suddenly deceived, so that they could not bring the work they had entered upon to a suitable close, but brought their exalted fervor and praiseworthy manner of life to a terrible end.'"
"'Therefore we shall be able clearly to recognize what it is which securely leads to God, if we examine with greater care the reason of their downfall and deception. For when the works of the above mentioned virtues were abounding in them, discretion alone was lacking, and did not allowed them to continue to the end. Nor can any other reason for their falling off be discovered except that as they were not sufficiently instructed by their elders they could not obtain judgment for Christ says, "if the light which is in thee be darkness, how great will that darkness be!" For no one can doubt that when the judgment of our heart goes wrong, and is overwhelmed by the night of ignorance, our thoughts and deeds, which are the result of deliberation and discretion, must be involved in the darkness of still greater sins.'"
Here St. Anthony is speaking of discretion in reference to ascetic labors but today we find ourselves in such an atmosphere both in the world and the Church that we need discretion concerning correct understanding of our Orthodox Faith. Yes, are we holding fast to the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints? We find ourselves in the midst of varying conflicting opinions even in the Church. So we need discretion, the eye of our souls must be whole. How can we acquire this discretion? What can safeguard our hearts from error?
Something very helpful which can be expressed in one word is piety, or evsevia in Greek or blagochestiye in Slavonic. This is a holy humble blessed fearless fear of God in which there is peace. It is the core of our life in Christ. St. Theophan the Recluse explains it like this: "the standing in awe before God in the heart. This fear is the guardian and defender of the state of grace." And he goes on to instruct: "Steep yourself in this godly fear, reflect deeply upon it, and impress it firmly upon your conscience and heart. Revivify it constantly within yourself, and in its turn it will fill you with life."
In another place he says: "We should always hold fast to the fear of God it is the root of all spiritual knowledge and all right action. When the fear of God rules in the soul everything goes well both within and without. Try to kindle this sense of fear in your heart every morning before you do anything else. "
Let us, then strive to fulfill St. Theophan's instructions. And remember this is not an intellectual acknowledgement that he speaks of, or a working of the brain but rather that of the heart. For he said, "Try to kindle this sense of fear in your heart" and "stand in awe before God in the heart." Then we shall be able to perceive with our heart, again I want to stress that this is not to understand with the brain but to perceive with the heart--as our Lord shows us in the parable of the sower for He says that the word is sown in the heart and those that understand with their heart bear fruit. May God grant us this and so discern the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. Amen.
Wild elderflower in bloom.
Following Charlotte Mason's educational philosophy makes implementing a classical style of education much easier for the larger or more stressed homeschool family. Her philosophy also harmonizes well with Orthodox patristic teaching. Paidea Classics is working to put together resources to support the implementation of a Charlotte Mason style education for the Orthodox Christian homeschool. To watch slideshow presentations, go to:
Books are on an antique camel bag from Tarsus, Anatolia.
An initial book list for Ancient history, upper elementary through middle school (there will likely be additions to this list over time):
Ancient History for the fluent reader,
late elementary through middle school
The Old Testament
The Bible and the Holy Fathers for Orthodox
The Law of God, by Fr. Seraphim Slobodskoi
The Law of God, by Fr. Daniel Sysoev
Our Young Folks’ Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews and the Jewish Wars
Our Young Folks’ Plutarch (a children’s versions for Greek and Roman lives):
A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys (Greek mythology)
Tanglewood Tales (Greek mythology)
DK Eyewitness Books: Mesopotamia
DK Eyewitness Books: Ancient Egypt
DK Eyewitness Books: Ancient Greece
Ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Persian Costume
Ancient Israelites and Their Neighbors, by Marian Broida (activity book)
Ancient Egyptians and Their Neighbors, By Marian Broida (activity book)
Gilgamesh the King (I recommend this version for high school as well, because the original is quite pornographic in nature)
The Revenge of Ishtar (I recommend this version for high school as well, because the original is quite pornographic in nature)
The Last Quest of Gilgamesh (I recommend this version for high school as well, because the original is quite pornographic in nature)
The Golden Goblet, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Mara, Daughter of the Nile (some romantic content)
The Riddle of the Rosetta Stone
The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt
The Wanderings of Odysseus, by Rosemary Sutcliff
Black Ships Before Troy, by Rosemary Sutcliff
Archimedes and the Door of Science
Galen and the Gateway to Medicine
God King: A Story to the Days of King Hezekiah
Herodotus And the Road to History
Victory on the Walls, A Story of Nehemiah
Book of Centuries:
Actual bound book as Charlotte Mason used in her schools
Book of Centuries Source Book: The Ancient World (in development)
Ancient History Portfolio and Timeline (A curriculum inspired by the book of centuries idea though not actually following Charlotte Mason’s philosophy. Developed by an Orthodox Christian. Recommended for ages 9 and up)
Ancient History Portfolio Junior (recommended for ages 5-10)
Poetry and Copywork:
Lives of Old Testament Saints in chronological order from the prologue including Troparia for copywork is in development.
Quotes from Proverbs, hymns from Exodus.
Glory to God for All Things! Nature Journal
From I-ville to You-ville, by Angeliki Delecha
Lives of Old Testament Saints
Books are on an antique camel bag from Tarsus, Anatolia.
Here is a listing of free e-texts of classic children's literature covering ancient history from Baldwin Project. I have not read most of these and cannot speak for their quality, appropriateness, or intended age. But having them separated from the general list may aid in lesson planning. It would be nice to have these arranged chronologically in the future with a short description. Maybe I can get that done at some point. There are other sites with public domain children's literature as well. Hopefully, in time, I can also include them in a master list in chronological and geographic order.
The first book in this list is "Our Young Folks' Josephus," a book Paidea Classics has published with illustrations.
Our Young Folks’ Josephus (From Abraham until the Fall of Jerusalem)
Cyrus the Great (Persia 600 BC)
Darius the Great (Persia 550-486 BC)
Xerxes (Persia 519-466 BC)
The Hammer (Jerusalem 174 BC)
Our Young Folks’ Plutarch (Greece and Rome 820 BC-69 AD)
Plutarch’s Lives for Boys and Girls (Greece and Rome 820 BC-69 AD)
Children’s Plutarch: Tales of the Greeks (820 BC-69 AD)
Aesop’s Fables (Aesop’s life: 620-564 BC)
The Aesop for Children (Aesop’s life: 620-564 BC)
The Story of the Greek People
The Illiad for Boys and Girls (8th or 7th century BC)
The Odyssey for Boys and Girls (8th or 7th century BC)
The Iliad (8th or 7th century BC)
The Odyssey (8th or 7th century BC)
Stories from Plato and Other Classic Writers (428-348 BC)
Stories from the Greek Comedians
Stories from the Greek Tragedians
Old Greek Stories
The Story of Greece
A Story of the Golden Age of Greek Heroes
Historical Tales: Greek
The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Before Achilles (Greek Mythology)
Gods and Heroes (Greek Mythology)
Four Old Greeks
Greek Gods, Heroes, and Men (Greek Mythology)
Tanglewood Tales (Greek Mythology)
A Wonderbook for Girls and Boys
The Golden Porch
The Heroes (Greek Mythology)
Old Greek Folk Stories Told Anew
Stories of the Ancient Greeks
Stories of the East from Herodotus
The Story of the Persian War
The Story of the Greeks
Stories from Greek History
Callias–The Fall of Athens (5th century BC)
Three Greek Children
A Young Macedonian
Our Little Athenian Cousin of Long Ago
Pictures from Greek Life and Story
Pyrrhus (318-272 BC)
Famous Men of Greece
Alexander the Great (356-323 BC)
Cleopatra (69-30 BC)
Lords of the World
Children’s Plutarch: Tales of the Romans
Famous Men of Rome
Lucius. Adventures of a Roman Boy
Pictures from Roman Life and Story
Roman Life in the Days of Cicero (106-43 BC)
Stories from Ancient Rome
Stories from Livy (59 BC-17 AD)
The Story of the Romans
Stories in Stone from the Roman Forum
The Story of Rome
Historical Tales: Roman
The Aeneid for Boys and Girls
Stories of Beowulf Told to the Children (ancient English poem)
St. Paisios' hermitage in Sinai, Egypt
(Father Paisius was a noted Athonite elder. The following conversation with Father Paisius took place in August 1990.)
Q. Yeronda (Gk. for elder), there are so many temptations and dangers for young people today. And although we see to it as much as we can to have our children within the church, we worry. Is this concern justified?
A. For children who have been watered from a young age on piety-do not have fear for them and if they stray a little due to their age or because of temptations-they will come back...
Q. From which age, Yeronda, do you believe that children become "receptive" and how can we as parents take action without endangering them by chance of excessiveness?
A. First of all, children imitate us and of course it starts from infancy. From there onwards we have to have the same concern over them as with watches. We wind them as quickly as their spring will take andthen later on slowly, being careful not to break their spring with force.
Q. Many times they aren't obedient on some important issues and they rebel very badly for their age. Shouldn't we insist especially on things like piety?
A. When something isn't going well, something is always to blame. Maybe our example is to blame? Maybe it's some bad issues, some bad actions, or bad words within the home. However, piety is given to children with their milk and not with solid food. Never with pressure or force. And especially by example.
Q. In cases of wrong actions does spanking bring good results?
A. We must avoid it as much as possible. And also all those continuous "no's" and "don'ts". Make the child understand why he shouldn't do something. Only then can we bring them around.
Q. Even though we try and follow all these things as much as we can, they become rebellious and disobedient. Do you think that it could be because of bad company at school-perhaps it is our fault?...Sometimes, however they surpass every limit and we don't know what to do.
A. Why don't we give the screwdriver to Christ sometimes-let him take care of things and tighten a few screws. Let's not expect to do everything ourselves.
Q. In the case where the child is in the church yet at a certain age he starts to change his ways and stray, how should we handle this?
A. Calmly. If they do something serous, we should intervene. With younger children we should overlook something so we don't turn things around and make things worst.
Q. When a child gets involved with a bad crowd and deserts his home and in the meantime doesn't have much of Christ with him, because unfortunately we are weak- do you think there is much hope that they'll come round?
A. Did they take love with them? Where there is love in the home and the child himself was surrounded by love himself, even if he leaves and gets involved with bad crowds and having a good time, he will see eventually that there is no love outside. He'll see that there is hypocrisy everywhere and he'll return home. But if he remembers hostility and hatred he won't have it in his heart to return home.
Q. When we ourselves have come to know Christ late, that is, when our children have already grown up, what can we do to put them on the right path?
A. In this case, only prayer can bring results. We must ask God with a lot of faith to have mercy on these children who are not responsible for their unbelief. We must recognize that the responsibility is totally ours to humble ourselves and to have genuine repentance, and God will help. He has His way. He'll send them a life jacket to save them.
An excerpt from "Conversations with Children," by Sister Magdelen of the Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist, Essex, United Kingdom.
THE HEART, THE SPIRITUAL CENTRE OF A PERSON
'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all they mind' (Luke 10:27). Christ put the heart first in His Commandment. The heart is the most personal component of a human being. Our brains and our minds reflect in their way the state of our heart; as the Lord said, thoughts proceed out of the heart (Matt. 15:19, Mark 7:21). 'Our ideas, our philosophical systems, our cosmologies, our world views, are nothing else but the history of our hearts.'* As we develop spiritually, our intellect no longer remains separated, exiled in the brain. Mind and heart are united in a re-integrated person.
The heart is cleansed and awakened by grace and by life according to the Gospel; that is why so many of our contemporaries are only aware of the heart's physical functions. Sometimes they acknowledge also its emotional facet, though in the case of the emotions many consider the term 'heart' to be symbolic or metaphorical. Those who follow a Christian path will discover that the heart is the meeting place between the real 'I', the human hypostasis, and the living God. The pure in heart see God there. Knowledge of Him originates there. The cultivation of the heart is a task beyond any secular educational system. Intellectual ability is now deemed the criterion of knowledge. Because we are spiritually frozen we do not recognize a thought until it has taken a cerebral form. In reality, moral and spiritual judgments are decided in the heart.
Child to a spiritual father: 'What shall I do about [personal problem]?' Elder: 'I think you should decide about that yourself'. Child: 'But I can't' Elder: 'That's because you tried to decide here [hand on forehead] rather than here [hand on heart].'
Obviously this was a personal answer. But the fact that it was given to a child is significant. It also shows us that in Christian life, deciding by the heart does not mean being guided by the emotions rather than by reason. Neither does it mean that feelings are superior to thinking. Nor do we deny the value of reasoning. Deciding by our heart means opening the core of one's being to God's enlightenment, and letting the effect of that prayer colour our decision-making.
In the spiritual education of children, our first concern is not to train their wills, but to attract grace by our life and prayer to their environment, and to let each child's heart become attached to grace. Theological discussion with children is a very small proportion of Christian education. Prayer that God will touch them with grace is a permanent dimension of all our dealings with children, even when they are not with us.
Protopresbyter George Metallinos, recalling the holy Elder Porphyrios: 'He told me that I must deal with one of my children by praying a lot more. He specifically said to me about that child, "Whatever you would say to that child, say it to God. Kneel before God and through the grace of God, your words will be conveyed to your child." About my other child, he said to me: " He listens, but he easily forgets. Therefore, again you will kneel and you will ask for God's grace, so that your fatherly words will fall upon good soil and will be able to bear fruit."**
*Fr. Theokletos Dionysiatis, "Between Heaven and Earth [in Greek], (Athens, 1955), p. 130.
**Klitos Ionnidis, "Elder Porphyrios, Testimonies and Experiences," (Athens: Convent of the Transfiguration, 1997), p. 77.