The Things You Learn

I am sure that I mentioned how much I enjoy the sophomore English class where I spend two periods (as opposed to the one where I spend one period). The teacher is my son’s age, 28, but she is good. All my sophomore classes are studying Julius Caesar by Shakespeare. Today the young teacher had the kids watch a CSI-type program that was aired by the Discovery Channel in 2003 and investigated Caesar’s death.

This teacher is very good at tying in what she is teaching to what the kids know, and the minute she told them this was like CSI and COLD CASE (after all, Caesar died 2051 years ago), they were interested. She didn’t give them a very challenging assignment either. Just enough to make them listen. She gave them index cards and told them to make lists of five things they heard on the video that they already knew from studying the play and five things that they hadn’t known before.

I learned a lot. Who would have known that the Romans actually did an autopsy on Caesar? He had twenty-three stab wounds, and the physician who did the autopsy found the note from Artemidorus warning Caesar about the conspiracy clutched in the dead man’s hand. That, then, raised a question that had bugged the kids. How come Caesar ignored all the warnings he received?

The answer was really quite interesting. See, Caesar had epilepsy. The forensic psychiatrist explained how this may have affected Caesar’s health. He figured from the historical documents that Caesar’s health was deteriorating as he aged, and rather than lose face and go out as a weak, doddering old man, Caesar chose what people now call “suicide by cop” or, in his case, “suicide by conspirator.”

I found the theory presented by this show interesting because it indicates that even by conspiring to kill him, the conspirators may actually have done Caesar’s bidding one last time. I think that to be in power like Caesar was, you have to understand people and, to a certain degree, manipulate them. I have often told the hubby that the best way to handle kids who are reluctant to do what I ask is to convince them that what I want is their idea. Sounds to me like Caesar might have done the same thing, but it certainly puts a different spin on the whole story, doesn’t it?


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May 2007
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