Nov 16

Leda and the Swan

Another subject used in classic art is a story that comes out of Greek mythology, Leda and the Swan. The photograph below is from the MET. The artist, Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse completed the work in 1870. Belleuse is less famous than Rodin, but it is my understanding that he was, for a time, Rodin’s instructor.

Leda and the Swan

Leda and the Swan

The story of Leda and the Swan involves the god, Zeus, adopting the form of a swan and seducing or raping Leda, a married woman. She then bears his children, Helen and Polydeuces as well as the children of her husband, Castor and Clytemnestra.

Ancient Greek and Roman mythology are very rich sources of information about the roots of Western civilization and culture. Many of the stories are fantastic in their details and they can lead one’s imagination to far away places in a time long ago.

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William F. Russell has done great work introducing readers to Greek and Roman Mythology. His book, Classic Myths to Read Aloud, is a terrific way to start to learn about the ancient stories and the historical characters throughout those stories. He is also credited with several titles written about classics from great authors like, Homer, Shakespeare, Twain, Longfellow and others. These books are designed to teach correct pronunciation of complicated names and places as well as introduce the reader to classic works or Western literature. They are meant to be read-aloud.

To master the correct pronunciation of a wide vocabulary is a challenge. As my regular students have learned, reading aloud is an effective way to help improve pronunciation, expand vocabulary and enhance general fluency. Reading aloud also helps the student to become more confident. I encourage you to check out Mr. Russell’s books. When my children where young, I used the Classic Myths book to read many exciting stories of epic events and their heroes. I believe it helped my kids to be better readers and speakers. Story telling is also a great way to stimulate a child’s imagination. Don’t think that these are books that are strictly for children. For the student of English as a second language, they can be a tremendous aid to improve pronunciation of exceptionally difficult (Greek or Latin) words. It is also important to point out that many words in the English language have their root in Latin or Greek. Knowing the root word is often helpful for correct pronunciation of a new word that is derived from the root language. For the advanced level student it is important to understand that Greek and some Latin are sometimes used in the sciences as well as literature. To possess a basic understanding of the correct pronunciation of these words can be helpful in your future studies.

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