- Upper School
Thornton Academy students have won second and third prize for the state of Maine in the Classical Association of New England (CANE) student writing contest. Kyle Pelletier '22 placed 2nd and Lily Durgan '21 placed 3rd; their papers have been entered into the next level of competition with students from throughout New England.
Both students are in Sally Cody’s Latin III / IV class. Mrs. Cody has been teaching Latin at Thornton Academy for more than 40 years. In the past, Thornton Academy students have placed highly in the the New England competition, and Cody is hopeful that these students will finish at the top as well. In addition to Latin, Thornton Academy offers classes in Ancient Greek, French, German, Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin.
This year's competition asked students to provide their own short story, poem, essay, or dialogue on the topic of dealing with or facing adversity in the ancient world. You can read both Kyle and Lily's contest entries below!
Facing Adversity in the Ancient World
by Lily Durgan '21
we look back on history, we can immediately identify many different ways in which our world has changed. It’s often hard to fathom that people used to live so differently than we do now. However, just like our society today, people in the ancient world suffered from many issues as well. A huge part of this is due to the fact that science has come a long way since this time period. We now have longer lifespans and more treatments for common diseases and health problems. The physical health of humans during the time span from around 500 BCE to 500 CE, isn’t the only thing that’s changed though. Issues within politics, crime, mental health, and other things were prevalent then as well. Simply put, there were many issues within the ancient world, and there continues to be many issues within the modern world.
One of the major factors that led to adversity in the ancient world was violence. Although we still have wars and political issues now, that much is clear, these things were very different in the ancient world. When we look at ancient history, we can observe that their wars were often longer, and harder to control. There are many different reasons for this. A lot of the time, their wars were less intense, but more widespread. Things like geographical differences, long distances, and unclear issues among citizens, often led to longer and more drawn out wars. Another major problem within the ancient world was sexism. Sexism is an issue that we still face today, in the modern world. However, it is very clear that in the ancient world, women and men were not treated as equals. Women were seen as possessions for men, and used for making babies and taking care of them. More specifically, in Roman society, women had specific duties like looking after the home, nurturing children, and of course, bearing children. Women were also not allowed to voice their own opinions or really have any say in political matters. In order to have any influence on public affairs, a woman would most likely have a powerful husband. However, women were treated differently in ancient Egypt. In some ways, Egyptian women in the ancient world were treated better than the women in years to come. Women's rights in ancient Egypt were more dependent on their social class than their sex. All property of land was handed down from the mother to daughter, because it was seen as a stronger bond. More specifically, “Women in ancient Egypt were the equals of men in every area except occupations, but within that patriarchy, women had a lot of power and independence for that time. Egyptian religion honored females in the form of goddesses, and so it is hardly surprising that women were important members of the clergy and temple life as well.” Sadly, once Christianity entered Egypt, women were viewed with less respect and value because of the idea of sin, coming from the disobedience of Eve.
All in all, citizens within the ancient world faced many challenges. It’s hard to imagine society that long ago, especially one with many issues. When looking at the challenges that the citizens of the ancient world faced, we can relate to some of them, and are surprised by others. History can teach you many things, especially about the human race. It’s important to recognize these challenges and learn how to stop history from repeating itself.
Beware? Should We Fear the Gods?, or (A Superficial Investigation into the True Motives of the Omnipotent)
by Kyle Pelletier '22
When I was first approached by my teacher and asked to complete this paper about adversities in the ancient world, I immediately thought about doing the project on war. Not to brag, but I’ve seen my fair share of History Channel documentaries and could call myself an expert amateur, however, I quickly shut that idea down. I racked my brain, trying to think of an interesting idea nobody has ever thought before to put me ahead of the best of the pack, yet I failed to do so. It was at that moment I knelt down and I prayed to God. Should I be praying to my God? Or should I pray to the Greek gods for some extra insight? I decided on the Greek gods… but which one? There were so many to choose from, it was hard to pick one that would have the most knowledge. Then, it hit me.
Was this one of the many struggles an ancient human might experience? The more I think of it, the stronger my belief becomes. If I get struck by lightning halfway through, you’ll know it's the gods keeping me quiet. But, I imagine on the battlefield before the war, the two armies sat, huddled together, debating on whether to pray to Athena or Ares, like picking players for a pick-up basketball game.
“Alright, we pick… Athena!”
“Dang! They got Athena? Gosh, we’ll take Ares then.”
“Zeus, you’re on our team.”
“Good choice! Apollo!” And, as you do in pick-up basketball, the army with the worst lineup of gods fears the other.
That’s not the only example. Normal civilians need to watch out for the wrath of the gods, too. For instance, the daughter of a king. For some reason, the gods seem to love to prey on these poor, innocent women. There are countless stories of the gods sending monsters to attack a city-state, and the only way to stop it is to sacrifice the king’s only daughter. Great! You’re sixteen and finally going to start your life and now, your father, the king, tied you to a wooden cross like that guy from Jerusalem you heard about in the news, and are awaiting certain death by a creature called the Kraken. Luckily, there’s always the new kid in town that saves the day and kills the beast and sets you free to your father again. Now, you have to live with the guy who was about to sacrifice you. That has to be really awkward at dinner times, more awkward than your mom walking in on you conjugating verbs.
Not only that, the male gods like to make a lot of babies. Now, ancient women not only have to be worried about sea monsters, but also about being raped by their favorite god. Plus, the gods can be anything. There is one story about this young woman who was raped by Zeus, who presented himself as a beam of light. Let me say that again. A beam of light! Try explaining that to the authorities. Now, women are walking the streets in fear, thinking they're about to be raped by a god if the wind blows too hard.
Gentlemen, imagine your wife was impregnated by a god. I know I would be scared too. Now you have to raise a demigod, who might have super powers that you will have no control over. It would be complete chaos! You’ll have to pretend to enjoy letting a god have kids with your wife because the moment you do anything to that child, a bolt of lightning might strike down upon you leaving you burnt to a crisp. Even if you bring it up like your own child, you can't stop worrying yet. Sooner or later, the oracle will read a prophecy explaining that you will die at the hands of your son. And no matter how hard you try to prevent it, you’ll always die in the most humiliating fashion, like suffocating in camel poop or a flaming javelin up the butt.
Let me ask you a question: did the gods really make it easier for the people of the ancient world, or did they make ir har— ZAP!