The Fall of the Roman Empire turned out fabulous for everyone but the Romans.
Each student made an accordion book equating Rome’s Fall to Shakespeare’s Seven Stages of Man from As You Like It:
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
I wanted to make the analogy that countries and civilizations follow a natural evolution similar to mankind’s lifespan.
Romulus and Remus were suckled by the she-wolf is the infant stage of Rome:
At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school.
And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow.
Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth.
And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part.
The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound.
Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
Each day we added the new page and talked about the Roman’s historical/cultural evolution. But before the final scene, we held a class debate about whether there were lessons to be learned by our country from the ‘Fall of the Roman Empire’. The debate was spirited and I believe history came alive in these young minds.
You might notice that in the booklet the final stage is a foldout. Three of the possible reasons for the Roman’s fall are pointed inward toward the ancient man and one is pointed outward toward the Byzantine Empire.
Shakespeare’s All the World’s a Stage combined with Roman statuary combined with an artist book helped create a terrific learning experience.
Once again, I’d like to thank Kevin Steele for inspiring me with his half-fold accordion book Lunacy (http://mrkevinsteele.com/) which I wrote about in my Fruits post.