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Classical Comp: Fable

The Progymnasmata exercises were a preliminary series of exercises for students who would later study rhetoric and deliver formal orations.  The exercises were developed by the ancients, adopted by the Church, adapted during the Renaissance, and practiced by the West until very recently.

The Fable Stage is the first of fourteen stages in the Progymnasmata (a set of preparatory exercises originated by the Greeks to ready the student for rhetoric).  Students will learn to write by imitating a well-told story, in this case, a fable.  In fact, all of the Progymnasmata exercises are based on imitation, a method suitable for learning just about anything.  Students will build skills in diction (word choice) and syntax (word order) by practicing variation.  Variation means changing a word or arrangement of words in a sentence.  Variation is a form of paraphrase.  Further, by paraphrasing the whole story, students will build skills in organization (arrangement). By paraphrasing the fables in different ways (amplification:  adding to; summarization:  shortening; inversion:  retelling the story from a mid or end starting point), students will gain a solid understanding of structure.  In addition, students will learn how to use figures of description to make their writing come alive.  By learning how to describe a place (topographia), or the stars (astrothesia), or a person from head to foot (effictio), students will engage their readers’ imaginations.  By the end of the Fable Stage, students should be able to appreciate the individual words and sentences used in a story (elocution), the overall structure of a story (including recognition and reversal), and the communicative power of a story (including the appeal to imagination and to the moral sense).

Course Objectives:

  • Develop in the student an appreciation for sound writing
  • Inculcate in the student the habits of good writers through imitation of their structure and style
  • Provide techniques the student writer can employ to reason his way to the best approach to take and solution to implement for future writing tasks
  • Prepare the student writer to generate ideas, organize those ideas, and express those ideas well by providing him with structured practice in invention, arrangement, and decoration (discovery, organization, and elocution)
  • Develop a shared vocabulary and practice in classical writing between the teacher and student

Students taking this course will have a mid-term and final exam each semester.  Additionally, students should expect to have daily reading and minor weekly written assignments or quizzes.

Assignment due-dates and grades are established by the parent.  Optionally, a student may be enrolled in the Self-Paced Plus© grading assistance program to receive grading assistance from a Kolbe Academy faculty or staff member on designated assignments in the course. In this case, parents will still submit final grades to Kolbe for the course, but may choose to incorporate the graded assignments into the student’s overall grade or use the Kolbe-graded assignments to assist in arriving at the student’s final grade.

  • Classical Composition Book I: Fable Stage, Student Workbook, James A. Selby, Memoria Press
  • Classical Composition Book I: Fable Stage,Teacher Guide, James A. Selby, Memoria Press

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Note that this is the digital version of the homeschool course plan, which is found in the course’s associated Parent Group.  This course plan is built into the Schoology course for the student. 

Classical Composition Fable Sample Course Plan

Course Details:

Section Number


Grades (Typical)

 4 – 8 (6th & 7th)


Mrs. O’Connor

Lecture Format




Subscription Length

1 year

Extension may be granted for an additional fee.

Self-Paced Plus


Self-Paced Companion Courses

Junior High Literature
History 7
Religion & Bible History 7

Online Companion Courses

Literature 7
History 7
Religion & Bible History 7