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The HISTORY chapters in NEXUS are written in an engaging narrative style so that they read like exciting literature and/or embroidered with colorful anecdotes that capture students attention and help the information to stick. These interdisciplinary chapters stimulate students to find the nexus (connections) between history, literature, art, and music, connections that reinforce and broaden students' understanding of all subjects while exercising their thinking skills. The example below from the Antigone volume of NEXUS illustrates the lively, engaging, and anecdotally rich Nexus style. Click on the large NEXUS covers below for more samples. History lesson plans and cross-curricular history activities are included in the NEXUS GUIDELINES, which are free with class-set orders of NEXUS books.



"When the Persian Forces arrived in Greece in 480 B.C., the Spartans voted to fight -- but not until the Olympic games were over. In Greece, wars were postponed during the games. But the Persians weren't about to wait. So Sparta sent a detachment of 300 infantrymen to stop Xerxes' million-man army at the mountain pass of Thermopylae in central Greece. The Spartan contingent was led by King Leonidas, who was said to be a descendent of Herakles (Hercules). The main army would join Leonidas after the games. 5000 allied troops from other city-states also skipped the Olympics to back up the Spartan force.

Thermopylae was a narrow pass between the Aegean Sea and the cliffs that rise sharply above the shoreline in the district of Locris. The narrowness of the passage and the long spears of the Greeks gave them the advantage in hand-to-hand combat. Also, Greek shields were cast in bronze. Persian shields were made of wicker. Though they were outnumbered almost 200 to one, the Greeks held the pass, slaying thousands of Persians. Only a handful of Spartans fell before Persian spears.

For two days the Greeks held off the million-man army. It's reported that as Xerxes viewed the battle, he leaped three times from his throne, fearing for his troops' survival. Even his illustrious "Immortals" fell before the seemingly invincible Spartans.

But at the end of the second day fortune smiled on the Persian king. A Greek traitor named Ephialtes found his way into the Persian camp and told Xerxes of an alternate passage through the mountains. All night a Persian cohort marched along the narrow path with the intent of surrounding the Spartans the next day.

Reports that the Persians had found the alternate pass reached the Greeks. Also, the army's prophet foretold their doom in the entrails of sacrificed animals. At dawn the Greeks held a council to decide if they should fight or flee from certain death. Most of the city-states decided to go home. Buy Leonidas and the Spartans chose to remain, as did the soldiers from Thespia and Thebes. (The Spartans forced the Thebans to stay to prevent them from siding with the enemy.)

A Delphic oracle had foretold that either a Spartan king or all of Sparta would fall before the Persians.

Oh! ye men who dwell in the streets of broad Lacedaemon [Sparta]
Either your glorious town shall be sacked by the children of Perseus [the Persians]
Or, in exchange, must all through the whole of Laconian country [Sparta]
Mourn for the loss of a king, descendant of great Herakles.

Leonidas went to Thermopylae to die for Sparta. Before leaving Laconia, he made sure his 300 soldiers were all fathers with living sons. On the last day of their their lives..."

AFTER reading the narrative of the Battle of Thermopylae and the subsequent naval engagement at Salamis, this NEXUS chapter explores the birth of the Delian League and Athenian deomocracy, as well as Athenian and Spartan politics and policies that led to the devastasting Peloponnesian War, with supporting quotes from Thucydides, Solon, and Herodotus. The NEXUS SUPPLEMENT "ATHEN'S HUBRIS - THE TURNING POINT OF THE WAR" explores the final phase of the Peloponnesian War.

Extensivie history lesson plans and interdisciplinary activities are included in the NEXUS GUIDELINES that accompany class-set orders.

To view sample pages from Romeo and Juliet & the Renaissance, Macbeth & the Dark Ages, The Harlem Renaissance, and Antigone & the Greek World CLICK on the large NEXUS covers below.

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