The Progymnasmata--Preliminary Rhetoric Exercises

The "progymnasmata" (pro-gym-nahs-MAH-tah, according to some) are time-tested ancient rhetoric/writing exercises that my materials apply in both traditional and contemporary contexts. The progymnasmata exercises are adaptable to the needs of students as young as third grade and of adults - even professional writers. These materials are calibrated primarily to secondary school writers. Through imitating, expanding, condensing, and using other techniques, writers explore the elements of rhetoric in these areas:

Narrative Retell a brief narrative with change of narrator, etc.
Fable Retell a familiar fable for a particular purpose
Proverb Analyze and amplify a proverb with examples, etc.
Description Carefully consider time, place, character to present a scene or action
Anecdote Amplify, as iwth the proverb, a larger narrative
Refutation/Confirmation Follow a logical format to demonstrate the truth of an assertion
Common Topic Explore the characteristics of a vice shown in particular people
Encomium/Invective Praise or blame a person for his character
Comparison Argue the worth of one person in light of another
Characterization Portray a literary or historical figure at a particular point in time
Thesis Set forth an assertion and prove it
Proposal of Law Create an argument for presentation in a legislative body

Available Progymnasmata Materials (downloads with consultation)

  • Tutorials in forms designed for interaction with an instructor/evaluator, in two to three or more parts per exercise - $85 for all three levels
    • Beginning (Narrative, Fable, Proverb) $25
    • Intermediate (Description, Anecdote, Refutation/Confirmation) $25
    • Advanced (The second half of the categories in the chart above) $50
  • Progym: Classical Writing Workouts for Narrative, Fable, and Proverb - 12 exercises per workbook, $20 each or $50 for all three
Sample Fable Exercise
Progym Fable Sample.doc
Microsoft Word Document 61.0 KB

Progymnasmata Materials - Tutorials

Choose the item(s) desired from the variations below. Cost represents handling and brief consultation to help you make best use of the materials.

Please include with your order a note about how you would like to use the materials, and I will correspond with you briefly, or in a phone call of up to a half hour for an order of $100 or more