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Creative Uses for Textbooks
Dear Abby


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Julius Caesar Pontius Pilate Mercury Judas
Nero Diocletian Mark Antony slaves

Students in a heterogeneously grouped 9th grade World History class wrote the following DEAR ABBY letters and responses.

Dear Abby,

I am consul this year, and so I just started working with a man named Pompey.  The problem is that we hardly ever agree.  I favor the plebeians, and he favors the wealthy class.  Of course I think I'm right, and Pompey thinks he's right.  Shortly, I have to make a trip to Gaul.  Pompey says to go ahead and he'll take care of things.  But I know he is going to try to get the Senate to vote him the powers of a dictator.  When I get back with my army I know I could easily overthrow him, but he is a friend and I don't want to hurt him that much.  What should I do?

J. Caesar

Dear Mr. Caesar,

Are you sure that he (Pompey) is going to try to overthrow you?  When you come back from Gaul, bring your army just in case.  What kind of friend would try to get the Senate to vote him dictator powers over you?

Dear Abby,

I am faced with the most difficult decision of my career.  I believe the man Jesus to be innocent of the charges against him.  However, the priests and enemies of Jesus demand his death.  Because of my high office, it is in my power to free him; but if I do, I am very afraid I will lose my position.  What should I do?

Pondering Pontius

Dear Pondering,

My suggestion to you is to follow your own conscience.  Will you find it more difficult to be responsible for the death of an innocent man, or to know that you have done the right thing no matter what the consequence?  Only you can answer that question.  This is indeed Truth or Consequences.  Good luck.


Dear Abby,

My problem is very difficult because I'm not a mortal.  I run the Holy Speedy Messenger Service, and I have had problems making quick deliveries lately.  Zeus asked me to send a quick notice to Jupiter, but it took me 2 days to find him.  Please help!


Dear Desperate,

Have you considered oiling your shoes (the ones with the wings).  Also, you must consider the fact that those gods could be anywhere.  They roam like a flock of sheep.  Don't feel bad.  I don't think even I deliver faster than you.

Dear Abby,

I was a follower of Jesus.  However, a couple of days ago I betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver.  Since the soldiers didn't know what he looked like, I was supposed to kiss him on the head when they came.  I did, and got my money.  Now Jesus is dead, and I am so depressed I'm seriously considering suicide.  I have never felt so low.  What should I do - kill myself and pay for my crime, or hope things will get better and put the money to good use?


Dear Judas,

You are only human.  Yes, you did betray Jesus, but life goes on.  Killing yourself would only be running away from the problem.  Live, and don't make the same mistake twice.  Be careful of letting greed overcome you.  If you don't, you could cause more and more problems for yourself.

 Dear Abby,

I am a very powerful person in the government of the Roman Empire.  Yet my problem is bigger than the empire.  I am a musician (violinist), and I'm very good according to many people.  I left Rome to sing and play my instrument at festivals in Greece.  When I returned, I found people revolting and plotting against me.  I've been a good person Abby, but I'm a victim of circumstances.  I was scolded for playing my violin during a fire I was also accused of starting.  I need some advice or I might end it all.

L.D. in Rome
(Lucius Domitius Nero)

Dear L.D.

Maybe your people hate you because you put pleasure before business.  Don't!  You have an empire to run. Your empire should come before your violin.


Dear Abby,

I never thought I would have to write to you, but everybody needs some help now and then.  I really want to have Rome hold on to its old religion.  I have begun persecuting Christians to keep Christianity out of Rome, but I feel that I may not be doing the right thing.  However, the Christians have intruded and tried to make my people their followers.  I don't feel safe around town.  I keep thinking that some of them will try to kill me or do something bad to my loved ones.  I really need your help Abby, I'll be lost if I don't get some straight reasoning to help me sort things out.

Frightened, confused in Rome

Dear F and C,

I get many letters from people confused about what to do in a situation where they may be killed.  In your case, I believe you should let your people decide for themselves if they want to become Christians.  Killing people will only hurt you.  You should speak out and rationally explain your beliefs.  I know that I can't change your beliefs about Christians too easily, but I sure hope you take my advice and stop the brutality.


Dear Abby,

I am a famous and powerful citizen of Rome.  I am 51 years old, and have led a full life.  I have been an orator, soldier and statesman, the friend and lieutenant of Julius Caesar, and, after Caesar's death, the ruler of half the Roman world.  Millions of people look up to me as their lord and master, but I can't command myself.  I belong to a noble family, and I rose to power because of my loyalty to Caesar.  Afterwards, I made a three way deal with Lepidus and Octavius.  That's where I ran into trouble with women.

I have been married to four women in Rome, but I'm a chaser and was unfaithful to each of them.  This is the source of my trouble.  When I was in Asia Minor to finish the arrangements for our partnership to run the world, I met this Egyptian chick.  She was a high class dame, and I was really turned on by her foreign charms.  She really knew how to flatter a guy.  I followed her to Egypt and spent the winter in luxury.

When fighting broke out between my brother and Octavius, I had to return to Rome.  By the time I got there, Octavius had won.  I had to make a deal with him in order to protect my power.  As a part of it, I had to marry his ugly sister Octavia.  We threw out Lepidus and split the world.  Octavius got the west, and I got the east.  I returned to my beautiful Cleo.  I gave her loads of gifts.  However, Octavius found out about us and got the Senate to declare war on Egypt.

Abby, what should I do?  I'm stuck between my loyalties to Rome and my desire for power and wealth, and my love for Cleopatra.  Should I go with Cleo and resist the Romans, or should I return to Rome where I'd be forced to fight against my true love?

Anxious In Cairo
(Mark Antony)

Dear Anxious,

You have a classic case of love versus home, family, and all you have built up in a lifetime.  I advise you to return to your life in Rome.  How much do you know about this Cleo that you have been seeing?  Besides, how strong is the army of Egypt against the power of the Roman legions?  I've checked my crystal ball and consulted my oracles.  They advise me that Roman and Egyptian armies will fight at the town of Actium.  Cleopatra will desert you, and you will pursue her.  She will spread a false rumor that she is dead, and, in remorse, you'll commit suicide.  Actually she will still be alive, and when her army is beaten she will commit suicide in order to avoid being taken to Rome as a captive.  I urge you to return to Rome.  Give up this madness before it is too late.  Good luck, and write when you can.  Let me and my readers know what you decide to do.


Students in a heterogeneously grouped 11th grade US History class wrote the following DEAR ABBY letters.

Dear Abby,

I am a male Black about 20 years old.  Until I was sold a month ago, I had lived all my life on the same plantation.  I was very sad when I was sold, because I had a girlfriend that I liked a lot.  In fact, I was in love with her, and she was in love with me.  I would almost rather die than be without her.  Recently, about 15 slaves tried to escape the plantation that I am now on.  13 were caught and tortured for days until they died.  The other 2 escaped.  10 others have a plan to escape, and have invited me along.  If I escape, I may be able to see my girl again.  I would like to try, but I don't know if I could stand the pain if I were caught and tortured.  What should I do?


 Dear Abby,

I am a 63 year old slave who works in the kitchen of a large plantation.  My master has promised to free me in 2 years.  Most of my family has escaped to the north on the Underground Railroad.  The last of them wants me to escape too.  I want to be with my family, but I have always felt safe and secure here.  Should I risk being caught and beaten by escaping now, or should I stay with my master and hope that he keeps his word and frees me in 2 years so I can join my family then?

 Don't Know What To Do

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original web posting: Friday, August 25, 2000
last modified: Saturday, July 31, 2004