PROJECT: N 2021-1-BE02-KA220-ADU-000035111

4 Elements in Arts

Lesson Plans

The National Union will save Latvia from the Red Dragon
“Nacionālā Apvienība Latviju glābs no sarkanā pūķa”. Priekšvēlēšanu plakāts 15. sarakstam.

Warming Up

  • What do you think of when you hear the word “dragon”?
  • When you think of fire, what other colours come to mind?
  • Can you think of any heroes who use a sword?

Cultural Heritage Background

Image source:

Lacplesis is a hero in Latvian epics and stories, the iconic poem by Andrejs Pumpurs, and Rainis’ play “Fire and Night.” In Latvian literature and art, he is a symbol of bravery, loyalty, and patriotism. The myth says that Lacplesis is the son of a bear with ears like a bear. Several monuments across Latvia show the hero fighting against the Dark Knight, Crusaders, and different conquerors.


Listen and answer the following questions. Or read the text below out loud.

The legendary hero, Lacplesis, had a bear mother. He is a folk hero chosen by the gods and comes from the deepest part of the forest. There is a lot of power hidden in his bear ears. One day, a bear attacks his father while he is walking in the forest. The hero grabs the bear by the jaws and rips it apart to save his father. Lacplesis did this not to kill the bear, but to defend and protect. The real hero of the Latvian people is not the attacker, but the one who stops the enemy.

  • Do you think folk heroes are important?
  • Are there any folk heroes in your country?

Listening Comprehension

Reading the story

(Writer Andrejs Pumpurs) Image source:

During the second half of the 19th century, Europe was dominated by the ideas of national romanticism, which led to a rise in interest in national epics. People thought that the national epic was one of the most important features of a country. But the Latvians didn’t have one, so Andrejs Pumpurs took it upon himself to write one.

He got ideas from Latvian stories and fairy tales, the “Livonian Chronicle” and the historical story “Vanems Imanta”, as well as from recent Finnish and Estonian epics and Greek and Roman epics. His story is about how the Baltic region was violently Christianized in the 13th and 14th centuries. The fairy tale character Lacplesis stands up against this. His bear ears, which hide his strength, are what make him unusual. Lacplesis is the symbol of the Latvian people, who are almost wild, but strong and free.

On his journeys, Lacplesis meets both supporters and opponents. These people betray him and some people change from opponents to supporters. In the end, Lacplesis jumps into the Daugava River to fight the Dark Knight, signalling a very bright future for his nation.

In the years that followed, many Latvian authors wrote about Lacplesis. The play “Fire and Night” (1905) and the rock opera “Lacplesis” (1988) are some of the most important works about him, as well as the first major feature film made in Latvia, “Lacplesis” (1930).

“Fire and Night” has many layers and is full of symbols like fire as the symbol of light, and night as the symbol of the dark. It talks about things that happened in the 13th century, the Revolution of 1905, and the constant battle between darkness and light. It is one of the first pieces of literature in Latvia that talks about an independent Latvian state.

In 1930, the silent movie “Lacplesis” came out. The President of Latvia, Gustavs Zemgals, and the Head of Government, Karlis Ulmanis, were both there for the premiere. The movie is set in the first half of the 20th century, during the 1905 Revolution, the First World War, and Latvia’s fight for independence.

In 1988, on the 100th anniversary of Pumpurs’ epic, “Lacplesis,” a rock opera, made its debut. The rock opera was performed on August 23, which was the anniversary of when the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed. A total of 180,000 people saw the rock opera during its 43 performances. It boosted national pride and was an important part of the Latvian independence movement.

The epic has been printed many times, and each time, the illustrations have been a big part of how the story was told. It has been translated into 13 languages, including Estonian, Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, Japanese, Finnish, Czech, Dutch, Danish, Armenian, English, Altaic, and Spanish.

The folk hero with bear ears connects with the Latvian identity. Every year Lacplesis day is celebrated on November 11. And the theatre where the play “Fire and Night” was first performed is located on Lacplesis Street.

  • Read the text quickly
  • Deep reading

Reading Comprehension


Additional activities

Extra resources for learners

  • Links to 4 Elements in Arts Resource Library
  • The epic has been translated in English, check out the availability at your local library


How true are these statements for you?
I think the story is engaging and interesting. *
I have learnt some new vocabulary and structures. *
I have learnt about its background and culture. *
The extra resources and additional activities have made me reflect on the meaning and the implications of the story. *
I have learnt about its cultural background and history. *
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