Friday, February 18, 2011

Ancient Rome (Meet the Ancient World 8)

Ancient Rome: Oh, dear.

I could blame Miss Klemp, my 7th grade Latin teacher. I could blame Rome itself, with its fondness for blood and order and its dreary history of military conquest and bureaucracy-building. I've never been able to find much to engage me in a culture that found sport in gruesome gladiatorial spectacles and achievement in efficient tax administration.

So sorry, I've got nothing for you. Back when we did this unit, in the summer of 2009, we learned about roads and built model bridges. I found some general children's books on Ancient Rome but (no doubt thanks to my lack of enthusiasm), they bored the children to death; I tried a few books on Pompeii but realized quickly they had lurid descriptions of volcano-charred corpses.

We'll be returning to Ancient Rome, of course, when we cycle around for our second trip through this history, beginning next fall. So if you can dispel my prejudice and/or offer some great resources, please post in the comments section.


  1. I truly love ancient Rome! Not sure I have any good recs for younger kids, but the Roman Britain novels of Rosemary Sutcliffe are very good... "I, Claudius" was my utter passion when I was ten or eleven....

  2. I can't help you with materials, but I felt precisely the way you did until I read Ursula LeGuin's Lavinia. I still think much of Roman history is brutal and terrible, but the underlying culture--the belief that divinity isn't some distant thing and can be found in the commonplace--that I can have a certain amount of respect for. It's not suitable for children, but it might give you some new insights.