When I first discovered that my 8-year-old kid believed that the adventures of Odysseus were the actual history of ancient Greece, I panicked and bought him a stack of children's history books. I sat by his side as he started reading about the class structure of Athens and the economic underpinnings of the Greek polis. He yawned. He asked for candy... and then for the Disney Channel...
Kids like stories. And when it comes to history, they learn from stories, not from dense paragraphs about the phases of the Bronze age, the location of trade routes, or the injustices of the social order here and there.
This book follows the old-fashioned, story-based, traditional route of teaching history - through tales of heroes and kings, with no tribute paid to modern economic and social perspectives. Culture is memes. And that means historical figures, and anecdotes about them.
To write this book, I went back to Tacitus, Livy, Suetonius, Cassius Dio, Valerius Maximus, Josephus, Eusebius, Theodoret, and other ancient sources of biographical anecdotes, and extracted from them the stories that will be most memorable to a modern kid. I retold them without adding any fictional color. I have omitted some things, however. Anything gruesome, off-color, or outside traditional-family-friendly morality is not included. I also wove information about the social order and daily life of Ancient Rome into the stories of the era's most exciting historical figures.
The suggested reader age for this book is 8 to 14 years old.
This book is richly illustrated with paintings portraying historical figures and everyday life in ancient Rome. Whenever I could, I chose late 19th century and early 20th century realistic art featuring a more accurate representation of the Ancient Roman costume and environment. I also feature beautiful images of the sculpture, artifacts, and architectural monuments of Ancient Rome.
Important: I have selected illustrations with absolutely no nudity, so it's safe to take this book to school.
Here is a list of the historical figures included in this book:
Romulus and Remus, Numa Pompilius, Tarquin the Proud, Cincinnatus, Coriolanus, Cato the Censor, Scipio Africanus, Pompey, Spartacus, Julius Caesar, Cicero, Mark Anthony, Caesar Augustus, Virgil, Caligula, Nero, Seneca, Vespasian, Titus, Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, Constantine the Great, Julian the Apostate, Theodosius.