Friday, February 26, 2010
Roman Diary: The Journal of Iliona of Mytilini, Who was Captured and Sold as a Slave in Rome, AD 107
Roman Diary by Richard Platt
illustrated by David Parkins
J Fiction, 2009, Candlewick Press
64 pages, includes glossary
Roman Diary is the fourth and latest in Richard Platt's Diary series. The others are; Castle Diary, Pirate Diary, and Egyptian Diary. They are cataloged under Fiction, but are rich in historical facts. Roman Diary tells the story of Iliona, a Greek girl whose ship is attacked while sailing from Greece to Egypt. She and her younger brother are captured and taken to Rome where they are sold as slaves. Iliona chronicles her new life in her diary, which consists of goose quills for pens, an ink pot, and papyrus. She describes the work assigned to her as a house slave and her sadness at being separated from her brother, who is sent out to the master's farm. Through her observations and descriptions, Iliona teaches us about life in Rome in AD 107. She goes to visit Nero's Bath and gets to experience the caldarium, a hot, steamy bath. She meets other slaves and hears their stories of how they came to be captives of Rome. She goes to a parade and sees enemy soldiers in chains being led to the Forum. She attends "the games" at the amphitheatre and finds herself grateful she's sitting up so high because she can't smell the blood.
This is an enjoyable read with large watercolor and ink illustrations. You'll come away having learned something about ancient Rome, and maybe being a little more grateful that you were born when you were.