Title of the work
Country of the First Edition
Country/countries of popularity
First Edition Date
First Edition Details
Alex Woolf, Meet the Ancient Romans (Encounters with the Past), London, Sydney: Franklin Watts (Hachette), 2014, 32 pp.
Handbooks and manuals
Instructional and educational work
Young adults (Juvenile readers)
Cover courtesy of Hachette Children’s Group.
Author of the Entry:
Ayelet Peer, Bar-Ilan University, email@example.com
Peer-reviewer of the Entry:
Lisa Maurice, Bar-Ilan University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, email@example.com
Alex Woolf (Author)
Alex Woolf is a prolific British author for children and young adults. He writes both fiction and non-fiction. Among his books are: Iron Sky Series, The Shakespeare Plot and Soul Shadows.
Profile at amazon.com (accessed: February 5, 2020).
Bio prepared by Ayelet Peer, Bar-Ilan University, firstname.lastname@example.org
This book is a combination of a guidebook of ancient Rome and a time traveling adventure book. It combines information about ancient Roman institutions (the senate, arena, baths, temples, shops and draftsmen) with everyday life, such as food, clothing etc. The reader participates in the Roman daily life and also receives additional information on the origin of certain institutions or positions in the Empire. The plot take “you” a school boy/girl through a mysterious wooden door to the city of Rome in 83 CE. The book notes: “your mission is to meet people and find out about their lives. The mission will last six hours.” The reader then moves through the city and interviews various characters, such as a senator, gladiator, priestess etc. The textual information is accompanied by photographs (with actors taking various parts) and of related themes such as mosaics and statues. At the end there is a glossary and further reading section.
The time traveling elements makes the reading of facts about ancient Rome exciting and entertaining. It resembles a “choose your path” book, in which the reader takes the part of a mythological hero. For example Hercules.
Choosing the year 83 CE under the rule of the crazed Domitian may potentially add to the danger and thrill in the time travel, although there is no reference to Domitian’s rule.
The aim is pedagogical, learning about the ancient Roman Empire via the means of an imaginary adventure narrative. Through walking in the city as part of the Roman crowed and not a distant reader, Roman culture becomes more accessible and close to a modern reader. Rome therefore leaves the history books and becomes a vivid and exhilarating city, in which the daily life of the Romans (such as baths, tending to the sick, etc.) become clearer.
In the end, the traveling ends and the reader returns to his modern history class. Hopefully, he will enjoy it more. The aim of books such as these is to show that the Romans were people as well, who were busy with their daily lives, just as we are. They did not only engage with great battles, but also did everyday mundane things. They had dark side to their society, the most prominent example of which is slavery, and this is an important aspect of their culture that one should learn about as well.
The book could also be used to form short sketches in the classroom, with the different interviews. Therefore it can be utilized for various activities.
The entry refers to the 2016 paperback edition by Arcturus publishing.