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Stories from the History of Rome

By Mrs. Beesly
Yesterday's Classics

PO Box 3418
Chapel Hill, NC 27515

Who would not be enchanted by the authorship of this work? How unusual in our modern society to find an author who does not include a first name! I am both wishing to know her first name and delighted to have the familiar formality that comes with childhood. Indeed, it makes me feel as a child again to be reading this book.

Stories of Rome are exciting, mysterious, dangerous, and above all, adventurous! This collection is a soft-cover, unabridged re-publication of an 1878 original, written by a woman who craved entertaining stories that wouldn't burden her children with the advanced vocabulary of adults. She selected the 16 stories for this volume because of their entertainment value, but also because they are conducive to teaching the themes central to most Roman stories, duty to parents and duty to country. The introductory pages of the book remind readers that the stories are certainly not all true in a factual sense, yet few would argue that they aren't a valuable part of a study of Rome.

In the chapter titled "The Death of Decius," the examples of duty are clear. When Decius, who had led his men into a battle knowing he would not survive, was then killed by his opponents, another consul tells the men, "Forward! Remember your country and your parents, your wives and your children, and more than all remember your noble consul, who gave himself to die that you might win the victory."

The stories follow a sequence, adding to each other and telling the story of Rome's history, including nuggets of real history mixed with mythological characters. Here are a few key chapter titles to provide an overview of the 122-page volume: "The Building of Rome," "Brutus and His Sons," "Caius Marcius and His Mother," "Cincinnatus," "The Battle of Corbio," "The Taking of Rome (by the Gauls)," "The Story of Titus Manlius," "The Caudine Forks," and "How Pyrrhus Fought Against Rome."

While there are certainly many options available to homeschooling families for reading Roman historical stories, this collection is a well-written, readable, engaging set of stories suited to children who are about eight years of age. Younger children will enjoy this as a read-aloud to accompany Roman studies, and older children might read it for enjoyment. It will most certainly add interest to our own upcoming studies of ancient Rome.

Product review by Melissa Theberge, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, April 2009

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