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ROMAN DIARY by Richard Platt


The Journal of Iliona of Mytilini, Who Was Captured and Sold as a Slave in Rome, AD 107

by Richard Platt & illustrated by David Parkins

Age Range: 10 - 12

Pub Date: May 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3480-3
Publisher: Candlewick

Oversized pages well-stocked with Parker’s graceful women and burly, plain-featured men, this latest entry in Platt’s Diary series brings second-century CE Rome to bustling life. Captured by pirates, young Iliona records how she is purchased as a slave for the household of a Senator while her little brother is dispatched as a laborer to a country estate. Though she alludes to rough treatment, she never suffers or encounters much of it; instead, she accompanies her mistress to the public baths, cares for a new baby, sees a bit of gladiatorial combat, witnesses a formal triumph for the Emperor Trajan, serves at a banquet, recounts small incidents and routines of daily life and ultimately wins freedom for herself and her brother. Aside from being nearly free of dirt, disease and violence, her narrative is laced with period detail, and the author departs from the diary format for several added-value spreads on Roman armies, society and architecture. Readers overwhelmed by the teeming scenes in Stephen Biesty’s Rome in Spectacular Cross-Section (2003, written by Andrew Solway) will enjoy this lighter-weight journey into the past. (Historical fiction. 10-12)