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YEAR 8 (1)


In search of the Romans Household’s Xenephon; Creasy’s Marathon 


12-13 Secondary texts for specific Roman and Greek history: Coolidge’s Caesar’s Gallic Wars; Household’s Xenephon; Creasy’s Marathon; Church’s ‘Story of the Persian War.’

It can be a good idea to find simplified versions of the story (this is certainly helpful in the case of long works like the Aeneid, as you will only be studying one extract closely but need to set it in context). For this purpose you might want to look at books by Alfred Church who produced a phenomenal amount of these simplified (but not over-simplified) versions of classic texts. Two of these are Alfred Church’s ‘The Aeneid for Boys and Girls‘ and ‘Stories from the Greek Tragedians’.


Middle Level Classics

Homer provides a neat transition from the tales from mythology to the facts of history (though, this being classics, history is often still mingled with a bit of mythology too!). For a general history of Greece and Rome, the most popular books for this age range are Famous Men of Rome and Famous Men of Greece by Haaren. Perhaps this is because they can be purchased with a study guides from Memoria Press, as well as Greenleaf Press. These are worth having if you don’t want to trawl around looking for something else, and they provide what they promise, though I must admit we have found them rather pedestrian and un-inspiring.

One alternative is Galore Park’s ‘Greeks and Romans’ aimed at 10-13 year old’s (it is a prep book for Common Entrance at 13).   Alfred Church’s ‘Stories of Livy’ is also a nice book covering Roman History if you can find a copy.

I’ve recently also picked up a copy of Helen Guerber’s ‘The Story of the Romans’ and ‘The Story of the Greeks’. These were written about 00 years ago but the language is not overly complex. The links here are to cheap reprints – these are of mixed quality and it would be worth picking up an older version if you could find it for a reasonable price. The ‘Roman’ copy I have (from the not-so-aptly-named ”First rate Publishers”) has very small writing and no illustrations. It’s OK for a read aloud but would not inspire a child to read it independently.

Going into further detail with specific areas, there are several quite old out of print books aimed at this age group which cover Roman and Greek history: Olivia Coolidge’s Caesar’s Gallic War is written in the form of a fictional narrative to make it more appealing to younger readers but is closely based on Caesar’s own work. Geoffrey Household’s Xenephon’s Adventure is a fine introduction to the Anabasis, which will almost certainly be studied in the original if your child plans to study Greek. Alfred Church’s ‘Story of the Persian War’ is a very good first reading of the histories of Herodotus. If you can find a cheap copy, Edward Creasy’s Fifteen decisive Battles of the World has an excellent chapter on the Battle of Marathon. The book is worth having anyway if you have a child who is interested in military history (and is of historical interest itself, since it dates from 1851!).