When I was in elementary school, although Greek myths were an extensive part of the reading curriculum, I remember nothing about the discussion of day to day life at the time. I have found this addition to Carol Roman’s If You Were Me and Lived in… series to be an interesting and intriguing exploration for children into the daily lives of their fellow children.. two thousand years in the past, in Ancient Greece.
In her book, Mrs. Roman tells us about members of the pantheon of Greek gods and goddesses, but always within the context of everyday life in Ancient Greece. For example, her introduction to the goddess Hestia is centered around the Ancient Greek idea of home. Mrs. Roman shows us the different cultural idea of home, pointing out there was no word actually meaning “family” like we have in English. Rather, the closest word was “oikos,” which we would translate as “household.” Households themselves were centered around a fire that was always kept burning, not only to provide warmth for everyone in the household (family), but also so food could be prepared at any time. Hestia, whose name means hearth, thus is the goddess of the home because the home centered around the hearth, or fireplace.
We also learn about the political organization, city states. Interestingly, although they sometimes worked together, the different city states saw themselves as separate entities. A Spartan was a citizen of Sparta, an Athenian was a citizen of Athens… but they did not see themselves as “Greek.”
We learn about the diet that was common in Ancient Greece, how it was primarily vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes, with meat being reserved for only very special celebrations. It’s especially interesting that plain water was eschewed as a beverage because you might get sick – It was considered much safer to drink watered down wine.
Girls and boys might find the different roles of men and women, and even between the different city states, especially interesting. This section will provide some great topics for conversation with your child – how girls and women were not considered citizens, so girls did not go to schools alongside boys. However, girls learned from their mothers how to sew, cook, and make purchases for the household. That wouldn’t be considered an education at all in modern times, but at that time, it was incredibly important to the household. It might be interesting to speculate on how that would have been handled if the women did not take care of those tasks. Plus – this wasn’t true throughout all of Ancient Greece. In Sparta, girls went to a school of their own, where they learned much the same things as boys – fighting and wrestling!
The book goes on to discuss typical clothing and trade customs of Ancient Greece, touching on their seafaring. There is also discussion of the origins of the ancient Olympic games even Alexander the Great.
Mrs. Roman closes out the book with two nice additions: A short listing of some more commonly known gods and goddesses from the Greek pantheon, and a glossary where children can browse or look up unfamiliar terms.
This is a great book for any elementary student, but it’s particularly well suited to families who are pursing a classical education, or using a history series such as Story of the World, Volume I, which covers this ancient society.
If You Were Me and Lived in… Ancient Greece is available in paperback as well as Kindle format. And, currently, the book is also included in Kindle Unlimited. Kindle Unlimited lets you sign out up to ten Kindle titles at a time. You can try it for free (free!) for thirty days here: Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.
Any opinions contained in this post are mine alone.
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