Monday, April 11, 2016

Growing Up in Ancient Rome: A Triumph for Flavius

A Triumph for Flavius by Caroline Dale Snedeker

First Daughter (age 9, third grade) read this book independently in our study of volume 1 of RC History's Connecting with History. Flavius is the son of Mummius, the conqueror of Corinth in 146 BC. He bestows the most impressive captured Corinthian on his son as his personal slave. It's an excellent close look at the life of a young boy in ancient Rome, but more importantly, it's well-written and a book of loyalty, courage, and compassion.

In one sentence early in the book, Flavius suddenly seemed like a real person:
The flame from the pine torch lit up the muddy street and the smoke trailed backward. All his life Flavius was to associate the smell of burning pine with those trips to school.
Ariphron quickly becomes a hero to Flavius, describing his travels to locations throughout the ancient world on his father's trading vessels. The pyramids, for example:
"They are covered with polished stone... and when the sun shines upon them, they dazzle the eyes. They seem like mountains for the gods to dwell on. But they are not beautiful. They are only stupendous."
Ariphon's despair is difficult for Flavius to understand, sheltered as he is at his age from the reality of war and the previous life of a captured slave. 
"What is the matter? little Flavius," he said brokenly. "Only the death of my father and mother, only the death of my brother and best friend, and the disappearance of all--all the rest. Only my city burning, burning forever in my mind."
Still, over time, Flavius and Ariphon learn to respect each other. In foolishly but courageously protecting him from Mummius, Flavius proves to his father Ariphon's worth as well. In the end, he and his wife are reunited and granted their freedom.

RC History lists this book as grades 3-5. First Daughter is in third grade and read it easily. Some third graders may need it to be read aloud to them, but it would be an excellent book for a family read-aloud. Though there are some violent events mentioned (like the destruction of Corinth), the violence and sorrow are tempered for young readers and listeners.

I have an older edition of this book, I think. I can't remember when or how I bought it as it was many years ago though we didn't read it until this year. The illustrator for my edition is Cedric Rogers and though the cover illustration is terrible (being a distorted and poorly colored version of one from inside the book), the interior illustrations were excellent and plentiful. I am pleased to see the cover has changed, though there is a new illustrator so I cannot say when the interior illustrations are like.

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