Ben Kane, author of historical fiction, visited Year 9 Classics students for a fascinating talk on life in ancient Rome during their lesson last week. Students were impressed to hear that his books have become so successful that they have been translated into several foreign languages and sell in their millions. However, a timely reminder now that Year 9 are thinking about their options, was an explanation of how he changed profession from vet to author, having been so inspired by his reading at an early age and by his travels around various Roman sites as a younger man.
Ben gave a fascinating talk on various aspects of the ancient world and gave real insight into what it would have been like to be a normal Roman citizen, with all the sorrows of infant mortality, childhood diseases and the perils of childbirth. Year 9 soon realised how lucky they were to live in the modern world, where their education and independence is valued and where they have so many more opportunities. More cheerfully, we saw evidence of some tasty food they would have eaten and giggled at the thought of the public toilets and using sponge-sticks! Using evidence from both Pompeii and Herculaneum, which some students were lucky enough to see for themselves on our trip last October, Ben really built up a picture of what it might have been like to live in a place like Pompeii, with its chaotic streets, snack bars, laundries, stepping stones and all sorts of waste thrown into the street.
Finally, students were given the chance to take a closer look at many of the replicas Ben had brought with him, from knucklebone dice, like those found on Hadrian’s Wall, to hair pins, bowls, his military boots, shield, his (blunted) sword and helmet as well as to ask him questions and purchase some books. We would like to thank Ben Kane for his superb talk and look forward to a repeat visit next year!