Book review: Roman Life

May 30 2020

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Andy Rowland’s Roman Life, is a book I couldn’t resist the urge to pick up off the shelf — thanks to Hollywood’s fascination with the Roman era! Ben-Hur, Julius Caesar and who can forget The Gladiator which gave birth to many myths about the Roman Life.

After going through the book, one has to acknowledge that Andy Rowland is a master illustrator and did not disappoint with his vivid illustrations. Probably the feature that stands out the most is the ‘pull apart’ nature of the book.

The book is set in the Roman Gaul during the fourth century and mainly showcases the life of soldiers during that period. The Roman practices, modes of war and the everyday life of Romans are also adequately depicted throughout the book. Yet, being an avid reader of history, I personally think there were many intriguing time periods during the Roman era that could have better depicted the Roman life and I strongly feel that Roman life was not just about gladiators fighting in large arenas for entertainment.

To have a clearer insight on Roman life, one has to dispel its depiction in mainstream media first — Romans were great architects and built some amazing structures and buildings that continue to serve as an inspiration in modern architecture. For me, the highlight of the book is the illustrator’s depiction of the legendary Temple of Mithras. It portrays a decent picture of what life would have been in mid-third century.

A standout feature among the pictures is Andy’s illustration of Roman clothing. We have all seen those gladiator-inspired sandals worn by celebrities. The Roman attire was highly desirable back in the day and seemed ahead of time due to its uniqueness and functionality. Ask any fashionista — Roman fashion continues to inspire designers and we got to thank Ancient Rome for that!

Full points to the author for the illustrated artwork. But don’t think you will be able to use the information presented in the book in your next history discussion — cause there isn’t much!

This is a nice pull-apart book to browse through at the store, but for a better understanding of the Roman era and life — we suggest you look elsewhere!

Published in Dawn, Young World, May 30th, 2020