Thanks, Ancient Rome. I Now Have a Research Hangover.

Hey, psst. You there. Don’t freak out, but I’ve decided that I’m going to break my own rule about keeping my current writing projects secret and tell you something about the YA novel I’m working on. Hurry up, lean in before I change my mind. Okay, here goes. I’m just going to blurt it out.

The book takes place in ancient Imperial Rome.

Exciting right? It would be, if I didn’t find myself doing hours of research and struggling to retain every bit of information I can about what many consider the greatest civilization in history. I’ve been researching the time period heavily in the last few months, and to me, everything about Ancient Rome is so fascinating that I can’t stop reading and following tangents and buying more books and spending hours pouring about ridiculously minor historical details. I even went on a specific tour of the Forum and Colosseum in Rome last week to take notes for my book. I’m pretty much obsessed.

This is good, I guess, since my torrid love affair with Caesar, Gladiators and the Roman Legion keeps me committed to the project itself, but it certainly seems to hinder the actual writing process. I spend almost all my time that I’ve dedicated to the project researching, leaving very little time to write. And I have another worry – I tend to get swept up in the details in my research and I’m afraid I’m losing track of the big picture.

That’s where you come in. Yes, you.

I want to know what you remember about Ancient Rome from when you learned about it in grade school or middle school. What facts stick out in your mind? What were you most taken by – was it the mass-scale architecture, the giant statues of dieties or gladiators fighting to death in the arena?

I have two distinct memories from 5th grade history class. First, I remember learning that the ancient Romans worshipped a large number of gods and goddesses, which I thought sounded stressful. Sitting in church for a couple of hours on a Sunday just for one God was boring enough to me. How much church did these people have to sit through if there were hundreds of Gods? That is a lot of grape juice and saltines. A silly thought, but an authentic one from a 5th grader.

The other memory I have is from the final week of our Ancient Rome lessons, when a snobby girl that used to pick on me pointed to the big earrings I was wearing and said, “You know, in ancient Rome, the only people who wore earrings were barbarians.” Then she turned around and laughed with her snobby little friends. When you’re ten, that stays with you. But now I know better – earrings were very popular in Ancient Rome, thank you very much. The Romans even invented the hoop earring. So take that, Cassie Stevenson, you bitch.

Sorry, apparently that cut was deeper than I realized.

Anyways, the point is that if we’ve remembered some fact about Ancient Rome from our school years, it is because we connected with it in some way. That’s why I want to know what about the time period connected with you, if anything. From all the facts and history that I’ve assembled in my research, I want to choose to incorporate the bits and pieces that will connect with my characters and the reader in that same memorable way.

So please, help me out. Dig into the recesses of your brain and tell me what you remember learning about Ancient Rome. Don’t make me regret letting you in on my secret!

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One thought on “Thanks, Ancient Rome. I Now Have a Research Hangover.

  1. Well, I was just there in August – this is random, but I thought it was cool that they used dice. And that the concept hasn’t changed much in its modern incarnation. They also had intricate golden hairnets – second random fact that I thought was kind of interesting. In fact, women of the day liked to dress up every bit as much as they do now.

    I also learned quite a bit about the type of invading force they were – if you were okay with adopting their religion and essentially doing as you were told, they were actually known for being quite benevolent. However, if you rebelled, like the Jewish people, then they would retaliate harshly.

    I just posted a bunch of pics from Rome – it’s kind of light on history, but take a look. Maybe it’ll help inspire you.

    Best of luck on your book!

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