So You Think You’ve Got It Bad? A Kid’s Life in Ancient Greece
Chae Strathie and Marisa Morea
Chae Strathie knows just how to make history interesting and fun for children as he demonstrates in his latest So You Think You’ve Got It Bad title published in collaboration with The British Museum.
The first topic (of ten) Clothes and Hairstyles contains some tasty or perhaps rather yucky, snippets of information such as the fact that one source of purple clothes dye was insect larva (maggots to most of us); though actually, yellow was a favourite with girls.
Suppose you were a boy in Ancient Greece; you’d wear merely a short tunic; yes it was probably pretty warm much of the time but even so a sudden gust of wind, especially in winter, would probably expose your nether regions. Brrrr!
Moreover, young men training in the gymnasium or participating in a sporting event did so in the altogether and it was considered absolutely normal so to do.
Young girls fared slightly better; they too wore only a single garment – an ankle length dress called a peplos but at least it was belted.
Zips or buttons hadn’t been invented although people used brooches, pins, cord or belts as fasteners.
Girls had a pretty grim time of it back then and female babies were often left to die on account of the dowry system, which meant that it could cost parents a fortune when a girl married, something that could happen as young as thirteen and to a complete stranger.
Girls fared badly too when it came to education: boys went to school when they were seven but girls –rich ones only – were home educated, the focus being how to run a home.
Inequality was everywhere with slaves making up around a third of the population of Athens.
Talking of education, tablets were used for note taking in lessons – no not the electronic kind; these were made of wax-covered wood on which you wrote with a stick-like stylus. Sticks were employed for another reason too – for beating those boys who didn’t learn quickly enough in class. Yeouch!
Pets were popular with families with snakes, goats, swans, ducks and geese numbering among the favourites along with dogs (the very favourite). Try taking geese out for a walk!
Oh my goodness! Even the homes of the very richest were without a loo. Imagine having to poo in a pot every single day. No thanks. There’s even a depiction on a painted vase of a small boy sitting having a dump on a tall potty-like object that apparently doubled as a high chair. Hygienic it surely wasn’t.
The largest room in a typical Greek house was devoted to partying – men only again. Female readers are probably fuming by this time.
Health and medicine introduces physician Hippocrates, often called the founder of modern medicine but before he came along much of ancient Greek medicine relied on magical prayers and charms.
Diet, myths and legends, ancient gods and fun and games complete the thematic sections.
The layout of almost every spread differs with information presented in paragraphs of text, in speech bubbles, via diagrams, and through Marisa Morea’s amusing illustrations, which make the book even more engaging.
Readers will surely finish reading this with a big smile and almost without noticing will have gained insights into an important ancient civilisation as well as a greater appreciation of their own lives today.