Roman Diary: The Journal of Iliona of Mytilini

Last updated Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Author: Richard Platt
Date of Publication: 2009
ISBN: 0763634808
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jun. 2015

Synopsis: Iliona never imagined that her sea voyage from Greece to Egypt would lead her to Rome. But when her ship is boarded by pirates, that’s where she ends up — as a slave. Separated from her brother, Apollo, Iliona is soon at the whim of her owners, and the chance of regaining freedom seems like a distant dream. But unlike her brother’s plight, Iliona’s life as a slave isn’t as bad as she feared: her new family provides clothing, food, and even schooling, and best of all, she is free to explore the wonders of Rome. Step back to AD 107 and take in the luxury of the baths, the splendor of the Senate, the thrill of gladiatorial combat, and the excesses of Roman feasts in a fictional diary full of excitement, humor, and accurate historical detail.

Note to readers:
•  Some stories in the book are violent and gory.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Who knows anything about the Ancient Roman Empire? What can you tell me about it?
•  Does anyone keep a diary? What kinds of things do you like to use it for (memories, letters, stories..)
•  Tell me what you know about slavery.


•  Mariners- sailors
•  A.D. - anno Domini (Latin) in English translates to " in the Year of the Lord". Any year after Jesus Christ was alive is known as A.D. and before is known as B.C (Before Christ) or B.C.E. (Before Common Era)
•  Mistress- a woman who has control of something or over others
•  Senate- the group of officials who led the ancient Roman government
•  Gladiators- men who fought other men or animals in public in Rome for entertainment

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  How does she feel about leaving her brother, Apollo?
•  Why was slavery bad? (taken from those you love, forced to work without pay, unable to choose the work you would like to perform, being whipped)
•  How was life for slaves in Rome sometimes better than life for some free men/women in Rome?

Craft ideas:
•  Make Roman armor. Link includes directions and printable templates: .
•  Make a paper plate Roman wreath:
•  Make a Father's Day card

Special activities:
•  Hold a debate in which students argue for or against slavery

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!