24 Hours In Ancient Rome By Philip Matyszak – A Book Review

24 hours in Rome


Walk a day in a Roman’s sandals.

What was it like to live in one of the ancient world’s most powerful and bustling cities – one that was eight times more densely populated than modern day New York?

In this entertaining and enlightening guide, bestselling historian Philip Matyszak introduces us to the people who lived and worked there. In each hour of the day we meet a new character – from emperor to slave girl, gladiator to astrologer, medicine woman to water-clock maker – and discover the fascinating details of their daily lives.

Author: Philip Matyszak

Publisher: Michael O’Mara

Pages: 273

Release Date: 5/10/2017

Genre: Non-Fiction

My Chosen Format: Kindle

My Rating of ’24 Hours In Ancient Rome’: 5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon UKAmazon USAudible UKAudible US


Ancient history is a huge passion of mine. Much of my time is spent watching documentaries and sinking countless hours into games such as Assassin’s Creed Origins/Odyssey. Seeing this series of books (24 Hours in Ancient Rome, Egypt, Athens and China) all on sale for 99p each on the kindle store got me super-excited.

When most people think of Ancient Rome they think of legionaries, of great armies waging war on other civilisations and firmly grinding them beneath the sandals of Rome and the ever-watchful gaze of the Imperial Eagles. What we don’t think of is the baker, the lawyer, the mother to a sick new born or even the prostitute. 

In this book we learn of all of these people and many more. It isn’t a book that strives to tell you of Rome’s great military might, it’s a book that strives to tell you of the people that made Rome great, that kept it going whilst the armies were off doing their thing on the field of war. The book describes Rome as a heart and the people as the lifeblood that pumps through it and keeps it beating.

Every chapter is an hour in the Roman day and is from the viewpoint of a different person with a different role within Rome. Each chapter is centred on one person and their daily duties and the aspects of life that affect their duties and are affected by them. Some of these characters are fictitious, purely for the point of showing you how that particular role may have lived. Others are based on real people from true accounts of the time.

Throughout, the book is threaded with excerpts from Roman texts (be it satires, speeches, naturalist texts or even recipes complete with modern day equivalents for those near impossible to get Roman ingredients.)

The writing is presented in an approachable way and I firmly believe that anyone, of any level of historical learning will be able to pick it up, enjoy and, indeed, take something away from it. If you have the slightest interest in Rome’s past, this book is essential in broadening your understanding of that once great empire capital.

Each chapter is presented in a way that sort of passes the baton on to the next, making them all feel connected. This is a great way of telling the daily life of Rome as, to some degree or another, everyone’s lives were connected inside the walls of Ancient Rome. It also shows just how different classes of people within Rome were treated as opposed to others, and how some of the more powerful people were not quite as free to do as they pleased as many might think.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this and look forward to getting to the others in the series.

30 thoughts on “24 Hours In Ancient Rome By Philip Matyszak – A Book Review

  1. I really like these covers. This is totally not my thing but my partner would love them. I’m constantly being made to watch videos from oversimplified and historia civilis

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The covers are absolutely gorgeous 😍

      He’d love them. I honestly think anyone with even the slightest love of this kind of thing would enjoy these. There’s Athens, Egypt and China after this one as well. So a good deal for him to sink his teeth into. I can’t say what they are now, but they were all 99p when I downloaded.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What an incredibly interesting and original premise! That’s very clever. Like you I’m a bit of history buff as well, so have to say that I like the sound of this one! Glad you enjoyed it and thank you for sharing this!πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a little concerned that certain characters are just “made up”. Is this a book version of those “based on true events” tv movies? Because while this sound fantastic, I won’t read non-fiction that’s actually fiction in disguise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not so much fiction in disguise. The author creates people in some cases as vehicles for the information known about the role they had in ancient rome. All of the information is factual it’s just some of the names associated with them in the book are not.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This sounds like such a good read! My grandparents told me that I’m getting an Amazon voucher for my birthday next week so I’ve added it and the Ancient Athens one to my basket in preparation πŸ˜‚ Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s certainly an enjoyable piece. I learned so much about the day to day life in Rome. From topics such as how best to stop a fire and the basics of doing laundry or baking bread. Can’t wait to get to the next three books.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice! While I’m mostly interested in ancient politics and wars, this sort of immersion helps to understand the times better. I have some books like that and they are the true source of my fascination with history – I could barely read, but the magnificent pictures captured my imagination.

    I suppose you like the TV series Rome?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did enjoy the tv series way back when. Not watched it in ages. Rome, actually isn’t my favourite period. It’s in my top 5, but not high on the list.

      Much like you, war and politics were always my true love in ancient history. I feel my knowledge of the times due to those loves has been somewhat enhanced by knowing the basic knowledge. I’m just an ancient history sponge.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, what are your favourite periods then? Mine… Roma would get into the list, Greece surely, both classical and Hellenistic, Babylon is my favourite Mesopotamian city… if we’re talking Ancients, I don’t think any other civilization comes close on my list…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Classical Greece, Hellenistic Greece, Mayans (their math as it links to the solar system absolutely fascinates me), the Napoleonic era is a big favourite of mine, 700-1,000 ish (when the vikings were doing their thing), Golden Age of Piracy … pretty much anything pre World War as the two world wars were all we learned about in school. So getting free reign to discover everything else was like a continuous birthday present.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Nice! If we go beyond Antiquity… well, actually WWII would be on my list, I’m fascinated by it’s scale and all its horrors.. I also find early European modernity fascinating.

        Do you know of a solid history book about Mayans that would include the latest discoveries?

        Liked by 1 person

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