Ancient Rome and Pompeii is the fourteenth installment to the Research Guides collection.
Ancient Rome and Pompeii
It is the non-fiction companion for the thirteenth Magic Tree House book, Vacation Under the Volcano.


This research book has a total of 7 chapters.

  1. Ancient Rome
  2. The Eternal City
  3. The Roman Military
  4. Uniting the Empire
  5. Death in Pompeii
  6. Daily Life in a Roman Town
  7. End of the Empire

Ancient Rome

The first page starts with a Roman mythology about two boys named Romulus and Remus.

735-509 BC: Age of Kings

509-31 BC: Roman Republic

27 BC-AD 476: Age of Emperors

The Romans

In Ancient Rome, people were divided into three groups: patricians, plebeians and slaves.

The Eternal City

Today Rome is known as the Eternal City. Of course, Rome hasn't existed forever but it has been a great city for over 2,500 years.

The Roman Military

In AD 103, huge crowds lined the streets in Rome. They'd come to see the return of Emperor Trajan after his victory over the Dacians.

The Legion

Roman soldiers belonged to fighting groups made up of about 6,000 men. These groups were called legions. Legions were divided into eighty-man units called centuries. Centuries were commanded by battle-hardened officers called centurions.

Uniting the Empire

The Roman Empire was at its strongest AD 117. Parts of the empire, like Greece and Egypt, had long histories of their own. The Romans allowed almost everyone to keep their own languages, customs, and religions.


The Romans spoke a language called Latin. Latin spread throughout the empire and was the language used in law and in government. Latin gradually replaced many native languages and was the official language of the empire.

Latin Meaning English
Dent Tooth Dentist
Mar Sea Marine
Corp Body Corpse
Pater Father Paternal
Mater Mother Maternal
Totus Whole Total

Famous people

The ancient Roman world was full of rich and colorful characters. Some were renowned and helped unite the empire and accomplish great things. Some were tragic and failed to do great things. And others were...well...they were just plain awful!

  • Hannibal (247-183 BC)
  • Julius Caesar (100-44 BC)
  • Octavian (63 BC-AD 14)
  • Cleopatra (69-30 BC)
  • Boudicca (?-AD 60)
  • Caligula (AD 12-41)
  • Nero (AD 37-68)

Death in Pompeii

August 24, 79, promised to be a beautiful day in Pompeii. Pompeii was a pleasant Roman town on the slops of Mt. Vesuvius overlooking the Bay of Naples. The daily life of Pompeii was like daily life in Roman towns everywhere.

A Cloud Like a Pine Tree

Pliny, an actual eyewitness who wrote down all he saw and heard, watched in horror as the top of Mt. Vesuvius blew off. He wrote that an enormous like an Italian umbrella pine tree rose in the sky.

The cloud loomed over Pompeii. Parts of it were white; other parts were dark with dirt and ash.

Pliny reported that four days later; there were frequent earthquakes and lightning. As the hours passed, pumice piled up eight feet deep. The waters below the town boiled from the hot melted rock.

But Mt. Vesuvius had one last trick. Suddenly a huge surge of poisoned gas, ash, and rock raced down the mountain, destroying everything in its path. For two days afterward, ash continued to fall. Finally, the cloud disappeared. The volcano was settling down for another long sleep. Pompeii had ceased to exist.

Daily Life in a Roman Town

Giuseppe Fiorelli, an archaeologist, uncovered something fascinating. During the eruption, people and animals were buried in ash. Rains compressed the ash around their bodies. Although the bodies decayed, the ash hardened to form a mold around the person or animal that died.

Fiorelli pumped plaster into empty spaces inside the molds where the bodies had been. This turned them into plaster statues. Thanks to Fiorelli, we can see how and where many people actually died.


When Mt. Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, 20,000 people lived in Pompeii. Shopkeepers, businessmen, and craftsmen lived next to rich Romans, who came to escape the noise and dirt of Rome.

In all Roman cities, streets were divided into blocks called insulae. Houses, shops, and bars filled almost every block. And every street had shrines for the gods. One insulta that has been excavated has five houses with gardens, a bar, and four shops.


Houses in Pompeuu had white plastered fronts with bold red stripes running along the bottom. Windows were often high, narrow slits to keep out burglar. Poor families usually crowded into one or two rooms on the street level.


Roman families enjoyed celebrating birthdays, weddings, and festivals. There were two theaters in Pompeii where audiences watched actors perform tragedies and comedies.


Roman men and boys wore short, belted tunics. Powerful Roman men wore tunics with purple stripes to show their importance. Tunics were made from linen in the summer and wool in the winter.

Girls wore short tunics as well. When they grew up, they wore a long tunic called a stola.

A Small Pantheon of Roman Gods

  • Jupiter-Master of all the gods and god of the sky.
  • Juno-Wife of Jupiter and protector of women.
  • Mars-God of war.
  • Ceres-Goddess of the earth, crops, and grain.
  • Neptune-God of the sea.
  • Venus-Goddess of love.
  • Diana-Goddess of the moon and of hunting.
  • Vesta-Goddess of the hearth and home.
  • Vulcan-God of the fire, volcanoes and metalworking.
  • Mercury-Messenger of the gods.

End of the Empire

Eventually, the Roman Empire began to weaken. The Romans fought among themselves for control of the government. Constant wars exhausted the army.

The empire became so weak, German tribes swept down and attacked the Rome itself. Most experts agree the Roman Empire ended in AD 476.


  • According to Rick Riordan's mythology series "Heroes of Olympus", Romans are afraid of water.
  • According to Rick Riordan's mythology series "Heroes of Olympus", Romans adopted some of the culture of the Greeks (explaining why they almost got the same deities with the Greeks) and changed some of them to Latin names.

These trivias might be fiction. Please correct me if I'm wrong. PurpleRose328 ~Goddess of Waves, Will and Determination 07:48, November 1, 2011 (UTC)

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