Guest Post by Michelle Moran plus a Giveaway

Posted: November 13, 2009 in Giveaway
Tags: , , ,

Today , I would like to  welcome Michelle Moran , the author of best-selling historical fiction  Nefertiti (my review ) and it’s  stand-alone sequel The Heretic Queen , who has graciously agreed to do a guest post on Shonas’ Book Shelves.

Her new book Cleopatra’s Daughter released on 15 th September 2009 is creating waves in the world of YA and historical fiction and her fourth novel based upon the life of  young Marie Tussaud will debut in March 2011.

Michelle is a self confessed  history buff and you will see enough proof of that on her blog . Today she is going to shed some light on the life and libraries in ancient Rome.

Over to you Michelle..

michellemoranauthorphoto small

Life and Libraries in the Ancient World

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked by readers is what life was like two thousand years ago when Julius Caesar walked the corridors of the Senate house and Cleopatra visited Rome. Surprisingly, life for the ancient Romans was not unbelievably different from today. The Romans had many of the little luxuries that we often associate exclusively with the modern world. For example, baths were to be found in every city, and public toilets were viewed as a necessity. The toilets depicted in HBO’s Rome Series are copies of those discovered in Pompeii, where those caught short could find a long stretch of latrines (much like a long bench with different sized holes) and relieve themselves next to their neighbor. Shops sold a variety of wigs, and women could buy irons to put curls their hair. For the rain, there were umbrellas, and for the sun, parasols. Houses for the wealthy were equipped with running water and were often decorated quite lavishly, with elaborate mosaics, painted ceilings, and plush carpets.

In the markets, the eager shopper could find a rich array of silks, along with linen and wool. You could also find slaves, and in this, Roman times certainly differ from our own. While some men spoke out against it, one in three people were enslaved. Most of these slaves came from Greece, or Gaul (an area roughly comprising modern France). Abuse was rampant, and the misery caused by this led desperate men like Spartacus to risk death for freedom.

For those few who were free and wealthy, however, life in Rome provided nearly endless entertainments. As a child, there were dolls and board games to be played with, and as an adult, there was every kind of amusement to be had, from the theatre to the chariot races. Even the poor could afford “bread and circuses,” which, according to Juvenal, was all the Romans were really interested in.

For those more academic minded, however, there were libraries. Although I don’t portray this in Cleopatra’s Daughter, libraries were incredibly noisy places. The male scholars and patrons read aloud to themselves and each other, for nothing was ever read silently (the Romans believed it was impossible!). Other cities were renowned for their learning, too: Pergamum (or Pergamon) was the largest and grandest library in the world. Built by the Greeks, Pergamum became Roman property when Greece was captured and many of its people enslaved. The library was said to be home to more than 200,000 volumes, and it is was in Pergamum that the history of writing was forever changed.

Built by Eumenes II, Pergamum inspired great jealousy in the Egyptian Ptolemies, who believed that their Library of Alexandria was superior. In order to cripple this Greek rival (and also because of crop shortages), Egypt ceased exporting papyrus, on which all manuscripts were written. Looking for an alternative solution, the Library of Pergamum began using parchment, or charta pergamena. For the first time, manuscripts were now being written on thin sheets of calf, sheep or goat’s skin. The result of this change from papyrus to parchment was significant. Now, knowledge could be saved by anyone with access to animal hide. Manuscripts (although still quite rare) were now available to more people. Alas, so impressive was this vast Pergamese library of parchment that Cleopatra asked Marc Antony to ship its entire contents to her as a wedding gift. This transfer marked the end of Pergamum’s scholarly dominance, and is the reason why, today, we remember Alexandria as possessing the ancient world’s greatest library.

Thank you Michelle. It was wonderful to have you here on my blog.

Having read Nefertiti (review ) , I can guess  how wonderful this book is going to be. I have just got Heretic Queen from the library and hope to finish reading it soon.


A hardcover copy of Cleopatra’s Daughter as well as an ancient Roman coin complete with certificate of authenticity (like the one on Michelle’s website here) will go to one lucky winner.



coin(That’s the authentic ancient Roman Coin you will be winning!!!)

How to enter the giveaway:

Very simple. Just leave a comment on this post along with your email address.


Tell me who is your favorite historical figure  and why ?

Remember this giveaway is open internationally , so feel free to enter.

The giveaway ends on  Nov 24th . I will  announce the winner on Nov 25th .

The death of Cleopatra was only the beginning…

Check out Michelle’s blog at for many fun contests and lots of historical information.

  1. Nish says:

    Please, please enter me.

    My favorite historical character would have to be Ashoka. He was a king who renounced a violent way of life and turned to Buddhism – not an easy thing in those days.

    For that same reason, Gandhi also appeals to me. Although, it feels odd to call him as a historical character. I love that he won freedom for us through non-violence, and that his methods still inspire so many people even today

  2. sumana says:


    Pls. enter me, I have read wonderful reviews of this book.

    My email id is:

    My favorite historical character is “Gautam Buddha”, who inspite of being a prince, left all the wealth and went out to the world to teach people about peace and non violence and thus created a new philosophy “Buddhism”.

    Sumanam from “I Read” at

  3. bibimukh says:

    ” Michelle Moran”has proved herself to be an outstanding author, all her books are praised.
    sumanam at “I Read”

  4. historyofshe says:

    Oh, please enter me! My favorite historical figure would have to be either Napoleon Bonaparte, William Wallace, or Trajan. 😀

    ecaramil at gmail dot com

  5. franary says:

    Please enter me! My favorite historical figure is Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. He did so much to improve the city of Rome and because he was not a born aristocrat, he served as the link between Octavian/Augustus and the common people, truely the “power behind the throne”.Because of his abilities,the principate had a firm foundation, thus enabling western culture to expand and endure.

  6. Bookjourney says:

    I read the book so do not enter me – just wanted to comment on Nerfetiti… I havent read it but I bet it is awesome after reading her other book! 🙂 Going to check out your review now.

  7. Nina says:

    Great that it is international.
    Please count me in:

    My favourite historical figure is Henry VIII.
    I just love reading and watch everything about The Tudors, it;s just so interesting about the religion in England and how he treated his woman! 🙂

  8. mindy says:

    this sounds fabulous thanks

  9. mindy says:

    oops forgot to tell you my favorite historical figure is abraham lincoln, as he was wise before the times

  10. Mary Ward says:

    I’d love to read this.

  11. Carol says:

    I’d love to win the HB and the Roman coin. My favorite historical figure would be Martin Luther King. 🙂

  12. Hazra says:

    Oh, I’d love to win this book! My favorite historical figure would probably be Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.


  13. Sandra k321 says:

    This is one of the books that I would love to read. I am a big fan of historical fiction. Hmmmm, my favorite historical figure is a tough choice. I love the Civil War era and British history, but maybe I would choose Queen Victoria.

  14. Sharon A says:

    I love ancient Egypt and look forward to reading the book.

  15. Deedles says:

    Would love to win this. My favorite historical figure is John F. Kennedy. I believe he tried to do a lot for the people as president.

  16. divya says:

    My email is Would love to win this..
    My favorite historical figures are emperor ashoka and rani of jhansi.

  17. Thank you for having me :]

    And good luck everyone!

  18. Renee G says:

    I would say my favorite historical figure would be Michelango. I love his drawings and scientific observations.

  19. Nicole C. says:

    I would love to enter. I like to read about Henry VIII, so I guess that would be my favorite right now. I just find that time period very interesting!!

  20. SueP says:

    i read mostly Historical Fiction my fav Historical figure is Elizabeth I

  21. Amber says:

    Please enter me!
    Ancient Egypt is one of my favorite historical time periods, and I love Michelle Moran’s historical fiction books based on this time period. I would have to say that one of my favorite historical figures is Thomas Jefferson. He helped build the American nation through the Declaration of Independence to the Louisiana Purchase. He was also a well learned man who had a love for books.

  22. Sue says:

    This looks like a very interesting book, would love to be entered in the contest.

    My favorite historical figure is Abraham Lincoln.

    suefitz (at) yahoo (dot) com

  23. Alanna says:

    I’m very excited about this book!

    My favourite historical figure would probably be Henry VIII – I find the history of the Tudors very interesting!

    alannakurt at gmail dot com