The Reception of Ancient Greece and Rome in Children’s Literature

Heroes and Eagles


Editor: Lisa Maurice
Greece and Rome have long featured in books for children and teens, whether through the genres of historical fiction, fantasy, mystery stories or mythological compendiums. These depictions and adaptations of the Ancient World have varied at different times, however, in accordance with changes in societies and cultures. This book investigates the varying receptions and ideological manipulations of the classical world in children’s literature. Its subtitle, Heroes and Eagles, reflects the two most common ways in which this reception appears, namely in the forms of the portrayal of the Greek heroic world of classical mythology on the one hand, and of the Roman imperial presence on the other. Both of these are ideologically loaded approaches intended to educate the young reader.

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Biographical Note

Lisa Maurice, Ph.D (2000) is senior lecturer at Bar-Ilan University. She is the author of The Teacher in Ancient Rome: the Magister and His World (Lexington 2013), and has published many articles, both on Roman Comedy and on Classical Reception.

Contributors are: Eran Almagor, Catherine Butler, Elizabeth Hale, Anthony Keen, Katarzyna Marciniak, Lisa Maurice, Mary McMenomy, Geoffrey Miles, Sheila Murnaghan, Joanna Paul, Deborah Roberts, Niall Slater and Barbara Weinlich.

Review Quotes

" As a whole, The Reception of Ancient Greece and Rome in Children's Literature: Heroes and Eagles is a useful contribution to classical reception studies and an excellent piece of work. (...) This is an exciting area of study and the field is in desperate need of more of it to produce truly revolutionary scholarship. More books, more conferences, and more edited volumes like this one." Krishni Burns, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2016.05.26.

Table of contents


List of Figures
Notes on Contributors
Children, Greece and Rome: Heroes and Eagles

Part 1 - Classics and Ideology in Children’s Literature
1 Classics, Children’s Literature, and the Character of Childhood, from Tom Brown’s Schooldays to The Enchanted Castle
Elizabeth Hale
2 ‘Time is only a mode of thought, you know’: Ancient History, Imagination and Empire in E. Nesbit’s Literature for Children
Joanna Paul
3 (De)constructing Arcadia: Polish Struggles with History and Differing Colours of Childhood in the Mirror of Classical Mythology
Katarzyna Marciniak

Part 2 - Ancient Mythology, Modern Authors
4 The Metanarrative of Picture Books: ‘Reading’ Greek Myth for (and to) Children
Barbara Weinlich
5 Reading the Fiction of Video Games
Mary McMenomy
6 From Chiron to Foaly: The Centaur in Classical Mythology and Fantasy Literature
Lisa Maurice
7 Classical Memories in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia
Niall W. Slater

Part 3 - Classical Mythology for Children
8 Men into Pigs: Circe’s Transformations in Versions of The Odyssey for Children
Sheila Murnaghan
9 Chasing Odysseus in Twenty-First Century Children’s Fiction
Geoffrey Miles
10 The Metamorphosis of Ovid in Retellings of Myth for Children
Deborah H. Roberts

Part 4 - Ancient Rome for Children
11 The “Grand Tour” as Transformative Experience in Children’s Novels about the Roman Invasion
Catherine Butler
12 “Wulf the Briton”: Resisting Rome in a 1950s British Boys’ Adventure Strip
Antony Keen
13 Bridging the Gap between Generations: Astérix between Child and Adult, Classical and Modern
Eran Almagor


All interested in Classical Reception Studies, comparative literature or children’s literature. Also academic libraries, institutes, graduate students, undergraduate students and educated laymen.