Roaming in Roman History


HonoriusIn the book Attack at the Arena, you read about Emperor Honorius and the monk Telemachus. Patrick and Beth met them when they visited Rome in the year 404. You probably figured out that Honorius liked birds. But did you know he became emperor when he was only ten years old?

Here are some other unusual facts about Emperor Honorius, Telemachus, the barbarians, and the famous Roman games in the arena. Keep reading!

Honorius the Bird Emperor

Emperor Honorius’s first name was Flavius. He was born in the year 384.

Some brothers today share a room or a computer. But Honorius shared a country with his brother, Arcadius. In 395, Rome split into two regions. Honorius ruled the West (the red part on the map); Arcadius ruled the East (the purple part on the map).

Roman Empire
Many Roman boys’ names ended in “us” or “ius.” Many Roman girls’ names ended in “ia” or “ina.” What might your name be if you were born in Rome?

Honorius’s visit to the city of Rome lasted about six months. He brought gifts to the leaders of the churches.

Honorius made a law that said Roman men could not wear pants.


If you were an emperor, what laws would you make?

Telemachus, the Little Monk

TelemachusTelemachus was a monk from Asia.

Telemachus came to Rome to celebrate Christmas.

Telemachus may have visited a church called the Basilica of Saint John. The Bishop of Rome talked with visitors there.

If you were on vacation, would you visit a church? Why or why not?

Telemachus is described as “rough” and having a “sun-browned face.”

After the last game, the Roman people thought of Telemachus as a hero.

Who are your heroes? What makes a good hero?

The Barbarians


The barbarians were called Goths. They lived in what is now Eastern Europe.

Their leader was named Alaric I.

The Goths were Christians. The general of Honorius’s army knew the Goths would celebrate all Christian holidays. The Goths would not be looking for an attack on a holy day. So in 403 the Roman army attacked the Goth’s on Easter. That was how the Romans won the war.

Do you think that wars should stop on holidays?

In 410 the barbarians invaded Rome again, and this time they won. The Goths “sacked” the city of Rome and took many beautiful and expensive things.

Sack of Rome

The Arena

The arena is now called the Colosseum. It was finished in the year 60.

Its first name was the Flavian Amphitheater.

The Colosseum had toilets and fountains with running water.

Some people believe the Colosseum is named after a statue. At one time, a bronze statue named the Colossus stood outside the arena. It was 121 feet tall.

Can you guess what the word colossal means? (Ginormous!)

Underneath the arena floor were animal cages and hallways. When archeologists dug it up, they found the bones of people and animals.


Roman WomanWomen sat in seats at the back of the arena. They dressed up for the games.

Do you like to dress up? Why or why not?

The arena floor had trap doors. The doors were covered by sand.

The ceilings in the stairwells were painted purple.

If you could paint your ceiling any color, what color would you choose?

Thousands and thousands of people died in the Colosseum. The games are a sad part of human history.


The Games

In the early games, the slaves filled the arena with water. Then they brought in ships. The people in the seats watched pretend sea battles.

Music was often played during the games.

In one animal show, an elephant walked on a tightrope.

Can your pets do any tricks?


Christians were killed in the Colosseum starting from 249 to about 313.

The warriors who fought in the Colosseum were called gladiators. They often fought wild animals.


Sometimes the animals were put in cages outside the Colosseum. They would growl at or snap at the people walking by.


Facts compiled and written by Marianne Hering. Images from Wikimedia Commons.