By Eva-Joy Schonaar

I’m not sure when I first became enamored with ancient Rome, but I’ve loved stories set there for nearly as long as I can remember. Ben-Hur (1959) was a staple film in our house (it’s still a big favorite of mine). My favorite book in the Royal Diaries series was Cleopatra’s diary—and while she was Egyptian (well, Greek, actually) there were still several Roman characters + the general flavor of ancient times. Then there was a novel, Set Among Princes, that told the story of a young Christian woman living in Rome during the time of Nero.

But probably the biggest reason for my love of ancient Rome was the Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence. I devoured those books repeatedly (all the ones my library had, anyway). They were full of great characters and vivid details and descriptions of life in Rome (well, Ostia for starters) during the reign of Emperor Titus. I felt obsessed with the series… and grew to love the historical setting as a result.

Ancient Rome kinda fell off my radar as I grew older and got into WWII history. But then I watched Gladiator (2000) and The Eagle (2011) for the first time, and now I’m back to adoring stories set in ancient Rome. It’s my favorite time period, hands down. (And I still love revisiting those childhood classics.) It’s why Acts is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Partly because the people in Acts, the believers, are so much like believers today in a lot of ways (so the familiarity is cool). And partly because of the setting. The ancient world. Roman stuff. All that.

Why do I like stories set in ancient Rome so much? Why am I fascinated by the history, the culture, the day-to-day life of Roman people? There was a lot of bad that happened during those times. And Rome wasn’t exactly kind to Christians. I think a lot of my interest comes from nostalgia, to be honest. Ancient Rome, odd as it may seem, is a comforting place to return to in books and movies and TV shows. There’s so much color and texture and so many different kinds of people and the old Hollywood epics set there are kinda cheesy but also awesome.

But even more than the nostalgia… it’s the intangibles. The mood, the vibe, the aesthetic of ancient Rome. I try not to romanticize the time period (and I think I succeed), but it still moves me in a very specific way. I love all of it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eva-Joy Schonhaar is an aspiring author who has written several novels and hopes to be published some day soon. She’s a Christian fangirl who drinks insane amounts of coffee, thinks that chocolate chip cookies solve pretty much everything, and always uses the Oxford Comma. In her spare time she can be found geeking out over superheroes and reading The Hunger Games for the millionth time.