Start reading The Ancient Guide to Modern Life on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here or start reading now with a free Kindle Reading App.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device


Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

The Ancient Guide to Modern Life [Kindle Edition]

Natalie Haynes
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
Kindle Price: £5.39 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
You Save: £3.60 (40%)
* Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT.

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.

Whispersync for Voice

Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible narration. Add narration for a reduced price of £3.99 after you buy the Kindle book.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition £5.39  
Hardcover --  
Paperback £7.19  
Audio Download, Unabridged £15.05 or Free with 30-day free trial
Earn a Free Kindle Book
Earn a Free Kindle Book
Buy a Kindle book between now and 31 March and receive a promotional code good for one free Kindle book. Terms and conditions apply. Learn more

Product Description


The Ancient Guide to Modern Life does two things at once: it reminds us (or tells us) about people, events and practices in the Greek and Roman world, and at the same time explores their contemporary echoes and parallels. A classic double-whammy, in fact - and delivered with wonderful energy, wit, zeal and expertise. Irresistible. (Andrew Motion)

As wise as Socrates, as witty as Aristophanes, as modern as tomorrow - a classic for our times. (Gyles Brandreth)

An entertaining romp through the politics and society of the ancient Romans and Greeks ... so overflowing with lively, pertinent little nuggets it's surprising it doesn't come endorsed by Boris Johnson (Claire Allfree Metro)

A passionate authority on the classics (The List)

Witty ... for a curious-minded someone who likes to get their teeth into some intelligent non-fiction and 'mmmm' appreciatively (Bea Hodgkin Easy Living)

Brilliant (Charlotte Higgins Guardian)

Haynes debunks plenty of myths about the ancient world and delivers her history lessons in a light-hearted tone (Christopher Silvester Daily Express)

A romp through some of the best-known, and some of the most obscure, writers, thoughts and stories of Greece and Rome. Haynes does a good job in debunking myths perpetuated by popular culture ... and also manages to give intelligent overviews of some of the knottier problems that academic scholarship has grappled with ... a passionate defence of Classics (Jerry Toner TLS)


"Delivered with wonderful energy, wit, zeal, expertise. Irresistible!"----Andrew Motion, former UK Poet Laureate

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1159 KB
  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1846683238
  • Publisher: Profile Books (4 Nov. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004DER7HI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #101,546 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

More About the Author

Natalie Haynes is a writer, broadcaster, reviewer and classicist. She was once a stand-up comic, but retired when she realised she preferred tragedy to comedy. Always keen to be paid for what she would be reading anyway, she judged the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year in 2010, The Women's Prize for Fiction in 2012, and the Man Booker Prize in 2013. The Amber Fury is her first novel.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a really, really good episode of QI 3 Dec. 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A well, written, witty and engaging overview of various aspects of life in ancient Greece and Rome, showing that human nature, civilisation and our social institutions haven't changed as much as you might think over the millennia. As someone whose school didn't offer any sort of classical education (presumably considering it elitist; I wish our LEA had read this book!) The Ancient Guide to Modern Life provided a fascinating insight into some of the stories we're all vaguely aware of - and they made much more sense afterwards. Why DID the Trojans fall for the old wooden horse ruse? You'll find out when you read this book. A perfect stocking filler for the thinking person.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I have enjoyed reading Nathalie Haynes' articles in newspapers whenever they are left on the train but had no idea of her classical background. My own love affair with Latin fizzled out after my first recitation of "amo, amas, amat".

So this book was not, perhaps, one that i would have sought out had it not been recommended by a fellow scientist. What strikes me about this book is the author's combination of knowledge and communications skills, the latter benefitting from her earlier career as a stand-up comedienne.

Haynes' genius is to blend comedy, up-to-date examples and very precise language, and to add very pithy definitions of the terminology and issues that she is discussing. As a result, this book is a pleasure to read and, what is more important at my advanced age, REMEMBER. Her aim, which she achieves completely, is to contrast the obvious differences between antiquity and our world today, and to point out the many similarities.

Very sensibly, Haynes begins with an Introduction which calms the nervous reader. In successive chapters, she deals with:
Politics (entitled Old World Order): The word "barbarian" originated from the strange sounding language of foreigners - "bar-bar-bar", Julius Caesar's final words were really "kai su teknon?", "Even you, my son?", Votes for women.

Laws (How Many Angry Men?): Apophasis, tricolon, asyndeton and litotes - all employed by great orators of the past, Cicero and Perry Mason, the crime for parricide being to be scourged then thrown into the Tiber in a sack with a dog, rooster, snake and a monkey.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lively, informative and great fun along the way! 4 Dec. 2011
The premise of this book is that our lives will be enriched if we look at what has been passed down to us from the ancient civilisations of Greece and Rome. She looks at politics, warfare, women, religion, philosophy, art and culture. But instead of producing a terribly worthy (and, perhaps, dull) piece of work she offers us instead a witty and erudite work comparing our present to the past.

As well as being informative it is all good fun - you can hear her voice in every sentence. The best chapters (in which her writing really comes alive) were the ones on women and on "show business". Most of the Greek women are fictional as the Greeks preferred to keep their wives and daughters well away from public life. These come over as a terrifying bunch - wily seductresses and vengeful murderesses. But Medea and Dido had a pretty bad time of it so no wonder they didn't behave well. Other wives are shown to have been patient and faithful (such as Penelope and Andromache) though in the end it doesn't do them much good.....

The flawed hero is still a staple of literature today. Instead of Odysseus, Jason and Oedipus we now have Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, Rebus and Wallander - all troubled in their own ways. She says: "It is, perhaps, a sign of our times that self-destruction should have become rather more internalised and rather less about poking out eyes with pins." Until reading this book I hadn't made a connection between Stringer Bell (of The Wire) and Oedipus but, yes, I can see that now....

I have been a fan of Natalie Haynes ever since she recommended (and got me hooked on) Battlestar Galactica. She writes with style and wit.

Very informative - and great fun along the way.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A modern take on ancient life 29 Aug. 2011
By anozama
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Natalie Haynes' entertaining foray through Ancient Cultures is diverting enough. Her objective - to draw wisdom and wit from the comparisons between their lives and ours - is a laudable one.

The main message is that life wasn't that different. Ancient life was in some ways surprisingly good (Athenian democracy, Rome's meticulous laws), in other ways appallingly bad (Spartan infanticide; Hebrews' genocide), but generally predictably ugly (hooliganism, corruption,status obsession, profound racism and sexism; politics and intrigue; futile wars. The relentless tragedies of Greek Culture; the egotistical tempestuousness of the mythical Roman Gods. Socrates' execution for agnosticism).

Overall, it felt like a survey of arbritary similarities and differences, conveyed in a rather airy style - sometimes humorous, sometimes glib - with a few random witticisms. Surprisingly, for a comedian, what it really lacked was a good punchline.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The most enjoyable informative read in an age.
There are many "pageturners" out there, but few inform as freely and entertainingly as this book. I enjoy history and the classics but don't think I've ever come across an author... Read more
Published 18 days ago by Goatboy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book to dip into. Shall find some more Natalie Haynes - thanks for introducing me to her. Maria
Published 5 months ago by Maria Fallows
3.0 out of 5 stars What Guide?
Plenty of the Ancient stuff but a bit weak on the guide to Modern Life. A very pleasant introduction to the brave philosophy and brutal justice of the Ancients but the comparisons... Read more
Published 7 months ago by TONY RICHARDS
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new
An interesting examination of the relevance of "ancient history" to situations still being encountered today. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Michael Allen
3.0 out of 5 stars Mildly entertaining
When I read a non-fiction book, I like to learn something new. My difficulty with this book was that, although light, easy to read and amusing in places, it didn't contain any... Read more
Published 15 months ago by FEC23
5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun, entertaining and informative
I wasn't sure about this book before I started it; was it going to be a dreary exercise in trying to make the ancient world relevant to today? Read more
Published 20 months ago by Simon Binning
2.0 out of 5 stars not convinced
now i might have been spoilt for this book by John O'Farrell, who, if you're not sure where to begin, writes a funny history book. Read more
Published on 12 Dec. 2012 by Miss J. Griffin
5.0 out of 5 stars really enjoyable if you like the ancient world
I loved this book - very readable and witty along the way. It was a good nostalgic journey for me because I studied Classics for A Level fifteen years ago. Read more
Published on 30 Sept. 2012 by Ms. R.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and funny
Excellent, I thoroughly enjoyed this. The parallels from the ancient world to modern issues are striking and the writing is sharp and amusing.
Published on 17 Sept. 2012 by Jo Brookes
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read - everyone should read this!
I've only just finished this book and cannot express how much I enjoyed it. As a former Latin student, I found many familiar things in this book, but also many concepts and... Read more
Published on 23 Aug. 2012 by Serafina
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category