PDA

View Full Version : Best books about Ancient Rome



Maciamo
02-02-19, 19:35
I have read seven books about ancient Rome over the past year.

The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization, by Bryan Ward-Perkins (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0192807285/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0192807285&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20&linkId=fd0c914c4627256ba39bb8f55c5a0ce0)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51SiTmgjyIL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

24 Hours in Ancient Rome: A Day in the Life of the People Who Lived There, by Philip Matyszak (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0758BFFFX/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B0758BFFFX&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20&linkId=fd0c914c4627256ba39bb8f55c5a0ce0)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51lmvbflyyL.jpg

The Dream of Rome by Boris Johnson, by Boris Johnson (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01K921PZM/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B01K921PZM&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20&linkId=fd0c914c4627256ba39bb8f55c5a0ce0)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51uSH2dZv4L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Pax Romana: War, Peace and Conquest in the Roman World, by Adrian Goldsworthy (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0300178824/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0300178824&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20&linkId=fd0c914c4627256ba39bb8f55c5a0ce0)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51ZhcGacfeL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

The Roman Republic: A Very Short Introduction, by David M. Gwynn (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0199595119/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0199595119&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20&linkId=fd0c914c4627256ba39bb8f55c5a0ce0)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51nvHrHFeML._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

I have read the following books in Italian:

Storia di Roma antica, by Giuseppe Antonelli (https://www.amazon.it/Storia-Roma-antica-eNewton-Sapere-ebook/dp/B00ANBTXP4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1549128198&sr=1-1)
https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/5161SCBnxsL.jpg

Una giornata nell'antica Roma. Vita quotidiana, segreti e curiosità, by Alberto Angela (https://www.amazon.it/gp/product/8804666684?pf_rd_p=92d57b9a-560a-4125-a16c-a71765b4ec43&pf_rd_r=QH2AC607NQJYJEGYPBWX)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51UGF9-kWOL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg


All of them were good, but The Fall of Rome was the least interesting for me, maybe because I already knew well that period and didn't learn much.

Boris Johnson's book was quite enjoyable because it was very funny, while at the same time being well-written and erudite.

But my favourite in the lot has to be the last one by Alberto Angela, which also exists in English (A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1933372710/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1933372710&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20&linkId=fd0c914c4627256ba39bb8f55c5a0ce0)).

If you had to read only two books I would recommend these two. Unfortunately Boris Johnson's book isn't available on Kindle.

Angela
02-02-19, 20:05
I'm a big fan of Alberto Angela. He's one of the great popularizers.

For those not that familiar with him he's all over youtube in both Italian and English. Quite good clips.

Salento
02-02-19, 22:26
I also watched many shows/documentaries hosted by his father, Piero Angela.

Maciamo
03-02-19, 11:13
I'm a big fan of Alberto Angela. He's one of the great popularizers.


I have already started his next book Impero. Viaggio nell'Impero di Roma seguendo una moneta (https://www.amazon.it/Impero-Viaggio-nellImpero-seguendo-moneta/dp/8804666781/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_2/257-0639723-0303634?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=8804666781&pd_rd_r=d8917362-2792-11e9-a467-b9749e8bfc1b&pd_rd_w=X61eH&pd_rd_wg=dB8xA&pf_rd_p=11c5cf40-39ef-4bbd-8511-b315eb9e9301&pf_rd_r=Y4KXR06T41MMZ5GRGHXC&psc=1&refRID=Y4KXR06T41MMZ5GRGHXC).

Reading is a great way to learn new words. I used to write down vocabulary on a piece of paper I kept in the book as a bookmark. But since I adopted Kindle I simply highlight words I want to remember in blue (yellow highlights is for noteworthy passages), then export the highlights to Google Drive and make a list on a spreadsheet with one column for the translation and another for the category of words, so that I can classify them easily in one click. I learned over 100 words with Una giornata nell'antica Roma.

Maciamo
06-02-19, 20:55
I checked the documentaries hosted by Alberto Angela on YouTube, but unfortunately the video quality is not very good. I'd rather recommend to create a free account on the Rai website and watch the videos in HD there. I like his documentary series Ulisse: il piacere della scoperta (https://www.raiplay.it/programmi/ulisseilpiaceredellascoperta/), which has been running for four seasons now. There are episodes about ancient Rome (hidden secrets under Rome, Augustus, Trajan, the Colosseum, the sexual life of ancient Romans...), but also about other historical periods (in all the world, not only Italy), about natural regions and even about DNA and about Neanderthal.

Angela
06-02-19, 22:31
I checked the documentaries hosted by Alberto Angela on YouTube, but unfortunately the video quality is not very good. I'd rather recommend to create a free account on the Rai website and watch the videos in HD there. I like his documentary series Ulisse: il piacere della scoperta (https://www.raiplay.it/programmi/ulisseilpiaceredellascoperta/), which has been running for four seasons now. There are episodes about ancient Rome (hidden secrets under Rome, Augustus, Trajan, the Colosseum, the sexual life of ancient Romans...), but also about other historical periods (in all the world, not only Italy), about natural regions and even about DNA and about Neanderthal.

Thanks, Maciamo.

I'll do that.

Maciamo
14-05-19, 10:55
Two other great books about ancient Rome, this time about the lives of Roman emperors. The first covers all the emperors as well as the evolution of Roman society and religious beliefs. The second concentrates on 10 emperors, but mentions also other major emperors, and only skips the period from 251 to 284 and after Constantine.

David Potter's book is more complete and succinct, although Barry Strauss's book may be slightly more enjoyable to read. Both are American university professors of ancient history (Potter at the University of Michigan and Strauss at Cornell).

The Emperors of Rome: The Story of Imperial Rome from Julius Caesar to the Last Emperor, by David Potter (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1780877501/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1780877501&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20&linkId=435712f9df9187f6d9caf79cbca08bf2)

https://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&MarketPlace=US&ASIN=1780877501&ServiceVersion=20070822&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&Format=_SL250_&tag=eupedia-20


Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine, by Barry Strauss (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GNRKJWT/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B07GNRKJWT&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20&linkId=435712f9df9187f6d9caf79cbca08bf2)

https://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&MarketPlace=US&ASIN=145166883X&ServiceVersion=20070822&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&Format=_SL250_&tag=eupedia-20

Maciamo
18-05-19, 16:25
Another great read: The Roman Emperor Aurelian: Restorer of the World (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1473845696/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1473845696&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20&linkId=38d1b7e65f4c7f308720975ddbc76ca8), by John F. White. The book isn't just about Aurelian, but also about Valerian, Gallienus, Claudius II, Tacitus, Probus, Carus, the Gallic emperors (Postumus, Tetricus) as well as Zenobia and Vaballathus of Palmyra. A very interesting period (253-284) that almost saw the collapse of the Roman empire. This period was not mentioned by Barry Strauss in Ten Caesars, so the two books complete each other.

https://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&MarketPlace=US&ASIN=1473845696&ServiceVersion=20070822&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&Format=_SL250_&tag=eupedia-20

LABERIA
18-05-19, 16:48
I checked the documentaries hosted by Alberto Angela on YouTube, but unfortunately the video quality is not very good. I'd rather recommend to create a free account on the Rai website and watch the videos in HD there. I like his documentary series Ulisse: il piacere della scoperta (https://www.raiplay.it/programmi/ulisseilpiaceredellascoperta/), which has been running for four seasons now. There are episodes about ancient Rome (hidden secrets under Rome, Augustus, Trajan, the Colosseum, the sexual life of ancient Romans...), but also about other historical periods (in all the world, not only Italy), about natural regions and even about DNA and about Neanderthal.

Yes, he is following the steps of his father, Piero Angela (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piero_Angela). An incredible personality of Italian television.

Maciamo
20-05-19, 10:55
A few other books about ancient Rome that I have started reading.

Cataclysm 90 BC: The forgotten war that almost destroyed Rome, by Philip Matyszak (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1848847890/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1848847890&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20&linkId=94efd6f8344edb33e1e0e1f4b64f4e85) about the Social War in which Italian cities and tribes fought against the Roman Republic in order to lose their independence to become Roman (the only case in history of the opposite of an independence war!).

https://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&MarketPlace=US&ASIN=1848847890&ServiceVersion=20070822&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&Format=_SL250_&tag=eupedia-20


Legionary: The Roman Soldier's (Unofficial) Manual (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FNIXWEA/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00FNIXWEA&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20&linkId=1f84ea1675ca5035ea8a1d5e7054721a), also by Philip Matyszak.

https://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&MarketPlace=US&ASIN=B00FNIXWEA&ServiceVersion=20070822&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&Format=_SL250_&tag=eupedia-20


Roman Britain: A New History, by Guy de la Bédoyère (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0500291144/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0500291144&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20&linkId=3d4e2aa9e413e641907f3f583bc9b826)

https://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&MarketPlace=US&ASIN=0500291144&ServiceVersion=20070822&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&Format=_SL250_&tag=eupedia-20

Maciamo
11-04-20, 19:40
For those of you interested in Roman history, the comic book series The Eagles of Rome (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0161MV630/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B0161MV630&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20), by Italian-Swiss author Enrico Marini, is really great. It is available in English and on Kindle. The story is set in the first decade CE during the end of the reign of Augustus. It follows the life of Arminius until the destruction of Varus' three legions in the Teutoburg Forest. The graphics are exceptionally good and very realistic. The plot is also well researched from a historical point of view. Rated 18+ (but I don't think we have a lot of younger members anyway).

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51IHtxsnd2L.jpg (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0161MV630/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B0161MV630&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20)

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51X8zc-ET7L.jpg (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0161MV1ZS/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B0161MV1ZS&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20)

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/618kbkaWylL.jpg (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GU45DE2/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B01GU45DE2&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20)

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/61GwXAMvHGL.jpg (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GU45GE4/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B01GU45GE4&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20)

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/514EyVR1pcL.jpg (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MSLZWQ0/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B01MSLZWQ0&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20)


For those who can read French I also recommend the Franco-Belgian comic series The Adventures of Alix (https://www.amazon.com/s?k=alix+jacques+martin&crid=MTMHU9NWZFYP&sprefix=Alix+jacq%2Caps%2C304&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_9) (38 volumes so far - set at the time of Julius Caesar) and Alix Senator (https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Alix+Senator&ref=nb_sb_noss) (10 volumes now, same hero but older, during the late reign of Augustus). Alix (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Alix) is one of the oldest Franco-Belgian comics alongside Tintin. The first volume was published in 1948. Each book is a completely different story. The quality is variable as the authors have changed over time. Alix Senator is one long story and the quality is more consistent.

Maciamo
11-04-20, 22:03
Here are a few other great books about ancient Roman history.

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, by Mary Beard (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014T9HKN2/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B014T9HKN2&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20) is a very well written history of Rome from foundation to 212 CE.


https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51YIZN5kfSL.jpg (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014T9HKN2/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B014T9HKN2&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20)



The Gold of Tolosa, by Philip Matyszak (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00F5745PE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00F5745PE&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20). The story is based on old papyri dating from the 1st century CE found in Pompeii. It is not clear whether the story is (entirely) real or not, but it is certainly based on actual historical events. It might either be the true account of how the greatest robbery in history took place (gold and silver worth about $2 billions in today's money) or it might be the oldest novel in the world (antedating by 1000 years The Tale of Genji (http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20190814-the-tale-of-genji-the-worlds-first-novel)). In any case the story is exhilarating and mind-blowing. It was superbly translated from colloquial Latin by Philip Matyszak, an expert in that domain. The language is crude and hilarious. It's one of the most captivating books I have ever read!

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51HisjiNWhL.jpg (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00F5745PE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00F5745PE&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20)


The Servant of Aphrodite (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017N3T9YY/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B017N3T9YY&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20) is the sequel of The Gold of Tolosa and is just as amazing.


https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51-ZQkePHnL.jpg (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017N3T9YY/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B017N3T9YY&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20)



Patricians and Emperors: The Last Rulers of the Western Roman Empire, by Ian Hughes (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017XNH644/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B017XNH644&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20). I recommend reading the book after Stilicho and Aetius (listed above) by the same author to follow the chronology. This volume provides worthwhile insight into the numerous reasons why the Western Roman Empire eventually collapsed.

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51ScL34mW1L.jpg (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017XNH644/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B017XNH644&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20)

Maciamo
29-06-20, 11:17
Another great comic book series is Murena, about the life of Emperor Nero. Like the Eagles of Rome it is definitely rated 18+ on all levels, but that's often the case for realistic works on ancient Rome.

The first four volumes (out of 11) are now available as a compilation (cheaper to buy). They deal with Nero's adolescence, starting shortly before Claudius's death until Agrippina's death in volume 4.

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51EOj20sk0L.jpg (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MTUYJS0/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B01MTUYJS0&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20)

The quality of drawings increases over time, especially from volume 4.

Volume 5 showcases the rise of Poppaia Sabina and Nero trying his hand as a charioteer in the Circus Maximus.

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51OckXtftpL.jpg (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GU49AV4/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B01GU49AV4&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20)


https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51SOxcFYxPL.jpg (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GU4B52Q/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B01GU4B52Q&linkCode=as2&tag=eupedia-20)