A-Z of Historical Sources

Access keys (Alt+"Letter", then press Enter) may be used to navigate this alphabetical list.

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The following alphabetical list features is just a miniscule selection of the many hundreds of thousands of historical non-fiction books about Ancient Rome. The list features both primary (written by the ancient Romans themselves) and secondary (written by historians) sources. All entries are chiefly from my own personal bookshelf, although I have also included some which have been highly recommended to me, or are well-known.

I still haven’t worked out the best way to arrange these titles yet – by author, by time period or by topic – so currently they are alphabetical by author because it is easier for me to enter the details that way. This arrangement will change in the future as more titles are added.

[A]

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[B]

Boardman, Griffin and Murry

  • The Oxford History of the Classical World – large heavy book, but interesting to read. It covers ancient Greece through to ancient Rome in several well defined topic areas. More of a dip in and out book than read cover to cover.

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[C]

Cicero, Marcus Tullius

Advocate, Statesman, Poet, Philosopher and Writer. Cicero has left us a great legacy of writing from his advocacy speeches, to his great speeches against such men as Marcus Antonius to his private letters to his friend Atticus.

  • Murder Trials – covering Sextus Roscius and others, which are of interest to readers of Steven Saylor!

Cunliffe, Barry

  • Roman Bath Discovered – all about the discovery, history, archaeology and preservation of the Roman temple and baths in Aquae Sulis (Bath, UK).

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[D]

Cassius Dio

  • The Roman History – covers several volumes. Used as a source on this website.

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[E]

Anthony Everett

  • Cicero: A Turbulent Life – an excellent and readable (i.e. not dry!) biography of Cicero, which includes quotations from his actual writings. Whether you love Cicero or hate him, this book will be of interest.

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[F]

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[G]

Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa

  • A Taste of Ancient Rome – genuine Roman recipes selected from Apicius and other sources. Some made suitable for modern tastes, but the ancient original is still shown. Also contains information on the history and customs of Roman dining. Illustrated throughout. Has passed the taste test too!

Edward Gibbon

  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire – humongous and very famous. Comes in several volumes. A little dry in places for beginners.
  • The Abridged Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire – much better for casual readers, and it includes a lot of pictures and illustrations (Saturn Books)

Michael Grant

A prolific author on ancient Rome. Solid knowledge books – not flashy and possibly not for casual readers.

  • The World of Rome
  • The Climax of Rome

Robert Graves

  • The Greek Myths – here Graves (of I, Claudius) has collected the Greek myths together and extensively footnoted them for sources and the likely origins of the myths, as well as conflicting stories and evidence. Fascinating reading, especially if you are into Greco-Roman mythology. The Penguin edition comes in two volumes.

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[H]

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[I]

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[J]

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[K]

Kiefer

  • Sexual Life in Ancient Rome – don’t get the wrong idea! This about the relationship and customs between men and woman in ancient Rome. Their relative positions in society, their different life expectations — and similarities etc. Includes information on marriage customs.

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[L]

Titus Livius (Livy)

  • The Early History of Rome – about the foundation of Rome
  • The War With Hannibal – about the Carthaginian War, where Rome was threatened by Hannibal who leads his troops and elephants over the Alps.
  • Rome and the Mediterranean – about the fight for supremacy of the Mediterranean with Greece after the defeat of Hannibal.

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[M]

Christian Meier

  • Caesar – a biography of Julius Caesar.

John Morris

  • Londinium in the Roman Empire – the history of Britain’s capital city from it’s small river-side Celtic village to the great metropolis at the height of Rome’s power in Britain.

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[n]

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[O]

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[P]

Plutarch

Plutarch (a classical Greek historian, not a Roman) was one of Shakespeare’s favourite sources for play ideas. Plutarch was interested in characters and his “lives” have been divided up in many way. In the Penguin editions the lives are divided into three volumes:

  • Makers of Rome – nine “lives” (character studies) of famous Romans collected for their contribution to Rome (Coriolanus, Fabius Maximus, Marcellus, Cato the Elder, the Gracchi brothers, Sertorius, Brutus, Marcus Antonius).
  • Fall of the Roman Republic – six “lives” selected because they all contributed to or were involved in the fall of the Republic (Marius, Sulla, Crassus, Pompey, Caesar and Cicero).
  • The Rise and Fall of Athens – some Greek “lives”.

Polybius

  • The Rise of the Roman Empire – a description and analysis of the wars with Hannibal and the wars with Greece from somebody who was actually there!

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[Q]

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[R]

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[S]

Peter Salway

  • A History of Roman Britain – an excellent survey of Britain from its invasion to its abandonment by the Romans.

Chris Scarre

  • A Chronical of the Roman Emperors – perfect for the casual reader! This glossy, well presented, but still informative book covers every Emperor from Julius Caesar (ok, he wasn’t actually an Emperor) to Romulus Augustulus, the last Emperor of the West before the rise of Byzantium. 400 years of intrigue, jealousy, murder, assassination, back-stabbing, plotting, scandal and insanity!

Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (Suetonius)

Suetonius is possibly the most well known ancient writer and the basis for many of our perceptions of the early Roman Emperors. Only one complete work of his remains intact and a fraction of another (Illustrious Writers), which is a shame because there are many titles we know of that sound fascinating: Royal Biographies; Roman Masters and Customs; The Roman Year; Methods of Reckoning Time; Roman Festivals; Roman Dress; Offices of State; Cicero’s Republic; The Physical Defects of Mankind; An Essay on Nature; Grammatical Problems; Critical Signs Used in Books (?!); Greek Games; Greek Terms of Abuse(!); Lives of Famous Whores(!!!).

  • The Twelve Caesars – a rip-roaring account of the lives of twelve Caesar from Julius Caesar to Domitian Caesar. Suetonius reads like a tabloid newspaper and he is not afraid to give the most salacious details! An excellent source of casual readers who want to sample something written by the ancient themselves. Do take some of the stories with a pinch of salt though!

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[T]

Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus

  • The Annals of Imperial Rome – covering the death of Augustus through to the death of Nero. Not all of the passages are intact, but what is there gives a vivid account of the early Emperor’s lives. Be warned: Tacitus can become a little moralistic and his attacks of Tiberius etc should be taken with a pinch of salt.

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[T]

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[U]

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[V]

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[W]

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[X]

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[Y]

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[Z]

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