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Books on Rome

squirrels

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Can anyone recommend any good books on the history of Rome? The history of Rome as a republic and then as an empire, the great military campaigns, the political battles, the rise and fall of Rome, the stories of the emperors and other major characters?

I always find myself interested in stories of the Roman empire when I'm watching History International or Nat Geo channel...there are a lot of stories of political intrigue, lots of military conquests, and larger-than-life characters.

I imagine some of the more literate people on here might know some good reads...both from the pure historical perspective and from the narrative point of view.
 

Julius_Seizeher

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Good thing I was here. I too am a connoissuer of Rome. I find it's history absolutely fascinating.

They have some good videos on Rome at the History Channel site, and you can order their box sets too. As for books, the ultimate written account of ancient Rome lies in The Lives of the Caesars by Suetonius, the world's first biographer. It is a comprehensive account of biographies of the first 12 Roman emporers. This book is the source of all the dynasty, all the intrigue, all the perversion that we know of ancient Rome. It has most of the usual suspects-Caesar, Augustus, Caligula, Nero. Life was such an insane bloodbath that even the fictionists of today could not create it if they tried.
 

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Rubican by Tom Holland is a brilliant starting point for the history of Rome, telling it's history right up to the formation of the Empire, focussing mainly on the time around Pompey, Sulla, Caesar, and Octavian.

Highly recommend it. Also strongly recommend Persian Fire, an even better book about the Persian Wars with the Greeks
 

squirrels

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Thanks guys...ordered Lives of the Caesars and Rubicon...that ought to get me started. :)

I used to read a lot more but stopped for a little while...trying to get back into the habit.
 

romangod

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I'm a big fan of Roman history. Hence, my name. :p


I'd suggest "The Rise of the Roman Empire" by Polybius. This documents Rome's rise from a city state to a leader in the Mediterranean world. It covers the Punic wars with the Carthaginians. The first Punic war being a battle over Sicily where Rome became a naval power out of necessity.

The second Punic war involved the Carthaginians invading Rome and being led by their great general, Hannibal. He tried through the back door and almost succeeded. He started in Spain and crossed the Alps with elephants and all and attacked from the rear.

There's also "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" by Gibbons. This was written in the 1700s but I find it kind of scattered and a tough read.


I'd also suggest "I Claudius". It's a historical novel but the facts are all there. It covers from the first emperor, Augustus, up until the fifth emperor, Nero as told by the fourth emperor, Claudius. If you're not up to reading it, there's a great BBC production from the 70's that's worth a look.


Cheers!
 

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Alle_Gory

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Julius_Seizeher said:
They have some good videos on Rome at the History Channel site, and you can order their box sets too. As for books, the ultimate written account of ancient Rome lies in
That's the American one right? The same one that has the new reality show with Larry the Cable Guy.

I heard there's an International History Channel that hasn't been ruined yet.
 

Quiksilver

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'History of the Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire' - Edward Gibbon
 

Centaurion

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I highly recommend the "Masters of Rome" series by Colleen McCullough.

Masters of Rome is a series of historical fiction novels by author Colleen McCullough (b. 1937) set in ancient Rome during the last days of the old Roman Republic; it primarily chronicles the lives and careers of Gaius Marius, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Pompeius Magnus, Gaius Julius Caesar, and the early career of Caesar Augustus. It spans from January 1, 110 BC through to January 16, 27 BC.
Furthermore, any book by Adrian Goldsworthy is golden, but I recommend "In the Name of Rome: The Men Who Won the Roman Empire".

Besides the story of individual generals, this book also traces the development of the Roman style of command as it evolved along with changing Roman society. The story starts with Fabius Maximus and Claudius Marcellus who are elected leaders of citizen soldiers in the Second Punic War and ends with Belisarius, a member of the Imperial household, who is general of an army of unruly mercenary cavalry and questionable infantry.

It is fascinating to see how the Roman army changed from the Republican era till the end of the Imperial era with the last days of the Eastern Roman Empire.
 

5string

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http://www.unrv.com/culture/romulus-and-remus.php

Squirrels....I have been to Rome. All over Europe actually.

A few things stood out that I remember quite clearly.

The Apien Way, along which there are Christian catacombs. The graves were open and cut into the sides of the walls of the tunnels.

The Vatican. Amazing architecture. Sistine chapel. Michaelangelo. Even saw the Pope give mass.

Went to Pompeii as well. That was interesting. A whole city engulfed by ash and fire when Mount Vesuvious suddenly erupted. Quite intact.

The Colosseum. Although rumored the Christians were fed to lions there, most historians doubt this. Under it's floor, there are many hallways and entrances from which animals and people could be introduced for whatever entertainment was to be had that day. They also filled it with water and had simulated naval battles for the crowd.

Rome is an amazing place.

Florence was my favorite as well as Naples and Capri. Venice seemed very dirty.

If you would like to PM me an address, I will send you are book containing the original writings of Marcus Aurelius, former leader of the Roman Empire and philosopher.
 

squirrels

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5string said:
http://www.unrv.com/culture/romulus-and-remus.php

Squirrels....I have been to Rome. All over Europe actually.

A few things stood out that I remember quite clearly.

The Apien Way, along which there are Christian catacombs. The graves were open and cut into the sides of the walls of the tunnels.

The Vatican. Amazing architecture. Sistine chapel. Michaelangelo. Even saw the Pope give mass.

Went to Pompeii as well. That was interesting. A whole city engulfed by ash and fire when Mount Vesuvious suddenly erupted. Quite intact.

The Colosseum. Although rumored the Christians were fed to lions there, most historians doubt this. Under it's floor, there are many hallways and entrances from which animals and people could be introduced for whatever entertainment was to be had that day. They also filled it with water and had simulated naval battles for the crowd.

Rome is an amazing place.

Florence was my favorite as well as Naples and Capri. Venice seemed very dirty.

If you would like to PM me an address, I will send you are book containing the original writings of Marcus Aurelius, former leader of the Roman Empire and philosopher.
I've always wanted to take a trip to Europe and see some of the remains of the Roman empire. I just think if I went by myself it wouldn't be as fun, and I have yet to find someone that I think would really appreciate taking the trip with me. (if you get my meaning :p )
 

5string

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squirrels said:
I've always wanted to take a trip to Europe and see some of the remains of the Roman empire. I just think if I went by myself it wouldn't be as fun, and I have yet to find someone that I think would really appreciate taking the trip with me. (if you get my meaning :p )
The remains of old Rome are somewhat interesting but won't take your breath away.

The most interesting trip I ever took was to Ireland/Scotland. Had a buddy who lived on Dublin Harbor. Went over to see him. Hung around Dublin for a week and then flew to Scotland and toured the Highlands. Went through the "whisky" trail and visited Macallan, Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Glenlivet distilleries and such. Too fun!

Maybe tonight I'll watch The Quiet Man with John Wayne and Maureen O'hara (highly recommended).

Tip...want a really good DVD to watch with a woman that she'll love? It's called Lord Of The Dance with Michael Flatley. Guaranteed panty dropper.
 
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