The Best Books On Ancient Roman History

By Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni

The Books I Picked & Why

S.P.Q.R: A History of Ancient Rome

By Mary Beard

S.P.Q.R: A History of Ancient Rome

Why this book?

Mary Beard is one of the most respected classics scholars working today, but she's also shown that she's able to write accessible and timely books for the general public. SPQR is one of the best introductions to Beard's work, and to life and politics in ancient Rome. It's a magisterial history, telling the story of Rome from its mythical founding to the end of the empire--full of fascinating facts, but never dry.


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Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician

By Anthony Everitt

Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician

Why this book?

When we were first figuring out how to write our biography of Cato, Everitt's work on Cicero was our go-to guide. It doesn't simply cover in fascinating detail the key events from the end of the Roman Republic--it's a model of how to bring an ancient figure to life, situating Cicero in the midst of the all-too-modern political controversies that shaped his life.


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The Roman Way

By Edith Hamilton

The Roman Way

Why this book?

An oldie (first published in 1932) but a goodie. Hamilton's short essays on the classic Latin writers--from the first writers of Latin comedy through to the epic poets and historians who did so much to shape the language--aren't just a crash course on the Roman literary canon. They're an accessible introduction to Roman culture from the ground up.


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Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic

By Tom Holland

Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic

Why this book?

Just about the best one-volume history of the Roman Republic out there. Holland doesn't just bring you dry facts; he pulls you into the gripping drama of that era and brings each character--Pompey, Caesar, Cato, and Cicero, among others--to life. A must-read.


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Cleopatra: A Life

By Stacy Schiff

Cleopatra: A Life

Why this book?

Here's a useful maxim for all readers of history: Read anything that Stacy Schiff writes, period. Schiff brings her elegant pen and careful eye to Cleopatra's story, and what's powerful is how much she managed to wring out a figure shrouded in rumor, myth, and fragments of stories tucked here and there. As Cato's biographers, we had to do similar sleuthing--Cato didn't leave behind much written work--so we impressed.


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