The best books on ancient Rome at the time of Nero

Who am I?

Having been an actor and a dancer, in college I became interested in the origins of those arts. Curiosity led me to study Greek theater and ancient religions. In the early 2000s, I traveled to Rome with a group of writers, including Terry Brooks, Dorothy Allison, Elizabeth Engstrom, and John Saul. As soon as I set foot in Rome, I fell in love with that magnificent city’s history—in particular Vestal Virgins, the most powerful women in the ancient world. That trip inspired me to write Vestal Virgin—suspense in ancient Rome, a bestseller in many categories on Amazon.


I wrote...

Vestal Virgin: Suspense in Ancient Rome

By Suzanne Tyrpak,

Book cover of Vestal Virgin: Suspense in Ancient Rome

What is my book about?

Suspense in Ancient Rome Elissa Rubria Honoria is a Vestal Virgin--priestess of the sacred flame, a visionary, and one of the most powerful women in Rome. Vestals are sacrosanct, sworn to chastity on penalty of death, but the emperor, Nero, holds himself above the law. He pursues Elissa, engaging her in a deadly game of wits and sexuality. Or is Elissa really the pursuer? She stumbles on dark secrets. No longer trusting Roman gods, she follows a new god, Jesus of Nazareth, jeopardizing her life and the future of The Roman Empire.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Twelve Caesars

Suzanne Tyrpak Why did I love this book?

The Twelve Caesars is the first book I read about ancient Rome, back in college. It’s old. Written by Suetonius, an ancient historian (AD 69 – AD 122, approximately). A wonderful storyteller, with a penchant for embellishment, in this book you’ll find Suetonius’s titillating tales about twelve Caesars including Caligula (notoriously insane), Nero (quite the sociopath), Julius, and others. This book is far from dry, a bestseller since the first century, AD.

By Suetonius, Robert Graves (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Twelve Caesars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Suetonius, in holding up a mirror to those Caesars of diverting legend, reflects not only them but ourselves: half-tempted creatures, whose great moral task is to hold in balance the angel and the monster within' GORE VIDAL

As private secretary to the Emperor Hadrian, the scholar Suetonius had access to the imperial archives and used them (along with eyewitness accounts) to produce one of the most colourful biographical works in history. The Twelve Caesars chronicles the public careers and private lives of the men who wielded absolute power over Rome, from the foundation of the empire under Julius Caesar and…


Book cover of What Life Was Like: When Rome Ruled the World: The Roman Empire 100 BC-AD 200

Suzanne Tyrpak Why did I love this book?

Frequently, I write about everyday men and women. Consequently, I need to get a feel for what everyday life was like. What did people eat? How did they dress? Where did they work? I visit a lot of museums and have traveled extensively, but when I’m writing at home, I like books with lots of pictures, not only of historical sites, but photos of objects: cookware, weapons, clothing, jewelry, houses. This helps me bring the ancient world to life. This book is packed with pictures and well-researched information.

By Time-Life Books,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Life Was Like as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Provides a look at the Roman empire, detailing its history, social customs, professions, class ranks, military, and religion


Book cover of The History of the Vestal Virgins of Rome

Suzanne Tyrpak Why did I love this book?

When I wrote, Vestal Virgin—suspense in ancient Rome, this was the only book I found specifically about the Vestals. Written in 1934, it covers topics including: religious duties, civil duties, dress, and discipline. The Virgins were sworn to chastity on penalty of death, understanding their duties and how they were disciplined was essential to my story. I couldn’t have written my historical novel without help from this book.

By T. Cato Worsfold,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The History of the Vestal Virgins of Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a new release of the original 1934 edition.


Book cover of The Roman Way

Suzanne Tyrpak Why did I love this book?

In college, I read The Greek Way by Edith Hamilton and while writing Vestal Virgin I discovered she’d written this little book about ancient Rome. An educator and prolific novelist, Hamilton offers us her interpretation of selected works by great Romans. The collection includes: Plautus, Cicero, Livy, Horace, and Vergil. It’s a wonderful, short read for anyone interested in some of the most important writers in history.

I wrote to Edith Hamilton, asking her for research recommendations, not realizing that she’d passed away years earlier. Months later, a large manila envelope arrived from England. Along with a kind letter, her estate sent me several pages of sources. Needless to say, I’m very grateful.

By Edith Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Roman Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this informal history of Roman civilization, Edith Hamilton vividly depicts the Roman life and spirit as they are revealed in the greatest writers of the time. Among these literary guides are Cicero, who left an incomparable collection of letters; Catullus, the quintessential poet of love; Horace, the chronicler of a cruel and materialistic Rome; and the Romantics Virgil, Livy and Seneca. The story concludes with the stark contrast between high-minded Stoicism and the collapse of values witnessed by Tacitus and Juvenal.


Book cover of Ancient Rome

Suzanne Tyrpak Why did I love this book?

Found in the children’s section, I depend Eyewitness Books. I’ve collected a number of them and find them extremely useful for quick reference. Loaded with photographs and snippets of well researched information, they are enjoyable for readers of all ages. Topics in this book include: Family life, the bloody arena, a trip to the baths, worship and sacrifice, a dinner party, and much more. Ancient Rome is brought to life.

By Dorling Kindersley, Simon James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ancient Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

From Roman emperors and gods and goddesses to soldiers and gladiators, step into the exciting world of ancient Rome.

Who were Rome's most famous emperors? What was everyday life like for a soldier in the Roman army? How did the citizens of ancient Rome live? Did gladiators really fight to the death in the mighty Colosseum? Find out the answers to all these questions, and many more, in Eyewitness: Ancient Rome.

Photographs of real artifacts and detailed illustrations will help you to learn all about the time of ancient Rome, from a small city-state ruled by kings to one of…


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By Laurie Woodford,

Book cover of Unsettled

Laurie Woodford

New book alert!

What is my book about?

At the age of forty-nine, Laurie Woodford rents out her house, packs her belongings into two suitcases, and leaves her life in upstate New York to relocate to Seoul, South Korea. What begins as an opportunity to teach college English in Asia evolves into a nomadic adventure.

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After four years of traveling, Laurie’s return “home” becomes an unexpected adventure of its own when she ends up in Arkansas and meets Bruce, a bird-loving, bearded Quaker, and then struggles to reconcile her need for freedom with her longing to feel settled.

Unsettled

By Laurie Woodford,

What is this book about?

At the age of forty-nine, driven by an urgent restlessness, Laurie Woodford rents out her house, packs her belongings into two suitcases, and relocates to Asia. What begins as an opportunity to teach college English overseas, evolves into a nomadic adventure as Laurie works and volunteers in South Korea, Ethiopia, Peru, Spain, and Mexico. After four years of traveling, Laurie's return "home" to the U.S. becomes an unexpected adventure of its own when she ends up in Arkansas and meets Bruce, a bird-loving, bearded Quaker, who challenges her to reconcile her life of fierce independence with her longing to feel…


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Interested in Rome, ancient Rome, and the Roman Empire?

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