The Best Books On Ancient Rome At The Time Of Nero

The Books I Picked & Why

The Twelve Caesars (Translated By Robert Graves)

By Robert Graves, Suetonius

The Twelve Caesars (Translated By Robert Graves)

Why 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.


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

By Time-Life Books

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

Why 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.


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The History of the Vestal Virgins of Rome

By T. Cato Worsfold

The History of the Vestal Virgins of Rome

Why 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.


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The Roman Way

By Edith Hamilton

The Roman Way

Why 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.


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Ancient Rome

By Simon James, Dorling Kindersley

Ancient Rome

Why 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.


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