The best books on the classical mythology of Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Australian author who lives on the other side of the Pond. I’m a self-confessed Romaholic but my great love is for the Etruscans. My curiosity was first piqued to learn about these people when I saw an Etruscan sarcophagus depicting a couple embracing for eternity. The casket was unusual because women were rarely commemorated in funerary art let alone a couple depicted in such a pose of affection. What ancient society revered women as much as men? Discovering the answer led me to the decadent and mystical Etruscan civilisation and the little-known story of a ten-year siege between Rome and the Etruscan city of Veii.


I wrote...

The Wedding Shroud

By Elisabeth Storrs,

Book cover of The Wedding Shroud

What is my book about?

In 406 BC, to seal a tenuous truce, the young Roman Caecilia is wedded to Vel Mastarna, an Etruscan nobleman from Veii. Leaving her militaristic homeland, Caecilia is determined to remain true to Roman virtues while living among the sinful Etruscans. But, despite her best intentions, she is seduced by a culture that offers women education, independence, sexual freedom, and an empowering religion.

Enchanted by Veii but terrified of losing ties to Rome, Caecilia performs rites to delay becoming a mother, thereby postponing true entanglement. Yet as she develops an unexpected love for Mastarna, she’s torn between her birthplace and the city in which she now lives. As war looms, Caecilia discovers Fate is not so easy to control, and she must choose where her allegiance lies. The Wedding Shroud is the first book in A Tale of Ancient Rome saga.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome

Elisabeth Storrs Why did I love this book?

The ancient world has always held a fascination for me. It must be in my genes because one of my fondest memories is my father telling me stories about the Greek gods. As a kid, I also found a book in our house that had been handed down through generations within my family entitled The Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome by E.M. Berens. This book was published in 1892 but Berens is still in print, no doubt in its umpteenth edition.

My book has a leather cover, the spine frayed so that the webbing that binds the folios is exposed. The pages are mottled, yellowing. It is a treasure. Inside, the lives of the fickle, adulterous, benevolent, or malevolent deities are revealed; their bickering and flaws similar to mortals but their ability to bless, curse, and manipulate man’s fate, divine.

By E.M. Berens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

HarperCollins is proud to present its incredible range of best-loved, essential classics.

'This was the slaying of the Minotaur, which put an end forever to the shameful tribute of seven youths and seven maidens which was exacted from the Athenians every nine years.'

The gods, heroes and legends of Greek mythology and their Roman interpretations are as fascinating as they are instructive. They include the almighty Zeus and his many wives; heroic Perseus, slayer of the snake-headed Medusa; Helen of Troy, whose beauty caused a great war; Medea, driven mad by jealousy; and tragic Persephone, doomed to live half of…


Book cover of The Greek Myths

Elisabeth Storrs Why did I love this book?

I first became aware of Robert Graves at university when I studied his war poetry but his novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God, captured my imagination especially after their famous adaptation into a TV series starring Derek Jacobi and John Hurt. When I began researching the Etruscans, I discovered Graves’ two-volume Greek Myths with his in-depth examination of the legends of the classical world. Reading Graves gave me insight into the difference between ‘myth’ and ‘cult’ which proved invaluable when researching the shared pantheons of the Romans, Greeks, and Etruscans. It also opened my eyes to the fact myths have many different versions even within one culture. This was particularly pertinent to my study of Dionysian worship.

By Robert Graves,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Greek Myths as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Robert Graves's classic retelling of the Greek Myths is definitive, comprehensive and unparalleled - and available now in the Penguin Classics Deluxe series, featuring a new introduction from Rick Riordan (bestselling author of the Percy Jackson and Olympian series).

Including many of the greatest stories ever told - the labours of Hercules, the voyage of the Argonauts, Theseus and the minotaur, Midas and his golden touch, the Trojan War and Odysseus's journey home - Robert Graves's superb and comprehensive retelling of the Greek myths for a modern audience has been regarded for over fifty years as the definitive version.

With…


Book cover of The Religion of the Etruscans

Elisabeth Storrs Why did I love this book?

The Etruscans had already established a sophisticated and cosmopolitan society centuries before the nascent Roman Republic was fighting tribal turf wars. At its peak, Etruria extended from the Po Valley in the north to Campania in the south, with trade routes spreading from the Black Sea through to Africa. The Etruscans had advanced the art of prophecy into a science with a complex codification of beliefs known as the Etrusca Disciplina revealing how to divine the future from thunder and lightning. I found The Religion of the Etruscans essential reading for my research as it provided insights into rites, beliefs, architectural meanings, and sacred texts of these doomed people.

Sadly, there is very little left of Etruscan literature other than religious inscriptions due to the Greeks and Romans destroying their civilisation. However, through recent archaeological digs, more and more has been gleaned as pieced together by the authors of the various essays compiled in this book.

By Nancy Thomas de Grummond (editor), Erika Simon (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Religion of the Etruscans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Devotion to religion was the distinguishing characteristic of the Etruscan people, the most powerful civilization of Italy in the Archaic period. From a very early date, Etruscan religion spread its influence into Roman society, especially with the practice of divination. The Etruscan priest Spurinna, to give a well-known example, warned Caesar to beware the Ides of March. Yet despite the importance of religion in Etruscan life, there are relatively few modern comprehensive studies of Etruscan religion, and none in English. This volume seeks to fill that deficiency by bringing together essays by leading scholars that collectively provide a state-of-the-art overview…


Book cover of The King Must Die

Elisabeth Storrs Why did I love this book?

As a historical novelist, I am drawn to novels that entwine history and imagination together. I was first inspired to write historical fiction after I discovered Mary Renault’s The Persian Boy, in her Alexander trilogy. 

I also love Renault’s The King Must Die and The Bull from the Seaher Theseus series which re-imagines the Minotaur legend and the exploits of the mythical Theseus. I became totally absorbed in the lavish yet brutal world that Renault rendered through her elegant prose and intense imagery. I also admire Renault’s great knowledge of the classical world and her courage to write about the realities of those times without the need to sanitise them.

By Mary Renault,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The King Must Die as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Theseus is the grandson of the King of Troizen, but his paternity is shrouded in mystery - can he really be the son of the god Poseidon? When he discovers his father's sword beneath a rock, his mother must reveal his true identity: Theseus is the son of Aegeus, King of Athens, and is his only heir. So begins Theseus's perilous journey to his father's palace to claim his birth right, escaping bandits and ritual king sacrifice in Eleusis, to slaying the Minotaur in Crete. Renault reimagines the Theseus myth, creating an original, exciting story.


Book cover of The Song of Achilles

Elisabeth Storrs Why did I love this book?

Madeleine Miller has succeeded in following in Mary Renault’s footsteps in bringing fresh eyes to Homer’s age-old epic in The Song of Achilles. I admire Miller’s vivid and visceral retelling of the love story of Achilles and Patroclus. Here are mythical heroes made human in a manner that inspires me to improve my own writing. Miller instilled a sense of place and created both drama and pathos that kept me turning the pages even though I knew the inevitable tragic ending.

By Madeline Miller,

Why should I read it?

27 authors picked The Song of Achilles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**OVER 1.5 MILLION COPIES SOLD**
**A 10th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL EDITION, FEATURING A NEW FOREWORD BY THE AUTHOR**

WINNER OF THE ORANGE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION
THE INTERNATIONAL SENSATION
A SUNDAY TIMES AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

'Captivating' DONNA TARTT
'I loved it' J K ROWLING
'Ravishingly vivid' EMMA DONOGHUE

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms…


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Legacy of the Witch

By Kirsten Weiss,

Book cover of Legacy of the Witch

Kirsten Weiss Author Of The Mysteries of Tarot: A Work of the Imagination

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

When I joined the Peace Corps in the early nineties, I wasn’t allowed to take much luggage. I decided to bring a Tarot deck, figuring I’d finally have time to learn it while parked in an Estonian forest. That Tarot deck opened up a world of Renaissance mysticism and magic, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Tarot cards and readings feature prominently in many of my cozy mystery novels, not the least of which are the Tea and Tarot mysteries. Now my imaginary Tarot reader from that series, Hyperion Night, has recently written his own Tarot guidebook, The Mysteries of Tarot.

Kirsten's book list on how to read Tarot

What is my book about?

Seeker: As societies grow increasingly fragmented, hopelessness, nihilism, division, and despair are on the rise. But there is another way—a way of mystery and magic, of wholeness and transformation. Do you dare take the first step? Our path is not for the faint-hearted, but for seekers of ancient truths...

Legacy of the Witch is a spellbinding, interactive tale of a woman’s midlife quest to understand the complexities of her own heart. A paranormal women’s fiction murder mystery for anyone who’s wondered if there might be more to their own life than meets the eye…

Legacy of the Witch

By Kirsten Weiss,

What is this book about?

Seeker: As societies grow increasingly fragmented, hopelessness, nihilism, division and despair are on the rise. But there is another way—a way of mystery and magic, of wholeness and transformation. Do you dare take the first step? Our path is not for the faint-hearted, but for seekers of ancient truths.

All April wants is to start over after her husband’s sudden death. She’s conjuring a new path—finally getting her degree and planning her new business in bucolic Pennsylvania Dutch country. Joining an online mystery school seems like harmless fun.

But when a murdered man leaves her a cryptic message, she catches…


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Interested in Etruscan civilization, Greek mythology, and Ancient Greece?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Etruscan civilization, Greek mythology, and Ancient Greece.

Etruscan Civilization Explore 8 books about Etruscan civilization
Greek Mythology Explore 70 books about Greek mythology
Ancient Greece Explore 140 books about Ancient Greece