10 books like Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day

By Philip Matyszak,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Thieves of Ostia

By Caroline Lawrence,

Book cover of The Thieves of Ostia

Not a single book, but a series of (I think) eighteen. If you have a kid (or grandkid) who just might be showing an interest in all things Roman (or one you’d like to tweak in that direction), then you can’t do better than this. Set (initially, at least) in late-first-century Ostia, the books follow the adventures of sea-captain's daughter Flavia Gemina and her friends who battle nasties such as serial dog-killers and slave-traffickers – plus, eventually, running foul of Emperor Titus himself. Gripping stuff, an excellent read whether you’re child or adult, and Lawrence’s attention to historical detail is impeccable. With cameo appearances by, among others, Pliny the Elder (spoiler: he dies in the end).

The Thieves of Ostia

By Caroline Lawrence,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first in Caroline Lawrence's internationally bestselling Roman Mysteries series, re-issued with a fantastic new cover look.

Flavia Gemina is a natural at solving mysteries. The daughter of a ship's captain living in Ostia, the port of Rome, in AD79, she and her three friends, Jonathan, a Jewish boy (and secretly a Christian); Nubia, an African slave girl; and Lupus, a mute beggar boy, must work together to discover who is beheading the watchdogs that guard people's homes, and why.
A talented storyteller, Caroline Lawrence has created a delightfully readable and accessible series that children will want to read time…


Latin for All Occasions

By Henry Beard,

Book cover of Latin for All Occasions

Here it is! Everything from a simple ‘I’ll have a bucket of fried chicken’ (‘Da mihi sis hamam carnis gallinaceae frictae’) to a crafted curse like ‘May conspirators assassinate you in the mall!’ (‘Utinam coniurati te in foro interficiant!’), via such gems as ‘Do you want to dance? I know the Funky Broadway’ (‘Visne saltare? Viam Latam Fungosam scio’) and ‘Eat my shorts!’ (‘Vescere bracis meis!’). Need to know how to impress your native-speaker co-diner in a pretentious restaurant? Try ‘Vinum bellum iucundumque est, sed animo corporeque caret’ (‘It’s a nice little wine, but it lacks character and depth.’). Or maybe you just need a few pejorative terms to hurl at the driver who has cut in on your hired chariot; if so then ‘Airhead!’ (‘Caput vanis!’), ‘Dork!’ (‘Caudex!’) or ‘Space cadet!’ (‘Tiro astromachus!’) might, inter alia, fit the bill. A constant source of delight; Cicero wouldn’t have approved, let…

Latin for All Occasions

By Henry Beard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Latin for All Occasions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With more than 200,000 copies in print, Latin for All Occasions and its follow-up, Latin for Even More Occasions, have helped scores of readers harness the language of Caesar and Cicero. Impress your boss with Occupational Latin (Lingua Latina Occupationi); sell your product with Sales Latin (Lingua Latina Mercatoria); flirt with your classics professor with Sensual Latin (Lingua Latina Libidinosa); look like the hipster you are with Pop-Cultural Latin (Lingua Latina Popularis); survive the holidays with Familial Latin (Lingua Latina Domestica) and Celebrational Latin (Lingua Latina Festiva). It’s all here, whether you’re a student of the language or just want…


Ancient Rome

By O.F. Robinson,

Book cover of Ancient Rome: City Planning and Administration

From the ridiculous to the sublime, although still very much in the same ballpark. Written by a female classical historian whose husband was involved in local civic administration, this book will tell you everything you want to know (and a lot that you’d rather not, on a full stomach) about how the city of Rome in the late first century was organised, serviced, plumbed, policed, and kept happy. The Roman history anorak’s dream.

Should you want an equally-detailed guide to Who was Who (and related to Whom) in the late Republic and early Empire, then try Ronald Syme’s The Augustan Aristocracy – an impenetrable gem (if gems can be impenetrable), and certainly not a cover-to-cover bedtime read, but nevertheless one of my favourite reference books.

Ancient Rome

By O.F. Robinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Describes ancient Rome and its management from the local government law viewpoint - not many other books do it from this angle

The arrangement of the chapters makes it possible to look comparatively at local government functions rather than just considering the offices of various Roman magistrates and officials

Brings out striking similarities between Roman administration and that of a modern city (e.g. the care of the streets) and also marked differences (e.g. free or subsidised food but no housing)

Nearly all the Latin is translated. No knowledge of the language is required due to the referencing

Will include unique…


Around the Roman Table

By Patrick Faas, Shaun Whiteside,

Book cover of Around the Roman Table: Food and Feasting in Ancient Rome

Lastly, one you can try for yourself at home (party togas, garlands, and changing the dining room furniture are purely optional): proof that Roman eating habits didn’t stop at roast dormice, larks’ tongues, and dodgy mushrooms (although you will find a recipe for the first on p289).

This is a lovely book, not just for the culinary background but because it includes over 150 authentic recipes taken from the works of ancient authors, in particular Marcus Gavinus Apicius, the legendary chef and epicure who (if he existed at all) flourished during the early part of the first century. Fancy trying meatballs with a Roman slant? Or stuffed cuttlefish with an Apician sauce? Or something more exotic like roast suckling pig or boiled ostrich vinaigrette? Congratulations; you need look no further.

Oh, and one more thing; you might want an authentic Roman wine to go with your meal. If so, then…

Around the Roman Table

By Patrick Faas, Shaun Whiteside,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Around the Roman Table as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Craving dolphin meatballs? Can't find a reliable restaurant for boiled parrot? Have a hankering for jellyfish omelettes, sows' wombs in brine, sheep's brain pate, or stuffed mice? Look no further than Around the Roman Table, a unique hybrid cookbook and history lesson. A portrait of Roman society from the vantage point of the dining table, kitchen, and market stalls, Around the Roman Table offers both an account of Roman cating customs and 150 recipes reconstructed for the modern cook. Faas guides readers through the culinary conquests of Roman invasions - as conquerors pillaged foodstuffs from faraway lands - to the…


A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities

By J.C. McKeown,

Book cover of A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from the World's Greatest Empire

The author is a scholar, a professor of Classics, so he knows his stuff. He is also a wonderful writer. This is a collection of small and fascinating facts about Rome and the ancient world. A sampling of entries includes notes on Hannibal’s reputed use of jars of poisonous snakes as catapult ammunition, Roman fly fishing, window glass, and the mechanics of Nero’s revolving dining room.

A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities

By J.C. McKeown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The ancient Romans have left us far more information about themselves than has any other Western society until much more recent times. But what we know about them is sometimes bizarre, and hardly fits the conventional view of the Romans as a pragmatic people with a ruthlessly efficient army and a very logical and well ordered language.

A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities is a serendipitous collection of odd facts and opinions, carefully gleaned from the wide body of evidence left to us by the Romans themselves. Each highlights a unique and curious feature of life in ancient Rome. Readers will…


What Life Was Like

By Time-Life Books,

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

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.

What Life Was Like

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


Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome

By Lesley Adkins, Roy Adkins,

Book cover of Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome

Although not a history of Rome, per se, in this topically-arranged book, it covers a vast amount of Roman history. This is an outstanding book into the details of Rome’s religion, geography, administration, travel, and economy. It gives deep insight into what it was like to be a Roman citizen, whether one was a pleb or a member of the aristocracy. It presents the government of Rome, from the consuls and emperors down to the level of magistrates and civil servants. Many aspects of the history and structure of Rome’s military are covered in detail, and the book shows how it transformed and adapted over the years of the republic and empire. For any questions on Roman society, this book likely covers it.

Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome

By Lesley Adkins, Roy Adkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This handy reference provides full access to the 1,200 years of Roman rule from the 8th century BC to the 5th century AD, including information that is hard to find and even harder to decipher. Clear, authoritative, and highly organized, Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome provides a unique look at a civilization whose art, literature, law, and engineering influenced the whole of Western Europe throughout the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and beyond.
The myriad topics covered include rulers; the legal and governmental system; architectural feats such as the famous Roman roads and aqueducts; the many Roman religions and festivals;…


A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome

By Alberto Angela, Gregory Conti (translator),

Book cover of A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome: Daily Life, Mysteries, and Curiosities

This book provides an exemplary hour-by-hour guide to what life was like for a citizen of Rome at the height of its power. I love that Angela not only gives us the high-society angle, bringing us into the lush gardens and sumptuous homes of Rome’s wealthy and powerful, but also the crowded apartments and streets that were home to the vast majority of the ancient city’s citizens. You walk alongside them, getting a ground-level view of the patterns of a normal day in all its mundane details, from clothing to food to labor to entertainment, rendered in fascinating prose.

A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome

By Alberto Angela, Gregory Conti (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The wondrous extravagance of banquets where flamingos are roasted whole and wine flows like rivers. The roar of frenzied spectators inside the Colosseum during a battle between gladiators. A crowd of onlookers gathered at a slave auction. The silent baths and the boisterous taverns...Many books have dealt with the history of ancient Rome, but none has been able to so engage its readers in the daily life of the Imperial capital.

This extraordinary armchair tour, guided by Alberto Angela with the charm of a born storyteller, lasts twenty-four hours, beginning at dawn on an ordinary day in the year 115…


The Roman Way

By Edith Hamilton,

Book cover of The Roman Way

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.

The Roman Way

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.


How to Survive in Ancient Rome

By L.J. Trafford,

Book cover of How to Survive in Ancient Rome

This is quite simply the best entry-level guide to the ancient culture, world, and city of Rome I have found. Written in a humorous and engaging manner, it walks the reader through the history of Rome from its legendary founding to the date the book is nominally set (the reign of Domitian), all from the point of view of someone of Domitian’s time. It covers every subject from the dos and don’ts of dinner parties to the importance of gods. A perfect start for someone new to the subject, and equally entertaining for the scholar.

How to Survive in Ancient Rome

By L.J. Trafford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Survive in Ancient Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Imagine you were transported back in time to Ancient Rome and you had to start a new life there. How would you fit in? Where would you live? What would you eat? Where would you go to have your hair done? Who would you go to if you got ill, or if you were mugged in the street? All these questions, and many more, will be answered in this new how-to guide for time travellers. Part self-help guide, part survival guide, this lively and engaging book will help the reader deal with the many problems and new experiences that they…


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