100 books like Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day

By Philip Matyszak,

Here are 100 books that Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day fans have personally recommended if you like Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Thieves of Ostia

David Wishart Author Of Ovid

From my list on life in early Imperial Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

I graduated – too long ago now to recall the date comfortably – from Edinburgh University with an MA in Classics (Latin and Greek); add to this the facts that I’m a compulsive daily solver of the London ‘Times’ cryptic crossword, an unabashed conspiracy-theorist, and a huge fan of Niccolo Machiavelli and Mickey Spillane, and you more or less know all that you need to about the genesis of my Marcus Corvinus series. With these picks I am taking you down some lesser-known but, I hope, interesting side streets in Rome. Here we go...

David's book list on life in early Imperial Rome

David Wishart Why did David love this book?

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).

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. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

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…


Book cover of Latin for All Occasions

David Wishart Author Of Ovid

From my list on life in early Imperial Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

I graduated – too long ago now to recall the date comfortably – from Edinburgh University with an MA in Classics (Latin and Greek); add to this the facts that I’m a compulsive daily solver of the London ‘Times’ cryptic crossword, an unabashed conspiracy-theorist, and a huge fan of Niccolo Machiavelli and Mickey Spillane, and you more or less know all that you need to about the genesis of my Marcus Corvinus series. With these picks I am taking you down some lesser-known but, I hope, interesting side streets in Rome. Here we go...

David's book list on life in early Imperial Rome

David Wishart Why did David love this book?

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…

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…


Book cover of Ancient Rome: City Planning and Administration

David Wishart Author Of Ovid

From my list on life in early Imperial Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

I graduated – too long ago now to recall the date comfortably – from Edinburgh University with an MA in Classics (Latin and Greek); add to this the facts that I’m a compulsive daily solver of the London ‘Times’ cryptic crossword, an unabashed conspiracy-theorist, and a huge fan of Niccolo Machiavelli and Mickey Spillane, and you more or less know all that you need to about the genesis of my Marcus Corvinus series. With these picks I am taking you down some lesser-known but, I hope, interesting side streets in Rome. Here we go...

David's book list on life in early Imperial Rome

David Wishart Why did David love this book?

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.

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…


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

David Wishart Author Of Ovid

From my list on life in early Imperial Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

I graduated – too long ago now to recall the date comfortably – from Edinburgh University with an MA in Classics (Latin and Greek); add to this the facts that I’m a compulsive daily solver of the London ‘Times’ cryptic crossword, an unabashed conspiracy-theorist, and a huge fan of Niccolo Machiavelli and Mickey Spillane, and you more or less know all that you need to about the genesis of my Marcus Corvinus series. With these picks I am taking you down some lesser-known but, I hope, interesting side streets in Rome. Here we go...

David's book list on life in early Imperial Rome

David Wishart Why did David love this book?

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…

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…


Book cover of Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day

Jennifer Burke Author Of Sub Rosa: A Valerius Mystery

From my list on bringing Ancient Rome alive.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved history ever since I was a kid when I first had the realisation that it was made up of stories. Ancient Rome has always fascinated me, not the battles or the emperors or the big picture stuff, but the daily lives of the ordinary people. You only need to read some of the rude graffiti from Pompeii to realise that people have never really changed where it counts! I studied English and History at university, neither of them as thoroughly as I could have, but at least now when people ask me what I’d ever use an Arts degree for, I can point to my book. 

Jennifer's book list on bringing Ancient Rome alive

Jennifer Burke Why did Jennifer love this book?

There are, of course, lots of amazing non-fiction resources on Ancient Rome, but I love the way this one is written as a travel guide, as though you’re a tourist clutching a copy of Lonely Planet.

This is a fun and accessible book, easy to dip in and out of, but also great to read in one hit. There aren’t any emperors or empire-defining battles in this one, just walking tours of the city, tips on where to eat and what to see, and where to go for shopping and entertainment.

The only disappointing thing about this book is the realisation that time travel isn’t actually a thing. 

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

Amanda Cockrell Author Of Shadow of the Eagle

From my list on life in the Roman Empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

As Damion Hunter, I have written six novels set in the first and second centuries of the Roman Empire, for which I have done extensive research. My picks are all books that I have found most useful and accessible for the writer who wants to ground her fiction in accurate detail and for the reader who just wants to know the little stuff, which is always more interesting than the big stuff.

Amanda's book list on life in the Roman Empire

Amanda Cockrell Why did Amanda love this book?

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.

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…


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

Suzanne Tyrpak Author Of Vestal Virgin: Suspense in Ancient Rome

From my list on ancient Rome at the time of Nero.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Suzanne's book list on ancient Rome at the time of Nero

Suzanne Tyrpak Why did Suzanne 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 Invisible Romans: Prostitutes, Outlaws, Slaves, Gladiators, Ordinary Men and Women ... The Romans That History Forgot

Guy D. Middleton Author Of Women in the Ancient Mediterranean World: From the Palaeolithic to the Byzantines

From my list on real women in the ancient Mediterranean.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wrote Women in the Ancient Mediterranean World: From the Palaeolithic to the Byzantines when my partner and I found out that we were having a daughter. I finished it just as daughter number two appeared! I wanted to write something they could connect with easily as young women to share my lifelong passion for Mediterranean history. I grew up inspired by my local landscape of castles and ruins, trips to Greece, Michael Wood documentaries, and lots of books. I studied ancient history and archaeology at Newcastle University and later got my PhD from Durham University. I’ve written on various aspects of the ancient world in journals, magazines, websites, and my previous books.

Guy's book list on real women in the ancient Mediterranean

Guy D. Middleton Why did Guy love this book?

This is one of the best books on life in the ancient Roman world – about life for the 99% rather than kings, queens and aristocrats.

In it, Robert Knapp seeks to rescue the invisible majority of ‘ordinary people’, their activities, beliefs, and dreams, from relative obscurity. The book draws on a huge range of sources and every page reveals something interesting. Women form a large proportion of the Roman invisible, and Knapp explores the lives of all kinds of subaltern women, free and enslaved.

Sometimes, as with prostitutes or the poor, the stories are grim – but they are as valid as any discussion of a Cleopatra or a Livia. I really liked Knapp’s idea of historians making invisible people visible again and it really chimed with my work on ancient women.

By Robert Knapp,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Invisible Romans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Robert Knapp brings invisible inhabitants of Rome and its vast empire to life. He seeks out the ordinary men, housewives, prostitutes, freedmen, slaves, soldiers, and gladiators, who formed the fabric of everyday life in the ancient Roman world, and the outlaws and pirates who lay beyond it. He finds their own words preserved in literature, letters, inscriptions and graffiti and their traces in the nooks and crannies of the histories, treatises, plays and poetry created by members of the elite. He tracks down and pieces together these and other tell-tale bits of evidence cast off by the visible mass of…


Book cover of Rome: In Spectacular Cross-Section

Melissa Addey Author Of From the Ashes

From my list on non-fiction to immerse yourself in Ancient Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

Curious about Ancient Rome and especially about gladiators, I asked myself, who were the backstage team of the Colosseum? The more I searched for the team, the more I realised there was hardly any mention of them. If there were hundreds of animals, dancers, singers, gladiators, criminals, and more about to be shown off to an audience of 60,000, who was planning and managing it all? And so I created the Colosseum’s backstage team – a retired centurion called Marcus and his scribe Althea, along with a motley crew of slaves, a prostitute, a street boy, even a retired Vestal Virgin… they came alive for me while researching and I eventually created a four-book series.

Melissa's book list on non-fiction to immerse yourself in Ancient Rome

Melissa Addey Why did Melissa love this book?

People sometimes look surprised when I say I start my historical research with children’s books, but when those books are works of art like this one, you’ll quickly see why. Stephen Biesty’s ability to take the most complex of buildings and draw their most intricate workings and construction elements is legendary. Explore the Forum, Temple, Baths, Colosseum, and Circus Maximus in wonderful detail and learn about Ancient Rome at a single glance… or many hours poring over every page. Might be out of print – buy a secondhand copy quickly before they all get snapped up!

By Stephen Biesty, Andrew Solway,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

"The ancient city of Rome is the perfect subject for Stephen Biesty's illustrations - beautifully constructed, technologically advanced, and teeming with life. Titus's "Roman Holiday" takes in the Temple, the Forum and the Baths, the Colosseum and chariot racing at the Circus Maximus, all illustrated in stunning, painstaking detail". "There are cross-sections, cut-aways and explosions, authoritative annotations, lists and explanations. Biesty captures the epic scale of the city - the capacity crowd at the Colosseum, for example - and there is some wonderful attention to detail in the architecture and the engineering. But he also succeeds in capturing the humanity…


Book cover of Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome

Denny Sissom Author Of The Bridge to the New Testament: A Comprehensive Guide to the Forgotten Years of the Inter-Testament Period

From my list on the inter-testament period and the New Testament.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I sought material to teach a class on the inter-testament period back in 1994, I discovered there was not much written on the subject. So, I decided to change that. From the creation of the world to the rebuilding of the Temple by Zerubbabel and reconstruction of the walls of Jerusalem by Nehemiah, nothing has piqued my interest as much as what happened after these events. The study of inter-testament history is fascinating, important, and lacking in most Christian educations. Through our learning of the inter-testament, we can better understand the people, politics, and history of the New Testament.  

Denny's book list on the inter-testament period and the New Testament

Denny Sissom Why did Denny love this book?

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.

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;…


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