100 books like Caesar and Christ

By Will Durant,

Here are 100 books that Caesar and Christ fans have personally recommended if you like Caesar and Christ. 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 Epictetus: A Stoic and Socratic Guide to Life

Morgan Wade Author Of The Last Stoic

From my list on Stoicism and ancient Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

I received my first introduction to the Stoics when completing a Master’s in Philosophy. It was enough to spark a life-long interest. Later in life I read Stoicism widely, along with classical history, including Gibbon and Durant. What struck me about Gibbon’s work was how the ancient “golden age,” with the enlightened rule of its “five good emperors,” including Marcus Aurelius, closely mirrored the trajectory of the contemporary American empire. Today, pundits sometimes casually refer to the US as a reincarnation of the Roman Empire. They talk of Pax Americana, imperial presidencies, and American exceptionalism. I wondered how far one could take that idea and this led me to begin work on The Last Stoic.

Morgan's book list on Stoicism and ancient Rome

Morgan Wade Why did Morgan love this book?

Another Stoic classic. Written, again, in a highly accessible, conversational style. In fact, the only teachings by Epictetus that we know of today were recorded from his lectures by his disciple Arrian.  This book has given great solace to many people over the years. It is said that Frederick the Great never campaigned without it. And, the war hero Admiral James Stockdale credits Epictetus with helping him endure seven and a half years in a North Vietnamese military prison—including torture—and four years in solitary confinement. “No man is free who is not master of himself.”

By A.A. Long,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The philosophy of Epictetus, a freed slave in the Roman Empire, has been profoundly influential on Western thought: it offers not only stimulating ideas but practical guidance in living one's life. A. A. Long, a leading scholar of later ancient philosophy, gives the definitive presentation of the thought of Epictetus for a broad readership. Long's fresh and vivid translations of a selection of the best of Epictetus' discourses show that his ideas are as valuable and
striking today as they were amost two thousand years ago. The translations are organized thematically within the framework of an authoritative introduction and commentary,…

Book cover of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Steven D. Smith Author Of The Disintegrating Conscience and the Decline of Modernity

From my list on why Western civilization is falling apart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a misplaced law professor, you might say: I never wanted to be a lawyer; I went to law school almost by accident; and for four decades I’ve used law as a window into my deeper interests– religion, history, and philosophy. I couldn’t make myself write books unless the subjects were personally engaging; and in defiance of editors, I insist on writing readable prose. If this adds up to “dilettante,” so be it. My books, published by the university presses of Harvard, Oxford, Notre Dame, Duke, and NYU, as well as Eerdmans, have dealt with constitutional law; Roman, medieval, and modern history; legal philosophy; and religious freedom.

Steven's book list on why Western civilization is falling apart

Steven D. Smith Why did Steven love this book?

This book (actually, this series of volumes) is of course an epic and a classic. And deservedly so—even though most scholars no longer find Gibbon’s account of the causes of Rome’s fall persuasive. 

Right or wrong, the book is a model of a study that is both immersed (sometimes admiringly and sometimes caustically) in individual characters and episodes and yet also intensely interested in the big picture. And the elegant, witty prose makes the book a pleasure to read. 

Analyses of modern Western decline often look for parallels in ancient Rome, and Gibbon’s study is almost a mandatory point of departure.

By Edward Gibbon,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Edward Gibbon€™s classic timeless work of ancient Roman history in 6 volumes collected into 2 boxed sets, in beautiful, enduring hardcover editions with elegant cloth sewn bindings, gold stamped covers, and silk ribbon markers.

Book cover of Meditations

George J. Siedel Author Of Seven Essentials for Business Success

From my list on leadership that doesn’t have “leadership” in the title.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I headed the Executive Education Center at the University of Michigan I had the opportunity to meet with many great leaders and observe them in action. I also enjoy interacting with faculty colleagues who conduct state-of-the-art research on leadership. Because of this experience, I believe that leaders are made, not born, and that reading biographies, psychological studies, philosophical commentary, histories, and fiction like the books on my list is one of the best ways to gain insight into what you need to become a great leader. 

George's book list on leadership that doesn’t have “leadership” in the title

George J. Siedel Why did George love this book?

Leaders should develop a philosophy of life—a north star that will guide them through difficult times. This timeless classic by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius provides a combination of wisdom and practical advice that serves as a reference both for those in a leadership position and for individuals seeking a deeper understanding of their daily lives. Here is a sample: “The longest-lived and those who will die soonest lose the same thing. The present is all that they can give up, since that is all you have, and what you do not have, you cannot lose.”

By Marcus Aurelius, Maxwell Staniforth (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Penguin Great Ideas edition of Stoic philosophy in wise and practical aphorisms that have inspired Bill Clinton, Ryan Holiday, Anna Kendrick and many more.

Few ancient works have been as influential as the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and emperor of Rome (A.D. 161-180). A series of spiritual exercises filled with wisdom, practical guidance, and profound understanding of human behavior, it remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. Marcus's insights and advice-on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity and interacting with others-have made the Meditations required reading for statesmen…

Book cover of A Man in Full

Paddy Hirsch Author Of The Devil's Half Mile

From my list on glimpse into the dark heart of the financial markets (without being bored to tears).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a career financial and business journalist, only recently turned novelist. I’m obsessed with the way that history repeats itself in the financial markets and that we never seem to learn our lessons. Fear and greed have always driven the behavior of bankers, traders, and investors; and they still do today, only barely inhibited by our regulatory system. I want to help people understand how markets work, and I like combining fiction with fact to explain these systems and how they’re abused. With that in mind, I work during the day as a reporter at NPR and by night as a scribbler of historical fiction with a financial twist.

Paddy's book list on glimpse into the dark heart of the financial markets (without being bored to tears)

Paddy Hirsch Why did Paddy love this book?

I love the way Wolfe brings one of the more arcane areas of the financial markets to life - namely bankruptcy workout - and skewers the greed and ambition of real estate investors in the 1990s.

I’m a huge admirer of Wolfe’s technique of writing a novel using journalistic interviews, and I’m struck by the way he nails the characters and actions when he describes how the bankruptcy process works. And all while keeping the reader absolutely hooked on the narrative.

I go back to Wolfe’s novels again and again, not just to be amused and entertained but to get a real insight into the dark heart and often absurd workings of the financial system.

By Tom Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A Man in Full as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A dissection of greed-obsessed America a decade after The Bonfire of the Vanities and on the cusp of the millennium, from the master chronicler of American culture Tom Wolfe

Charlie Croker, once a fabled college football star, is now a late-middle-aged Atlanta real estate entrepreneur-turned conglomerate king. His expansionist ambitions and outsize ego have at last hit up against reality. Charlie has a 28,000 acre quail shooting plantation, a young and demanding second wife and a half-empty downtown tower with a staggering load of debt. Wolfe shows us contemporary America with all the verve, wit, and insight that have made…

Book cover of Stoicism and Emotion

Gregory Lopez Author Of A Handbook for New Stoics: How to Thrive in a World Out of Your Control―52 Week-by-Week Lessons

From my list on Stoicism for modern Stoic practitioners.

Why am I passionate about this?

I learned about Stoicism through its connection to Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, whose founder, Albert Ellis, was influenced by Stoic philosophy. Since I had an interest in philosophy, I decided to look more into Stoicism, and—to my surprise—I learned that philosophy could be practical (who knew?!), and that others were trying to put Stoicism into practice today! This led me to try to find other Stoics by founding the New York City Stoics in 2013, followed by co-founding a non-profit—The Stoic Fellowship—to help other people do the same in 2016. I’ve now given talks on Stoicism worldwide in addition to co-writing a book on Stoic practice.

Gregory's book list on Stoicism for modern Stoic practitioners

Gregory Lopez Why did Gregory love this book?

I first got into Stoicism the way most people do: to feel better and get control over my emotions. But after I studied and practiced it more, I realized that I got into it for the wrong reasons! Stoicism’s goal isn’t to get control over emotions per se, but to eliminate a subset of them—the passions—because they stem from false beliefs. And you can’t control them; according to Stoic theory, once you let the passions arise by agreeing with the false underlying beliefs, they control you. Graver’s book was pivotal for my understanding of the Stoic theory of emotions in a deeper and more accurate way.

By Margaret Graver,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On the surface, stoicism and emotion seem like contradictory terms. Yet the Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome were deeply interested in the emotions, which they understood as complex judgments about what we regard as valuable in our surroundings. "Stoicism and Emotion" shows that they did not simply advocate a suppression of feeling, as stoicism implies in today's English, but instead conducted a searching examination of these powerful psychological responses, seeking to understand what attitude toward them expresses the deepest respect for human potential. In this work, Margaret R. Graver gives a compelling new interpretation of the Stoic position.…

Book cover of How to Die: An Ancient Guide to the End of Life

Scott Samuelson Author Of Rome as a Guide to the Good Life: A Philosophical Grand Tour

From my list on finding the meaning of life in Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

After learning Latin in college and studying Italian philosophy in graduate school, I stumbled into Rome for the first time over a decade ago as faculty on a study-abroad trip. In two weeks, I learned more about history and life than I had in two decades of study. I’ve been lucky enough to go back every summer since, with the sad exception of the pandemic years. I adore Rome. It didn’t help that a few years ago, in the Basilica of San Clemente, I fell head over heels for a Renaissance art historian and tried her patience with poetry until she married me.

Scott's book list on finding the meaning of life in Rome

Scott Samuelson Why did Scott love this book?

All the easily-portable volumes in Princeton University Press’s “Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers” can be read in the time it takes to drink two glasses of wine (along with this book, one of my other favorites is How to Drink by the Renaissance humanist Vincent Obsopoeus).

For all their quarrels, ancient philosophers agree that the art of life is the preparation for death. Nobody expresses that wisdom with more panache than Seneca, a philosopher, financier, tutor to Nero, and playwright.

This selection from his works teaches us how to face the death and destruction that we see everywhere in Rome—and everywhere else too.

I turn to Seneca’s essays and letters for a good reminder to live with a minimum of regret and resentment.

By Seneca, James S. Romm (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Timeless wisdom on death and dying from the celebrated Stoic philosopher Seneca

"It takes an entire lifetime to learn how to die," wrote the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca (c. 4 BC-65 AD). He counseled readers to "study death always," and took his own advice, returning to the subject again and again in all his writings, yet he never treated it in a complete work. How to Die gathers in one volume, for the first time, Seneca's remarkable meditations on death and dying. Edited and translated by James S. Romm, How to Die reveals a provocative thinker and dazzling writer who…

Book cover of St. Paul: The Apostle We Love to Hate

Firmin Debrabander Author Of Life After Privacy: Reclaiming Democracy in a Surveillance Society

From my list on stoic themes, influence and inspiration.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved the Stoics, from the first time I read Seneca. I appreciate that they seek to speak to a wider audience than most philosophers, on issues that concern many: happiness, anxiety, pain, loss. The Stoics were wonderful writers, whose influence has been manifest throughout western philosophy. And they extended their expertise beyond the academy, and were very involved in politics. Seneca was the advisor to the emperor Nero; Cicero, who dabbled in Stoicism, was perhaps the most famous senator of Rome. Marcus Aurelius was emperor. 

Firmin's book list on stoic themes, influence and inspiration

Firmin Debrabander Why did Firmin love this book?

Karen Armstrong’s book on St Paul –her second—is wonderful. It takes into account recent scholarship on the historical Paul, and in accessible fashion, explains what was controversial about his agenda, and what was likely omitted or edited out of his work. Paul’s mission was influenced in no small part by the prevalent Stoic thinking—above all, cosmopolitanism: Paul was a cosmopolitan, literally, a citizen of no place—but of the universe itself. And central to his understanding of Jesus’ teaching, Paul wished to wash away the parochial distinctions that divide us. Hence the baptismal cry he advised: no more Greek or Jew, man or woman, master or slave!

By Karen Armstrong,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

St Paul is known throughout the world as the first Christian writer, authoring fourteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament. But as Karen Armstrong demonstrates in St Paul: The Misunderstood Apostle, he also exerted a more significant influence on the spread of Christianity throughout the world than any other figure in history.

It was Paul who established the first Christian churches in Europe and Asia in the first century, Paul who transformed a minor sect into the largest religion produced by Western civilization, and Paul who advanced the revolutionary idea that Christ could serve as a model for…

Book cover of Security: Politics, Humanity, and the Philology of Care

Kimberly Mair Author Of The Biopolitics of Care in Second World War Britain

From my list on showing how care isn’t always a good thing.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like everyone else, I have life-long experience of caring and not caring for things; being sometimes careful and other times careless. Communication has been my central interest as a historical sociologist, and I’ve been considering its relationship to care (attachment, affection, worry, and burden) and security. I have always liked the word care, employing it often in the sense of warm attachment, but I have been looking at how care can at times enact control, violence, or abandonment.

Kimberly's book list on showing how care isn’t always a good thing

Kimberly Mair Why did Kimberly love this book?

I loved that Hamilton’s unpacking of the etymology of security led right to the notion of care.

This book had a shaping impact on how I think about care and its ties to security – a relation that continues to animate my interests. I learned that my cares (affections, attachments, worries) may mobilize me to enhance my security, which also may be done inadvertently at the expense of someone else’s. To put it another way, when we seek security, we are seeking to let go of our cares or to care less.

Security attends to the “inflated focus” on security as an instrument of control in contemporary cultural life and does so richly, drawing upon cultural forms such as fables, literature, and art in a beautiful and provocative text.

By John T. Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From national security and social security to homeland and cyber-security, "security" has become one of the most overused words in culture and politics today. Yet it also remains one of the most undefined. What exactly are we talking about when we talk about security? In this original and timely book, John Hamilton examines the discursive versatility and semantic vagueness of security both in current and historical usage. Adopting a philological approach, he explores the fundamental ambiguity of this word, which denotes the removal of "concern" or "care" and therefore implies a condition that is either carefree or careless. Spanning texts…

Book cover of Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault

Kevin Vost Author Of The Porch and the Cross: Ancient Stoic Wisdom for Modern Christian Living

From my list on modern books on Stoicism to help translate the ancient to now.

Why am I passionate about this?

Kevin Vost earned his doctorate in clinical psychology at Adler University with internship and dissertation work at the Southern Illinois University’s Alzheimer Center. He first came to know and love the Stoics in the 1980s through his studies in cognitive psychotherapy. He has taught psychology and gerontology at the University of Illinois at Springfield and Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the author of twenty books on psychology, philosophy, physical fitness, and theology, with three more books in press, including Memorize the Stoics! The Ancient Art of Memory Meets the Timeless Art of Living.

Kevin's book list on modern books on Stoicism to help translate the ancient to now

Kevin Vost Why did Kevin love this book?

I simply had to include one of philosopher Pierre Hadot’s wise and weighty books on Stoic philosophy. The subject matter of this book is centered on Stoic thought, but draws on, compares, and contrasts Stoic ideas with other foundational ideas in ancient and more modern philosophy. The key theme, as the title suggests, is that philosophy’s highest calling is as a way to transform and improve the way one actually lives one’s life. While including chapters on Aurelius, and on Socrates, (a highly respected pre-Stoic inspiration to the Stoics), another main emphasis is on how Stoic practices serve as “spiritual exercises,” and how we can come to learn them, use them, and grow from them too as a means to make philosophy our own way of life. Not a particularly easy read, but a read well worth the effort – and repeated rereads as the years roll by.

By Pierre Hadot,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Philosophy as a Way of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book presents a history of spiritual exercises from Socrates to early Christianity, an account of their decline in modern philosophy, and a discussion of the different conceptions of philosophy that have accompanied the trajectory and fate of the theory and practice of spiritual exercises. Hadota s book demonstrates the extent to which philosophy has been, and still is, above all else a way of seeing and of being in the world.

Book cover of The Meditations: An Emperor's Guide to Mastery

Neel Burton Author Of Stoic Stories: A Heroic Account of Stoicism

From my list on Stoicism from a psychiatrist and philosopher.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a psychiatrist and philosopher who lives and teaches in Oxford, England. I’ve long held that there is much more to mental health than the mere absence of mental disorder. Mental health is not just about surviving, limping from crisis to crisis, but about thriving, about developing and expressing our highest, fullest potential as human beings. The Stoic attitude is a path not just to sanity but to hypersanity, at a time when more than one in five adults are suffering from some form of depression. Unlike many modern interventions, Stoicism is no sticking plaster, but a total and radical reappraisal of our relationship to ourselves and to the world.

Neel's book list on Stoicism from a psychiatrist and philosopher

Neel Burton Why did Neel love this book?

In the last years of his life, Marcus Aurelius kept a journal, now called the Meditations, which has miraculously come down to us, and through which we might enter the mind of that rarest of things: a philosopher-king. The twelve books that make up the Meditations consist in a variety of disparate reflections that seem to have been written for the author’s own benefit: for strength, for guidance, and for self-improvement—for example, “To speak to the Senate—or anyone—in the right tone, without being overbearing. To choose the right words.” This touching intimacy, and the epigrammatic character of many of his reflections—for example, “Don’t argue what a good man should be. Just be one.”—has ensured the appeal and perennial popularity of the work.

By Marcus Aurelius, Sam Torode, George Long (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How to think clearly, act purposefully, overcome obstacles, and find peace & happiness along the way.

Marcus Aurelius (121-180 CE) was one of the few true philosopher-kings in history.

His father died when Marcus was three. At age fifteen, he was adopted by his aunt's husband, the future Emperor Antoninus Pius, putting him in the line of succession. At forty, he became a reluctant emperor of the Roman Empire.

Marcus was conflicted because the demands of being emperor--on top of the temptations of wealth and power--seemed incompatible with his true ambition: to be a humble student of philosophy.

Over time,…

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Interested in stoicism, Rome, and ancient Rome?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about stoicism, Rome, and ancient Rome.

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