100 books like Caligula

By Aloys Winterling, Deborah Lucas Schneider (translator), Glenn W. Most , Paul Psoinos

Here are 100 books that Caligula fans have personally recommended if you like Caligula. 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 Cleopatra: A Life

Dana Cameron Author Of Exit Interview

From my list on badass women in history and fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first career in archaeology fed my love of history and cultures, giving me insight into human motivations. As a writer, I also love a good action scene, and I began taking mixed martial arts when I was writing the Emma Fielding archaeology mysteries and then the “Fangborn” urban fantasy novels. I soon realized I wanted to write a thriller with female characters who were badass—tough and smart—women I’d want to have at my back in a fight. I found them when I wrote Exit Interview. I love a book where a woman takes charge to change things, whether it's in her community or more globally.

Dana's book list on badass women in history and fiction

Dana Cameron Why did Dana love this book?

This next one is a bit of a curve ball, but it also reflects my interest in strong women in history and fiction—as well as my love of history and archaeology. Cleopatra: A Life, takes a historical figure who was nearly mythological, and roots her firmly within a cultural and historical context. Gone is the wily temptress of fiction and antiquity; Stacy Schiff's subject is a queen, a military strategist, an ingenious diplomat, and a polymath. She waged (and survived) civil war and foreign invasions, and reshaped the ancient world. The book reads like a novel, but never skimps on the historical and archaeological data--even the footnotes are compelling. Who wouldn't want this woman as backup?

By Stacy Schiff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer brings to life the most intriguing woman in the history of the world: Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt.Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnets, and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator.Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as…


Book cover of Nero

Phillip Barlag Author Of Evil Roman Emperors: The Shocking History of Ancient Rome's Most Wicked Rulers from Caligula to Nero and More

From my list on challenge thinking of the Titans of Roman history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I never set out to read & write so much about Roman history; it was an accident. I happened to visit Rome when I was young, quite poor and decidedly light on my knowledge of Roman history. Five minutes out of the train station and into the streets and I was hooked for life. I had to know more and started reading. Then I found gaps in the library and started writing. Roman history never stops changing, even thousands of years later. New discoveries, new scholarship, new interpretations, all keep Roman history fresh & exciting. I love sharing what I find. Thank you for joining the adventure.

Phillip's book list on challenge thinking of the Titans of Roman history

Phillip Barlag Why did Phillip love this book?

Was Nero really such a monster? The New York Times and the British Museum are among the venerable institutions attempting to answer this question. It’s part of a broad trend to rethink the life and rule of one of history’s most famous villains. I’d like to think that this book helped start this historical reframing. Nero was not without his virtues. But he most definitely had vices in abundance. The question is not whether he was good or bad; rather, how did those two dimensions interact? Champlain does a great job of looking at Nero with a measure of objectivity and helping readers see things a bit differently. 

By Edward Champlin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Roman emperor Nero is remembered by history as the vain and immoral monster who fiddled while Rome burned. Edward Champlin reinterprets Nero's enormities on their own terms, as the self-conscious performances of an imperial actor with a formidable grasp of Roman history and mythology and a canny sense of his audience.

Nero murdered his younger brother and rival to the throne, probably at his mother's prompting. He then murdered his mother, with whom he may have slept. He killed his pregnant wife in a fit of rage, then castrated and married a young freedman because he resembled her. He…


Book cover of Caesar

Phillip Barlag Author Of Evil Roman Emperors: The Shocking History of Ancient Rome's Most Wicked Rulers from Caligula to Nero and More

From my list on challenge thinking of the Titans of Roman history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I never set out to read & write so much about Roman history; it was an accident. I happened to visit Rome when I was young, quite poor and decidedly light on my knowledge of Roman history. Five minutes out of the train station and into the streets and I was hooked for life. I had to know more and started reading. Then I found gaps in the library and started writing. Roman history never stops changing, even thousands of years later. New discoveries, new scholarship, new interpretations, all keep Roman history fresh & exciting. I love sharing what I find. Thank you for joining the adventure.

Phillip's book list on challenge thinking of the Titans of Roman history

Phillip Barlag Why did Phillip love this book?

When I wrote my first book—an exploration of Caesar’s leadership—I read a lot about the guy. This was the book I came back to most often as a guidepost. It helped me get past the biases I brought into my project and understand better the essence of who Caesar really was. There are a lot of books about Caesar, and rightly so; he is one of the most fascinating and enigmatic personalities of all time. For me, a great book is one that leaves me feeling like I could travel in time, sit down with the subject, and know what to expect from them. That’s a rare feat, especially for someone like Caesar. But he felt almost…familiar after reading this book. 

By Christian Meier,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

James Boswell called him 'the greatest man of any age'. Christian Meier's biography is the definitive modern account of Caesar's life and career, and places him within the wider context of the crisis of the Roman republic. It is a compelling work of historical scholarship.


Book cover of Constantine the Emperor

Phillip Barlag Author Of Evil Roman Emperors: The Shocking History of Ancient Rome's Most Wicked Rulers from Caligula to Nero and More

From my list on challenge thinking of the Titans of Roman history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I never set out to read & write so much about Roman history; it was an accident. I happened to visit Rome when I was young, quite poor and decidedly light on my knowledge of Roman history. Five minutes out of the train station and into the streets and I was hooked for life. I had to know more and started reading. Then I found gaps in the library and started writing. Roman history never stops changing, even thousands of years later. New discoveries, new scholarship, new interpretations, all keep Roman history fresh & exciting. I love sharing what I find. Thank you for joining the adventure.

Phillip's book list on challenge thinking of the Titans of Roman history

Phillip Barlag Why did Phillip love this book?

Constantine has come to be synonymous with the conversion of Rome to Christianity, and in the popular imagination the image often goes no further. I certainly always linked the man with this outcome in my mind. But he was so much more. He was ambitious to the point of revolutionary. He was ruthless to the point of megalomaniacal. He both stabilized the Empire and contributed to the factors that led to its fall. This book helped me understand the whole figure of Constantine, contradictions and all.

By David M. Potter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

No Roman emperor had a greater impact on the modern world than did Constantine. The reason is not simply that he converted to Christianity, but that he did so in a way that brought his subjects along after him. Indeed, this major new biography argues that Constantine's conversion is but one feature of a unique administrative style that enabled him to take control of an empire beset by internal rebellions and external threats by Persians and Goths. The vast record of
Constantine's administration reveals a government careful in its exercise of power but capable of ruthless, even savage, actions. Constantine…


Book cover of I, Claudius

Fiona Forsyth Author Of Rome's End

From my list on political shenanigans in ancient Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I stumbled through the “Early Roman Empire” paper in Finals using I, Claudius by Robert Graves, I have held a deep admiration of those authors who can portray the complex world of Rome with such authority. I went on to teach the Greeks and Romans for 25 years, so I have grown to love these characters—Caesar is a philandering schemer, Augustus has ice for blood, Livia is a skilled practitioner of poisons… How can one resist such entertaining people who operate in a system where the upper classes must compete through bribery, intrigue and occasional revolutions? 

Fiona's book list on political shenanigans in ancient Rome

Fiona Forsyth Why did Fiona love this book?

This is the masterclass in the portrayal of the first hundred years or so of the Roman Empire. Graves was a considerable scholar in his own right, providing the translation for the Penguin edition of Suetonius’ “Twelve Caesars”. He was also a poet and novelist, and his picture of the naïve Claudius making his unwitting way to power is probably on most people’s list of all-time great historical novels. What I particularly found striking was just how much work went into running the Roman empire, and one almost has sympathy for Augustus as he tries to mould Roman rule into something that is efficient and fair. The BBC adaptation, in my opinion, did a good job: Sian Phillips as Livia is a complete joy.

By Robert Graves,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked I, Claudius as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A work of historical fiction which recreates the life and times of Emperor Claudius, who lived from 10 BC to AD 41, a time when poisoning, blasphemy, treachery, incest and unnatural vice were commonplace. From the author of CLAUDIUS THE GOD AND HIS WIFE MESSALINA.


Book cover of Caracalla: A Military Biography

Alex Gough Author Of Caesar’s Soldier

From my list on biographies of powerful and important Ancient Romans.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've had a passion for all things Roman since visiting various ancient Roman sites around Britain as a child with school and with my dad. Over the last fifteen years I've been writing novels set in Ancient Rome. I now have ten published Roman historical fiction novels to my name spanning three series, as well as a short story collection and a novella. My Carbo of Rome series, set in the reign of Tiberius, follows a traumatised veteran of the legion as he tries to retire in peace in Rome, but is constantly dragged into the criminal underworld of the poorest parts of the city.

Alex's book list on biographies of powerful and important Ancient Romans

Alex Gough Why did Alex love this book?

Caracalla was described by Gibbon in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire as the “Common Enemy of Mankind.”

But much of what is known about this third-century Emperor was written by Cassius Dio, a Senator who served under him, and hated him. Caracalla certainly committed his fair share of evil deeds, but arguably not to any greater extent than some Emperors who are lauded today such as Augustus, Marcus Aurelius, and Constantine.

Ilkka Syvanne, a Finnish history professor, attempts to rehabilitate Caracalla’s reputation, with mixed success. You may not agree with all his arguments and conclusions, but you will learn a lot about a fascinating Emperor.

My own copy is covered with notes and highlights as a vital source for my Imperial Assassin series. 

By Ilkka Syvanne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Caracalla has one of the worst reputations of any Roman Emperor. Many ancient historians were very hostile and Edward Gibbon later dubbed him 'the common enemy of mankind'. Yet his reign was considered by at least one Roman author to be the apogee of the Roman Empire. Guilty of many murders and massacres (including his own brother, ex-wife and daughter) he was, however, popular with the army, improving their pay and cultivating the image of sharing their hardships. Surprisingly this is the first full-length biography of this colourful character in English. Ilkka Syvanne explains how the biased ancient sources in…


Book cover of Nero: Matricide, Music, and Murder in Imperial Rome

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?

So, just how bad was Nero? After 2000 years, it’s a question that we’ll probably never be able to answer with any certainty.

This non-fiction book makes a fantastic effort at trying to dig through a lot of the biases against Nero to find a more balanced view. While there’s no question that Nero was a monster in his later reign (certainly by our modern standards), it’s often forgotten that he started off incredibly popular with the common people, while his disregard for established traditions made him a lot of enemies amongst the patricians.

And, of course, it’s those patricians who got the final say when it came to writing down his history. It's a really fascinating read!  

By Anthony Everitt, Roddy Ashworth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A striking, nuanced biography of Nero—the controversial populist ruler and last of the Caesars—and a vivid portrait of ancient Rome

“Exciting and provocative . . . Nero is a pleasure to read.”—Barry Strauss, author of The War That Made the Roman Empire: Antony, Cleopatra, and Octavian at Actium

The Roman emperor Nero’s name has long been a byword for cruelty, decadence, and despotism. As the stories go, he set fire to Rome and thrummed his lyre as it burned. He then cleared the charred ruins and built a vast palace. He committed incest with his mother, who had schemed and…


Book cover of Constantius II: Usurpers, Eunuchs and the Antichrist

Charles Matson Odahl Author Of Constantine and the Christian Empire

From my list on the 4th century Roman world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Charles M. Odahl earned a doctorate in Ancient and Medieval History and Classical Languages at the University of California, San Diego, with an emphasis on Roman imperial and early Christian studies. He has spent his life and career traveling, living, and researching at sites relevant to his interests, especially in Britain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey Israel, Egypt, and Tunisia. He has taught at universities in Britain, France, Idaho, and Oregon, and published 5 books and 50 articles and reviews on Roman and early Christian topics.

Charles' book list on the 4th century Roman world

Charles Matson Odahl Why did Charles love this book?

Dr. Crawford, a specialist in ancient history and religion, offers a detailed and readable account of the life and reign of Constantine's longest surviving son and successor in the mid-4th century (A.D. 324-361). Often criticized by ancient sources and modern scholars alike for not being as great a soldier as his father and for favoring Arian-leaning bishops, the author tries to rehabilitate the reputation of Constantius as a capable ruler in difficult times.

By Peter Crawford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The reign of Constantius II has been overshadowed by that of his titanic father, Constantine the Great, and his cousin and successor, the pagan Julian. However, as Peter Crawford shows, Constantius deserves to be remembered as a very capable ruler in dangerous, tumultuous times. When Constantine I died in in 337, the twenty-year-old Constantius and his two brothers, Constans and Constantine II, all recieved the title of Augustus to reign as equal co-emperors. In 340, however, Constantine II was killed in a fraternal civil war with Constans. The two remaining brothers shared the Empire for the next ten years, with…


Book cover of Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar

Jeremiah McCall Author Of Rivalries that Destroyed the Roman Republic

From my list on exploring the Roman Republic and its collapse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and history teacher in Ohio with a passion for studying the endlessly fascinating Roman Republic. It was a time when many believed the gods walked the earth, when legend and reality mixed. The resulting stories lure us with their strangeness while reminding us of our modern world. For me, no topic in the Republic captures this paradox of strangeness and familiarity more than the political systems of the Republic. Our very ideas about representative democracy come from the Romans. But the legacy is deeper. In Roman politicians’ thirst for votes and victory, their bitter rivalries we can, perhaps, see the dangers of excessive political competition today.

Jeremiah's book list on exploring the Roman Republic and its collapse

Jeremiah McCall Why did Jeremiah love this book?

Dynasty is just a good historical read, one I enjoyed thoroughly. This is the place to go for a readable researched, thoroughly engaging story of the final collapse of the Republic under Caesar and how his heirs ushered in a new political system. The pivotal period where Octavian, adopted son of murdered Gaius Julius Caesar, survived in a cutthroat political and military arena and made himself Princeps, the first emperor, is just fascinating. The subsequent men and women of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and all of their political, and sometimes murderous, machinations come to life under Holland’s pen. An excellent choice for navigating imperial politics, often family politics.

By Tom Holland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'This is a wonderful, surging narrative - a brilliant and meticulous synthesis of the ancient sources . . . This is a story that should be read by anyone interested in history, politics or human nature - and it has never been better told' - Boris Johnson, Mail on Sunday

Rome was first ruled by kings, then became a republic. But in the end, after conquering the world, the Republic collapsed. Rome was drowned in blood. So terrible were the civil wars that the Roman people finally came to welcome the rule of an autocrat who could give them peace.…


Book cover of Emperors and Biography

Michael Kulikowski Author Of The Tragedy of Empire: From Constantine to the Destruction of Roman Italy

From my list on Rome in the third century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up playing with toy Roman legionaries, marveling at Roman coins, and poring over diagrams of Roman military equipment and their astonishing feats of engineering, went back and forth between wanting to be a medievalist or a Classicist and ended up settling into the study of the late Roman empire and the way it completely transformed its Classical heritage. Along with writing books on that period, I love writing on much wider ancient and medieval themes in the London Review of Books and the TLS.

Michael's book list on Rome in the third century

Michael Kulikowski Why did Michael love this book?

Ronald Syme was one of the greatest historians of the twentieth century, and probably the greatest Roman historian. This may seem like one for specialists only, unlike his classic Roman Revolution, but it’s got his distinctive style – florid and lapidary all at once – and is a master class in how to wring valuable information out of poor and deceptive sources.

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