100 books like Caracalla

By Ilkka Syvanne,

Here are 100 books that Caracalla fans have personally recommended if you like Caracalla. 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 Twelve Caesars

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?

Suetonius wrote his short biographies of Julius Caesar and the following eleven Roman Emperors sometime in the second century AD, probably during the reign of Hadrian.

Although it is biased in order to keep in the good books of the Emperor, it is a great source for the history of the early empire. More importantly though, it is a damned good read, full of gossip and scandal, murder and treachery, and it has delighted and horrified readers for nearly two thousand years.

Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans is also a good contemporary biographical source, but can’t compete with Suetonius for the level of juicy and sordid details that we all, secretly or not so secretly, love. 

By Suetonius, Robert Graves (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Twelve Caesars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Suetonius, in holding up a mirror to those Caesars of diverting legend, reflects not only them but ourselves: half-tempted creatures, whose great moral task is to hold in balance the angel and the monster within' GORE VIDAL

As private secretary to the Emperor Hadrian, the scholar Suetonius had access to the imperial archives and used them (along with eyewitness accounts) to produce one of the most colourful biographical works in history. The Twelve Caesars chronicles the public careers and private lives of the men who wielded absolute power over Rome, from the foundation of the empire under Julius Caesar and…


Book cover of Antony and Cleopatra

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?

The love story of Antony and Cleopatra was immortalised by Shakespeare and by Hollywood.

But there is far more to both of them than simply being each others lovers.

Antony rose from relatively humble beginnings to become, for a while, sole ruler of the Roman Empire. Cleopatra came from a childhood in exile to be queen of the richest country in the world. Between them they demonstrated military capability, shrewd political judgment, and a love for everything that makes life worth living.

Goldsworthy is an academic historian and a novelist, and though this double biography is detailed, it is never dull. This book has been a valuable resource for my Mark Antony novels. 

By Adrian Goldsworthy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A masterfully told-and deeply human-story of love, politics, and ambition, Adrian Goldsworthy's Antony and Cleopatra delivers a compelling reassessment of a major episode in ancient history.

In this remarkable dual biography of the two great lovers of the ancient world, Goldsworthy goes beyond myth and romance to create a nuanced and historically acute portrayal of his subjects, set against the political backdrop of their time. A history of lives lived intensely at a time when the world was changing profoundly, the book takes readers on a journey that crosses cultures and boundaries from ancient Greece and ancient Egypt to the…


Book cover of Fulvia: Playing for Power at the End of the Roman Republic

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?

Most Ancient Roman biographies are about men.

This is mainly because there is much less information about Roman women than men. As in many ancient societies, Roman women were not considered equal to men, and did not hold positions of power or authority.

Writing by Roman women themselves is also rare. But modern biographers and historians are attempting to redress the balance. This book is part of the Women in Antiquity series, and tells the life story, as much as can be known, of a formidable woman.

Fulvia was married to and widowed by two powerful Romans before her third marriage to Mark Antony. She was a huge influence on him, and a power in Rome in her own right, wielding authority in Antony’s name, even when he was in the east, gallivanting with Cleopatra.

Another vital source for my Mark Antony series, this book is a great read about…

By Celia E. Schultz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fulvia is the first full-length biography in English focused solely on Fulvia, who is best known as the wife of Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony). Born into a less prestigious branch of an aristocratic Roman clan in the last decades of the Roman Republic, Fulvia first rose to prominence as the wife of P. Clodius Pulcher, scion of one of the city's most powerful families and one of its most infamous and scandalous politicians. In the aftermath of his murder,
Fulvia refused to shrink from the glare of public scrutiny and helped to prosecute the man responsible.

Later, as the wife…


Book cover of The Mad Emperor: Heliogabalus and the Decadence of Rome

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?

Heliogabalus became Emperor aged 14, manipulated into power by his mother and grandmother.

As a relative and possible illegtimate son of Caracalla, he appears in my Imperial Assassin series in the days before he rose to power. He is considered by many to be one of the worst Roman Emperors on account mainly of his outrageous lifestyle.

He married a Vestal Virgin, and a male charioteer, was reputed to have prostituted himself and to have turned the palace into a brothel, and offered a fortune to any doctor that could turn him into a woman.

He scandalised the religious Romans by replacing Jupiter as head of the gods with the eastern god Elagabal, of whom he was high Priest. But to modern eyes, a more sympathetic reading is of a teenage boy with a confused sexual orientation who unexpectedly had unlimited power and wealth thrust upon him.

Harry Sidebottom writes…

By Harry Sidebottom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Buy the book; it's very entertaining.' David Aaronovitch, The Times

A Financial Times, BBC History and Spectator Book of the Year

On 8 June 218 AD, a fourteen-year-old Syrian boy, egged on by his grandmother, led an army to battle in a Roman civil war. Against all expectations, he was victorious.

Varius Avitus Bassianus, known to the modern world as Heliogabalus, was proclaimed emperor. The next four years were to be the strangest in the history of the empire.

Heliogabalus humiliated the prestigious Senators and threw extravagant dinner parties for lower-class friends. He ousted Jupiter from his summit among the…


Book cover of Caligula: A Biography

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?

Few books challenge conventional knowledge about a historical figure like this one. This might be bad business for me personally. After all, my book about Evil Roman Emperors likes to wallow in the more salacious aspects of Roman history, and this book undermines some of those narratives where Rome’s third emperor is concerned. Winterling’s book takes a deep and critical look at the life of this maligned figure from history. While he stops short of vindicating Caligula, the author does a great job of giving a more complete and nuanced perspective of who he was and what made him tick. Was he truly crazy? Did he really think himself a god? Should his name be inextricably linked with violence and debauchery? Read and find out.

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

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The infamous emperor Caligula ruled Rome from A.D. 37 to 41 as a tyrant who ultimately became a monster. An exceptionally smart and cruelly witty man, Caligula made his contemporaries worship him as a god. He drank pearls dissolved in vinegar and ate food covered in gold leaf. He forced men and women of high rank to have sex with him, turned part of his palace into a brothel, and committed incest with his sisters. He wanted to make his horse a consul. Torture and executions were the order of the day. Both modern and ancient interpretations have concluded from…


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 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.

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 Master and God

Rosie Lear Author Of A Quenchless Fire: The Second Sherborne Medieval Mystery

From my list on historical detectives exploring fact and fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a great reader from birth, I love books. I am a retired teacher of English literature and love history, particularly the medieval period, inspired by my love of Chaucer. I found my chosen authors entertaining, informative, and able to lead me into my happy place, unaware of my surroundings whilst reading. I read very fast, however, and none of them write fast enough for me so I started to write my own books. Words have the power to move, to excite, to console, to entertain. I hope anyone reading my chosen list will enjoy and may feel like exploring my own books.

Rosie's book list on historical detectives exploring fact and fiction

Rosie Lear Why did Rosie love this book?

This lengthy story covering many years is set in Ancient Rome, during the reign of the despot Domitian. It follows two particular characters—a young hairdresser who has clients at the Imperial palace, and the scarred soldier devoted at first to the service of the Emporer.

The historical facts of Domitian’s reign of terror are very real and are set against the hard lives of our two main characters, the passion, the love, and sometimes the hate are very powerful.

Lyndsey Davis writes with humour, honesty, and some fine knowledge.

I have read this book over and over again, each time learning more and enjoying it freshly each time.

By Lindsey Davis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Afflicted by classic paranoia, the self-styled Master and God sees enemies everywhere. As he vents his suspicions, no one is safe.

A reluctant hero, Gaius Vinius Clodianus is hand-picked for high rank in the Praetorian Guard a brave man striving for decency in a world of corruption and deceit.

Flavia Lucilla, tending the privileged women at court, hears the intimate secrets of a ruler who plays with the lives of his subjects as if he were indeed a careless god.

In the dark shadow of Domitian's reign, Clodianus and Lucilla play out their own complex tale of resilience, friendship and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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