100 books like Cicero

By Anthony Everitt,

Here are 100 books that Cicero fans have personally recommended if you like Cicero. 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 Roman Way

Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni Author Of Rome's Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar

From my list on ancient Roman history.

Why are we passionate about this?

Rob is an Assistant Professor of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University and a former congressional speechwriter. His forthcoming book, Word on Fire: Eloquence and Its Conditions is under contract with Cambridge University Press. He’s published research in journals including the American Political Science Review, the Review of Politics, and History of Political Thought. He has also written for publications including Slate, The Atlantic, and Aeon. Jimmy is an award-winning author and ghostwriter. With Rob, he published a Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age. The book won the 2017 Neumann Prize, awarded by the British Society for the History of Mathematics for the best book on the history of mathematics for a general audience. Jimmy’s writing and commentary have appeared in the Washington Examiner, the New York Observer, Forbes, and The Atlantic, among many other outlets.

Rob's book list on ancient Roman history

Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni Why did Rob love this book?

An oldie (first published in 1932) but a goodie. Hamilton's short essays on the classic Latin writers--from the first writers of Latin comedy through to the epic poets and historians who did so much to shape the language--aren't just a crash course on the Roman literary canon. They're an accessible introduction to Roman culture from the ground up.

By Edith Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this informal history of Roman civilization, Edith Hamilton vividly depicts the Roman life and spirit as they are revealed in the greatest writers of the time. Among these literary guides are Cicero, who left an incomparable collection of letters; Catullus, the quintessential poet of love; Horace, the chronicler of a cruel and materialistic Rome; and the Romantics Virgil, Livy and Seneca. The story concludes with the stark contrast between high-minded Stoicism and the collapse of values witnessed by Tacitus and Juvenal.


Book cover of SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome

Paul Hay Author Of Saeculum: Defining Historical Eras in Ancient Roman Thought

From my list on for aspiring Roman history buffs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of Roman history who teaches and writes about the social world of the ancient Romans. I’m drawn to the topic of ancient Rome because it seems simultaneously familiar and alien: the people always “feel real” to me, but the many cultural differences between Rome and modern America prod me to contemplate those aspects and values of my own world that I take for granted. I enjoy the high moral stakes of the political machinations as well as the aesthetic beauty of the artistic creations of Rome. And the shadow of Rome still looms large in American culture, so I find the study of antiquity endlessly instructive.

Paul's book list on for aspiring Roman history buffs

Paul Hay Why did Paul love this book?

Perhaps the best place to start for a novice looking to learn about Roman history. I have had students, friends, and family all tell me that this was the book that really got them excited about ancient Rome.

Beard is a very witty, engaging writer who is able to combine major historical moments with obscure but revealing anecdotes to tell a coherent narrative of Roman history. She also demonstrates, such as in her introductory chapter’s discussion of modern references to the ancient conflict between Cicero and Catiline, the continuing relevance of Roman history to our understanding of politics today.

By Mary Beard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In SPQR, an instant classic, Mary Beard narrates the history of Rome "with passion and without technical jargon" and demonstrates how "a slightly shabby Iron Age village" rose to become the "undisputed hegemon of the Mediterranean" (Wall Street Journal). Hailed by critics as animating "the grand sweep and the intimate details that bring the distant past vividly to life" (Economist) in a way that makes "your hair stand on end" (Christian Science Monitor) and spanning nearly a thousand years of history, this "highly informative, highly readable" (Dallas Morning News) work examines not just how we think of ancient Rome but…


Book cover of Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic

David M. Gwynn Author Of The Roman Republic: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on the fall of the Roman Republic.

Why am I passionate about this?

Born and raised in New Zealand I got hooked on history as a child and began university life as an ancient and medieval double major studying everything from the classical Greeks and Romans to Charlemagne and the Crusades. By the time I came to Oxford to write my PhD, I had decided that my greatest interest lay in the dramatic transformation which saw classical antiquity evolve into medieval Christendom. I've been fortunate enough to write and teach many different aspects of that transformation, from the Roman Republic to early Christianity and the Goths, and I'm currently Associate Professor in Ancient and Late Antique History at Royal Holloway, in the University of London. 

David's book list on the fall of the Roman Republic

David M. Gwynn Why did David love this book?

Named for the river that Julius Caesar crossed when he invaded Italy and began the civil war which brought the Roman Republic to its knees, this book offers a sweeping account of the Republic’s fall and has been rightly described as narrative history at its best. All the major characters are vividly presented, from Marius and Sulla to Pompey, Cicero and Caesar, in prose that manages to remain readable and fast-paced while spanning almost 400 pages. Tragedy is arguably more apparent than triumph, understandably in a book devoted to the collapse of the Republican order. But the glory of the Republic does also shine through, and the story is told on a larger scale than my book would have allowed.

By Tom Holland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Roman Republic was the most remarkable state in history. What began as a small community of peasants camped among marshes and hills ended up ruling the known world. Rubicon paints a vivid portrait of the Republic at the climax of its greatness - the same greatness which would herald the catastrophe of its fall. It is a story of incomparable drama. This was the century of Julius Caesar, the gambler whose addiction to glory led him to the banks of the Rubicon, and beyond; of Cicero, whose defence of freedom would make him a byword for eloquence; of Spartacus,…


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 The Roman Revolution

Mark Koyama Author Of How the World Became Rich: The Historical Origins of Economic Growth

From my list on politics and economics in preindustrial societies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been fascinated with history. The study of economic history allows me to combine my passion for understanding the past with a rigorous and systematic set of analytical tools. In my own work I'm interested in understanding the economic, political, and institutional transformations that have created the modern world. The books I've selected here help us better understand quite how different the past and they have proven to be invaluable to me as inspirations. 

Mark's book list on politics and economics in preindustrial societies

Mark Koyama Why did Mark love this book?

Syme was wrote about the fall of the Roman Republic in the shadow of the rise of totalitarianism. 

But for me what is most interesting about this book is its use of collective biography and its argument that the rise of Caesar and Augustus is best understood as the rise of a party or a faction. Most books on the Late Republic focus on the larger-than-life personalities: Caesar, Pompey, Crassus, and Cicero. Syme focuses on structures and systematic factors.

He writes with an at times jarring cynicism. His treatment of Cicero is particularly critical for example. For Syme, all states are governed by coalitions of elites.

And the writing is unforgettable: "a monarchy rules through an oligarchy"; "at its worst, biography is flat and schematic: at its best, it is often baffled by the hidden discords of human nature... undue insistence on upon the character and exploits of a single…

By Ronald Syme,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Roman Revolution is a profound and unconventional treatment of a great theme - the fall of the Republic and the decline of freedom in Rome between 60 BC and AD 14, and the rise to power of the greatest of the Roman Emperors, Augustus. The transformation of state and society, the violent transference of power and property, and the establishment of Augustus' rule are presented in an unconventional narrative, which quotes from ancient evidence, refers
seldomly to modern authorities, and states controversial opinions quite openly. The result is a book which is both fresh and compelling.


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 The Cicero Trilogy

Damian Dibben Author Of The Colour Storm

From my list on that bring history to life.

Why am I passionate about this?

The mission I have set myself as a novelist is to bring the past alive in the most engaging way; to try to tell some of the great tales of history as current, prescient stories. I want to open a reader’s mind, but also offer an escape, to fantastical places. My first novel for adults, Tomorrow, is told through the eyes of a dog who doesn’t die, whose quest for his similarly immortal master takes him through the wars of the 17th and 18th Centuries, and through every tottering court of Europe. My second, The Colour Storm, out in June 2022, is set in the art world of the Renaissance and is about the search for a new colour. The pigment has arrived in Venice and every artist of the day, from Leonardo to Michelangelo, is in fierce - perhaps murderous - competition to find it first.

Damian's book list on that bring history to life

Damian Dibben Why did Damian love this book?

Imperium, Lustrum, and Dictator chart the disintegration of Rome’s republic and the inexorable rise, then sudden fall, of Julius Caesar. Told from the vantage point of Cicero, the most persuasive speaker of the age, it’s thrilling from the outset, an epic political thriller that seems to foreshadow the beginning of the modern world. The events are so incredible, so momentous, you have to keep reminding yourself they’re true.

By Robert Harris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

______________________________
'One of the great triumphs of contemporary historical literature.' The Times

______________________________
WITH A NEW INTRODUCTION BY THE AUTHOR

'Laws are silent in times of war.' Cicero

One of the great epics of political and historical fiction, The Cicero Trilogy charts the career of the Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero from his mid-twenties as an ambitious young lawyer to his dramatic death more than thirty years later, pursued by an assassination squad on a cliff-top path.

The extraordinary life that unfolds between these two episodes is recounted by Cicero's private secretary, Tiro: the law cases and the speeches that…


Book cover of Imperium

Mark Knowles Author Of Argo

From my list on realistic historical fiction set in ancient Greece, Rome or Egypt.

Why am I passionate about this?

We all read (or write) fiction for a bit of escapism, don’t we? To come face-to-face with the good, the bad, and the ugly of bygone days… The ancient Mediterranean is the place I would most love to visit in a time machine (albeit fully armed and in a hazmat suit), and these writers are – for me – the best at transporting readers there from the comfort of a sofa. I’ve tried plenty of historical fiction set in other times and places - much of it very good, but the smell of olive groves, the chirruping of cicadas, and the Aegean sun always call me back!

Mark's book list on realistic historical fiction set in ancient Greece, Rome or Egypt

Mark Knowles Why did Mark love this book?

The fact that this trilogy was turned into a stage show is a measure of its fantastic popularity! On the face of it, a set of novels about the machinations of late Republican politics might not hold broad appeal, but it is the genius of Robert Harris to bring the crime and corruption-riddled streets of 1st century BC Rome bursting to life.

Apparently, he spent several years immersing himself in contemporary literature before putting pen to paper, and it really shows. I admired how his research paints vivid background colour without ever stepping upon the toes of the brilliantly drawn characters. I loved his Cicero (and Caesar and Pompey and Antony) and, despite some tough competition, cannot think of any historical figures so authentically portrayed in any other Roman historical fiction.

And yet, for me, it's Cicero's humble secretary, Tiro, who steals the show. I think it was a masterstroke…

By Robert Harris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Tiro, the confidential secretary of a Roman senator, opens the door to a terrified stranger on a cold November morning, he sets in motion a chain of events which will eventually propel his master into one of the most famous courtroom dramas in history.

The stranger is a Sicilian, a victim of the island's corrupt Roman governor, Verres. The senator is Cicero, a brilliant young lawyer and spellbinding orator, determined to attain imperium - supreme power in the state.

This is the starting-point of Robert Harris's most accomplished novel to date. Compellingly written in Tiro's voice, it takes us…


Book cover of Let the Emperor Speak

Jim Carr Author Of Yesterdays

From my list on wars over the ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love history and languages from the first time my school classes opened my eyes to them and it has stayed with me ever since. Learning Latin helped me to understand how these people talked and how they thought and expressed themselves. It didn’t matter what, whether the daily lives of Romans and how they built their empire. It has coloured my thinking, and helped me in writing all my books that take place during the past, whether in Roman life or medieval warfare.

Jim's book list on wars over the ages

Jim Carr Why did Jim love this book?

And speak Caesar Augustus does with a number of prominent figures, including Cleopatra, Mark Anthony, Tiberius, Cicero, and even Virgil. His comments and asides let us know what he really thinks of them. He lets you know that the war with Pompey is a distraction and a bore. His comments are blunt and reveal a strong, wily individual completely in control of the Latin empire, and written in a way that, at times, you forget you’re not reading a history book but fiction.

It was comments like this regarding his meeting with Cleopatra that make the book rewarding: 

“I felt her power, her quite remarkable seductiveness. It was like listening to the deepest, most desirable temptation; it held promises of bliss and power. I understood how Anthony had found himself caught like a beast in a net. I looked away…”

By Allan Massie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Let the Emperor Speak


Book cover of Roman Blood

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 first book in Saylor’s “Roma sub rosa” series, and introduces one of the nicest heroes in historical mystery! Gordianus the Finder is the Roman equivalent of our private detective and he works for a young politician and orator, Cicero. Based on a real lawsuit from 80 BCE, Saylor makes great use of the actual speech made, and conveys the skill and showmanship of the lawyer at a time when a good speech was seen as entertainment for the masses. Into this original material though he weaves a hideous and complex murder plot. Riveting stuff! 

I am a huge fan of Cicero, and it was really interesting—if a little hard at times!—to see him portrayed with all his flaws and weaknesses.

By Steven Saylor,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Roman Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the unseasonable heat of a spring morning in 80 B.C., Gordianus the Finder is summoned to the house of Cicero, a young advocate staking his reputation on a case involving the savage murder of the wealthy, sybaritic Sextus Roscius. Charged with the murder is Sextus's son, greed being the apparent motive. The punishment, rooted deep in Roman tradition, is horrific beyond imagining.

The case becomes a political nightmare when Gordianus's investigation takes him through the city's raucous, pungent streets and deep into rural Umbria. Now, one man's fate may threaten the very leaders of Rome itself.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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