100 books like Invisible Romans

By Robert Knapp,

Here are 100 books that Invisible Romans fans have personally recommended if you like Invisible Romans. 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 24 Hours in Ancient Rome: A Day in the Life of the People Who Lived There

Melissa Addey Author Of From the Ashes

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

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

Melissa Addey Why did Melissa love this book?

Hour by hour, we follow various Romans as they go about their day, seeing many different jobs and possible fates ahead for a whole cast of characters. Engagingly written, it smoothly shares a real wealth of knowledge and detail about Ancient Rome without falling into the trap of ‘info-dumping’. I really liked that it mainly follows plebians, not the ruling class: no villas and togas here, rather blocks of flats and plain tunics. A great read.

By Philip Matyszak,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked 24 Hours in Ancient Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Walk a day in a Roman's sandals ... What was it like to live in one of the ancient world's most powerful and bustling cities - one that was eight times more densely populated than modern day New York?

In this entertaining and enlightening guide, bestselling historian Philip Matyszak introduces us to 24 characters who lived and worked there. In each hour of the day we meet a new character - from a senator to a slave girl, a gladiator to an astrologer, watchmen to washerwomen - and discover the fascinating details of their daily lives.


Book cover of Hypatia of Alexandria

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

From my list on real women in the ancient Mediterranean.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

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

Guy D. Middleton Why did Guy love this book?

Hypatia was a pagan philosopher in Alexandria around AD 400.

As Maria Dzielska shows, she occupies a special place in western culture – her life, and more particularly her death in AD 415 at the hands of a Christian mob, became a metaphor for a clash of civilizations. In these terms, it signifies the death of the old Hellenic world of ideas and learning and the rise of a new Christian world based on faith.

Dzielska’s pithy book explores Hypatia the myth, as created in literature such as Charles Kingsley’s 1853 novel Hypatia or the New Foes with an Old Face, and presents and interprets the historical evidence for the real Hypatia. It’s a great read about a fascinating life. (Also watch the excellent 2009 film Agora, directed by Alejandro Amenábar!)

By Maria Dzielska, F. Lyra (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hypatia-brilliant mathematician, eloquent Neoplatonist, and a woman renowned for her beauty-was brutally murdered by a mob of Christians in Alexandria in 415. She has been a legend ever since. In this engrossing book, Maria Dzielska searches behind the legend to bring us the real story of Hypatia's life and death, and new insight into her colorful world.

Historians and poets, Victorian novelists and contemporary feminists have seen Hypatia as a symbol-of the waning of classical culture and freedom of inquiry, of the rise of fanatical Christianity, or of sexual freedom. Dzielska shows us why versions of Hypatia's legend have served…


Book cover of Rome: In Spectacular Cross-Section

Melissa Addey Author Of From the Ashes

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

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

Melissa Addey Why did Melissa love this book?

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

By Stephen Biesty, Andrew Solway,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

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


Book cover of Chariot Racing in the Roman Empire

Melissa Addey Author Of From the Ashes

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

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

Melissa Addey Why did Melissa love this book?

Oddly there aren’t actually that many books dedicated solely to chariot racing, but this one makes up for that. Huge amount of detail about everything from wheels to horses, but also a real sense of the passion the Romans had for this sport and just how terrifyingly dangerous it was to be a charioteer… almost makes being a gladiator look like a nice safe desk job! I loved the feel of the race day and all the parts that made it a spectacular event – from the vast crowd to the pre-race parades and the many different roles taking part on the day. Gripping read. 

By Fik Meijer, Liz Waters (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chariot Racing in the Roman Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A massive crowd of people, cloaked in the colors of their beloved athletes, slowly fill a 150,000-seat arena to cheer on their favorite teams. Athletes enter the stadium amid great pomp and circumstance as opposing fans hurl insults at one another and place bets on the day's outcome. Although this familiar scene might describe a contemporary football game, it also portrays a day at the chariot races in ancient Rome, where racers were the sports stars of the ancient world. Following close on the heels of his successful book on gladiators, Fik Meijer reveals all there is to know about…


Book cover of Working IX to V: Orgy Planners, Funeral Clowns, and Other Prized Professions of the Ancient World

Melissa Addey Author Of From the Ashes

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

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

Melissa Addey Why did Melissa love this book?

A superb title and an irresistible page-turner. I could have filled whole novels with the jobs described here. Each role was interesting in its own right but also collectively built up really interesting cultural insights. A very strong sense of daily life in all its fun and messiness and a brilliant book to engage not just adults but (with a bit of redaction!) older kids too. 

By Vicki Leon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Vicki Le?n, the popular author of the Uppity Women series (more than 335,000 in print), has turned her impressive writing and research skills to the entertaining and unusual array of the peculiar jobs, prized careers and passionate pursuits of ancient Greece and Rome.

From Architect to Vicarius (a deputy or stand-in)-and everything in between-Working IX to V introduces readers to the most unique (dream incubator), most courageous (elephant commander), and even the most ordinary (postal worker) jobs of the ancient world. Vicki Le?n brought a light and thoughtful touch to women's history in her earlier books, and she brings the…


Book cover of Women in Antiquity: Real Women across the Ancient World

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

From my list on real women in the ancient Mediterranean.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

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

Guy D. Middleton Why did Guy love this book?

I came across this book in the early days of writing my own – and it was inspirational.

It’s massive, with 74 chapters, but taken individually these are not in themselves long or difficult reads. We find women of all stations from prostitutes to queens, wet nurses to dancers, and female gladiators introduced, and range in time from the Bronze Age to the Romans.

The authors draw inclusively on multiple approaches and types of evidence, bodies, material culture, iconography, texts, and more. Apart from the vast coverage, the philosophy of the volume as set out by the editors was compelling: to look at ‘real women’ themselves, not mythical women or goddesses, and to emphasize their bodies and names.

It’s a treasure trove for anyone interested in women in the ancient world.

By Stephanie Lynn Budin (editor), Jean Macintosh Turfa (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This volume gathers brand new essays from some of the most respected scholars of ancient history, archaeology, and physical anthropology to create an engaging overview of the lives of women in antiquity. The book is divided into ten sections, nine focusing on a particular area, and also includes almost 200 images, maps, and charts. The sections cover Mesopotamia, Egypt, Anatolia, Cyprus, the Levant, the Aegean, Italy, and Western Europe, and include many lesser-known cultures such as the Celts, Iberia, Carthage, the Black Sea region, and Scandinavia. Women's experiences are explored, from ordinary daily life to religious ritual and practice, to…


Book cover of Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity

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

From my list on real women in the ancient Mediterranean.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

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

Guy D. Middleton Why did Guy love this book?

Sarah B. Pomeroy’s book on women in antiquity was a landmark study when it was first published some fifty-odd years ago in 1975.

It remains important both for its discussion but also because of its place in the history of the study of women in the ancient world. Pomeroy works from literary and archaeological evidence to explore the lives of Greek and Roman women from the Bronze Age to women of the early Roman empire, with a particular focus on classical Athens and Rome.

It is erudite and readable, and, despite its age, deserves a place on any ancient history buff’s bookshelf. It was the first book on the subject that I bought when I was an undergraduate student and has been a great foundation for further study.

By Sarah Pomeroy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What did women do in ancient Greece and Rome? Did Socrates' wife Xanthippe ever hear his dialogues on beauty and truth? How many many women actually read the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides? When pagan goddesses were as powerful as gods, why was the status of women generally so low? Why, in traditional histories, is half the population effectively invisible?

This unique and important book spans a period of 1500 years - from the fall of Troy to the death of Constantine. It examines all the available evidence - literary and archaeological - and reconstructs the lives of women from…


Book cover of Olympias: Mother of Alexander the Great

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

From my list on real women in the ancient Mediterranean.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

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

Guy D. Middleton Why did Guy love this book?

Most of us have heard of Alexander the Great, but his mother Olympias (famous for sleeping with snakes) also had a tumultuous and fascinating life.

Undoubtedly, she was a force to be reckoned with and a significant influence on her son, and this comes through in Elizabeth Carney’s book. Carney looks at Olympias from several angles – her origins as a Molossian royal, as the wife of Philip II of Macedon, as mother of Alexander, and in her own right after Alexander’s death.

At that time, her world became even more dangerous as she vied for power and position; she even led an army to assert her status in the new world – ultimately unsuccessfully. Carney also looks at Olympias’ religious life and her mixed legacy in antiquity (including the snake story).

By Elizabeth Carney,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The definitive guide to the life of the first woman to play a major role in Greek political history, this is the first modern biography of Olympias.

Presenting a critical assessment of a fascinating and wholly misunderstood figure, Elizabeth Carney penetrates myth, fiction and sexual politics and conducts a close examination of Olympias through historical and literary sources, and brings her to life as she places the figure in the context of her own ancient, brutal political world.

Individual examinations look at:

the role of Greek religion in Olympias' life literary and artistic traditions about Olympias found throughout the later…


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

Suzanne Tyrpak Author Of Vestal Virgin: Suspense in Ancient Rome

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

Why am I passionate about this?

Having been an actor and a dancer, in college I became interested in the origins of those arts. Curiosity led me to study Greek theater and ancient religions. In the early 2000s, I traveled to Rome with a group of writers, including Terry Brooks, Dorothy Allison, Elizabeth Engstrom, and John Saul. As soon as I set foot in Rome, I fell in love with that magnificent city’s history—in particular Vestal Virgins, the most powerful women in the ancient world. That trip inspired me to write Vestal Virgin—suspense in ancient Rome, a bestseller in many categories on Amazon.

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

Suzanne Tyrpak Why did Suzanne love this book?

Frequently, I write about everyday men and women. Consequently, I need to get a feel for what everyday life was like. What did people eat? How did they dress? Where did they work? I visit a lot of museums and have traveled extensively, but when I’m writing at home, I like books with lots of pictures, not only of historical sites, but photos of objects: cookware, weapons, clothing, jewelry, houses. This helps me bring the ancient world to life. This book is packed with pictures and well-researched information.

By Time-Life Books,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Life Was Like as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Provides a look at the Roman empire, detailing its history, social customs, professions, class ranks, military, and religion


Book cover of Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day

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?

Think Blue Guide, Michelin, or Lonely Planet. If you’re lucky enough to own a time machine and are planning a holiday in late-first-century Rome then this is the book to slip into your shoulder bag. It has everything you’d expect to find in a good travel guide: information on where to stay and what to see and do, advice on eating out, and the best places to shop, plus tips on how best to fit in with the natives, what to do if while you’re there you get into difficulties, and a whole lot more. The perfect introduction to Rome under the Flavians. All you’ll need now – because the chances of finding an English-speaker anywhere in the city are going to be zilch – is a decent phrasebook...

By Philip Matyszak,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here is an informative and entertaining guide to everything that any tourist needs for a journey back in time to ancient Rome in AD 200.You need only pack your imagination and a toothbrush - this guide provides the rest, describing all the best places to stay and shop, what to do, and what to avoid. Brought to life with wonderful computer-generated reconstructions of ancient Rome, this highly original, witty book will appeal to tourists, armchair travellers and history buffs.


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