100 books like Nero

By Edward Champlin,

Here are 100 books that Nero fans have personally recommended if you like Nero. 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.

Who am I?

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 Classical Scientific Astrology

Humphry Knipe Author Of The Nero Prediction

From my list on Nero (the man and the myth).

Who am I?

The deeper I looked into Nero’s history the more references I found to astrology about which I knew nothing except that it was a “pseudo science”. Then an idea hit me like the proverbial lightning bolt. It didn’t matter that astrology was mere superstition. All that mattered was that Nero and his contemporaries believed in it. Nero’s birthday and time are known so it must be possible to re-create his horoscope. With this mysterious wheel in hand, anyone familiar with ancient astrological lore should be able to make some very intelligent guesses about what Nero’s astrologer would have been advising his imperial client on perhaps a daily basis.

Humphry's book list on Nero (the man and the myth)

Humphry Knipe Why did Humphry love this book?

Early on in my research on Neronian astrology I had the good fortune to discover this book and visit its author, a real live astrologer. When he showed me the chart he had done for me I felt a  shiver of excitement, convinced that I was the first person to pay an astrologer to cast Nero’s horoscope in 2,000 years. Dr. Noonan’s book is an excellent introduction to astrology as it was practiced in the ancient world. 

By George C. Noonan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Classical Scientific Astrology focuses on the astrology of the Classicists, including Ptolemy and Al-Biruni, and its everyday use in determining the future of individuals, the national economy, the outcome of business and military ventures, the quality of national leadership and more. Included are: Historical persepctive of astrology from its earliest beginnings The houses and branches of astrology The signs, including their nature, and body parts, diseases, flora, fauna and places indicated by the signs; degrees of the signs and decanates The planets, including their nature, rulershp, terms, face and sect The aspects, including their power, applying and separating, orientality and…


Book cover of Nero: The Man Behind the Myth

Humphry Knipe Author Of The Nero Prediction

From my list on Nero (the man and the myth).

Who am I?

The deeper I looked into Nero’s history the more references I found to astrology about which I knew nothing except that it was a “pseudo science”. Then an idea hit me like the proverbial lightning bolt. It didn’t matter that astrology was mere superstition. All that mattered was that Nero and his contemporaries believed in it. Nero’s birthday and time are known so it must be possible to re-create his horoscope. With this mysterious wheel in hand, anyone familiar with ancient astrological lore should be able to make some very intelligent guesses about what Nero’s astrologer would have been advising his imperial client on perhaps a daily basis.

Humphry's book list on Nero (the man and the myth)

Humphry Knipe Why did Humphry love this book?

Written by a veteran London Times journalist this exciting book reads like a fast paced thriller. What I found most interesting is his detailed description of Nero’s most notorious action, the murder of his mother. He writes “It is in the realm of abnormal psychology that an explanation may lie.” He is clearly unaware that what best explains the spooky full moon melodrama played out on a cosmic stage was the blind faith both Nero and his mother had in astrology (see Nero's astrology chart here). 

By Richard Holland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Richard Holland's biography looks at Nero from a different perspective and encourages readers to see the man rather than the monster.


Book cover of Nero: Emperor In Revolt

Humphry Knipe Author Of The Nero Prediction

From my list on Nero (the man and the myth).

Who am I?

The deeper I looked into Nero’s history the more references I found to astrology about which I knew nothing except that it was a “pseudo science”. Then an idea hit me like the proverbial lightning bolt. It didn’t matter that astrology was mere superstition. All that mattered was that Nero and his contemporaries believed in it. Nero’s birthday and time are known so it must be possible to re-create his horoscope. With this mysterious wheel in hand, anyone familiar with ancient astrological lore should be able to make some very intelligent guesses about what Nero’s astrologer would have been advising his imperial client on perhaps a daily basis.

Humphry's book list on Nero (the man and the myth)

Humphry Knipe Why did Humphry love this book?

A magisterial, affectionate portrait of Nero and his times, this book is full of delightful touches of humor. Grant writes that although Nero enjoyed giving feasts, “we are not told if he was amused by the famous contemporary glutton Arpocras, who ate four tablecloths at a time, and broken glass as well.”

By Michael Grant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bound in the publisher's original cloth covered boards, spine and cover stamped in gilt. Dust jacket rubbed at the edges, small closed tears at the extremities.


Book cover of Renan's Antichrist

Humphry Knipe Author Of The Nero Prediction

From my list on Nero (the man and the myth).

Who am I?

The deeper I looked into Nero’s history the more references I found to astrology about which I knew nothing except that it was a “pseudo science”. Then an idea hit me like the proverbial lightning bolt. It didn’t matter that astrology was mere superstition. All that mattered was that Nero and his contemporaries believed in it. Nero’s birthday and time are known so it must be possible to re-create his horoscope. With this mysterious wheel in hand, anyone familiar with ancient astrological lore should be able to make some very intelligent guesses about what Nero’s astrologer would have been advising his imperial client on perhaps a daily basis.

Humphry's book list on Nero (the man and the myth)

Humphry Knipe Why did Humphry love this book?

This book by the renowned nineteenth-century biblical scholar is a great read because it epitomizes the traditional anti-Nero bias to the point of parody. Renan writes that “Nero’s actions float between the black wickedness of a cruel dunce and the irony of a cynic. He did not possess an idea that was not puerile. The sham world of art in which he dwelt had made the veriest fool of him.”

By William G. Hutchison, Joseph-Ernest Renan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Renan's Antichrist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This Is A New Release Of The Original 1899 Edition.


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.

Who am I?

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 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.

Who am I?

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 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.

Who am I?

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 The Annals: The Reigns of Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero

Catharine Edwards Author Of Lives of the Caesars

From my list on Roman emperors behaving badly.

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by the ancient Romans and particularly by the ways they wrote about themselves. A Professor of Ancient History at Birkbeck, University of London since 2005, I regularly take part in BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time, discussing topics such as Roman decadence. Later generations look back on ancient Rome as mired in luxury and sexual misbehaviour—but that’s because the Romans themselves were constantly accusing one another of terrible vices. What can these claims tell us about Roman society? That’s a question that I’ve often returned to in many years of university teaching—and writing books, such as The Politics of Immorality in Ancient Rome.  

Catharine's book list on Roman emperors behaving badly

Catharine Edwards Why did Catharine love this book?

This darkly magnificent account of Roman history under the emperors from the time of Tiberius to that of Nero (with some retrospective swipes at Tiberius’ predecessor Augustus) is an ironic masterpiece written by a Roman senator in the early second century CE. Tacitus offers an unflinching analysis of the effects of an autocratic system on the behaviour of rulers—and the ruled. While a handful of individuals dare to speak truth to power, most people, in his account, are caught in the toils of second-guessing how the emperor might want them to behave and what he might want them to say. Tacitus’ hugely influential analysis of what power does to peopleand his breath-taking prosemake this a riveting read.  

By Tacitus, Anthony A. Barrett, J. C. Yardley (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'He was atrocious in his brutality, but his lechery was kept hidden... In the end, he erupted into an orgy of crime and ignominy alike'

Such is Tacitus' obituary of Tiberius, and he is no less caustic in his opinion of the weak and cuckolded Claudius and the 'artist' Nero. The Annals is a gripping account of the Roman emperors who followed Augustus, the founder of the imperial system, and of the murders, sycophancy, plotting, and oppression that marked this period in Rome. Tacitus provides the earliest and most detailed account of Boudicca's rebellion in Britain, and his history also…


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.

Who am I?

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…


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Interested in Nero, Tacitus, and Rome?

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

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