100 books like Slaves and Masters in the Roman Empire

By K.R. Bradley,

Here are 100 books that Slaves and Masters in the Roman Empire fans have personally recommended if you like Slaves and Masters in the Roman Empire. 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 69 A.D.: The Year of Four Emperors

Martha Marks Author Of Rubies of the Viper

From my list on the Roman Empire in 1st Century AD.

Who am I?

I made my first visit to Pompeii at age seven. That day, I told my parents that I had been there before. It was all very familiar. And that sense of déjà vu has never left me. I feel it whenever I go back to Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the Roman Forum. I don’t believe in reincarnation, but... As an adult, I’ve returned many times to those places and visited others featured in my books: the Etruscan necropolis at Caere, which was already 1,000 years old at the time of my novels; Athens; and the ancient ports of Piraeus in Greece and Itanos in Crete. I earned a Ph.D. at Northwestern University, taught for many years, and enjoyed a million marvelous experiences, but my lifelong love of ancient Rome is the direct result of that long-ago visit to Pompeii with my parents.

Martha's book list on the Roman Empire in 1st Century AD

Martha Marks Why did Martha love this book?

The Civil War of 69 AD — aka “The Year of Four Emperors” — was a complex, pivotal moment in the history of the Roman Empire. Since it took place at a key moment in my trilogy’s timeline, and since so many of my characters were active participants, I had to understand it. Morgan expertly clarifies an interrelated series of historical threads that I needed to follow to make my three-part fictional story both historically accurate and novelistically intriguing.

By Gwyn Morgan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 69 A.D. as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Year of Four Emperors, so the ancient sources assure us, was one of the most chaotic, violent and frightening periods in all Roman history: a time of assassinations and civil wars, of armies so out of control that they had no qualms about occupying the city of Rome, and of ambitious men who seized power only to lose it, one after another.
In 69 AD, Gwyn Morgan offers a fresh look at this period, based on two considerations to which insufficient attention has been paid in the past. First, that we need to unravel rather than cherry-pick between the…


Book cover of Flavius ​​Josephus: Eyewitness to Rome's First-Century Conquest of Judea

Martha Marks Author Of Rubies of the Viper

From my list on the Roman Empire in 1st Century AD.

Who am I?

I made my first visit to Pompeii at age seven. That day, I told my parents that I had been there before. It was all very familiar. And that sense of déjà vu has never left me. I feel it whenever I go back to Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the Roman Forum. I don’t believe in reincarnation, but... As an adult, I’ve returned many times to those places and visited others featured in my books: the Etruscan necropolis at Caere, which was already 1,000 years old at the time of my novels; Athens; and the ancient ports of Piraeus in Greece and Itanos in Crete. I earned a Ph.D. at Northwestern University, taught for many years, and enjoyed a million marvelous experiences, but my lifelong love of ancient Rome is the direct result of that long-ago visit to Pompeii with my parents.

Martha's book list on the Roman Empire in 1st Century AD

Martha Marks Why did Martha love this book?

Hadas-Lebel’s fine biography brings to life one of history’s most charismatic and controversial authors, generals, and traitors. The Jewish scholar turned Roman collaborator known today as Flavius Josephus was born Yosef ben Matityahu. His evolution from Yosef the aristocrat of Jerusalem to Josephus the “Jew of Rome” is a classic truth-is-stranger-than-fiction tale. As Yosef, he plays a key role in my second novel. As Josephus, he does the same in my third. So I had to internalize as much about his life, character, and personality as possible. This book gave me the level of detail that I needed to make Yosef/Josephus “real” in my own way.

By Mireille Hadas-Lebel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Richard Miller translates this narration of an eye-witness account of Rome's first-century conquest of Judea.

Through the eyes of a Jewish priest, general, Roman captive, and historian, Miereille Hadas-Lebel, comes this narration of the key first-century events in Judeo-Christian culture.


Book cover of Apocalypse: The Great Jewish Revolt Against Rome AD 66-73

Martha Marks Author Of Rubies of the Viper

From my list on the Roman Empire in 1st Century AD.

Who am I?

I made my first visit to Pompeii at age seven. That day, I told my parents that I had been there before. It was all very familiar. And that sense of déjà vu has never left me. I feel it whenever I go back to Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the Roman Forum. I don’t believe in reincarnation, but... As an adult, I’ve returned many times to those places and visited others featured in my books: the Etruscan necropolis at Caere, which was already 1,000 years old at the time of my novels; Athens; and the ancient ports of Piraeus in Greece and Itanos in Crete. I earned a Ph.D. at Northwestern University, taught for many years, and enjoyed a million marvelous experiences, but my lifelong love of ancient Rome is the direct result of that long-ago visit to Pompeii with my parents.

Martha's book list on the Roman Empire in 1st Century AD

Martha Marks Why did Martha love this book?

The empire-shaking Great Revolt looms over my second and third novels, and Faulkner’s book illuminated it for me in a way that nothing else did. He unravels the interwoven historical, social, religious, ethnic, cultural, and political conflicts that led to the disastrous Jewish rebellion against Rome. His work is controversial in some quarters because it goes against the grain of Christian thinking about this time and place. Personally, I found it revealing and eloquent. To me, this a must-read for anyone trying to understand the “why” behind the cataclysm that befell the Jewish people between 66 and 73 AD and still impacts our world today.

By Neil Faulkner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ancient Palestine was a ferment of social and ideological conflict. Full-scale insurrectionary revolt exploded in AD 66 and took on a revolutionary character as moderate upper-class leaders were pushed aside and replaced by popular radicals. The war that followed was bitterly fought, and culminated in the five-month siege of Jerusalem in the summer of AD 70. which ended with the fall and destruction of the city amid appalling atrocities. Mopping-up operations concluded with the spectacular siege of Masada in AD 73. First published in 2002. Dt Neil Faulkner's acclaimed Apocalypse is a gripping account of a series of events that…


Book cover of A Monument to Dynasty and Death: The Story of Rome's Colosseum and the Emperors Who Built It

Martha Marks Author Of Rubies of the Viper

From my list on the Roman Empire in 1st Century AD.

Who am I?

I made my first visit to Pompeii at age seven. That day, I told my parents that I had been there before. It was all very familiar. And that sense of déjà vu has never left me. I feel it whenever I go back to Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the Roman Forum. I don’t believe in reincarnation, but... As an adult, I’ve returned many times to those places and visited others featured in my books: the Etruscan necropolis at Caere, which was already 1,000 years old at the time of my novels; Athens; and the ancient ports of Piraeus in Greece and Itanos in Crete. I earned a Ph.D. at Northwestern University, taught for many years, and enjoyed a million marvelous experiences, but my lifelong love of ancient Rome is the direct result of that long-ago visit to Pompeii with my parents.

Martha's book list on the Roman Empire in 1st Century AD

Martha Marks Why did Martha love this book?

A large part of the last book of my trilogy focuses on one character’s involvement in the construction of the Flavian Amphitheater, known today as The Colosseum. As with other complex issues I’ve written about — the Jewish Revolt, social constraints on women, relationships between masters and slaves — I’ve had to make sense of this grandest construction project of the first century. Elkins’ scholarly book helped me get out of the “tourist-in-Rome mindset” and into the “you-are-there-as-it’s-being-built mindset.” I’m currently writing that section, so the jury is still out, but Elkins’ in-depth research and clear exposition provide a good road map.

By Nathan T. Elkins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Go behind the scenes to discover why the Colosseum was the king of amphitheaters in the Roman world-a paragon of Roman engineering prowess.

Early one morning in 80 CE, the Colosseum roared to life with the deafening cheers of tens of thousands of spectators as the emperor, Titus, inaugurated the new amphitheater with one hundred days of bloody spectacles. These games were much anticipated, for the new amphitheater had been under construction for a decade. Home to spectacles involving exotic beasts, elaborate executions of criminals, gladiatorial combats, and even-when flooded-small-scale naval battles, the building itself was also a marvel. Rising…


Book cover of Mistress of Rome

KC Klein Author Of Mi Familia

From my list on heroines that won’t get nominated for sainthood.

Who am I?

I’ve been reading romance since before dirt was old—(okay, I’m not actually that old, but some days I feel like it)—and I have a deep belief that romances can be our shining light in a sometimes very dark world. Which is why when I wrote my own stories, my very first editorial letter started out with, “Wow, you really like to torture your characters.” I wanted to create genuine characters that make mistakes, mess up, and sometimes are their own worst enemy but you still want to root for them. My list of books on Heroines That Won’t Get Nominated For Sainthood will take you on a journey far more interesting than sainthood—the human experience.

KC's book list on heroines that won’t get nominated for sainthood

KC Klein Why did KC love this book?

Mistress of Rome was the first book I ever read by Kate Quinn, but it wasn’t my last. Frankly, I fell in love with Thea, a slave in ancient Rome. Ms. Quinn never shied away from the hard stuff. The reality was Thea was a slave and, as a slave, had very limited choices in her life. Ms. Quinn crafted a novel full of rich characters who sometimes made poor choices, or had their choices made for them all the while set against the beautiful background of ancient Rome, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a novel.

By Kate Quinn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first in an unforgettable historical saga from the New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network and The Diamond Eye.

"So gripping, your hands are glued to the book, and so vivid it burns itself into your mind's eye and stays with you long after you turn the final page."-Diana Gabaldon, #1 New York Times bestselling author

First-century Rome: One young woman will hold the fate of an empire in her hands.

Thea, a captive from Judaea, is a clever and determined survivor hiding behind a slave's docile mask. Purchased as a toy for the spoiled heiress Lepida…


Book cover of Slavery After Rome, 500-1100

Justine Firnhaber-Baker Author Of The Jacquerie of 1358: A French Peasants' Revolt

From my list on medieval peasants.

Who am I?

I am professor of medieval history at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. As a PhD student, I was electrified by the historian E. P. Thompson’s call to rescue the masses ‘from the enormous condescension of posterity’, but it’s often only when peasants revolt, as they did outside Paris in 1358, that we get much evidence about the masses in the Middle Ages. I loved writing The Jacquerie of 1358 because it allowed me to get very close to the men (and a few women) who risked everything to make their society a more just and equal one. It was a privilege, and a pleasure, to tell their story.

Justine's book list on medieval peasants

Justine Firnhaber-Baker Why did Justine love this book?

One of the most disquieting things about medieval peasants for me is that many of them were not free.

Some were outright slaves, particularly at the very beginning and the very end of the Middle Ages, but by 1100, most ‘unfree’ peasants were serfs. Although not a commodity to be bought or sold like slaves, serfs did unpaid labor and suffered serious limitations on their liberty, like the inability to move or marry at will.

Many historians have written on the medieval transition from slavery to serfdom (and back again), but what I like about Rio’s book is her attention to the variety of forms that ‘unfreedom’ could take and to how and why people might lose or gain freedom in the centuries after the fall of Rome and its slave system. 

By Alice Rio,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Slavery After Rome, 500-1100 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Slavery After Rome, 500-1100 offers a substantially new interpretation of what happened to slavery in Western Europe in the centuries that followed the fall of the Roman Empire. The periods at either end of the early middle ages are associated with iconic forms of unfreedom: Roman slavery at one end; at the other, the serfdom of the twelfth century and beyond, together with, in Southern Europe, a revitalised urban chattel slavery dealing chiefly in
non-Christians. How and why this major change took place in the intervening period has been a long-standing puzzle. This study picks up the various threads linking…


Book cover of Slavery and Society at Rome

Jerry Toner Author Of The Roman Guide to Slave Management: A Treatise by Nobleman Marcus Sidonius Falx

From my list on Roman slavery.

Who am I?

I'm the Director of Studies in Classics at Churchill College, Cambridge University. My research looks at Roman cultural history, with a focus on history "from below," meaning that I'm most interested in ordinary Romans, slaves and the poor. There have been thirty-five translations of my books into sixteen languages. I come from a modest background and was the first in my family to go to university. I found moving up the social ladder a bewildering and sometimes terrifying experience. Classics back then was still an elite subject, dominated by people from wealthy backgrounds. My research interests have always reflected my fascination with those at the bottom of the social ladder.

Jerry's book list on Roman slavery

Jerry Toner Why did Jerry love this book?

Imagine slaves and we generally think of the workers on the cash-crop plantations of the British Caribbean or the southern states of antebellum America. Roman slavery was in many ways a more complicated institution and owning slaves was as much about status as it was about economic exploitation. Bradley's excellent book goes into tremendous detail but always manages to do so with amazing clarity. Definitely the best introduction to a difficult other world.

By Keith Bradley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Slavery and Society at Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book, first published in 1994, is concerned with discovering what it was like to be a slave in the classical Roman world, and with revealing the impact the institution of slavery made on Roman society at large. It shows how and in what sense Rome was a slave society through much of its history, considers how the Romans procured their slaves, discusses the work roles slaves fulfilled and the material conditions under which they spent their lives, investigates how slaves responded to and resisted slavery, and reveals how slavery, as an institution, became more and more oppressive over time…


Book cover of Enslaved: An Ancient Rome Romance

Nancy Kimball Author Of Unseen Love

From my list on that put the Roman in romance.

Who am I?

When I watched the Ridley Scott film Gladiator for the first time, I knew then my heart belonged in Ancient Rome. Countless books, films, research papers, museums, and shenanigans later, that is still true. I was a master of make-believe by age ten, and when the time was right, both passions fused into my debut novel, also set in Ancient Rome. I don’t want to just read or write a good book. I want to experience Ancient Rome vicariously through powerful characters that linger in my memory long after the last page. If that’s you too, give these a try. 

Nancy's book list on that put the Roman in romance

Nancy Kimball Why did Nancy love this book?

I am so thrilled this author is rereleasing this novel and am stoked to revisit Lucia and Marcus’s story. When I first agreed to participate with this list, it was the first book that came to mind. Dean’s storytelling is so powerful. She plays to the history of Rome, and the conflict and dynamics unique to the time period so well as you journey through an impossible romance that refuses to die, much like its hero and heroine. What I appreciated most about this novel is how Marcus is allowed to be more than a slave and gladiator and how Lucia does what she must to survive her situation while always holding fast to the defiance and strength she shared with Marcus in their early days.  

By Cassandra Dean,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A tale of breathless passion, constant devotion, and all-consuming love from Award Winning Australian Author Cassandra Dean

I was to teach a slave.

Marcus, a gladiator in my father’s ludus, was compelled to my presence to learn of Rome’s gods, her legends. When first he came, fear consumed me – fear of this silent, resentful slave who burned with his anger.

Time, though, changes much. Marcus softened and I grew unafraid. As we became closer, I grew more than merely unafraid – I grew to love him. Never did I think we would be separated.

I was wrong.

I forced…


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.

Who am I?

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 Daily Life in Late Antiquity

Andy Merrills Author Of The Vandals

From my list on thinking about history in a different way.

Who am I?

Andy Merrills teaches ancient and medieval history at the University of Leicester. He is a hopeless book addict, writes occasionally for work and for the whimsical periodical Slightly Foxed, and likes nothing so much as reading elegantly-composed works which completely change the way he thinks about everything. (This happens quite a lot). 

Andy's book list on thinking about history in a different way

Andy Merrills Why did Andy love this book?

This is the only book on the list that relates directly to my main topic of research, but that is a strong recommendation in itself. In truth, there are lots of books about ‘late antiquity’ (or ‘the later Roman Empire’), and many of them are very good indeed. But they also tell a familiar story in familiar ways: they discuss politics, military actions, transforming towns, and (increasingly) plague and climate change. Sessa’s book deals with all of these themes in some way, but flips the whole thing on its head. This book looks at the period from the bottom up, thinking about the lived experiences of women and children, of country-dwellers, and those who inhabited the less glamorous corners of the empire. Reading this made me think again about lots of topics that I thought I knew well. It is also accessibly written and introduces a sometimes complex period very…

By Kristina Sessa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Daily Life in Late Antiquity is the first comprehensive study of lived experience in the Late Roman Empire, from c.250-600 CE. Each of the six topical chapters highlight historical 'everyday' people, spaces, and objects, whose lives operate as windows into the late ancient economy, social relations, military service, religious systems, cultural habits, and the material environment. However, it is nevertheless grounded in late ancient primary sources - many of which are available in accessible English translations - and the most recent, cutting-edge scholarship by specialists in fields such as archaeology, social history, religious studies, and environmental history. From Manichean rituals…


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