10 books like Slaves and Masters in the Roman Empire

By K.R. Bradley,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Slaves and Masters in the Roman Empire. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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69 A.D.

By Gwyn Morgan,

Book cover of 69 A.D.: The Year of Four Emperors

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.

69 A.D.

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…


Flavius ​​Josephus

By Mireille Hadas-Lebel,

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

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.

Flavius ​​Josephus

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.


Apocalypse

By Neil Faulkner,

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

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.

Apocalypse

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…


A Monument to Dynasty and Death

By Nathan T. Elkins,

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

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.

A Monument to Dynasty and Death

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…


Mistress of Rome

By Kate Quinn,

Book cover of Mistress of Rome

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.

Mistress of Rome

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…


Slavery and Society at Rome

By Keith Bradley,

Book cover of Slavery and Society at Rome

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.

Slavery and Society at Rome

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…


Enslaved

By Cassandra Dean,

Book cover of Enslaved: An Ancient Rome Romance

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.  

Enslaved

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…


Daily Life in Late Antiquity

By Kristina Sessa,

Book cover of Daily Life in Late Antiquity

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…

Daily Life in Late Antiquity

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…


At the Ruin of the World

By John Henry Clay,

Book cover of At the Ruin of the World

The end of the Roman Empire in the west is a fascinating but notoriously vague saga, which often seems to be composed entirely of footnotes. In this novel John Henry Clay takes a handful of those footnotes and rebuilds mid 5th century Gaul and Italy on a grand scale. The empire is on its knees, but the aristocratic elites of the southern provinces are still living the good life on their villa estates, until all is thrown into turmoil by the invasion of Attila and his Huns. Part family drama, part broad-canvas military and political epic, the first half of the novel reaches a climax in the defeat of the Hunnic hordes by General Aetius. But in its second half the story accelerates dramatically, as Avitus, the father of the central pair of characters, leads a Romano-Gothic army from Gaul to seize power in Rome. The ramifications of Avitus’s bid…

At the Ruin of the World

By John Henry Clay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked At the Ruin of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A.D. 448. The Roman Empire is crumbling.

The Emperor is weak. Countless Romans live under the rule of barbarian kings. Politicians scheme and ambitious generals vie for power.

Then from the depths of Germany arises an even darker threat: Attila, King of the Huns, gathering his hordes and determined to crush Rome once and for all.

In a time of danger and deception, where every smile conceals betrayal and every sleeve a dagger, three young people hold onto the dream that Rome can be made great once more. But as their fates collide, they find themselves forced to survive in…


Rome

By Greg Woolf,

Book cover of Rome: An Empire's Story

This is a great read on the way that Rome became an empire. It puts the whole story of the city of Rome and what it developed into (i.e. the biggest power of the ancient world and a paradigm for many empires that followed) into context and into the history of the Mediterranean world. The book is so useful to read because it is well written and contemporary, but it also helps us to understand Hannibal. This is because Rome's version of Carthage and Hannibal is the only version that we have to deal with, Hannibal in many ways becomes a reflection of Roman ideas of their own imperialism.

Rome

By Greg Woolf,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rome in the archaic age was a minor satellite between the Etruscan and Greek world. This book traces the expansion of Roman influence first within Italy, then around the Mediterranean world and finally, at breakneck speed, deep into Europe, out to the Atlantic, along the edge of the Sahara and down the Red Sea. But there had been other empires that had expanded rapidily: what made Rome remarkable was that it managed to sustain its position for so long. Rome's Fall poses less of a mystery than its survival. Understanding how this happens involves understanding the building blocks of imperial…


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