100 books like The Final Pagan Generation

By Edward J. Watts,

Here are 100 books that The Final Pagan Generation fans have personally recommended if you like The Final Pagan Generation. 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 Constantine: Roman Emperor, Christian Victor

Charles Matson Odahl Author Of Constantine and the Christian Empire

From my list on the 4th century Roman world.

Why am I passionate about this?

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. Stephenson, an excellent Byzantine historian, provides a thorough and well-written narrative of Constantine's life and career set accurately within the late 3rd and early 4th century Roman Empire (A.D. 273-337). He focuses on the military abilities and the religious beliefs of his subject and reveals how he changed the Roman Empire and Christian Church with his policies. A good read.

By Paul Stephenson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This “knowledgeable account” of the emperor who brought Christianity to Rome “provides valuable insight into Constantine’s era” (Kirkus Reviews).

“By this sign conquer.” So began the reign of Constantine. In 312 A.D. a cross appeared in the sky above his army as he marched on Rome. In answer, Constantine bade his soldiers to inscribe the cross on their shield, and so fortified, they drove their rivals into the Tiber and claimed Rome for themselves.

Constantine led Christianity and its adherents out of the shadow of persecution. He united the western and eastern halves of the Roman Empire, raising a new…


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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D.

Charles Matson Odahl Author Of Constantine and the Christian Empire

From my list on the 4th century Roman world.

Why am I passionate about this?

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. Lenski, an accomplished Late Antiquity scholar, provides a comprehensive biography of the emperor Valens and his troubled reign (A.D. 365-378). He surveys his political, military, economic, and religious policies in the eastern Roman world racked by religious divisions and barbarian invasions. Thorough and carefully argued.

By Noel Lenski,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Failure of Empire is the first comprehensive biography of the Roman emperor Valens and his troubled reign (A.D. 364-78). Valens will always be remembered for his spectacular defeat and death at the hands of the Goths in the Battle of Adrianople. This singular misfortune won him a front-row seat among history's great losers. By the time he was killed, his empire had been coming unglued for several years: the Goths had overrun the Balkans; Persians, Isaurians, and Saracens were threatening the east; the economy was in disarray; and pagans and Christians alike had been exiled, tortured, and executed in his…


Book cover of Theodosius and the Limits of Empire

Charles Matson Odahl Author Of Constantine and the Christian Empire

From my list on the 4th century Roman world.

Why am I passionate about this?

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. Hebblewhite, a specialist in late antique military history, provides a new biographical narrative on the life and reign of the Christian emperor Theodosius the Great (A.D. 347-395). He covers the emperor's struggles against the Gothic barbarians, his attempts to unify Christians around the orthodox Nicene Creed, and his outlawing of paganism and establishment of Catholic Christianity as the official religion of the late Roman Empire. Solid and readable.

By Mark Hebblewhite,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Theodosius and the Limits of Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The emperor Theodosius I (AD 379-395) was one of the most remarkable figures of the late antique period. In the face of religious schism, political turmoil, and barbarian threats he managed to maintain imperial power and forge a political dynasty that would dominate both east and west for over half a century. This study, the first English language biography in over twenty years, traces his rise to power and tumultuous reign, and examines his indelible impact on a rapidly changing empire.


Book cover of The Land of Angels

Vince Rockston Author Of Aquila: Can Silvanus Escape That God?

From my list on spiritual quests set in Antiquity.

Why am I passionate about this?

A yearning for a happy and meaningful life, as well as struggles with fear, guilt, and unfulfilled wishes, are common to mankind of all ages. My books combine historical and fictional characters to address such timeless spiritual issues from a Christian perspective. During a hiking tour of the Isle of Elba, I discovered the cave where the saintly 6th-century hermit San Cerbone lived in exile. Researching his life inspired me to write a work of historical fiction about that colourful character’s interactions with Silvanus, an unhappy local lad who longs to escape but finds new priorities.

Vince's book list on spiritual quests set in Antiquity

Vince Rockston Why did Vince love this book?

Sensitively written with a solid basis in history, we meet – and in some cases come to love – Queen Bertha, Pope Gregory, Archbishop Augustine, and other key players. The hopes and fears that drive Augustine on his challenging mission to convert England and to bring the old-school Christian Britons in Wales back into the fold of the Roman Church, are vividly portrayed. We also encounter the harsh reality of life in the primitive, war-torn, pagan Land of Angels.

This book taught me a lot about a significant period in the history of Britain and inspired me to reflect on the prevailing incompatible Christian perspectives.

By Fay Sampson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Princess Bertha of Paris is shocked to learn of her impending marriage to the heathen king of Kent. But their barbaric world is dramatically changed by the coming of Augustine from Rome, on a mission to impress his hero, Pope Gregory the Great. As the new arrivals face hostility and murder, the powerful king sees a way of using Augustine to further his ambition. However, Bertha's eldest son is in league with the banished priests and she knows her husband's vengeance will be terrifying should he find out...In this Anglo-Saxon world on the threshold between pagan beliefs and Christianity, the…


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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 Roman Sports and Spectacles: A Sourcebook

Maggie L. Popkin Author Of Souvenirs and the Experience of Empire in Ancient Rome

From my list on travel and leisure in ancient Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love exploring new places, buildings, and artworks. Luckily, my job, as a professor of ancient Roman art history at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, allows me to do so! I am fascinated by the material culture of the Roman Empire and the ways in which buildings and objects—whether grand monuments like the Pantheon in Rome or humbler items like a terracotta figurine of a gladiator—shape how we experience the world and relate to other people. Whether I am living in Paris or Rome, excavating in Greece or Italy, or traveling elsewhere in the former lands of the Roman Empire, these topics are never far from my mind.

Maggie's book list on travel and leisure in ancient Rome

Maggie L. Popkin Why did Maggie love this book?

If you want to know what some Romans thought about sport and spectacle in their own words, turn to Anne Mahoney’s sourcebook, which offers translations of key literary passages and inscriptions. From Horace’s descriptions of unruly theater audiences to Ovid’s advice to young Roman men about how to pick up girls at the circus, this sourcebook brought the world of Roman spectacle to life for me. I love that she shows how the themes that make modern sport and fandom so complex—religion, gender, politics, and money—were just as relevant in ancient Rome. I always come away from reading the sources she compiles feeling that Roman sports fans are not so different from us today.

By Anne Mahoney,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Roman Sports and Spectacles: A Sourcebook contains numerous translations from the Latin, including famous authors, such as Cicero, Seneca, Tertullian and Augustine, and the not so famous, including graffiti, advertisements and tombstones to paint a world view of what sports Romans played and what they thought of them. The world of Roman sports was similar in many ways to our own, but there were significant differences. For one thing Roman sports centered during religious festivals and the participants were most often slaves. Roman sports were not team sports, but individual competitions. And sports like chariot racing and gladiatorial competitions were…


Book cover of The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found

Josiah Osgood Author Of Rome and the Making of a World State, 150 BCE–20 CE

From my list on the grit and glamor of Ancient Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of ancient Rome. My interest was sparked in my high school Latin classes. On my first trip to Rome, several years later, I truly fell in love. I could see the famed orator delivering his fierce attacks against Catiline amid the grand temples of the Forum and its surrounding hills. I could imagine myself standing in a crowd, listening. In Washington DC, where I now live and teach at Georgetown University, there are classical buildings all around to keep me inspired. I have written a number of books about Roman political history and have also translated the biographer Suetonius and the historian Sallust.

Josiah's book list on the grit and glamor of Ancient Rome

Josiah Osgood Why did Josiah love this book?

No city of the Roman world survives more fully than Pompeii in southern Italy. Baths, bars, houses, and temples have been recovered, along with pots and pans, foodstuffs, medical instruments, and skeletons with evidence of an appallingly high rate of disease. For a knowledgeable and witty guide to the city you can’t beat Mary Beard, who helps us see it was not all marble columns and pretty paintings. I especially love her description of the House of the Tragic Poet, in which Edward Bulwer-Lytton set an early scene of his novel The Last Days of Pompeii, a dinner party hosted by the character Glaucus. Beard reveals that just behind this house was a cloth-processing workshop in which the main agent used would have been human urine. “In the background to Glaucus’ elegant dinner party,” writes Beard, “there must have been a distinctly nasty odor.”        

By Mary Beard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pompeii is the most famous archaeological site in the world, visited by more than two million people each year. Yet it is also one of the most puzzling, with an intriguing and sometimes violent history, from the sixth century BCE to the present day.

Destroyed by Vesuvius in 79 CE, the ruins of Pompeii offer the best evidence we have of life in the Roman Empire. But the eruptions are only part of the story. In The Fires of Vesuvius, acclaimed historian Mary Beard makes sense of the remains. She explores what kind of town it was-more like Calcutta or…


Book cover of Pagans and Christians

Rebecca I. Denova Author Of Greek and Roman Religions

From my list on the religious lives of Greeks and Romans.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, I could never “get” the secrets of math or science. If I could, I would have been an archaeologist. But I was always interested in “origins;” where do our modern ideas come from? My passion for reading led me to begin to uncover “origins” (or, the element of “looking for clues” in a “murder mystery”). Uncovering “ancient origins” entails thoroughly exploring ancient society. I continue to daily keep up with the research and new interpretations in the study of these fascinating worlds.

Rebecca's book list on the religious lives of Greeks and Romans

Rebecca I. Denova Why did Rebecca love this book?

I first encountered Lane Fox when I was working on my dissertation in graduate school. Working on “Gentiles” in the New Testament, I had to thoroughly understand the historical background. This book became my “pagan Bible,” in effect. The first half fully details ancient concepts and rituals, and the second emphasizes which elements were absorbed by the rise of Christianity and which were rejected and why.

By Robin Lane Fox,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Explores the character of early Christianity, with details on religious life, secular daily life, and the condition of paganism at the time of its defeat


Book cover of Julian

Christopher Harris Author Of Mappamundi

From my list on getting right inside the minds of historical people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of the Byzantine Trilogy (in 4 parts). These books depict the difficult beginning, decadent apogee, and sad end of the Byzantine empire. I think it is important to make historical fiction vivid, to immerse the reader in a distant time and place, with all its sights, smells, sounds, and tastes, as experienced by someone who was really there. I am also interested in what people believed, and why. For that reason, my historical novels are all first-person narratives, stories told by the people who lived through them. Here are some of the fictional memoirs that inspired me to start writing.

Christopher's book list on getting right inside the minds of historical people

Christopher Harris Why did Christopher love this book?

The short reign of Julian the Apostate is one of the “what ifs” of history. Raised as a Christian, Julian was a secret pagan. When he unexpectedly became emperor, he reversed the privileges of the Church and promoted his own Neo-Platonist cult, intending to restore paganism. Even though we know how things really turned out, it is fascinating to speculate about what might have happened if he had succeeded. 

Gore Vidal has filled this novel with war, politics, sex, religion, heresy, and philosophy. I have tried to follow his example (though I have been more sympathetic to eunuchs than he was).

By Gore Vidal,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gore Vidal's fictional recreation of the Roman Empire teetering on the crux of Christianity and ruled by an emperor who was an inveterate dabbler in arcane hocus-pocus, a prig, a bigot, and a dazzling and brilliant leader.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Rome, paganism, and Christianity?

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