100 books like The Thieves of Ostia

By Caroline Lawrence,

Here are 100 books that The Thieves of Ostia fans have personally recommended if you like The Thieves of Ostia. 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 Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day

David Wishart Author Of Ovid

From my list on life in early Imperial Rome.

Who am I?

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.


Book cover of Latin for All Occasions

David Wishart Author Of Ovid

From my list on life in early Imperial Rome.

Who am I?

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?

Here it is! Everything from a simple ‘I’ll have a bucket of fried chicken’ (‘Da mihi sis hamam carnis gallinaceae frictae’) to a crafted curse like ‘May conspirators assassinate you in the mall!’ (‘Utinam coniurati te in foro interficiant!’), via such gems as ‘Do you want to dance? I know the Funky Broadway’ (‘Visne saltare? Viam Latam Fungosam scio’) and ‘Eat my shorts!’ (‘Vescere bracis meis!’). Need to know how to impress your native-speaker co-diner in a pretentious restaurant? Try ‘Vinum bellum iucundumque est, sed animo corporeque caret’ (‘It’s a nice little wine, but it lacks character and depth.’). Or maybe you just need a few pejorative terms to hurl at the driver who has cut in on your hired chariot; if so then ‘Airhead!’ (‘Caput vanis!’), ‘Dork!’ (‘Caudex!’) or ‘Space cadet!’ (‘Tiro astromachus!’) might, inter alia, fit the bill. A constant source of delight; Cicero wouldn’t have approved, let…

By Henry Beard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Latin for All Occasions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With more than 200,000 copies in print, Latin for All Occasions and its follow-up, Latin for Even More Occasions, have helped scores of readers harness the language of Caesar and Cicero. Impress your boss with Occupational Latin (Lingua Latina Occupationi); sell your product with Sales Latin (Lingua Latina Mercatoria); flirt with your classics professor with Sensual Latin (Lingua Latina Libidinosa); look like the hipster you are with Pop-Cultural Latin (Lingua Latina Popularis); survive the holidays with Familial Latin (Lingua Latina Domestica) and Celebrational Latin (Lingua Latina Festiva). It’s all here, whether you’re a student of the language or just want…


Book cover of Ancient Rome: City Planning and Administration

David Wishart Author Of Ovid

From my list on life in early Imperial Rome.

Who am I?

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?

From the ridiculous to the sublime, although still very much in the same ballpark. Written by a female classical historian whose husband was involved in local civic administration, this book will tell you everything you want to know (and a lot that you’d rather not, on a full stomach) about how the city of Rome in the late first century was organised, serviced, plumbed, policed, and kept happy. The Roman history anorak’s dream.

Should you want an equally-detailed guide to Who was Who (and related to Whom) in the late Republic and early Empire, then try Ronald Syme’s The Augustan Aristocracy – an impenetrable gem (if gems can be impenetrable), and certainly not a cover-to-cover bedtime read, but nevertheless one of my favourite reference books.

By O.F. Robinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Describes ancient Rome and its management from the local government law viewpoint - not many other books do it from this angle

The arrangement of the chapters makes it possible to look comparatively at local government functions rather than just considering the offices of various Roman magistrates and officials

Brings out striking similarities between Roman administration and that of a modern city (e.g. the care of the streets) and also marked differences (e.g. free or subsidised food but no housing)

Nearly all the Latin is translated. No knowledge of the language is required due to the referencing

Will include unique…


Book cover of Around the Roman Table: Food and Feasting in Ancient Rome

David Wishart Author Of Ovid

From my list on life in early Imperial Rome.

Who am I?

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?

Lastly, one you can try for yourself at home (party togas, garlands, and changing the dining room furniture are purely optional): proof that Roman eating habits didn’t stop at roast dormice, larks’ tongues, and dodgy mushrooms (although you will find a recipe for the first on p289).

This is a lovely book, not just for the culinary background but because it includes over 150 authentic recipes taken from the works of ancient authors, in particular Marcus Gavinus Apicius, the legendary chef and epicure who (if he existed at all) flourished during the early part of the first century. Fancy trying meatballs with a Roman slant? Or stuffed cuttlefish with an Apician sauce? Or something more exotic like roast suckling pig or boiled ostrich vinaigrette? Congratulations; you need look no further.

Oh, and one more thing; you might want an authentic Roman wine to go with your meal. If so, then…

By Patrick Faas, Shaun Whiteside,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Craving dolphin meatballs? Can't find a reliable restaurant for boiled parrot? Have a hankering for jellyfish omelettes, sows' wombs in brine, sheep's brain pate, or stuffed mice? Look no further than Around the Roman Table, a unique hybrid cookbook and history lesson. A portrait of Roman society from the vantage point of the dining table, kitchen, and market stalls, Around the Roman Table offers both an account of Roman cating customs and 150 recipes reconstructed for the modern cook. Faas guides readers through the culinary conquests of Roman invasions - as conquerors pillaged foodstuffs from faraway lands - to the…


Book cover of Urban Space and Aristocratic Power in Late Antique Rome: Ad 270-535

Greg Woolf Author Of Rome: An Empire's Story

From my list on new books about the Roman Empire.

Who am I?

I am an historian and archaeologist of the Roman world, who has lectured on the subject around the world. This summer I am moving from a position in London to one in Los Angeles. One of the attractions of Roman history is that it is a vast subject spanning three continents and more than a thousand years. There is always something new to discover and a great international community of researchers working together to do just that. It is a huge privilege to be part of that community and to try and communicate some its work to the widest audience possible.

Greg's book list on new books about the Roman Empire

Greg Woolf Why did Greg love this book?

Many histories of Rome end in the second century that period in which Edward Gibbon judged “the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous”. But there is a great deal of Roman history after that. Rome survived a great military crisis in the third century. The next generation of emperors based themselves near the frontiers to ward off future attacks. Machado’s extraordinary book tells the story of the City of Rome after the emperors had gone, returned into the hands of an aristocracy fascinated by its past but also committed to Roma Aeterna (Eternal Rome). Using statues and inscriptions and archaeology and a mass of little read ancient literature, Machado paints a vivid picture. Far from the new centres of power, the Roman aristocracy rebuilt, repaired, and steered the city through religious transformations, barbarian sacks, and beyond the fall of the western empire.

By Carlos Machado,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Urban Space and Aristocratic Power in Late Antique Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Between 270 and 535 AD the city of Rome experienced dramatic changes. The once glorious imperial capital was transformed into the much humbler centre of western Christendom in a process that redefined its political importance, size, and identity. Urban Space and Aristocratic Power in Late Antique Rome examines these transformations by focusing on the city's powerful elite, the senatorial aristocracy, and exploring their involvement in a process of urban
change that would mark the end of the ancient world and the birth of the Middle Ages in the eyes of contemporaries and modern scholars. It argues that the late antique…


Book cover of A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome: Daily Life, Mysteries, and Curiosities

Cass Morris Author Of From Unseen Fire

From my list on ancient Roman society.

Who am I?

I’m a writer and educator working in central Virginia, and I’ve been in love with the ancient world since my first Latin class back in the seventh grade. I’ve always been interested in social history more than just the chronology of battles and the deeds of famous men, so my research looks for sources that can illuminate daily life and the viewpoints of marginalized populations. I hold a BA in English and History from the College of William and Mary and an MLitt from Mary Baldwin University.

Cass' book list on ancient Roman society

Cass Morris Why did Cass love this book?

This book provides an exemplary hour-by-hour guide to what life was like for a citizen of Rome at the height of its power. I love that Angela not only gives us the high-society angle, bringing us into the lush gardens and sumptuous homes of Rome’s wealthy and powerful, but also the crowded apartments and streets that were home to the vast majority of the ancient city’s citizens. You walk alongside them, getting a ground-level view of the patterns of a normal day in all its mundane details, from clothing to food to labor to entertainment, rendered in fascinating prose.

By Alberto Angela, Gregory Conti (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The wondrous extravagance of banquets where flamingos are roasted whole and wine flows like rivers. The roar of frenzied spectators inside the Colosseum during a battle between gladiators. A crowd of onlookers gathered at a slave auction. The silent baths and the boisterous taverns...Many books have dealt with the history of ancient Rome, but none has been able to so engage its readers in the daily life of the Imperial capital.

This extraordinary armchair tour, guided by Alberto Angela with the charm of a born storyteller, lasts twenty-four hours, beginning at dawn on an ordinary day in the year 115…


Book cover of The Roman Predicament: How the Rules of International Order Create the Politics of Empire

Perry Mehrling Author Of Money and Empire: Charles P. Kindleberger and the Dollar System

From my list on the forces making the global money system.

Who am I?

My interest in money (understanding it, not so much making it!) dates from undergraduate days at Harvard, 1977-1981, exactly the time when the dollar system was being put back together under Volcker after the international monetary disorder and domestic stagflation of the 1970s. The previous decade had very much disrupted the personal economics of my family, perhaps in much the same way that the Depression had disrupted Kindleberger’s, and set me off on a lifelong quest to understand why. Forty years and four books later, I feel like I have made some progress, and hope that my book can save readers forty years in their own question to understand money!

Perry's book list on the forces making the global money system

Perry Mehrling Why did Perry love this book?

Browsing my shelves in preparation for this book list, this one in particular jogged my memory as an important influence on my own book, an influence so internalized that I completely forgot about and never cited it! I remedy that lapse here. 

My copy of the book is heavily underlined with lots of stars in the margin, so I know it was important. You can see from the title that the author is concerned with the same tension between money and empire, he as a historian and me as an economist.

Now that I have finished my own book, I’ll be rereading this early influence to engage with its argument more deeply and directly. 

By Harold James,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Modern America owes the Roman Empire for more than gladiator movies and the architecture of the nation's Capitol. It can also thank the ancient republic for some helpful lessons in globalization. So argues economic historian Harold James in this masterful work of intellectual history. The book addresses what James terms "the Roman dilemma" - the paradoxical notion that while global society depends on a system of rules for building peace and prosperity, this system inevitably leads to domestic clashes, international rivalry, and even wars. As it did in ancient Rome, James argues, a rule-based world order eventually subverts and destroys…


Book cover of Emperors and Biography

Michael Kulikowski Author Of The Tragedy of Empire: From Constantine to the Destruction of Roman Italy

From my list on Rome in the third century.

Who am I?

I grew up playing with toy Roman legionaries, marveling at Roman coins, and poring over diagrams of Roman military equipment and their astonishing feats of engineering, went back and forth between wanting to be a medievalist or a Classicist and ended up settling into the study of the late Roman empire and the way it completely transformed its Classical heritage. Along with writing books on that period, I love writing on much wider ancient and medieval themes in the London Review of Books and the TLS.

Michael's book list on Rome in the third century

Michael Kulikowski Why did Michael love this book?

Ronald Syme was one of the greatest historians of the twentieth century, and probably the greatest Roman historian. This may seem like one for specialists only, unlike his classic Roman Revolution, but it’s got his distinctive style – florid and lapidary all at once – and is a master class in how to wring valuable information out of poor and deceptive sources.

Book cover of Emperor

Ian Ross Author Of War at the Edge of the World

From my list on novels set in the later Roman Empire.

Who am I?

Ian Ross was born in England and studied painting before turning to writing fiction. He has been researching the later Roman empire and its army for over a decade, and his interests combine an obsessive regard for accuracy and detail with a devotion to the craft of storytelling. His six-novel Twilight of Empire series follows the career of Aurelius Castus as he rises from the ranks of the legions to the dangerous summit of military power, against the background of a Roman world in crisis.

Ian's book list on novels set in the later Roman Empire

Ian Ross Why did Ian love this book?

There are a great many novels about Roman emperors, and even a few about the rulers of the later age – Gore Vidal’s Julian, for example – but this one stands out for its originality. The emperor of the title is Constantine, one of the towering figures of Roman history, and incidentally quite important in my own books too. The novel covers the two months leading up to the battle of Milvian Bridge in AD312, but rather than giving us a panoramic view of the military campaign in Italy, Thubron chooses to tell the story as a collection of letters and diary entries. So we get the internal thoughts and reflections, ambitions and fears of a range of protagonists: Constantine himself, his wife Fausta, a Christian bishop, and several competing imperial ministers and servants. The central dilemma is the emperor’s own crisis of faith, which will lead up to his…

By Colin Thubron,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Emperor Constantine crosses the Alps at the head of a great army from the Rhineland in AD 312, and marches south to take Rome from the tyrant Maxentius. As he lays siege to the city of Verona, Constantine waits for the arrival of his wife, Fausta - his enemy's sister - whose cool detachment torments him. Emperor is a superbly imaginative reconstruction of the dramatic weeks leading up to Constantine's triumph in Rome. Written in the form of extracts from his own journal and letters from his empress, her frivolous female companion, his cynical secretary and a Christian bishop…


Book cover of Goths and Romans, 332-489

David M. Gwynn Author Of The Goths: Lost Civilizations

From my list on the Goths of history and legend.

Who am I?

Born and raised in New Zealand, about as far from the Roman world as one can get, I got hooked on history as a child and began university life as an ancient and medieval double major, studying everything from the classical Greeks and Romans to Charlemagne and the Crusades. By the time I came to Oxford to write my PhD, I decided that my greatest interest lay in the dramatic transformation which saw classical antiquity evolve into medieval Christendom. I've been fortunate enough to write and teach about many different aspects of that transformation and I'm currently Associate Professor in Ancient and Late Antique History at Royal Holloway, in the University of London. 

David's book list on the Goths of history and legend

David M. Gwynn Why did David love this book?

The early history of the Goths is a complicated and controversial subject, with difficult sources and large gaps in our literary and archaeological evidence. Heather provides an excellent guide to those problems and how they might be resolved. His book is particularly valuable for those interested in the only major source actually written by a Goth, the Getica of Jordanes, and in how the Visigoths and Ostrogoths emerged as independent peoples. The dramatic events which Heather narrates include the first entrance of Gothic tribes into the Roman Empire, the Sack of Rome by Alaric in 410, and the creation of the original Visigothic kingdom in southern France, ending with the newly formed Ostrogoths poised to launch their conquest of Italy.

By Peter Heather,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Goths and Romans, 332-489 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a scholarly study of the collision of Goths and Romans in the fourth and fifth centuries. Gothic tribes played a major role in the destruction of the western half of the Roman Empire between 350 and 500, establishing successor kingdoms in southern France and Spain (the Visigoths), and in Italy (the Ostrogoths).

Our historical understanding of this `Migration Period' has been based upon the Gothic historian Jordanes, whose mid-sixth-century Getica suggests that the Visigoths and Ostrogoths entered the Empire already established as coherent groups and simply conquered new territories. Using the available contemporary sources, Peter Heather is able…


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