The best books about Ancient Greece 📚

Browse the best books on Ancient Greece as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece

The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece

By Paul Cartledge

Why this book?

Not – repeat not – because I am its editor and wrote more than half of it but mainly because this is I believe the one-volume, one-stop-shop book to have on your shelves or digitally on your computer if you want to gain something like a complete understanding and appreciation of the world or rather worlds of Ancient Greece. I can do no better than quote from the ‘blurb’ provided online by the C.U.P. itself.

It is sumptuously illustrated throughout, almost entirely in colour. It offers fresh interpretations of the whole range of ‘Classical’ Greek culture, different aspects of which…

From the list:

The best books about ancient Greece and their world

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Book cover of The Ecology of the Ancient Greek World

The Ecology of the Ancient Greek World

By Robert Sallares

Why this book?

This is a fat book, but almost unputdownable. What could be more fundamental to understanding the world of the ancient Greeks than finding out how many of them there were, and how they worked the land? We are learning more and more about the uses of the countryside, especially from survey archaeology, in which walkers systematically transect a given area of land. A good eighty or ninety percent of all ancient Greeks made a living (not necessarily a good one) through agriculture. The issues involved in trying to determine, say, the overall population of Greece in 500 BCE, or the…

From the list:

The best books on ancient Greek history

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Book cover of Glory and the Lightning: A Novel of Ancient Greece

Glory and the Lightning: A Novel of Ancient Greece

By Taylor Caldwell

Why this book?

I read this years ago; it's one of the reasons I began writing historical romance novels. It's the story of Aspasia, a woman in ancient Greece. She's educated in a selective school for courtesans, beautiful, groomed for pleasure, and bought by a Persian man who comes seeking a courtesan from this famous establishment. He takes Aspasia back to Persia. Eventually, she is freed and returns to Athens, where she meets Pericles. Inspired in part by his love of Aspasia, Pericles initiated the building of the famous Acropolis in ancient Greece. 

I was fortunate to visit Athens after reading Glory and…

From the list:

The best historical romance books to make you wish you lived in the past (until needs for modern conveniences arises)

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Book cover of The Stoics Reader: Selected Writings and Testimonia

The Stoics Reader: Selected Writings and Testimonia

By Brad Inwood, Lloyd P. Gerson

Why this book?

A good place to start the exploration into Stoicism. This book introduces the main characters of Stoicism, and the main areas they focused on, such as Physics and Ethics. Importantly, the book provides sources from ancient sources to expound the different areas.

From the list:

The best books to understand Stoicism from multiple perspectives

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Book cover of Medicus: A Crime Novel of the Roman Empire

Medicus: A Crime Novel of the Roman Empire

By Ruth Downie

Why this book?

This is the first book in Downie’s Medicus series, a series of crime novels based around Ruso, a Roman military doctor. Ruso finds himself based in Britain, in an attempt to escape his past, and finds himself reluctantly drawn into a series of mysterious deaths of women working at a local bar. He also finds himself unexpectedly buying Tilla, a British woman, to rescue her from her abusive previous owner – so with a new job, a new household, and a new set of questions to answer, he has plenty on his plate. Downie spins an excellent murder mystery and…

From the list:

The best novels about ancient Greece and Rome

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Book cover of Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction

Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction

By Paul Cartledge

Why this book?

This is an outstanding short introduction to Greek history – with a really neat gimmick. Instead of writing a standard kind of history, Cartledge picks on the eleven most prominent cities of ancient Greece and writes up their story in about ten or twelve pages. But the chapters are also organized chronologically, so that the first two cities, Cnossos and Mycenae, illustrate Greek prehistory. Then we move on to the Archaic Period (four places, including Sparta), then the Classical Period (three, including Athens), and then the Hellenistic period (one: Alexandria, the greatest city in the world before Rome). He ends…

From the list:

The best books on ancient Greek history

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