The best books on Nero 📚

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

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Book cover of Nero

Nero

By Edward Champlin

Why this book?

After reading the ancient histories about Nero which support the legend that he was a lazy sadistic tyrant it was refreshing to find a book written by a leading academic (Champlin is professor of classics at Princeton University) which portrays him the way I see him, as an energetic, talented dreamer set on making his life a work of art. 

From the list:

The best books on Roman Emperor Nero, the man and the myth

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Book cover of Nero: Emperor In Revolt

Nero: Emperor In Revolt

By Michael Grant

Why this book?

A magisterial, affectionate portrait of Nero and his times, this book is full of delightful touches of humor. Grant writes that although Nero enjoyed giving feasts, “we are not told if he was amused by the famous contemporary glutton Arpocras, who ate four tablecloths at a time, and broken glass as well.”

From the list:

The best books on Roman Emperor Nero, the man and the myth

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Book cover of Renan's Antichrist

Renan's Antichrist

By Joseph-Ernest Renan, William G. Hutchison

Why this book?

This book by the renowned nineteenth-century biblical scholar is a great read because it epitomizes the traditional anti-Nero bias to the point of parody. Renan writes that “Nero’s actions float between the black wickedness of a cruel dunce and the irony of a cynic. He did not possess an idea that was not puerile. The sham world of art in which he dwelt had made the veriest fool of him.”

From the list:

The best books on Roman Emperor Nero, the man and the myth

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Book cover of From the Gracchi to Nero

From the Gracchi to Nero

By H.H. Scullard

Why this book?

This is a focused survey of the most fascinating period in Rome's history, when the ancient Republic evolved into an empire: the era of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, and the emperors Augustus, Nero, and others. During this period Rome's expansion meant major internal changes and a century of instability, and I know of no better book that explains why and how this happened.

From the list:

The best books on ancient Rome from an archaeologist and historian

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Book cover of Classical Scientific Astrology

Classical Scientific Astrology

By George C. Noonan

Why this book?

Early on in my research on Neronian astrology I had the good fortune to discover this book and visit its author, a real live astrologer. When he showed me the chart he had done for me I felt a  shiver of excitement, convinced that I was the first person to pay an astrologer to cast Nero’s horoscope in 2,000 years. Dr. Noonan’s book is an excellent introduction to astrology as it was practiced in the ancient world. 

From the list:

The best books on Roman Emperor Nero, the man and the myth

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Book cover of Nero: The Man Behind the Myth

Nero: The Man Behind the Myth

By Richard Holland

Why this book?

Written by a veteran London Times journalist this exciting book reads like a fast paced thriller. What I found most interesting is his detailed description of Nero’s most notorious action, the murder of his mother. He writes “It is in the realm of abnormal psychology that an explanation may lie.” He is clearly unaware that what best explains the spooky full moon melodrama played out on a cosmic stage was the blind faith both Nero and his mother had in astrology (see Nero's astrology chart here). 

From the list:

The best books on Roman Emperor Nero, the man and the myth

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