Fictional books set in Rome.

For future reference, and considering the Rome-a-palooza going on right now with ABC’s Empire and the future HBO rome mini series, I thought I might start this thread.

I am thoroughly enjoying the Lindsey Davis Marcus Didius Falco Series

Start with The Silver Pigs. There is an earlier one The course of Honor but our hero (Falco) apparently isn’t it in and this book is hard to find off internet. If the book is a part of a series, please put the book to start with. It sucks coming in the middle of a series. [size=1] I mean, I have an emotional investment …:smiley: )
Any fiction book set in Rome, any genre ( even…gasp Romance.)

I’ll send off the first shot with a Time Travel Romance:

Somewhere in Time by Merline Lovelace.

A female supply plane officer type in the Airforce ( which this writer was a USAF pilot, so she does know her shit but doesn’t asphixiate you like Tom Clancy.) crash lands somewhere in Bagdad/Iraq/That Area with her co-pilot and find out they (well, she. Her co-pilot is pretty much unconcious through most of it.) are in Roman times and end up being captured by the Head Centurion of a roman outpost. Wacky hijinx ensue and loads of sex. :dubious: Ending with traveling back to our time.

I bought this book about two years ago because I wanted to see how badly the language gap would be handled and thought it would suck beyond measure. It surprised me and has become a favorite of mine.

A poolside read at best.

The Course of Honor, in addition to not being one of the Falco books, isn’t even a mystery…it’s a historical romance. If you want other pieces of fiction set in Ancient Rome, there’s Stephen Saylor’s Roma sub Rosa series, which is another mystery series set near the end of the Republic. The first book in that series is Roman Blood.

Then, of course, there’s Colleen McCulloch’s 6 book “Masters of Rome” series, also set at the end of the Republic. The first book there is The First Man in Rome. It’s not a bad read, even though she holds the populares in overly high regard, falls victim to hero worship, and treats Caesar like he’s divine.

You also might want to check out Robert Graves’s I, Claudius and Claudius the God, which together make up a fictional autobiograpy of the Emperor Claudius. It was also turned into a really good BBC miniseries.

If you’re looking for older works, I’d suggest Ben Hur by Lew Wallace, Quo Vadis, by Henryk Sienkiewicz, and Lloyd Douglas’s The Robe, all of which deal (Ben Hur obliquely, Quo Vadis and The Robe more directly), with the birth and spread of Christianity in the early Empire.

If you want books set in medieval, rennaisance, or modern Rome, let me know.

John Maddox Roberts has a series(first of which is titled SPQR) that is set in Republican Rome. They are very good, set in the period when Julius Caesar is rising in power. Then there are Steven Saylor’s books on Gordianus the Finder, set in the same period.

In *Household Gods * by Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove, a modern American woman from L.A. finds herself changing places with a woman tavernkeeper in a minor city of the Roman Empire. Not exactly high adventure (though she does get to meet Marcus Aurelius face to face), but it gives an interesting view of what ordinary, everyday life was like back in Roman days.

“Wonderful chaps, those Romans.”

In *Household Gods * by Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove, a modern American woman from L.A. finds herself changing places with a woman tavernkeeper in a minor city of the Roman Empire. Not exactly high adventure (though she does get to meet Marcus Aurelius face to face), but it gives an interesting view of what ordinary, everyday life was like back in Roman days.

“Wonderful chaps, those Romans.”

My apologies for the double post.

There are some other Roman mystery series, too.

Marilyn Todd does one about Claudia Seferius, a widow with a shadowy past, who has inherited her husband’s struggling wine business in Rome. Series is set in early first century Rome – reign of August, I think.

David Wishart has another featuring patrician Marcus Corvinus, also set in first century Rome.

Rosemary Rowe does one, although it’s not set in Rome proper, but rather Roman Britain. Main character’s name is Libertus, who is a mosaicist (and if memory serves, a freedman. May even be a slave when the series opens).

Last but not least (and apologies if someone else has mentioned this), Steven Saylor does a good series featuring Gordianus the Finder, an inquiry agent/PI like Falco. Time frame begins in 56 BC.

Mrs. Furthur

I mean Augustus, sorry. :smiley:

It is not set in Rome, but Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sailing to Sarantium (and the sequel) is mostly set in thinly disguised Byzantium. (some scenes in a thinly disguised Rome)


These are great. I picked up the middle book of Colleen McCullough last night at a used book store and will be printing this out for future reference.

Taylor Caldwell- A PILLAR OF IRON- about Cicero
also- DEAR AND GLORIOUS PHYSICIAN- about St. Luke, with some scenes in Rome

Anthony Burgess- THE KINGDOM OF THE WICKED - his novel developed alongside his screenplay for the TV miniseries A.D.


Hank Hanengraff (& Sigismund B… something) THE LAST DISCIPLE (about John writing Revelation during the time of Nero)

Lest Darkness Fall posits a man taken back to Italy during Roman times and he attempts to get them to bootstrap their technology to prevent the collapse.

Hmm. I know of a series the first book of which is set in Rome inches before it falls - specifically, in Britain in about 400 AD. It’s called Skystone by Jack Whyte, and it’s a truly lovely piece of work (though it could do with less random sex). It proceeds to carry you past Rome and into the beginnings of Britain, but we needn’t concern ourselves with that as it all happens in the books after Skystone.

I’m gonna repeat a lot of choices, but this is my favorite genre, so screw it.

Steven Saylor’s Roma Sub Rosa series is great. John Maddox Roberts’ SPQR series is also good (thanks again, aker!). Currently I’m reading Course of Honor by Davis and although the romance aspect can be a little heavy-handed, it’s still a great book. I enjoyed The Silver Pigs and look forward to reading the rest of the Falco series. I, Claudius and Claudius the God are must-reads.

Not mentioned: Allan Massie’s Augustus drags but it has its moments. Brothers is a very disturbing book about Jesus’ half-brother, an evil centurion, obviously set during Roman times. Edward Rutherford’s Sarum and London have large portions that take place during Rome’s occupation of Britain. Finally, if you’re into mysteries, The Mammoth Book of Roman Whodunits is a fine collection of short stories set throughout the whole of Rome’s history.

For the late Empire, Gore Vidal’s Julian is good. It’s a fictional autobiography of the Emperor Julian the Apostate (ca. 332-363) whose greatest fame was for restoring the Roman Empire to paganism after his great-uncle Constantine made Christianity the state religion. (His heirs immediately restored Christianity.) Most of the book is set on campaign or in the Eastern capitol at Constantinople, but it’s still technically Roman Empire and one of the most colorful and overlooked periods.

David Macaulay’s City is a picture book (technically for kids though I’d recommend them to anybody with an interest) about the building of a fictional Roman town. There’s also a video that goes with this. (Macaulay’s great- my favorite of his works is Castle (which also has a video- many public libraries carry his books and videos).

Finally, you did say any book, right? One of the greatest series on ancient history (and I’ve done grad work in history) is Larry Gonick’s 3 volume Cartoon History of the Universe. Volume 2 follows Rome from the Etruscans to the Fall and is a fantastic introduction to its history (and to the history of pretty much anything else it covers).

David McCauley is awesome. I would love to work with him and see how his mind works tearing things apart.
Any genre…

Are there any kids books set in Rome? Or ancient Greece?

Just to clarify, do you want books set in Rome, or books set in the Roman Republic/Empire?

Roman Empire first, but really, I had not thought about Current or Near current Rome.

I remember a book about a young Roman boy titled A Triumph for Flavius. It’s got to be pretty old, as I read it when* I* was a kid! :stuck_out_tongue:

Henry Winterfeld did two good ones: Detectives in Togas and Mystery of the Roman Ransom. Both good, detective-y, starring 4 9-12 aged boys

Caroline Lawrence does a series of kids’ mysteries, too, starting with Thieves of Ostia.

Rosemary Sutcliff wrote an excellent adult/YA book called The Eagle of the Ninth.

Mary Ray also does an ancient Rome series beginning with The Ides of April.

In the Life and Times series, there’s a title called Atticus of Rome, 30 BC, that centers on a boy sold into slavery in Republican times.

And of course, there’s always See You Later, Gladiator by Jon Scieszka. It’s a time travel book that dumps three boys into ancient Rome.

Mrs. Furthur