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Titus Trebatius Sacerdos

Newcomer to Roman History - Recommended books?

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Hi everyone, I have always been interested in history and lately I have taken an interest in Roman History. I finally decided to take the plunge and go buy a few books to get started on learning about ancient Rome's history because it is not taught in any of the classes I take in school.

 

I bought these books because they looked interesting to me:

 

Caesar: Life of a Colossus

by Adrian Goldsworthy

 

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Volumes 1-3

by Edward Gibbon

 

I was wondering if anyone would know of some more books, suited for a beginner that is just starting to learn about Roman History, that I might be interested in adding to my collection?

 

Thanks for reading,

Titus Trebatius Sacerdos

Edited by Titus Trebatius Sacerdos

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Welcome to UNRV, Titus Trebatius Sacerdos. I suggest you have a look at the topics in our Quintus Libri sub forum. This forum was started for UNRV members to express their top 5 book choices on any given Roman topic, and you'll find a number of helpful recommendations there for yourself.

 

Here are a couple of topics from Quintus Libri that might be of particular interest to you:

 

Top 5 on the Early Empire (by Ursus)

Five Books to Understand the Fall of the Republic (by M. Porcius Cato)

 

You'll find many of our members recommending books written by classics scholar and author Philip Matyszak, who also happens to be a contributing member of UNRV. Other contributing authors and members of UNRV have been Andrew Dalby and Caroline Lawrence.

 

And, of course, there are the introductory articles on ancient Rome that you'll find here on the UNRV site, which have been mostly written by Primus Pilus, one of UNRV's triumviri (administrators).

 

Enjoy!

 

-- Nephele

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The book that really did it for me was "The History of Rome" by Michael Grant a pretty challenging read for a beginner but even so, brilliant for learning about Rome from it's founding all the way through to it's demise in the 5th Century.

 

It's a good book to keep going back to every few years, the more you learn the more the book makes sense and comes together.

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You can find lots of articles and reviews here

 

Ancient Rome: A Military and Political History by MacKay is an excellent book for beginners.

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Hi everyone, I have always been interested in history and lately I have taken an interest in Roman History. I finally decided to take the plunge and go buy a few books to get started on learning about ancient Rome's history because it is not taught in any of the classes I take in school.

 

I bought these books because they looked interesting to me:

 

Caesar: Life of a Colossus

by Adrian Goldsworthy

 

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Volumes 1-3

by Edward Gibbon

 

I was wondering if anyone would know of some more books, suited for a beginner that is just starting to learn about Roman History, that I might be interested in adding to my collection?

 

Thanks for reading,

Titus Trebatius Sacerdos

 

Caesar: Life Of A Colossus by Goldsworthy is excellent. Another great book by him that you might want to check out is In The Name Of Rome: The Men Who Won The Roman Empire

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May I suggest the Penguin Atlas of Ancient History and its companion the Penguin Atlas of Mediaeval History both written by Colin McEvedy? Each book shows, with a charming chronological array of maps, the geographical outline of each state/kingdom in the periods under discussion. The first one shows beautifully the growth of Rome from local power to Empire, whilst the second one shows the break up of the Empire, death of the Western half and steady shrinkage of the Eastern Roman Empire through the remainder of the period. Some of his ideas are a bit obsolescent - for example, assuming that vast swathes of people from the Atlantic to the Black Sea were Celts because they used and made similar objects. On the other hand, these books beautifully and visually display the birth, life and death of empires and put the start and finish of various time periods neatly into context.

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I would certainly second SPQR in recommending "In The Name Of Rome". It is highly accessible and entertaining whilst giving a serious grounding in some of the key personalities and events throughout Roman history. Also, although much is unverifiable as actual history, I continually find myself revisiting Livy's early history - Penguin Classics The Early History Of Rome. It forms a guide to what the Romans believed about themselves and describes through events the piety and gravity of the Roman character. This is obviously in an idealised way, but I do think that it is an important choice because it assists in understanding nature of the subject. It is also as riveting as any modern thriller!

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I am excited to start reading my book on Caesar; hopefully my books will arrive in the mail soon.

 

I'm thinking about purchasing Ancient Rome: A Military and Political History by Christopher MacKay because it looks like a fairly straightforward book about the basics of the Roman Republic and Empire. Penguin Atlas of Ancient History also looks helpful to me so I can get a visually detailed idea of the nations that populated the ancient world and their location. I took a look at purchasing The History of Rome by Michael Grant and a brand new copy would cost me 25 to 55 U.S. dollars depending on where I buy it from so I might wait a little on that one if it's hard to read for a beginner.

 

Thanks for the suggestions everyone.

Edited by Titus Trebatius Sacerdos

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I was wondering if anyone would know of some more books, suited for a beginner that is just starting to learn about Roman History, that I might be interested in adding to my collection?

Ave, TTS; I would start by thoroughly reading UNRV articles from head to tail. ;)

Edited by sylla

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Don't forget the original authors.

 

I'd recommend reading Livy alongside modern books that explain more of the background, and Tacitus for the early empire. Add Suetonius' twelve Caesars for a bit of spice, and maybe a bit of Sallust for the late Republic and Julius Caesar himself. There's nothing like reading history by people who were there at the time.

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I also have a suggestion that others may scoff at. Try some "easy to read" historical fiction. Robert Graves' I' Claudius is brilliant despite any creative license taken. Another author that I personally enjoy is Robert Harris (Pompeii, Imperium). Fiction allows one to whet the appetite and get familiar with the settings without being laden with some of the uncomfortable detail.

 

Aside from that, I'll join the chorus. While the ancient sources are truly the best (in my opinion), you may want start with authors who present history in such a prose as to make it easy and engaging reading... while actually giving you a truly in-depth experience. Adrian Goldsworthy, Anthony Everitt, Tom Holland, Adrian Murdoch and our own forum regular Philip Matyszak, to name a few

 

Also, keep in mind that Roman history is vast in it's timeline and culture. Pick an era that means something to you. Don't start with Julius Caesar and the fall of the Republic if it's the foundation of Christianity that appeals to you. Most people start with something that really draws them in, and find that the interest continues to grow as they learn more.

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Also, keep in mind that Roman history is vast in it's timeline and culture. Pick an era that means something to you. Don't start with Julius Caesar and the fall of the Republic if it's the foundation of Christianity that appeals to you. Most people start with something that really draws them in, and find that the interest continues to grow as they learn more.

 

I know I have a general interest in the history of the Roman Republic right now; not sure what specifically as of yet. I figure the book on Caesar I bought will help me better understand the end of the republic.

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Also, keep in mind that Roman history is vast in it's timeline and culture. Pick an era that means something to you. Don't start with Julius Caesar and the fall of the Republic if it's the foundation of Christianity that appeals to you. Most people start with something that really draws them in, and find that the interest continues to grow as they learn more.

 

I know I have a general interest in the history of the Roman Republic right now; not sure what specifically as of yet. I figure the book on Caesar I bought will help me better understand the end of the republic.

 

As good a starting point as any... just enjoy the pursuit. :pokey:

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