Latin Language Blog

Novels Set in Ancient Rome Posted by on Feb 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

There is quite a large body of historical fiction set in the time of ancient Rome. For today’s post, we will take a look at several novels that fit this requirement. Perhaps you’ve heard of these? If you know of any others, please do comment!

Roma Sub Rosa by Steven Saylor is a mystery series that takes place in ancient Rome. The protagonist of these novels is a man by the name of Gordianus. Gordianus is a detective who tries to solve several mysteries, mostly having to do with murder. Along the way, Steven Saylor incorporates real life historical figures such as Cicero, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. I like mystery novels, so maybe I’m biased, but I like the Roma Sub Rosa series. Although some of the characters may have been fictional, the historical events of the series are quite accurate, which is a plus.

Masters of Rome  is a popular series by Colleen McCullough. If you like to read about the many famous personalities that lived in the Roman Republic, then you’ll probably like Colleen McCullough’s books. Her books focus on people like Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and a little bit of Octavian. I particularly like the section of her books that contain her own personal notes on why she portrayed the character the way she did. Some people have criticized her choice to glorify certain characters like Julius Caesar. This isn’t a fair criticism because this is fiction, so if they wanted a balanced representation of a historical figure, they should have consulted a biographical book on Caesar.

Imperium was written by Robert Harris. Imperium is a story about Cicero told through the viewpoint of his secretary. I really respect Robert Harris’s choice to write a novel about Cicero. Most authors who set their story in ancient Rome have written about historical figures like Julius Caesar or some major general of ancient Rome. However, Harris picked a non-general/soldier as a historical figure, and to top it off, the novel is still gripping and addictive. The other reason why I like this novel is because Harris used old sources pertaining to Cicero’s character as a way to represent Cicero in the most accurate light possible, but he still manages to keep the reading fairly interesting and relevant.

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  1. Andrew Levkoff:


    I am wondering if you would consider adding “The Other Alexander” to your list. It is an award-winning novel about Marcus Crassus, his slave, Alexander, and the events that will eventually lead to the battle of Carrhae in 53 BCE.

    You can learn more at my website, or at

    Thanks for your time.

  2. Magdalena Gilbert:

    Here are three novels about the poor of Ancient Rome. They are especially relevant for your Latin Language Blog list because they contain many usages of Latin terms–in the original Latin language–with a comprehensive glossary at the end of each book explaining each term.
    Ashes I
    Ashes II
    Ashes III