Novels Set in Ancient Rome

Novels Set in Ancient Rome

I, Claudius and Claudius the God, both by Robert Graves and both set in Rome

The fact that we’re born and bred Romans doesn’t render us jaded when it comes to being mesmerized by the Eternal City’s magnificent history. From Rome’s founding in 753 BC to its current role as Italy’s capital, it’s no wonder that an estimated 7 to 10 million people vacation here annually.  Although what remains of antiquity are now ruins, a stellar tour guide can bring the era to life for you with detailed descriptions and renderings on hand, all of which depict Ancient Rome at both its best and its worst. We love sharing our city with visitors and it’s truly our pleasure to work with our clients; we feel honored when they look to us to help plan the vacations of their dreams. If you can’t hop on a plane to Fiumicino immediately but are eager to get an Ancient Rome fix, there are a number of historical fiction novels set in Ancient Rome and we have shared five of our favorites below. Whether you’re planning a visit to the Eternal City, have just returned, a history geek (as we are!) or a Rome and/or travel enthusiast, we hope you’ll enjoy the escape these selections have to offer.

1) I, Claudius by Robert Graves —  This autobiographical novel of Claudius tells the story of the Emperor’s life in first person.  Time magazine named I, Claudius one of the twentieth century’s top 100 books. It was published in 1934 and its sequel, Claudius the God, was published a year later. Today, it’s possible to find both books in a single volume.

2) Pompeii by Robert Harris — This novel, published in 2003, couples fictional characters with the notorious  Mount Vesuvius eruption of 79 AD which completely wiped out Pompeii and its surrounding towns. Although Pompeii technically wasn’t in what today is Rome, it was considered Roman as it fell under the reign of the Empire.

3) Spartacus by Howard Flask – Published in 1951, the novel is set against the backdrop of the historic 71 BC slave revolt led by Spartacus, a gladiator and slave leader.

4)  The Young Caesar by Rex Warner – This novel takes on the form of a memoir narrated by Caesar. Published in 1958, Caesar shares the story of his life, from his youth all the way to the near-end of the Republic.

5) The Fall of Rome: A Novel of a World Lost  by Michael Curtis Ford – This 2007 novel takes place in 476 AD, when, under Romulus Augustus–considered by many Rome’s final Emperor (though this is up for debate)–Rome fell to forces led by Odacer, a German soldier who became the first king of Italy that year. 

If you have some favorites of your own, feel free to share them in the comments. Happy reading!



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