Roman and history reference books

Pompeii_bookgirlI’ve read hundreds of books on Roman life, customs and history, general, alternate and women’s history and have forgotten the titles of many of them, but here are some I’ve found useful in writing the Roma Nova books.

The First Ladies of Rome: the women behind the Caesars – Annelise Freisenbruch
Exploratio: Military and Political Intelligence in the Roman world from the second Punic War to the Battle of Adrianople – N J E Austin and N B Rankov
The Women’s History of the World – Rosalind Miles
The Hinge Factor: how chance and stupidity have changed history – Erik Durschmied
Under Another Sky: journeys in Roman Britain – Charlotte Higgins
Vanished Kingdoms: the history of half-forgotten Europe – Norman Davies
Noricum – Géza Alföldy (trans. Anthony Birley)
Voices of Imperial Rome – Guy de la Bédoyère
Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome – Lesley Adkins and Roy A Adkins
Daily Life in Ancient Rome – Florence Dupont
The Inheritance of Rome: a history of Europe from 400 to 1000 – Chris Wickham
Pompeii – Mary Beard
SPQR – Mary Beard
Galla Placidia: the last Roman Empress – Hagith Sivan
Altered Pasts: counterfactuals in history – Richard J Evans
Julian – Gore Vidal (technically a novel, but pretty near a text book in detailed content)
24 Hours in Ancient Rome: A Day in the life of the people who lived there – Philip Matyszak
Cooking and Dining in Imperial Rome (Project Gutenberg) – Apicius
Roman History (Loeb Classical Library) – Cassius Dio
The Twelve Caesars (Loeb Classical Library) – Suetonius
The Histories (Project Gutenberg) – Tacitus
Res Gestae Divi Augusti (trans.Thos. Bushnell)
Notitia dignitatum (Wm. Fairley)
War Commentaries (Harper’s Classical Libraries) – G J Caesar
Agricola and Germania (Penguin Modern Classics) – P C Tacitus
While’s Junior Scholar’s Latin-English Dictionary (1869)
Essential GCSE Latin – John Taylor
Augustus: From Revolutionary to Emperor – Adrian Goldsworthy
Legionary:The Roman Soldier’s Unofficial Manual – Philip Matyszak
The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization – Bryan Ward-Perkins
How to Survive in Ancient Rome – L J Trafford
Travel in the Ancient World – Lionel Casson
Christendom: The Triumph of a Religion, AD 300-1300 – Peter Heather
The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World – Catherine Nixey

Novel authors whose books I’ve read and who do their research
Lindsey Davis, Simon Scarrow, Ruth Downie, Russell Whitfield, Robert Fabbri, Ben Kane, Douglas Jackson, M C Scott, Steven Saylor, Kate Quinn, Tom Holland, Robert Graves, Robert Harris, Keith Roberts, Kingsley Amis, Sophia McDougal, Simon Turney, Gordon Doherty, Jane Finnis and of course, Rosemary Sutcliff.

And I, like the rest of the world, often start off by a quick search on Wikipedia, especially to discover sources. It should be noted that the quality of research posted online can be extremely good or up to 100% inaccurate. But it is getting better and there are often nice pictures.


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series.

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