Top 10 books about the Roman empire

Asia's Tech News Daily

The Roman empire’s USP has always been its survival. The largest state ever to exist in Europe, Rome’s empire began with the conquest of its Italian neighbours in the last centuries BC, and endured, in one form or another, for more than 1,000 years. The imperial monarchy established by Augustus at the turn of the millennium became a model repeatedly imitated into the 20th century. The Slavic title Czar is a distant echo of Caesar. Its Eagles soared over the empires of Austria, France and Mexico. The Roman fasces, an axe enclosed in a bundle of rods, were not only brandished by Mussolini and Hitler, but continue to adorn the US House of Representatives and the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford.

Top 10 books about the Roman empire
© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Pictures Now/Alamy
Top 10 books about the Roman empire
© Photograph: Pictures Now/Alamy Detail from The Course of Empire: Consummation of Empire by Thomas Cole, 1836.

My book Rome: An Empire’s Story, the second edition of which has just been published, describes that long arc of history from Iron age villages on the Tiber to Byzantium, embattled on the Bosphorus as its Syrian and African possessions were falling to Arab armies. It also explores the echoes of Roman empire through the ages.

The following are some of the best volumes in a long and still expanding literature.

1. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward GibbonThis six-volume history (first published between 1776 and 1789) is now read more by scholars of the Enlightenment than by Roman historians, but no one has told Rome’s story with more style and relish. The famous opening in the ruins of the Roman forum colours the whole book. The sense of antiquity yielding with poor grace to the succeeding ages remains a powerful image. Gibbon knew too that Byzantium was also, and was still, Rome long after the Eternal City was sacked by barbarians (twice) and possessed by the popes. No word describes it better than epic.

2. The Corrupting Sea by Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell

As different from Gibbon as it could be, except for its scale and ambition. Published in 2000, this is the most brilliant and influential recent work on the ancient world. Beginning from a deep understanding of the Mediterranean environment it builds a picture of the ancient region as a world of distant but connected communities, many of them precariously balanced on the edge of sustainability. City states and empires play second fiddle here to peasants and villages: wars and revolutions matter less than bad harvests and disease. It is a compelling view of the underside of empire, the base on which it was built. The discipline is still working through the implications of their arguments.

3. The Acts of the ApostlesFor Rome, of course, we are lucky enough to have eye-witness accounts. Perhaps none is more gripping than the Acts, a sequel to the gospel narrative – life after Jesus – played out in Judaea, among the cities of the empire’s eastern provinces and eventually in Rome itself. Acts has everything from Roman summary justice and civic riots to the perils of sea travel, and especially the strange combinations of identities the empire’s various subjects adopted for themselves.

4. The Emperor in the Roman World by Fergus Millar

Politically, all revolved around the emperor. Fergus Millar’s masterpiece, like all great books, has inspired debate and critique, but it changed the way we understand the practice of Roman government. Millar concentrated on building up a picture of what emperors actually did, from their letters and laws and from thousands of inscriptions and provincial records, rather than from the sardonic histories of senatorial writers such as Tacitus and Dio. It conveyed too a sense of the vastness of the empire, and the slowness with which information moved through its arteries. Millar’s emperor struggled to keep track of what was going on. He was mostly on the back foot too, reacting to crises rather than driving policy. It is an image hard to get out of one’s mind.

5. The World of Late Antiquity by Peter Brown Another book that leaves its mark. Where others had seen Rome reach its peak around the turn of the second and third centuries, Brown begins there and tells the story of the new worlds that emerged between the reign of Marcus Aurelius and the prophet Muhammad. The new cultures and religions and languages of late antiquity have been a fertile field for recent research. When revising my own book this was the period in which Roman History had changed the most over the last decade. Brown started the study of late antiquity, which now has its own journals, encyclopedias and conferences, and he has continued to lead from the front.

6. The Roman Triumph by Mary Beard

Rome has so often been a model for later imitators that it is sometimes easy to forget how different it was from what followed. This is not the most famous of Beard’s many books on Rome, but it played an important part in exploring the combination of savagery and ceremonial that followed Roman victories. It also described the enormously creative efforts of Romans who reshaped their religion and their monumental city for each generation.

7. Rome. An archaeological guide by Amanda ClaridgeIf you want to explore the remains of that city, there is no better guide than this. Claridge knows the modern city and its most recent archaeology better than anyone writing in English. Her book is a lucid and compact guide to the most ruinous and built-over monuments. I carry it with me everywhere when in the city (and have worn out a couple of copies).

8. Roman Presences by Catherine EdwardsWandering the Eternal City it is impossible not to think of the many aftershocks of the Roman empire. The later reception of images of Rome has been a scholarly growth industry in recent years but my favourite collection remains this one, which ranges from Thomas Macaulay to TS Eliot and London to Bombay.

9. Asterix the Gaul by Rene Goscinny and Albert UderzoMy earliest encounter with a modern reception of ancient Rome was here. It still makes me laugh as much as it did when I was 12 years old. My children learned to read on it. When I came to live in Paris as a graduate student, I realised how much it had to say about France after the second world war and under the Fifth Republic as well. Quite brilliant.

Related: Top 10 books about Sicily | Jamie Mackay

10. Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Mediaeval Empire by Judith HerrinMy final choice, because Gibbon was right that Roman history does not end with the sack of Rome, the deposition of the last western emperor, or even the Arab Conquests. Herrin tells the 1,000-year history of the Christian Roman empire not through a narrative, but a series of brilliant and vivid vignettes. It is a joy to read.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related


Government to withdraw controversial ‘double-jobbing' amendment – PM

A controversial Government amendment that would have reintroduced dual mandates for Northern Ireland politicians is to be withdrawn, the Prime Minister has said. The Government had been seeking to amend ... Read more »

David Davis tells Boris Johnson ‘in the name of God, go' after MP for Bury South defects to Labour – live

LIVE – Updated at 13:28 Latest updates: David Davis calls for Boris Johnson to resign after Christian Wakeford defects to Labour party minutes before PMQs.   13:28 MPs and pundits ... Read more »

Johnson likened to Neville Chamberlain as Tory says: ‘In the name of God, go'

Boris Johnson faced comparisons with Neville Chamberlain as he was urged by a former Cabinet minister to quit. The Prime Minister, a biographer of Winston Churchill, would have fully understood ... Read more »

‘Stop talking about the problem – fix the bloody thing!' Keir Starmer on Boris Johnson's parties and his plan to win power

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian There could not be a better day to meet Sir Keir Starmer than last Wednesday. A few hours earlier, at Prime ... Read more »

9 of the Queen's strictest royal wedding rules revealed

What with guestlists and table plans, planning a wedding is a monumental task for any bride, but what if you had extra rules to consider? Meghan Markle, Princess Eugenie and ... Read more »

LI veterinary hospital had unlicensed staff perform high-risk procedures: suit

Bill Watkins is suing the Patchogue animal hospital for medical malpractice after his dog Taro died. Handout A Long Island veterinary hospital allegedly used untrained receptionists to perform risky medical ... Read more »

‘I'm willing to take on absolutely everyone!' Kwajo Tweneboa on fighting for Britain's poorest tenants

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian Kwajo Tweneboa adored his father. They were very similar: they both enjoyed a laugh, had an interest in current affairs and ... Read more »

Are plant-based meat substitutes actually healthy?

Plant-based diets are getting more popular, for a variety of reasons. Many people assume all plant-based food products are healthy, but this is not the case. Plant-based meat alternatives, for ... Read more »

Rochelle Humes displays her incredible style in chic satin check skirt

She has been stepping in for Holly Willoughby this week as the presenter films Wim ‘Iceman’ Hof’s Superstar Survival with Lee Mack. And Rochelle Humes showcased her incredible style credentials ... Read more »

8 Best Shark vacuum cleaners, including Mrs Hinch's favourite model

Fans of Sophie Hinchliffe, better known to us as Mrs Hinch, will know the cleaning maven sings the praises of her beloved Shark vacuum cleaner – and it is easy ... Read more »

Boris Johnson confirms all Plan B restrictions to end in England

© Face masks will no longer be mandatory anywhere in England from 27 January (Photo: Getty Images) Plan B Covid-19 restrictions in England will be allowed to expire, the Prime ... Read more »

US airline officials warn of ‘catastrophic' crisis in aviation with new 5G service

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Bryan Woolston/Reuters US airline chiefs have warned that the introduction of a new 5G service could cause US commerce to “grind to a halt” ... Read more »

From park ranger to fashion trailblazer: How André Leon Talley became an industry legend

Think of fashion and chances are it won’t take long for André Leon Talley to spring to mind. Even those outside of the industry have had a hard time not ... Read more »

Covid-19 infection levels fall in three of four UK nations

© Kieran Cleeves Spectators queue to show their Covid passes at the 2022 snooker Cazoo Masters at Alexandra Palace, London (Kieran Cleeves/PA) Covid-19 infection levels in three of the four ... Read more »

Plans to close all but one polling place in a rural Georgia county reverberate through a battleground state

Election officials in a rural Georgia county are weighing plans to close all but one polling place ahead of this year’s elections, alarming local voting and civil rights groups. © ... Read more »

First felony charges filed for fatal Tesla Autopilot crash

California prosecutors have filed what appear to be the first felony charges in the United States against a motorist using a partially automated driver assistance system. The Los Angeles County ... Read more »

'Significant evidence' of alleged fraud in Trump business investigation, NY AG says

New York Attorney General Letitia James said that her office has uncovered “significant evidence” of fraud in her civil investigation of former President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization. The ... Read more »

BAG meldet Rekord-Fallzahl seit Beginn der Pandemie

© KEYSTONE/ANTHONY ANEX Noch nie seit Beginn der Pandemie sind dem Bundesamt für Gesundheit (BAG) innerhalb von 24 Stunden so viele neue bestätigte Coronavirus-Fälle gemeldet worden wie am Mittwoch: Die ... Read more »

Paige VanZant says she and husband Austin Vanderford made a sex tape

MMA fighter Paige VanZant Instagram/Paige VanZant MMA star Paige VanZant was candid about her apparent sex tape while doing a Q&A with fans on Instagram this week. According to, ... Read more »

More senators call for stop to ‘no vax, no ride' policy

© DANNY PATA The conductor of a bus bound for Batangas places a “no vaccine card, no ride” sign on the windshield to tell passengers that they needed to present ... Read more »

'Hitman' accused of gunning down Real Housewives of Cheshire star's brother was told by his Swedish crime boss cousin to go to London but had no idea about a murder taking place,' court hears

Flamur 'Alex' Beqiri, 36, was murdered in front of his family in London in 2019 Mr Beqiri's sister Misse Beqiri, 35, appeared on The Real Housewives of Cheshire Court heard the hit was organised by the Swedish crime boss Ahmed Karaer His cousin Bawer Karaer today denied knowing about a murder taking place  Read more »

Woman fighting to have a baby using her late husband's frozen sperm divides opinion among This Morning viewers as some claim she should 'let him rest in peace'

Jade Payne, 35, of Brackley, fighting to be able to use her dead husband's sperm Daniel, fabricator, had sperm frozen before testicular cancer treatment in 2010  Brain tumour he had been living with returned and killed him in December 2019Dispute is centred on Jade's name not being on Daniel's original donation papers This Morning viewers said Jade should move on and let husband rest in peace  Read more »

Video: 'It's unacceptable to be in possession of a gun in the city of New York': Mayor Eric Adams renews calls to rid streets of firearms after cop and armed teen, 16, are both shot during Bronx tussle

Read more »

Macron blames Britain for migrant deaths in English Channel and also demands a sign of 'good faith' over fishing licences as France takes over EU presidency

President Macron said Britain must show sign of 'good faith' over fishing licencesMacron, 44, blamed migrant deaths in the Channel on Britain's migration policy France today took over the presidency of the EU at the parliament in Strasbourg Read more »

V8-Sarg geht für 417.000 Euro weg - Dragula Munsters Coffin Dragster

Das legendäre Auto von Grandpa Munster aus der TV-Show “The Munsters” wurde versteigert. Gebaut hat es der nicht minder legendäre George Barris. © Mecum Auctions Wenn in einem Text über ... Read more »

«Bin enttäuscht, aber realistisch» – historisches Out für Bencic und Co.

Das Australian Open ist für Belinda Bencic schon nach der zweiten Runde beendet. Die Olympiasiegerin verliert in zwei Sätzen. Damit sind bereits alle Schweizerinnen und Schweizer aus dem Turnier geflogen. ... Read more »

Swiss Football Night mit Sommer und Crnogorcevic

© KEYSTONE/SALVATORE DI NOLFI Erstmals werden die besten Fussballerinnen und Fussballer in einer gemeinsamen Veranstaltung des Verbandes und der Liga geehrt. Die Nominierten bei der Swiss Football Night sind bekannt. ... Read more »

Hintermann bei Kildes Bestzeit bestklassierter Schweizer

© KEYSTONE/JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT Die Schweizer halten sich im ersten Training für die Weltcup-Abfahrten in Kitzbühel noch weitgehend zurück. Niels Hintermann wird als Bester Achter. Der mit der Nummer 1 gestartete ... Read more »

Start inquiry into excess deaths now to make better decisions later

Credit: Niels van der Pas The government is inexplicably slow to give the green light to an investigation into the high number of excess deaths in the Netherlands, say probability ... Read more »

Plan B Covid restrictions to end in England, Boris Johnson announces

© Independent Breaking News Plan B Covid restrictions are to end in England, with Covid passes no longer required from next Thursday, work from home guidance lifted, and an end ... Read more »

Man admits exploiting ‘modern slave' in 6 foot shed with metered TV for 40 years

A man has admitted exploiting a modern slave who spent 40 years living in a cramped 6 foot shed with no running water The victim, believed to be in his ... Read more »

Afghanistan's unemployment rate soars in wake of Taliban takeover

More than a half million people in Afghanistan have lost their jobs since the Taliban takeover in mid-August, the International Labour Organisation said in a report released on Wednesday. The ... Read more »

Omicron threat: why is New Zealand shutting its borders again?

© Hannah Peters/Getty Images Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern adjusts her face mask following a press conference Hannah Peters/Getty Images Citizens unable to return home as quarantine boss warns of ‘unprecedented’ ... Read more »

Youth accused of knocking girl under Dart train faces trial

A youth, who allegedly knocked a girl ‘head first’ under a Dart train and ‘nonchalantly’ moved away, has been sent forward for trial to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. It ... Read more »

Jake Paul vs Mike Tyson fight tipped to not be given green light in Las Vegas

A potential fight between Mike Tyson and Jake Paul in Las Vegas is unlikely to be sanctioned. © Getty Images Jake Paul is plotting his next move – Getty Images ... Read more »

‘We understand' - Sky Sports journalist reveals Roberto Martinez update at Everton

Sky Sports journalist Vinny O’Connor has been speaking on Good Morning Transfers about where Everton stand on their pursuit of Roberto Martinez. Everton’s managerial situation is a quickly changing one ... Read more »

Luis Suarez has made clear his thoughts on a return to England & Aston Villa

Luis Suarez has previously admitted it’d be ‘hard’ to return to England and for any club other than Liverpool, amid speculation linking him with a poignant reunion at Aston Villa. ... Read more »

Indian trailblazer Sania Mirza to quit tennis this year

© Ben STANSALL India’s Sania Mirza in action at Wimbledon last year Indian former doubles world number one Sania Mirza said Wednesday she will retire from tennis at the end of ... Read more »

Billionaire Soon-Shiong opens new vaccine plant in South Africa

© Reuters/SHELLEY CHRISTIANS South African President Ramaphosa attends launch of Cape Town pharmaceutical facility CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South African-American businessman Patrick Soon-Shiong opened a new vaccine plant in Cape ... Read more »

Jewish leaders renew antisemitism fight after hostage case

© Provided by Associated Press FILE – Police cars are parked in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Colleyville, Texas. A man held hostages ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic