History: Actual, Fictional and Legendary discussion

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message 1: by Ed, Chief Curmudgeon (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 622 comments Mod
This is a place to mention books or movies you recommend about the Roman Empire so people can access them before the March discussion.

As before there is no one book to read but members are encouraged to read or see something about the subject so they can contribute.

Ideas for topics are welcomed also.

As always any contribution is appreciated.


Hayes (Hayes13) Memoirs of Hadrian comes instantly to mind. I've been wanting to read it for ages.

There is the Colleen McCullough series, which I haven't read either. The First Man in Rome is the first.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Hayes wrote: "Memoirs of Hadrian comes instantly to mind. I've been wanting to read it for ages.

There is the Colleen McCullough series, which I haven't read either. The First ..."</i>

Both are in my stack, and I've wanted to get to them. Also [book:A Pillar of Iron
by Taylor Caldwell, is a favorite of mine, or even Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician would be interesting.



message 4: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (last edited Jan 19, 2010 08:54AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 299 comments Mod
The McCullough novels are great, but about the fall of the Roman Republic.

I'm about to start A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome: Daily Life, Mysteries, and Curiosities, which is an imagined trip to Rome in A.D. 115.

I, Claudius and its sequel, Claudius the God are both great novels about the Julio-Claudian emperors (Augustus through Claudius).


message 5: by Hayes (last edited Jan 19, 2010 10:39AM) (new)

Hayes (Hayes13) Susanna wrote: "I, Claudius and its sequel, Claudius the God are both great novels about the Julio-Claudian emperors (Augustus through Claudius). ."

I've got that one (the first) too sitting here on my shelves! Lots to keep me busy.




message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Hayes wrote: "Susanna wrote: "I, Claudius and its sequel, Claudius the God are both great novels about the Julio-Claudian emperors (Augustus through Claudius). ."

I've got that one (the first) too sitting here ..."


I've read them both a couple of times, I'm due for a reread actually. :) Loved them, loved them!




Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 299 comments Mod
The Falco mysteries are also set in the imperial period. They start with The Silver Pigs, and are by Lindsey Davis. Her The Course of Honor is about the Emperor Vespasian, and is also very good.

Anthony Everitt has written a good biography of Augustus - The First Emperor: Caesar Augustus and the Triumph of Rome.

Robert Harris's novel Pompeii is set at the time of the eruption, in 79.


message 8: by Hayes (last edited Jan 19, 2010 12:46PM) (new)

Hayes (Hayes13) Susanna wrote: "I'm about to start A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome: Daily Life, Mysteries, and Curiosities, which is an ..."

Piero Angela (Alberto's father) has been hosting a program here in Italy for eons called Quark, and then called SuperQuark. Great "container" program with documentaries, interviews, interesting facts, etc. Alberto, who is a paleontologist, joined him about 10 years ago and now has his own program, tending towards cultural aspects, archaeology, etc. I will definitely look for his book. I'm sure it's brilliant.



message 9: by Ed, Chief Curmudgeon (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 622 comments Mod
Fantastic contributions. let's not forget The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon. I've recommended the paperback abridged version which only runs to 1312 pages. The full 5 or 6 volume version is a bit too much for a discussion of this sort unless you are really into the history of Rome.


Laura Hayes wrote: "Memoirs of Hadrian comes instantly to mind. I've been wanting to read it for ages.

I must re-read this book one day, a fabulous book indeed.



Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 299 comments Mod
For those interested in the eruptions at Vesuvius in 79, The Complete Pompeii by Joanne Berry is excellent. It has pictures of Pompeii and the surrounding area that I had never seen before. Thoroughly illustrated.

I also like Herculaneum: Italy's Buried Treasure, by Joseph Jay Deiss and Pompeii: The Living City, by Alex Butterworth.


message 12: by Alex (last edited Feb 02, 2010 09:31AM) (new)

Alex I love this theme of the month idea.

I recently read The End of Empire: Attila the Hun and the Fall of Rome, which is an easy and fun pop history book. Wouldn't call it essential, but I had a good time.

I also read Virgil's The Aeneid and Ovid's Metamorphoses last year; does literature written during the period in question count? Seems like it might as well, right?

Edit: has anyone actually read that McCollough series? I read the first few pages of the first book and was totally turned off by the writing style, but...maybe I was just in the wrong mood or something. I want them to be good.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Alex wrote: Edit: has anyone actually read that McCollough series? I read the first few pages of the first book and was totally turned off by the writing style, but...maybe I was just in the wrong mood or something. I want them to be good.

I started the first one as well, I'm not certain how far I got as it was several years ago. I didn't care for it either.
Many years previously I'd read and reread Taylor Caldwell's A Pillar of Iron, and as I understand it Caldwell's research was meticulous. Having that in my mind, McCollough's "version" of events just seemed too modern, too flip in comparison. I still have it, and more actually and I think at some point I should, to be fair, give her another chance.


message 14: by Ed, Chief Curmudgeon (last edited Feb 02, 2010 09:05PM) (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 622 comments Mod
Alex wrote: "Edit: has anyone actually read that McCollough series? I read the first few pages of the first book and was totally turned off by the writing style, but...maybe I was just in the wrong mood or something. I want them to be good. "

Yes, Alex. I've read six of the books but not the seventh, though, I will as soon as I can mooch it on bookmooch. I could not put any of the books I read down.

I Don't understand your not liking her writing style. I found it much more appealing than most historical fiction authors. Her efforts to get into the heads of the major players and understand their motivations, IMHO, provided a reading experience second to none.

I'd suggest you give it another shot or start with one of the other books and then go back. I found I liked the later books better than the early ones.

Sulla and Julius Caesar are both drawn in an incredible way.

Good luck.


message 15: by Ed, Chief Curmudgeon (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 622 comments Mod
Pontalba wrote: "Many years previously I'd read and reread Taylor Caldwell's A Pillar of Iron, and as I understand it Caldwell's research was meticulous. Having that in my mind, McCollough's "version" of events just seemed too modern, too flip in comparison. I still have it, and more actually and I think at some point I should, to be fair, give her another chance. "

I could be wrong but my understanding is that her bibliography, which, at one time, could actually be ordered, runs to well over 1000 pages. I believe her research and her facts are unassailable.

Having taken four years of HS Latin and a couple Roman History courses in college, I would say her research is right on. Perhaps it is her style, which could be called "familiar", that is off-putting. I find it refreshing and necessary to her efforts to get into people's inner thoughts and motivations.

Good thing, we don't all agree on everything otherwise this site would be boring.



Alex I didn't realize how painstaking her research is; that's a strong commendation. Y'all have convinced me to...well, to at least think about giving her another shot. My reading list is freakin' long right now. so I'm not sure when that might be.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 299 comments Mod
I really enjoyed the entire series and McCullough's Author's Note at the end, with mini-dictionary in most cases, is very useful.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Ed wrote: I could be wrong but my understanding is that her bibliography, which, at one time, could actually be ordered, runs to well over 1000 pages. I believe her research and her facts are unassailable.


Well, that's good to know, and encourages me to try her again. After all, I have 3 or 4 or her books sitting here in the shelf, glaring at me. :)


message 19: by Ed, Chief Curmudgeon (last edited Feb 08, 2010 12:23AM) (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 622 comments Mod
A work in progress. I'll supply the links later.

Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor (Hardcover)
by Anthony Everitt
The Silver Pigs (Marcus Didius Falco, #1)
by Lindsey Davis
Pilate's Wife: A Novel of the Roman Empire (Hardcover)
by Antoinette May
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Paperback)
by Edward Gibbon
Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic (Paperback)
by Tom Holland
The Jewish War: Revised Edition (The Penguin Classics) The Jewish War: Revised Edition (The Penguin Classics)
by Flavius Josephus
The Rise of the Roman Empire (Penguin Classics) The Rise of the Roman Empire (Penguin Classics)
by Polybius
The Secret History (Penguin Classics)
by Procopius
Saturnalia (Marcus Didius Falco, #18)
by Lindsey Davis
Under the Eagle (Eagle, #1)
by Simon Scarrow
The Histories The Histories (Paperback)
by Cornelius Tacitus
Daily Life in Ancient Rome (Paperback)
by Florence Dupont
The Provinces of the Roman Empire (Hardcover)
by Theodor Mommsen
A History of Private Life, Volume I, From Pagan Rome to Byzantium (History of Private Life)
by Paul Veyne (Editor)
Late Roman Infantryman, 236-565 AD (Warrior)
by Simon MacDowall
A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome: Daily Life, Mysteries, and Curiosities A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome: Daily Life, Mysteries, and Curiosities (Paperback)
by Alberto Angela
The World of Late Antiquity AD 150-750 (Library of World Civilization)
by Peter Robert Lamont Brown
A Brief History of the Romans (Paperback)
by Mary T. Boatwright
Livia: First Lady of Imperial Rome Livia: First Lady of Imperial Rome (Paperback)
by Anthony A. Barrett
The Later Roman Empire The Later Roman Empire (Paperback)
by Averil Cameron
I Clavdia: Women in Ancient Rome (Paperback)
by Diana E.E. Kleiner
Great Women of Imperial Rome: Mothers and Wives of the Caesars Great Women of Imperial Rome: Mothers and Wives of the Caesars (Hardcover)
by Margy Burns
Agrippina: Mother of Nero Agrippina: Mother of Nero (Hardcover)
by Anthony Barrett
Caligula: Divine Carnage: Atrocities of the Roman Emperors (Paperback)
by Stephen Barber
Masada Masada (Paperback)
by Ernest K. Gann
A Dying Light in Corduba (Marcus Didius Falco, #8)
by Lindsey Davis
The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization (Paperback)
by Bryan Ward-Perkins
Meditations Meditations (Paperback)
by Marcus Aurelius
Daily Life in Ancient Rome: The People and the City at the Height of the Empire (Paperback)
by Jerome Carcopino
The Oxford Illustrated History of the Roman World (Oxford Illustrated Histories)
by Oswyn Murray
Working IX to V: Orgy Planners, Funeral Clowns, and Other Prized Professions of the Ancient World
by Vicki Leon
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome by Robert Harris
Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina by Robert Graves
The Annals of Imperial Rome by Cornelius Tacitus


Silvana (silvaubrey) I supposed all of the above are a mix between fictions and nonfictions?

Keep it coming then. I haven't read any specific book on Roman history for like...ever ;p


message 21: by Hayes (last edited Feb 06, 2010 01:43AM) (new)

Hayes (Hayes13) Started I, Claudius. I'm having my usual problem of keeping the names and people straight--in my defense, they all have the same or similar names and marry, divorce and adopt with reckless abandon ;-)

Very well written and totally engaging. Thank you all for forcing me to get this off of TBR and into my hands!

Edit: Silvana... this is fiction, but closely based on facts and research. It's very good.


Alex | 7 comments I would like to advise Steven Saylor's book Roma. A brilliant fiction book following two families through early Roman times, before the emperors.


message 23: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (last edited Feb 06, 2010 04:25PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 299 comments Mod
Just finished A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome: Daily Life, Mysteries, and Curiosities and it was quite interesting.

I read Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome when it came out, and quite enjoyed it.


Sheila (sheilannb) | 2 comments Hayes wrote: "Started I, Claudius. I'm having my usual problem of keeping the names and people straight--in my defense, they all have the same or similar names and marry, divorce and adopt with reck..."

I found a podcast of a history class on ancient Rome from UC Berkeley (Hist 106b)which I listened to before starting I, Claudius - it really helped me with keeping straight who was who.


message 25: by Ed, Chief Curmudgeon (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 622 comments Mod
Sheila wrote: "I found a podcast of a history class on ancient Rome from UC Berkeley (Hist 106b)which I listened to before starting I, Claudius - it really helped me with keeping straight who was who. "

Sheila, Where is it? I'd love to hear some of it.


message 26: by Ed, Chief Curmudgeon (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 622 comments Mod
Jeff wrote: "Hi all. Just pushed the "join" button on this group yesterday. I like how you focus on a theme here. I'd like to add one to the list if I can:

Augustus: A Novel by [author:John Edw..."


Thanks Jeff, the more sources the better.


Hayes (Hayes13) Ed wrote: "Sheila wrote: "I found a podcast of a history class on ancient Rome from UC Berkeley (Hist 106b)which I listened to before starting I, Claudius - it really helped me with keeping straight who was who.

Sheila, Where is it? I'd love to hear some of it."


Me too!!


message 28: by Alex (last edited Feb 10, 2010 08:23AM) (new)

Alex Yeah, Goldsworthy's Caesar biography is very well liked. Jeff, I'd be interested to hear how you like Peter Heather's book. I flipped through it and was unsure if I'd like the writing style.



A.J. (AJ_B) | 1 comments Alex wrote: "I love this theme of the month idea.

I recently read The End of Empire: Attila the Hun and the Fall of Rome, which is an easy and fun pop history book. Wouldn't call it essential..."


I recently finished reading the first book in the McCullough series. There won't be a second. Detailed history of the political and the mundane, zero attention to the military. I wrote a fairly lengthy review about the book, and yeah, her style is pretty terrible. Exclamation points all over the place, dialogue that rings on the ear, little sense of drama or immediacy.

But, like everyone says, historically accurate.


message 30: by Ed, Chief Curmudgeon (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 622 comments Mod
A.J. wrote: "I recently finished reading the first book in the McCullough series. There won't be a second. Detailed history of the political and the mundane, zero attention to the military. I wrote a fairly lengthy review about the book, and yeah, her style is pretty terrible. Exclamation points all over the place, dialogue that rings on the ear, little sense of drama or immediacy.
"


Wow!. I loved every volume and can hardly wait to get my hands on Antony and Cleopatra.

I'll have to jump over to your review to see what I can disagree with.


Alex I think I'm gonna check out Robert Harris's Imperium pretty soon, if anyone's interested. People seem to dig it; here's a favorable review at the NY Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/22/boo...


message 32: by Ed, Chief Curmudgeon (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 622 comments Mod
Alex wrote: "I think I'm gonna check out Robert Harris's Imperium pretty soon, if anyone's interested. People seem to dig it; here's a favorable review at the NY Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/22/books/..."


Read the review. Outstanding. A new addition to my already overloaded TBR list.


David Cerruti | 24 comments It is March 1, at least in my time zone. Are we discussing the Romans? I just started chapter 17 (300 A.D.)of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon.


message 34: by Ed, Chief Curmudgeon (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 622 comments Mod
Yes, as soon as I recover from my Winter Olympics Hang-over. They were on from 1:00 AM to Noon here in Hong Kong. I also just suffered a recurrence of my diverticulitis. I should have things organized today or tomorrow, March 2,3 Hong Kong time.


Alex Just finished Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome, Ed. I liked it for the most part - I'll write a review soon - but I'm suspicious of the historical accuracy of the ending.

MAJOR SPOILERS ENSUE! (Normally I wouldn't do this, but this is, after all, history. Or not.)

Some of y'all may know more about Roman history than I do. Imperium ends with Cicero running for consul, and the excitement comes from a major plot by Crassus, Catiline, Hybrida and Caesar to take over the government. To my knowledge, that didn't happen - at least not yet. The behind-the-scenes negotiations for Cicero as consul were more in the vein of Cicero promising Hybrida a governorship. END MAJOR SPOILERS.

Does anyone know more about this? Up til now, Harris's research has been meticulous; I'd be disappointed if Harris sacrificed authenticity at the last minute.


message 36: by Ed, Chief Curmudgeon (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 622 comments Mod
Alex wrote: "Just finished Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome, Ed. I liked it for the most part - I'll write a review soon - but I'm suspicious of the historical accuracy of the ending.

MAJOR S..."


It is after all Historical Fiction. I believe the unwritten rules are that as long as the context is authentic, the author can do what he/she wants with the characters. It's impossible to know what went on in people's heads or behind closed doors 2000 years ago, so some of it gets made up.

I think it would only be a bad thing if the author totally disregarded actual events or if factual history authors invented things.

That would never happen, would it?


Alex Oh, of course not. No one would be so irresponsible.

Yeah, I get that Harris is under no real obligation to tell the whole truth and nothing but. Just a bit disappointing because everything else, as far as I could research, really was accurate, so that I hoped he was writing an actual biography of Cicero, masked by the reader-friendly word "novel."


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