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Roma (Rome #1)

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  5,762 Ratings  ·  520 Reviews
Spanning a thousand years, and following the shifting fortunes of two families though the ages, this is the epic saga of Rome, the city and its people.
     Weaving history, legend, and new archaeological discoveries into a spellbinding narrative, critically acclaimed novelist Steven Saylor gives new life to the drama of the city’s first thousand years — from the founding o
Hardcover, 576 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2007)
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Doug Swicegood I'm pretty sure they would. If gives you detailed history as if you were living at that specific time. Like a way cool time machine. Mr. Saylor brings…moreI'm pretty sure they would. If gives you detailed history as if you were living at that specific time. Like a way cool time machine. Mr. Saylor brings the characters of Romulus and Remus to life, as well as Coriolanus the Roman General, Sulla the first dictator and Julius Caesar in all his dictatorial glory as well. We see the history unveiled through the eyes of the Potitii and Pinarii who were ancient Roman families that date back to 1000 b.c. with the arrival of the salt traders and culminates with the advent of Julius Caesar in 44 b.c. and beyond! If a child is interested in Roman history this novel will help to fill the bill. I would have loved this novel at thirteen years of age!!(less)

Community Reviews

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Mr. Matt
Jun 28, 2013 Mr. Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: hf-roman, 2014
Roma is the story of Rome over a massive arc of time - from the mists of prehistory to the supremacy of Augustus and the establishment of Empire. The story is told from the perspective of two families - the Potitii and Pinarii. The story follows these two families as they pass through time as witnesses (and frequently) victims to great events.

I'm not sure that this book will be everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoyed it immensely. I read a lot of historical fiction set in the Roman era. I always fe
Dec 17, 2009 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Titus Livy
Shelves: 2009, ancient-hist
Steven Saylor definitely took on a huge task when he chose to write a novelized history of Rome from the viewpoint of one of the oldest patrician families, but least-known in modern times --- the Pinarii, and their cousins the Potitii. The novel touches on the important turning-points of Rome's history, when members of the Pinarii or the Potitii are constantly being caught up in momentous events --- the sack of Rome by Gauls, the Carthaginian wars, the campaign of Scipio, the dictatorship of Sul ...more
Al Akfar
Aug 02, 2009 Al Akfar rated it did not like it
This was an astonishingly bad book. It ranks among the worst historical fictions I have ever had the misfortune of encountering.

I'll give Saylor points for concept - an historical novel covering the history of Rome from its founding to the end of the republic is a formidable and praiseworthy undertaking. However, sailing solo around the world is also a formidable praiseworthy undertaking, but if you forget to pack your lunch that just makes you a twat with an inflated view of your capabilities.
Find the enhanced version of this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I had no expectations whatsoever going into Steven Saylor's Roma. I only stumbled on it by accident, deciding to read it on a whim more than anything else. I had no comprehension of what I was getting myself into, nor any real grasp of the extensive scope of material covered within these pages. This being the case you might understand what a pleasant surprise my ultimate enjoyment of the piece was.

The book starts with the very first people to walk the Tiber route - the metal and salt traders, followed by a number of settlers who thought it advantageous to create a market for trade, through Romulus and Remus and the kings of Rome, followed by the tumultuous centuries of the Republic, culminating in the rule of Augustus.
The story of Rome is also the story of two patrician families - the Potitii and the Pinarii, their rise and fall, successes and misfortunes, their members constantly in the
Jan 22, 2013 David rated it liked it
Good book, but not as fun as Saylor's Gordianus the Finder novels/stories.

I think my problem here is the same that I have with lots of historical fiction -- or at least that branch of historical fiction which tries to cover decades & centuries in the course of one novel: you don't get to stay with any one character long enough to really care about them.

The only author I've read who dealt with this satisfactorily is Edward Rutherfurd (I can't recommend his book Sarum enough). Every family me
Jul 10, 2016 Ram rated it really liked it

Another book about ancient Rome. A series of episodes from Rome's history. Starting before Rome even existed and ending just after Caesar was assassinated. Most of the stories were quite good and some even better. I found it interesting because the main emphasis is on the earlier periods of Rome, before it became an empire, and I have not really read much about those times and events. Well written and well researched.
Sep 22, 2012 Ensiform rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, historical
An epic biography of the city, spanning a thousand years from the first meeting of traders across the as-yet unnamed hills to the rise of Augustus Caesar. Legendary figures such as Romulus and Remus are made historical, and Saylor even gives one possible source for the birth of the legends of Hercules and his vanquishing of the monster Cacus. Obviously, with a tome this vast, the narrative skips staccato-like over decades and centuries, but Saylor makes stops at all the high and low points: the ...more
Dec 17, 2008 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical Fiction and Roman History fans.
Covering 1044 years of history in 550 pages is quite a feat. Saylor does it by following two families down through the ages from when Rome was a stop on a salt trading route to the ascension of Octavius to be the first Emperor, Caesar Augustus.

Each chapter is a vignette that might even stand alone but is tied to the previous story and the succeeding story by family ties and the passing down of a gold amulet, in the shape of a winged phallus, from generation to generation.

By so doing Saylor is a
Ben Babcock
The subtitle says it all: "The Novel of Ancient Rome". Not "A novel", THE novel! The boast is not unfounded.

Stephen Saylor steps through almost a thousand years of Roman history in a series of vignettes. In each one, we experience a pivotal moment in the life of Rome through the perspective of a different person. Sometimes I empathized with the character; at other times, I felt he or she was in the wrong.

I'm used to historical fiction that takes place in a single period of time, investing itself
Saylor copies Edward Rutherfurd's idea of telling the history of a city or a nation by tracing one family. The problem is, he isn't as good as Rutherfurd is. Most of the characters, especially the women, are one dimensional. In addition, he makes Cleopatra boring. That's hard.
Steven Harbin
Just finished this historical novel about the founding of Rome until the time of the end of the Roman Republic. Historical mystery novelist Steven Saylor has outpace even his usual high standards on this book, a sweeping grand epic in the style of James Michener's historical novels such as "The Source" and "Hawaii". I highly recommend to anyone interested in ancient Roman history.
Feb 12, 2012 Melissa rated it really liked it
I wanted to read this book because I love Roman history and culture, and have for many years. I'm also a fan of such works as "I, Claudius" (both the two books by Robert Graves and the miniseries), and the HBO series "Rome." Still, when I first started reading "Roma," I was a little skeptical. To put it bluntly, I found it incredibly, um ... phallocentric. Is that a word? But I let myself become immersed in the story, in which over many generations, the city of Rome emerges as the most vibrant c ...more
Mar 22, 2012 Gabrielle rated it liked it
This book is almost all talk, and after a while it started to grate on me. Steven Saylor spent too much time telling the story and not enough showing. This happened more and more as the novel progressed. The various protagonists would give long speeches, or give their children a history lesson regarding everything that happened in the previous decade(s).

And sure while I know a lot of some of the major events, because I love history, I hated the way the book skipped passed certain major events o
Jul 18, 2010 Leigh-ann rated it liked it
This is Saylor's version of the history of Roma, starting from when it was merely a campsite for traders along the salt routes, and ending in the days of the Caesars. I enjoyed the very old details and stories because I hadn't heard them before, but once we reached the time period of 100BC onward, most of the material was familiar and even some of the little characterization stories that Saylor uses were repeated from his "Roma Sub Rosa" series (or vice versa). This wouldn't be a problem for som ...more
Philip Steiner
Sep 10, 2012 Philip Steiner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Saylor employs the time-worn but effective vehicle of two family's fortunes to carry the load of a millennium of Roman history. From its founding myths to the end of the Republic, Roma provides a vast, broad, but shallow view of the city and the world it came to dominate. Choosing to focus on the lives of individual members of the fictional Pinarii and Potitii families as the generations pass in and around the city, Saylor denies us a front-row seat at the events that shaped Rome's rise to domi
Steven Saylor's Roma is well-researched and informative, a novel that emphasizes fact and history over story or character. In a very similar format to Edward Rutherford's novels, this book follows a single family over the course of 1000 years, a family who witnesses some of Rome's most important moments, pre-empire. Because of this format, the book could be considered a collection of deeply-linked individual stories, though Saylor occupies some grey area between novel and short story. Regardless ...more
Oct 05, 2008 Andrea rated it really liked it
This was my first Steven Saylor book. It had a tough feat because it attempted to follow the first 1000 years of the city of Rome. Given the task and the ever-changing characters, I think he did a good job. It was a great idea to trace everyone through a family heirloom that got passed down from generation to generation. He seemed to get his facts mostly right, so as a Classics person I was not annoyed. It was a good escape and helped rekindle my love affair with the ancient world :) Let me know ...more
Multi-generational, thousand year stories do make it impossible to get attached to any characters as they are there for a chapter and then gone. They provide continuity to the history and give a focal point but don't offer much else.
I personally have little interest in pre-history so could have done without the first 3 chapters and I know more about Caesar than such a broad overview could portray, so the last 4 chapters were a bit boring for me as well.
This could be a good way to learn about ge
Sep 13, 2008 Bruce rated it liked it
Recommends it for: casual readers who are not Romaphiles and know/care but little of Rome's republican history
Steven Saylor is known for his (at this writing) 11-book historical mystery series called, Roma Sub Rosa, in which Gordianus the Finder investigates historical cases in a well-researched Republican Rome context. I'd been grinding through Colleen McCullough's 8-tome rambling Masters of Rome series, when fellow Goodreaders suggested I dump McCullough for Saylor. But where to start? Three books of McCullough had already taken me from 110-67 BCE (from rise of Gaius Marius to Pompey's overthrow of Mi ...more
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
I have only read two books by James Mitchener, "Poland" and "The Source" but I instantly recognised the format; we follow the history of both a specific group of individuals and of (in this case) a city over a span of history and in so doing become, as it were, familiars, like gods, watching things change, unfold, evolve. We know the real story, the truths behind the fables and the monuments. We follow the links of the chain as it leads us forward through time spanning wars, political machinatio ...more
Jun 14, 2011 Elaine rated it really liked it
1000 years of the history of Rome.

Romulus and Remus (757BC)--legend that they were suckled by a she-wolf comes from the swineherd who found them after a flood. His wife was a prostitute. Ancient name for a prostitute was "she-wolf"
Lupercalia- festival to celebrate the day Romulus and Remus and a friend ran through Roma naked except for wolf pelts over them.

Haruspex- a diviner. From Etruscans.
Asylaeus-patron god of vagabonds. Asylum derived fom this word.

Quiranal-northern most of the seven hills.
Sep 24, 2012 Martin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, historical, roman
Through this massive book we learn not only about the lives and lineage of two Roman families, we learn about the history and making of Rome itself. Many subtle misunderstandings we have as to how the empire was formed are corrected and many other things we suspected were confirmed. History is truly shown to repeat itself chapter by chapter as we follow families and citizens struggle for safety and power.

Is this a novel, a blueprint for a television series on the History Channel, or a craftily w
Jack Sheppard
Apr 06, 2011 Jack Sheppard rated it did not like it
Sheer graphomania

It seems that the epic undertaking of “Roma” to Saylor is just a convenient disguise to publicize his idiosyncrasies, at times clearly transgressing the borders of obscenity into the realms of depravity. Regrettably, such authors find their audience, however the genre of their books should be unequivocally revealed in order not to fool wider audiences, seeking a historic narrative, into dissolute stories.
The phallic cult was not a solely Roman invention, nor was it the first an
Oct 15, 2008 C.W. rated it it was amazing
Steven Saylor, the award-winning mystery writer of the Roma Sub Rosa series, undertakes the multigenerational historical saga in his latest novel ROMA. Pioneered by the late James Michener and current purview of novelist Edward Rutherford, Saylor’s entry into the genre is a noteworthy one. With his meticulous knowledge of ancient Rome, the subject matter seems a perfect match for someone of his impressive talent—a centuries-long jou
Tom Spisak
Feb 05, 2011 Tom Spisak rated it really liked it
Forty-odd years ago, the citizens of Boston bestowed (or inflicted) a classical education on me, which included reading Caesar, Cicero, Livy and Virgil in the original.
While Virgil mostly crops up in memory because the opening line of the Aeneid fits a Sousa tune and Caesar and Cicero creep into my writing style, that long ago reading of Livy applies here.
Titus Livius probably began his only surviving work soon after Octavian Caesar defeated Marc Anthony and Cleopatra at Actium and became emper
Aug 01, 2010 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ancient history buffs

Reading “Roma” was an enjoyable time-consuming experience. I finally had to stop myself from googling various gods, goddesses and historic characters to learn more about them, or I never would have gotten to the end of the book. I do appreciate Saylor’s inclusion of a map before each chapter showing the physical changes of Rome through the years and the genealogical chart at the beginning, and of course his thorough research and imagination in making connections and creating such believable cha
Mark Mallett
Aug 31, 2011 Mark Mallett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, fiction, nook
Saylor sets his book in the city of Rome (and what will be the city of Rome, as the book starts well before the founding). While the writing is often somewhat plain (I say "often" because some chapters flow a lot better than some others), and occasional purple prose passages almost prudish in their choice of descriptive words, the story is captivating - especially if you are someone like me who is easily triggered by historical references to go look things up online. While it's historical fictio ...more
Faith Justice
Sep 12, 2010 Faith Justice rated it really liked it
This is an abbreviated version of a much longer review posted on my blog.

Over three thousand years ago, a murder takes place on an island in a river flowing through the hilly region of Italy later known as the ruma. This bloody act presages the rise of one of the ancient world’s most ruthless empires. In Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome, Steven Saylor takes us on a thousand-year journey from Rome’s mythical beginnings as a trading post for salt sellers through its evolution into an empire, in a s
Oct 11, 2010 Aron rated it liked it

Easy to read. Saylor knows all the tricks of the trade to keep the suspense going, to keep the story line moving and to make his characters interesting. He also brings to life many of the "heroes" of Roman history and humanizes their motivations. He gives the reader a good feel for the day to day life of Rome at all levels of it's society. Finally he brings to life all the themes that led Rome to become a great empire along with the internal conflicts that eventually led to it's collapse: i
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Steven Saylor is the author of the long running Roma Sub Rosa series featuring Gordianus the Finder, as well as the New York Times bestselling novel, Roma and its follow-up, Empire. He has appeared as an on-air expert on Roman history and life on The History Channel.

Saylor was born in Texas and graduated with high honors from The University of Texas at Austin, where he studied history and class
More about Steven Saylor...

Other Books in the Series

Rome (2 books)
  • Empire: the Novel of Imperial Rome (Roma, #2)

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“In politics, reality and appearance are of equal importance. You cannot attend to one and neglect the other. A man must determine both what he is, and what others believe him to be.” 9 likes
“When I was a boy, my grandfather taught me the list of kings: Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, Ancus Marcius, Tarquinius the Elder, Servius Tullius. Tarquinius the Proud was to be the last, the very last, cast out and replaced forever by something called a republic. A mockery! A mistake! An experiment that failed! Today is the republic’s final day. Tomorrow, men will shout in the Forum, ‘All hail King Coriolanus!” 2 likes
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