The Greatest "Rome" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 280 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Rome

The category of "Rome" in books refers to literature that is set in ancient Rome or focuses on the history, culture, and society of the Roman Empire. These books may include historical fiction, biographies, memoirs, and academic works that explore the political, social, and economic aspects of Rome. The genre may also encompass stories of gladiators, emperors, soldiers, and other figures from Roman mythology and history. Overall, the category of "Rome" offers readers a glimpse into one of the most influential civilizations in human history.

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  1. 1. The Aeneid by Virgil

    This epic poem tells the story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travels to Italy, where he becomes the ancestor of the Romans. It includes a series of prophecies about Rome's future and the deeds of heroic individuals, and is divided into two sections, the first illustrating the hero's journey and the second detailing the wars and battles that ensue as Aeneas attempts to establish a new home in Italy. The narrative is deeply imbued with themes of duty, fate, and divine intervention.

  2. 2. The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe

    This collection brings together all of the author's most famous works, including poems, short stories, and novellas. Known for his macabre and gothic storytelling, the author's works are filled with themes of death, love lost, and human frailty. Notable inclusions are the haunting poem "The Raven," the chilling stories "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Fall of the House of Usher," and his only complete novel, "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym."

  3. 3. Confessions by Augustine

    "Confessions" is an autobiographical work by a renowned theologian, in which he outlines his sinful youth and his conversion to Christianity. It is written in the form of a long, introspective prayer directed to God, exploring the author's spiritual journey and deep philosophical ponderings. The book is renowned for its eloquent and deeply personal exploration of faith, making it a cornerstone of Christian theology and Western literature.

  4. 4. I, Claudius by Robert Graves

    This historical novel is a first-person narrative told from the perspective of the Roman Emperor Claudius, who was considered an unlikely ruler due to his physical ailments and perceived lack of intelligence. The story covers the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula before Claudius unexpectedly becomes emperor. The narrative provides a critical look at the corruption, violence, and political machinations of the Roman Empire, offering a unique perspective on history.

  5. 5. Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar

    "Memoirs of Hadrian" is a historical novel that presents a fictional autobiography of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who reigned from 117 to 138 AD. Narrated in the first person, the novel explores Hadrian's ascension to the throne, his administration, his love for the young Antinous, and his philosophical reflections on life and death. The narrative is framed as a letter to his successor, Marcus Aurelius, offering insights into the complexities of power, the nature of leadership, and the human condition.

  6. 6. Metamorphoses by Ovid

    "Metamorphoses" is a classical epic poem that narrates the history of the world from its creation to the deification of Julius Caesar within a loose mythico-historical framework. The narrative is filled with stories of transformation, focusing on myths and legends of the Greek and Roman world. The tales, which include the stories of Daedalus and Icarus, King Midas, and Pyramus and Thisbe, among others, are all linked by the common theme of transformation, often as a punishment or reward from the gods.

  7. 7. Death of Virgil by Hermann Broch

    The novel explores the final hours of the Roman poet Virgil, who, while on his deathbed, contemplates the value and impact of his life's work, particularly his unfinished epic, the Aeneid. The narrative is a complex, stream-of-consciousness meditation on art, life, and death, with Virgil wrestling with his desire to burn his epic and the emperor's command to preserve it. The book delves into themes of the meaning of human existence, the role of art in society, and the clash between the individual's inner world and the external world.

  8. 8. De Rerum Natura by Lucretius

    "De Rerum Natura" is a long didactic poem written in the first century BC, which explores Epicurean philosophy and the nature of the universe. The text delves into topics such as the nature of the gods, the atomic structure of the universe, human sensation and thought, and the fear of death. The author argues that understanding the physical world can free humans from superstition and fear, leading to peace of mind and true happiness.

  9. 9. Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz

    Set in ancient Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero, "Quo Vadis" follows the love story of a young Christian woman Lygia and a Roman patrician, Marcus Vinicius. As their relationship blossoms, they must navigate the dangerous political climate of the time, marked by Nero's tyranny and the growing influence of Christianity. The novel provides a vivid depiction of the clash between pagan Rome and the early Christian church, culminating in the Great Fire of Rome and subsequent persecution of Christians.

  10. 10. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

    This historical work provides a comprehensive perspective on the fall of the Roman Empire, examining its decline from the height of its power in the second century A.D. through the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The author meticulously chronicles the empire's deterioration due to a variety of factors, including moral decay, economic crisis, military incompetence, barbarian invasions, and internal power struggles, while also offering insightful commentary on the broader implications for Western civilization.

  11. 11. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

    "The Thorn Birds" is a sweeping family saga that spans three generations of the Cleary family, set against the backdrop of the Australian outback. It focuses on the forbidden love between the beautiful Meggie Cleary and the family's priest, Father Ralph de Bricassart. The novel explores themes of love, religion, and ambition, as Meggie and Ralph struggle with their feelings for each other and the choices they must make.

  12. 12. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

    "Meditations" is a collection of personal writings by a Roman Emperor, providing deep insights into Stoic philosophy. The book is a series of introspective reflections on how to deal with life's challenges with wisdom, integrity, self-discipline, and benevolent affection for all mankind. It serves as a manual for self-improvement and moral guidance, emphasizing the importance of accepting things outside of one's control and maintaining a tranquil mind amidst adversity.

  13. 13. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

    This thriller novel follows symbologist Robert Langdon and cryptographer Sophie Neveu as they investigate a murder in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The murder leads them to a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci, revealing a religious mystery protected by a secret society for two thousand years. The mystery involves a conspiracy within the Catholic Church and threatens to overturn the foundations of Christianity.

  14. 14. Parallel Lives by Plutarch

    "Parallel Lives" is a collection of biographies of famous Greek and Roman figures, written in pairs to draw comparisons between their lives. The work explores the influence of character on the lives and destinies of these historical figures. The biographies are not only a record of the lives of these individuals, but also provide insight into the times in which they lived, offering a unique perspective on the history and culture of the ancient world.

  15. 15. Mythology by Edith Hamilton

    This book is a comprehensive guide to ancient Greek, Roman, and Norse mythologies, providing detailed accounts of various gods, goddesses, heroes, and other mythological creatures. It includes well-known stories like the Odyssey and the Iliad, along with lesser-known tales, and analyzes their significance in the cultures they originated from. The book also delves into the origins of these myths and their influence on later civilizations, offering readers a deep understanding of ancient cultures and their belief systems.

  16. 16. Annals by Cornelius Tacitus

    "Annals" is a historical work that provides a comprehensive account of the Roman Empire from the reign of Tiberius in 14 AD to the death of Nero in 68 AD. The author, a senator and historian of the Roman Empire, explores the inner workings of Roman politics, military campaigns, and social culture during this period. The book offers an in-depth look at the political machinations, power struggles, and the moral decay of the Roman elite, providing a critical perspective on the Roman emperors and their rule.

  17. 17. The Odes by Horace

    "The Odes" is a collection of lyric poems by an ancient Roman poet. The poems cover a wide range of themes, including love, friendship, wine, nature, morality, and the human condition. The author's style is noted for its elegance, wit, and mastery of meter. The poems also reflect the social and political context of Rome during the author's lifetime, providing insight into the culture and values of the period.

  18. 18. Daisy Miller by Henry James

    "Daisy Miller" is a novella that explores the social differences between American and European society in the late 19th century. The story follows a young, affluent American woman named Daisy Miller, who defies societal norms while traveling in Europe. Her flirtatious behavior and disregard for European customs create a scandal among the upper-class expatriate community, particularly catching the attention of a young American man who is both attracted to and repulsed by her nonconformity. Ultimately, Daisy's refusal to conform to societal expectations leads to her downfall.

  19. 19. Marius the Epicurean by Walter Pater

    "Marius the Epicurean" is a philosophical novel that explores the life of Marius, a young Roman, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. The narrative follows Marius's intellectual and spiritual development as he navigates the complexities of Roman society, with its intricate blend of paganism and emerging Christianity. The protagonist grapples with existential questions and moral dilemmas, seeking to understand the nature of pleasure, the concept of duty, and the meaning of life. His journey culminates in his conversion to Christianity, symbolizing a shift from sensual pleasure to spiritual fulfillment.

  20. 20. Lives of the Caesars by Suetonius

    "Lives of the Caesars" is a historical narrative that provides a detailed account of the personal and public lives of the first twelve Roman emperors, from Julius Caesar to Domitian. The author presents a vivid depiction of their character, behavior, appearance, and private lives, as well as their political actions, military exploits, and administrative policies. The book is a valuable source of information about the Roman Empire's early days, offering a unique perspective on the power, corruption, and extravagance of the Roman elite.

  21. 21. A Ghost at Noon by Alberto Moravia

    A Ghost at Noon is a tale of a troubled marriage set against the backdrop of Rome and Capri. The story follows a screenplay writer who is struggling with his failing marriage and the production of his new film. As his wife becomes infatuated with their young guide in Capri, the writer becomes increasingly paranoid and jealous, ultimately leading to the collapse of their relationship. The narrative parallels the story of Homer's Odyssey, which the protagonist is adapting for the screen, adding another layer of complexity to the story.

  22. 22. The Time of Indifference by Alberto Moravia

    This novel explores the dynamics of an upper-middle-class Italian family facing financial ruin. The story focuses on the emotional indifference and moral decay among family members, as they engage in affairs and manipulative behavior to secure their social status. As the family's fortunes dwindle, their lack of empathy and moral integrity becomes increasingly evident, offering a critique of bourgeois values and the corrosive effects of apathy and materialism.

  23. 23. Galileo by Bertolt Brecht

    This play delves into the life of the renowned Italian scientist, Galileo Galilei, who challenged the church's belief in a geocentric universe. It explores his struggles against the Catholic Church, his recantation, and the consequences of his actions on his life and those around him. The narrative also examines the conflict between science and religion, the ethics of scientific discovery, and the price of truth.

  24. 24. A Violent Life by Pier Paolo Pasolini

    "A Violent Life" explores the journey of a young man from the slums of Rome who becomes entangled in the world of crime. As he navigates through this violent and chaotic life, he is confronted with the harsh realities of poverty, injustice, and the struggle for survival. The narrative provides a stark and unflinching examination of the underbelly of Italian society, revealing the deep-seated corruption and systemic inequality that pervades it. The protagonist's life is a testament to the destructive cycle of violence and despair that traps the marginalized and underprivileged.

  25. 25. Letters from a Stoic by Seneca

    "Letters from a Stoic" is a collection of moral epistles written by a renowned Stoic philosopher. The letters provide practical guidance on everything from dealing with adversity and the pursuit of wisdom to the folly of consumerism and the nature of friendship. The author's stoic philosophy encourages peace of mind through understanding and accepting the natural order of the universe, and his letters offer timeless wisdom and insights that are still relevant today.

Reading Statistics

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If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

Download