top of page

Finding out more about the Roman Empire

Rome and its Empire have inspired many to make films, TV series, write books and produce academic works.

Books, Films, TV & First Hand Accounts of the Roman Empire

Films

Gladiator (2000)

Stars: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix

Box Office: Approximately $460 million worldwide

Release Date: May 5, 2000

Ben-Hur (1959)

Stars: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins

Box Office: Approximately $74 million (initial release)

Release Date: November 18, 1959

Spartacus (1960)

Stars: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier

Box Office: Approximately $60 million (initial release)

Release Date: October 6, 1960

Cleopatra (1963)

Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton

Box Office: Approximately $57.8 million (initial release)

Release Date: June 12, 1963

The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)

Stars: Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd

Box Office: Approximately $4 million (worldwide)

Release Date: March 26, 1964

Centurion (2010)

Stars: Michael Fassbender, Dominic West

Box Office: Approximately $8.6 million (worldwide)

Release Date: August 27, 2010

Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra (2002)

Stars: Gérard Depardieu, Christian Clavier

Box Office: Approximately $125 million (worldwide)

Release Date: February 1, 2002

The Eagle (2011)

Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell

Box Office: Approximately $39 million (worldwide)

Release Date: February 11, 2011

 

TV Series

 

"Rome" (2005-2007)

Stars: Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson

This HBO series follows the lives of two Roman soldiers and their families during the transition from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire.

"Spartacus: Blood and Sand" (2010)

Stars: Andy Whitfield, Lucy Lawless

A series that tells the story of Spartacus, the gladiator who led a slave uprising against the Roman Republic.

"I, Claudius" (1976)

Stars: Derek Jacobi, John Hurt

Adapted from the novels of Robert Graves, this series portrays the life and times of Emperor Claudius in the early days of the Roman Empire.

"Rome: Rise and Fall of an Empire" (2008)

A documentary-style series that explores various key events and figures from the history of the Roman Empire.

"Roman Empire" (2016-2019)

A Netflix docudrama series that covers different periods and emperors of the Roman Empire, featuring reenactments and expert analysis.

"Barbarians" (2020)

Stars: Laurence Rupp, Jeanne Goursaud

While not exclusively focused on the Roman Empire, this series depicts the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, a significant Roman defeat in Germania.

 

Books

 

"SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome" by Mary Beard (2015)

A comprehensive look at the history of Rome, from its legendary origins to the Roman Empire's decline.

"Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor" by Anthony Everitt (2006)

A biography of Augustus, the founder of the Roman Empire, and his enduring influence.

"Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic" by Tom Holland (2003)

An exploration of the final years of the Roman Republic, leading up to its transformation into an empire.

"I, Claudius" by Robert Graves (1934)

A historical novel that presents the life of Emperor Claudius through his perspective.

"The Twelve Caesars" by Suetonius (c. 121 AD)

A collection of biographical sketches of the first twelve Roman emperors written by a contemporary historian.

"Pompeii" by Robert Harris (2003)

A historical novel set in the ancient city of Pompeii against the backdrop of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

"The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" by Edward Gibbon (1776-1788)

A classic work that covers the history of the Roman Empire's decline and fall.

"Imperium" by Robert Harris (2006)

The first book in a trilogy, this historical novel follows the career of Cicero, one of Rome's greatest orators.

"Hannibal" by Ross Leckie (1996)

A novel that explores the life and military campaigns of the Carthaginian general Hannibal, a formidable adversary of Rome.

"The First Man in Rome" by Colleen McCullough (1990)

The opening book in the "Masters of Rome" series, delving into the political and military history of Rome's early Republic.

"The Gates of Rome" by Conn Iggulden (2003)

The first novel in the "Emperor" series focuses on the life of a young Julius Caesar.

"I Am Spartacus!: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist" by Kirk Douglas (2012)

Kirk Douglas's memoir recounting his experiences making the iconic film "Spartacus."

"Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome" by Anthony Everitt (2009)

A biography of Emperor Hadrian, known for his extensive travels and architectural achievements.

"The Fall of Hyperion" by Dan Simmons (1990)

The second book in the "Hyperion Cantos" series, which incorporates elements of the Roman Empire into a science fiction narrative.

"The Eagle of the Ninth" by Rosemary Sutcliff (1954)

A historical novel set in Roman Britain, following a young Roman officer's quest to recover the lost Eagle standard of his father's legion.

"Roman Blood" by Steven Saylor (1991)

The first book in the "Roma Sub Rosa" series, featuring detective Gordianus the Finder solving mysteries in ancient Rome.

"The Aeneid" by Virgil (c. 29-19 BC)

An epic poem that tells the story of Aeneas, a Trojan hero who becomes a legendary ancestor of Rome.

"Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius (c. 2nd century AD)

A collection of philosophical writings by Emperor Marcus Aurelius, reflecting on Stoicism and leadership.

“The Confessions" by Saint Augustine (c. 397-400 AD)

An autobiographical work by Saint Augustine, one of the most influential figures in early Christian thought, reflecting on his life and conversion to Christianity.

"The Satyricon" by Petronius (c. 1st century AD)

A satirical novel that offers a glimpse into Roman society's hedonistic and decadent aspects during the early Empire.

First-Hand Accounts

One of the unique characteristics of Roman history and how it was recorded was the contribution key people made during the Roman Empire.  Given this is 2000 years ago, many subsequent civilizations, empires and countries have little or nothing remaining, giving as much insight as these key Roman authors.

Cicero (106-43 BC)

A renowned Roman statesman, orator, and philosopher, Cicero's works on rhetoric and philosophy, including "De Oratore" and "De Officiis," remain influential.

Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD)

Pliny was an author, naturalist, and military commander. His "Naturalis Historia" is a comprehensive work on various aspects of the natural world.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-65 AD)

A Stoic philosopher, Seneca's writings on ethics and morality, such as "Letters to Lucilius" and "On the Shortness of Life," are still widely read.

Pliny the Younger (c. 61-113 AD)

Nephew of Pliny the Elder, is known for his extensive collection of letters that provide insights into Roman life and politics.

Livy (59 BC-17 AD)

Titus Livius, or Livy, was a historian whose monumental work, "Ab Urbe Condita" (From the Founding of the City), covers the history of Rome from its legendary origins.

Ptolemy (c. 100-170 AD)

Claudius Ptolemy was a mathematician, astronomer, and geographer. His "Almagest" and "Geography" were foundational works in their respective fields.

Galen (c. 129-200 AD)

A physician, Galen's medical writings, including "On the Natural Faculties" and "Method of Medicine," dominated Western medicine for centuries.

Apuleius (c. 125-180 AD)

A Latin-language writer, Apuleius is best known for his novel "The Golden Ass," a humorous and fantastical work of fiction.

Quintilian (c. 35-100 AD)

A teacher and rhetorician, Quintilian's "Institutio Oratoria" is a comprehensive guide to the education of an orator.

Celsus (c. 25 BC-50 AD)

A Roman encyclopedist, Aulus Cornelius Celsus, authored "De Medicina," a significant medical treatise that covered various aspects of medicine and surgery.

 

These scholars made substantial contributions to literature, philosophy, science, medicine, and education, leaving a legacy that continues to be studied and appreciated.
 

bottom of page