Ancient Rome was a frequent subject of Victorian historical fiction and also popular throughout the 20th century. It was similarly popular in movies, though it fell out of fashion for a couple of decades until the game-changing success of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, released in 2000. Since then the floodgates of fictional Rome have been torn open.
But Rome means different things to different people. For some it is a military story of imperialism and war in foreign lands. For others it is the victim-tale of the conquered (especially if the conquered happen to be British or Judaic). For others it is broadly cultural: how could people be so similar to us and so different? There is a broad strand of historicals that touch on the New Testament stories, including many new ‘gospels’ and a wealth of faith stories, as well as some militantly anti-Christian novels. There are Roman detective novels, military historicals, sea stories, epics, and literary novels.
Biographical novels are perhaps the richest vein – for literature and ‘box office’.
From the Realm of Time: A Novel of The Fourth Century Roman Empire
Late in the 4th century CE, Rome faces many enemies on its northern frontiers and is losing too many battles. General Marcus Augustus ...Read Review
Vitellius’ Feast: The Four Emperors Series: Book IV
AD 69 in Rome, and Nero is dead. He had most of the vices, but at least he had style and aspirations. Vitellius is ...Read Review
The Gods Help Those: A Seventh Case from the Notebooks of Pliny the Younger
When Pliny the Younger is called to the scene of a collapsed warehouse, multiple bodies are found. One of them, wearing equestrian clothing, ...Read Review
The Splendor Before the Dark: A Novel of the Emperor Nero
Margaret George’s epic novel, the second of two about the emperor Nero (after The Confessions of Young Nero), begins with Rome on ...Read Review