Fiction set in the Roman Empire
||It has been suggested that this article be merged with Fiction set in ancient Rome. (Discuss) Proposed since November 2014.|
The article lists works only from the Middle Republic when the city-state of Rome began to expand over Italy.
- 1 Historical novels listed in chronological order
- 1.1 Early and Middle Republic
- 1.2 Late Republic
- 1.3 Early/High Empire (27 BC to 192 AD)
- 1.4 Late Empire (to 476 AD)
- 1.5 'Byzantine' Empire (457-1453 AD)
- 2 Unknown period
- 3 Detective fiction
- 4 Science fiction/time travel novels
- 5 Comic books
- 6 Works inspired by Roman history, or by works of fiction and non-fiction about Rome
- 7 Movies
- 8 Plays
- 9 Television
- 10 Video games
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Historical novels listed in chronological order
Early and Middle Republic
If you know of works set in the Middle Republic, please expand this section.
- Roma, published March 6, 2007, by Steven Saylor. The book follows two families through Rome's Republican history, starting before the founding of the city. Followed by Empire in 2010, which follows the same two families through the reigns of the early Roman Emperors.
No works in English, apart from Saylor's Roma, are known to be set partially or wholly in the Middle Republic before the Punic Wars. Books about Hannibal, such as David Anthony Durham's Pride of Carthage (2005) or Ross Leckie’s Scipio (1997), do feature Romans from the Middle Republic.
- Traitors’ Legion (Ace G-532,1963) by Jay Scotland, a swashbucker about a disgraced legion, set in Hannibal’s time.
- Of Merchants & Heroes, published 2008 by Paul Waters. Set at the end of the 3rd century BC, about the life of a fictional Roman called Marcus. In the novel Marcus becomes involved in the war against Philip V of Macedon, which was led by Titus Quinctius Flamininus, who later became Consul and is a major character in the story.
- The Last King: Rome's Greatest Enemy (2005) by Michael Curtis Ford. The career of Mithridates VI (134-63 BC)
- The Masters of Rome series by Colleen McCullough. Beginning before the birth of Julius Caesar to after his death, it details the self-immolation of the Roman Republic.
- Spartacus by Howard Fast
- Spartacus by Lewis Grassic Gibbon
- The Emperor series, by Conn Iggulden, is more alternate history than fictionalized biography in some respects.
- Young Caesar (1958) by Rex Warner
- Imperium by Robert Harris, showing Cicero's rise to the consulship in 63 BC; a fictionalized biography told by his slave, later freedman, Tiro
- A Pillar of Iron (1965) by Taylor Caldwell, a fictionalized biography of Cicero.
- Winter Quarters (1956) by Alfred Duggan. Two Gauls in the time of Julius Caesar, one of whom is under a curse from the Mother Goddess, whose worship he finds throughout the Roman world.
- The Conquered by Naomi Mitchison (1923). Gaul & the Gallic Wars 1st century BC
- Beric the Briton: A Story of the Roman Invasion (1893) by G. A. Henty
- Imperial Caesar (1960) also by Rex Warner
- The Ides of March by Thornton Wilder, about the year culminating in Caesar's assassination.
- Three's Company (1958) by Alfred Duggan. The career of Lepidus, triumvir with Octavian and Marcus Antonius after the death of Julius Caesar.
- Marius' Mules (2009) by S.J.A. Turney. Fictionalised account of Caesar's Gallic Wars from the point of view of a fictional legate. Series ongoing at 7 books to 2014
- "Marching with Caesar Series" by R.W. Peake A mostly accurate fiction that takes place during the rise of Julius Caesar, with his first campaign in Gaul, onwards and beyond his life, from the perspective of a soldier as he rises through the ranks
Early/High Empire (27 BC to 192 AD)
- An Imaginary Life by David Malouf. A fictional account of the poet Ovid's exile from Rome.
- The Quest For the Lost Roman Legions by Tony Clunn, Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, with his account of his discovery of the battlefield
- Persona Non Grata, Terra Incognita, Medicus and Caveat Emptor, a series of mysteries featuring the "reluctant sleuth" Gaius Petreius Ruso by Ruth Downie, set around 120 AD.
- Three Legions series by Rosemary Sutcliff set in Roman Britain c. 130 AD. The three novels consist of The Eagle of the Ninth (1954), The Silver Branch (1957), and The Lantern Bearers (1959). The three were first collected in one volume as Three Legions in 1980.
- Empire published August 31, 2010, by Steven Saylor. The book follows two families through Rome's Imperial history, from the reign of Augustus to the reign of Hadrian. The sequel to Roma.
The Julio-Claudian Dynasty
- Let the Emperor Speak: A novel of Caesar Augustus by Allan Massie, Doubleday & Company, Inc, New York, 1987 (First published in Great Britain in 1986 by the Bodley Head as Augustus). Also by this author: Caesar, Anthony, Tiberius, Caligula and Nero's Heirs.
"Pretender" by Lion Feuchtwanger
Books about early Christians or the Christ include:
- Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1880) by Lew Wallace; famously made into a film starring Charlton Heston; set in the reign of Tiberius in Judaea, the Mediterranean, and Rome. Epilogues carry the story into the reign of Nero
- The Seventh Season (1965) by Emmanuel of Samaria; features a meeting between St Andrew and Nero.
- The Robe (1942), by Lloyd C. Douglas, set in the same period as Ben-Hur; like Ben-Hur, more famous as a film.
- I Am a Barbarian (1967, written 1941) by Edgar Rice Burroughs; the fictionalized memoirs of Caligula's slave.
Books about Claudius or set in his reign include:
- I, Claudius (1934) and its sequel, Claudius the God (1935), by Robert Graves. The classic and influential dramatised account of the life of the emperor Claudius, made into a popular TV series (see below).
- The Eagle series by Nigerian-born British novelist Simon Scarrow. The first book Under the Eagle (part of the Eagle series) was published 2000 by Simon Scarrow. Story of Roman invasion of Britain, featuring a young Vespasian. Other books in the series include The Eagle's Conquest (2001 set in 42 AD (introducing Boudicca at the end); When the Eagle Hunts (2002) set in 44 AD. Other books in the series include The Eagle and the Wolves (2003), The Eagle's Prey (2004), The Eagle's Prophecy (2005), The Eagle in the Sand (2006), and the forthcoming Centurion (January - 2008).
Books set in Nero's reign include:
- Quo Vadis (1895/1896), by Henryk Sienkiewicz set in the reign of Nero in 64 AD.
- A Song for Nero (2003) by Tom Holt, writing as Thomas Holt.
- Imperial Governor (1968, reprinted 2002), George Shipway, the Icenii revolt under Boudicca.
- The Roman (1964) by Mika Waltari
- The Cleft by Doris Lessing is a book supposedly written by an historian during Nero's reign.
The Flavian Dynasty
- The Last Days of Pompeii by E.G.Bulwer-Lytton
- Pompeii by Robert Harris, set in the reign of Titus.
- "In the Shadow of Tyranny" by Chris Westcott set in the reigns of Vespasian, Titus and Domitian
"The Jew of Rome" by Lion Feuchtwanger
The Antonine Dynasty
- Mémoires d'Hadrien (Memoirs of Hadrian) by Marguerite Yourcenar
- The Emperor by Georg Ebers, another fictitious biography of Hadrian
- A God Strolling in the Cool of the Evening (1994) by Mario de Carvalho, set mainly in Roman Lusitania
- Romanike (2000-2014) by Codex Regius, a series of six novels set mainly on both sides of the Upper-Germanic Limes
Middle Empire (193 AD to 305 AD), when Diocletian splits the Empire
- Family Favourites (1960), by Alfred Duggan; a tale of court life under the teenage emperor Elagabalus, as recounted by his personal bodyguard
Late Empire (to 476 AD)
- Helena by Evelyn Waugh; follows the quest of the Empress Helena, a Christian and the mother of Emperor Constantine to uncover the remains of the cross upon which Christ was crucified.
- Julian (1964) by Gore Vidal, fictionalized biography of the emperor Julian the Apostate, who tried to revive Paganism
- The Last Legion: A Novel by Valerio Massimo Manfredi; fictionalized story of the emperor Romulus Augustulus and what might have happened to his surviving retinue.
- Eagle in the Snow (1970) by Wallace Breem; set in Britannia and Germania in the late 4th and early 5th century; features a Mithraic Roman general.
- The Little Emperors (1951) by Alfred Duggan. A succession of coups in late-Roman Britain.
- Gods And Legions: A Novel of the Roman Empire (2002) by Michael Curtis Ford
- The Sword of Attila: A Novel of the Last Years of Rome (2005) by Michael Curtis Ford
- The Fall of Rome: A Novel of a World Lost (2007) by Michael Curtis Ford
- Raptor (1993) by Gary Jennings is an historical novel set in the late fifth and early sixth centuries. It purports to be the memoirs of an Ostrogoth, Thorn, who has a secret.
- Threshold of Fire: A Novel of Fifth Century Rome (1966) by Hella Hasse
- Legionary (2011) by Gordon Doherty
- Legionary: Viper of the North (2012) by Gordon Doherty
- Legionary: Land of the Sacred Fire (2013) by Gordon Doherty
- Legionary: The Scourge of Thracia (2015) by Gordon Doherty
- Legionary: Gods & Emperors (2015) by Gordon Doherty
'Byzantine' Empire (457-1453 AD)
- Anna of Byzantium, 1999
- Belisarius series
- Count Belisarius (1938), by Robert Graves, set in the 6th century AD, in the reign of Justinian
- The Dancing Bear (1972), by Peter Dickinson. Young adult.
- Justinian, a novel, by H N Turteltaub (Harry Turtledove), August 1998
- The Palaeologian Dynasty. The Rise and Fall of Byzantium
- Roma Eterna (2003), by Robert Silverberg
- A Struggle for Rome (1876), by Felix Dahn
- There Will Be Time
- Tirant lo Blanch (finished posthumously by Martí Joan de Galba, published 1490), by Joanot Martorell
- Up the Line (1969), by Robert Silverberg
- You with the Roses - What are You Selling?, (1966) a novel by James Wellard, fictionalised biography of the Empress Theodora
- Strategos: Born in the Borderlands (2011) by Gordon Doherty
- Strategos: Rise of the Golden Heart (2011) by Gordon Doherty
- Strategos: Island in the Storm (2011) by Gordon Doherty
- The Nero Prediction by Humphry Knipe
- Antonia by Brenda Jagger
- The Tribune: A Novel of Ancient Rome by Patrick Larkin
- Hadrian's Wall: A Novel by William Dietrich
- The Centurion: A Novel (1986) by Jan de Hartog
- The Roma Sub Rosa series (1991–2005) by Steven Saylor, starts with Roman Blood (1991); the books cover the period 80 BC to 48 BC
- The Marcus Didius Falco series by Lindsey Davis, starts with The Silver Pigs; set in the reign of Vespasian, and taking place in many locales around the Empire
- The SPQR series by John Maddox Roberts, set in the early Empire
- The Publius Aurelius series by Danila Comastri Montanari
- The Eagle series by Simon Scarrow (see above)
- The Marcus Corvinus series by David Wishart; early Empire
- The Germanicus Mosaic series by Rosemary Rowe - set in later Roman Britain
- The Roman Mysteries young adults' detective/drama series by Caroline Lawrence
- The Caius Trilogy by German author Henry Winterfeld: Caius ist ein Dummkopf (Caius is an Idiot); Caius geht ein Licht auf (Caius has an Inspiration), and Caius in der Klemme (Caius in a Fix). The first part was published in English with the alternate title Detectives in Togas. The second was published in English with the alternate title Mystery of the Roman Ransom.
Science fiction/time travel novels
- Arria Marcella (1852) by Théophile Gautier set in 79 AD in Pompeii
- Caesar's Bicycle (1997) (Timeline Wars series) by John Barnes
- Household Gods (1999), by Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove set in the reign of Marcus Aurelius
- The Time Travelling Cat and the Roman Eagle (2001) by Julia Jarman
- Toss of the Coin (Time Rangers) (1998) by Rob Childs
Alternate universe fiction
The following alternate history novels are set in fictional universes prior to the present day:
- Lest Darkness Fall (1939) by L. Sprague de Camp; a time-travelling American alters history, set in 535 AD.
- Agent of Byzantium by Harry Turtledove set in an alternate 14th century with no Islam.
- Hannibal's Children and its sequel The Seven Hills by John Maddox Roberts. A victorious Hannibal sends all the Romans into exile, but they found a new city and their descendants return for vengeance.
The following alternate history story is set in a fictional universe prior to the present day:
- "Delenda Est" (1955) by Poul Anderson; now available in Guardians of Time (1960 and 1985) editions); Rome defeated by Carthage in the Second Punic War and what follows.
The following alternate history novels are set in fictional universes where the Roman Empire never fell, and has endured to the present day:
- The Aquiliad (1983), by Somtow Sucharitkul. Circa 50 AD. A light-hearted novel in which Roman legions discover America, battle the Aztecs, encounter Big Foot, and drive off flying saucers.
- Oebis (2002), by Scott Mackay. Romans return to a modern day Earth to retake it from alien invaders who exiled them centuries ago and imposed a strange form of Christianity.
- Gunpowder Empire, a 2003 novel by Harry Turtledove
- Roma Eterna, a 2003 novel by Robert Silverberg
- Romanitas (2005), by Sophia McDougall
- Rome Burning (2006), sequel to Romanitas, by Sophia McDougall
- The Germanicus trilogy, a collection of books by Kirk Mitchell.
- Emperor (2006), by Stephen Baxter. After a Celtic chieftain obeys an ancient prophecy, and sides with the invaders, the history of Roman Britain takes a different path. First in a series.
- The Adventures of Alix (1948-now) series by Jacques Martin
- Astérix (1959-now) series by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). A tiny village in Gaul holds out against the Roman Army, and its doughtiest warriors meet all the famous Romans.
- Murena (1997-now) series by Jean Dufaux and Philippe Delaby
- Le Fléau des Dieux (2000–2006) series by Valérie Mangin and Aleksa Gajic. Science fiction set in a remote future
Works inspired by Roman history, or by works of fiction and non-fiction about Rome
Science fiction inspired by Rome or works about Rome
- Empire of the Atom, by A. E. van Vogt, translates Graves' novel about Claudius(above) into a science fiction context.
- The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, about the fall of a galactic empire, is derived from Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
- Dominic Flandry series by Poul Andersen, a space empire similarly inspired by Gibbon's history (and by Asimov) is decaying and about to collapse into a Long Night of barbarism; a heroic secret agent fights to stave off this fate.
- Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson, about a post-apocalyptic America transformed into a neo-Roman Empire, and a high born youth who, like Julian the Apostate, fights the power of the Church.
- Bread and Circuses (Star Trek: The Original Series)
- Tarzan and the Lost Empire by Edgar Rice Burroughs, a surviving fragment of the Roman Empire is discovered hidden in a corner of 20th Century Africa.
- In Philip K. Dick's VALIS ancient Rome is superimposed over the present (California in the twentieth century) and the far future world of The Android Cried Me a River to reveal "the Empire" – a supra- or trans-temporal constant. Furthermore, it is often repeated that the empire never fell. Also the novel's protagonist is described as living in two spacetime-continua with one of the personalities presently living in ancient Rome. Ancient Rome is also described as to breaking through into the modern world and "real time" is speculated as to having ceased in 70 A.D. with Roman times still being present.
- Leading Comics - in the 1940s, a series called "Nero Fox" (about a funny animal named Nero Fox, who was emperor of Rome) was published as a backup series in this comic title.
- Trigan Empire was a Science Fiction comic series telling of adventures on the planet Elekton with many similarities to the Roman Empire
- Quo Vadis - U.S. 1951 director Mervyn LeRoy
- The Robe - U.S. 1953 director Henry Koster
- Demetrius and the Gladiators - U.S. 1954 director Delmer Daves (sequel to The Robe)
- Jupiter's Darling - U.S. 1955 director George Sidney, based on a play by Robert E. Sherwood
- Ben-Hur - U.S. 1959 director William Wyler
- Spartacus - U.S. 1960 director Stanley Kubrick
- King of Kings - U.S. 1961 director Nicholas Ray
- Cleopatra - U.S. 1963 director Joseph L. Mankiewicz
- The Fall of the Roman Empire - U.S. 1964 director Anthony Mann
- The Greatest Story Ever Told - U.S. 1965 director George Stevens
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum - U.S. 1966 director Richard Lester
- Fellini Satyricon - Italy 1969 director Federico Fellini
- Jesus Christ Superstar - U.S. 1973 director Norman Jewison
- Sebastiane - UK 1976 director Derek Jarman
- Caligula - U.S. 1979 director Tinto Brass
- Monty Python's Life of Brian - U.K. 1979 director Terry Jones
- History of the World Part 1 - U.S. 1981 director Mel Brooks
- The Last Temptation of Christ - U.S. 1988 director Martin Scorsese
- Titus - U.S. 1999 director Julie Taymor
- Gladiator - U.S. 2000 director Ridley Scott
- Quo Vadis - Polish/U.S. 2001 director Jerzy Kawalerowicz, remake of 1951 film
- King Arthur - U.S. 2004 director Antoine Fuqua
- The Passion of the Christ - U.S. 2004 director Mel Gibson
- The Nativity Story - U.S. 2006 director Catherine Hardwicke
- Agora - Spain 2009 director Alejandro Amenábar
- Centurion - UK 2010 director Neil Marshall
- The Eagle - UK 2011 director Kevin Macdonald
- Joseph Addison
- Albert Camus
- Pierre Corneille
- Henrik Ibsen
- Ben Jonson
- Heinrich von Kleist
- Die Hermannsschlacht
- William Shakespeare
- Robert E. Sherwood
- Stephen Sondheim
- I, Claudius
- Julius Caesar minisieries by Uli Edel
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 (part of season 8)
- Pompeii: The Last Day a dramatized documentary
- The Roman Holidays
- Spartacus miniseries by Robert Dornhelm (director)
- Spartacus: Blood and Sand
- Up Pompeii!
- Bread and Circuses (Star Trek: The Original Series)
- The Caesar video games series
- Centurion: Defender of Rome
- Circus Maximus: Chariot Wars
- Colosseum: Road to Freedom
- Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance
- Legion Arena
- Rome: Total War
- Rome Total War II
- Rome: Pathway to Power
- Shadow of Rome
- Spartan: Total Warrior
- Ryse: Son of Rome