No Roads Lead to Rome
and the sequel, Aqueduct to Nowhere

Books I Recommend

Recommendations: Books that have entertained and served me well.

Action and adventure in the
 times of Caesar and Cicero
"Roman Life and Times Series"
from the 1930's
  Paul L. Anderson's stories take placein the days of Cicero, before Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, in the years before the Roman Republic evolved into the Roman Empire.

The
action starts when a young Gaul is sold into slavery after being captured during a battle between tribes. He's shipped to Rome and sold to a lanista who trains gladiators. The gladiator camp is not a preppy boarding school -- this place has a lot of color, fighting, and, pardon the pun, backstabbing. It's the original school of hard knocks. 

Pugnax turns out to be very clever and finds himself in the service a rich and influential patrician who needs occaisional help with little problems like fixing elections and extracting a wayward daughter from an ill-conceived flirtation with a charioteer. Pugnax and his buddies also do a favor for a Vestal Virgin which serves them well later in the book.
 
This book was originally written in 1939 and still reads brilliantly today.
   

This story follows the adventures of a slave named Tiberius Rufus who lost his parents in a shipwreck and was raised by fishermen in Sicily. When pirates raided his village, he was captured, sold into slavery, and purchased by a trainer of Roman gladiators.

 

Tiberius distinguishes himself in the arena as  a red-haired left-handed  net fighter. When this book starts, he is purchased to serve as a bodyguard to a scheming politician named Lucius Sergius Catilina, aka Catiline, who history remembers as the architect of a vast conspiracy to overthrow the Roman Republic in the 1st Century B.C.. These are the tumultuous times bracketed by  Sulla, Cicero, and Caesar and, as such, make for a very interesting backdrop for a good, well-crafted story.

 

Tiberius’ master, Catiline is on the wrong side of history.  He clever and cunning, but ultimately outwitted by Tullius Cicero.    
 

Tiberius Rufus  struggles with the Roman ideals of honor, civic virtue, dignity, and duty. Tiberius, whose  history and destiny make him a wonderful protagonist, must chose between duty to his master and a debt of gratitude he owes Cicero for having spared the life of Pugnax, his best friend.

   This story follows a rich, young Roman dandy named Gaius Aemilius Durus on a highly engaging journey from party boy to patrician.

Early in the story, Durus is befriended and mentored by Tiberius Rufus, the protagonist from "
Slave of Catiline" who is now a respected patrician and swordsman. Durus falls on hard times and flees Rome to join Julius Caesar in Northern Gaul (France).

Durus enters one of Caesar's legions as a common soldier and, thanks to both the moral and martial training received from Rufus, works his way up the ranks. Caesar is consolidating his conquest of Gaul and the results are devastating on the tribes that resist. 

Durus is captured and taken to Londinium. Without divulging too much of the plot, the book earns my high praise for the wonderful last third of the story that takes place in Britannia. I especially liked the introduction of Brighde, a very strong female character who plays a prominent role.

   

Hadrian
76-138 AD

    I'm currently reading and enjoying this recently published book. It's a sweeping, easy-to-read overview of the period from roughly 70-135AD.

It's great for overall context and insight into one of Rome's most interesting and enigmatic emperors.
 
  A scholarly but accessible biography from a noted expert in the field.


  This is an enchanting  fictional work about Hadrian, first published in 1951.

It's well-researched and beautifully written.
 Life in the Roman Empire

   Imagine a "Lonely Planet" guide to visiting Ancient Rome on a limited budget.

The author is a noted scholar who has a sense of fun.

Enjoyable whether or not you have a time machine. It's fascinating to imagine trying to navigate the great imperial capital.
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