Latin For You

Teaching and translating ancient Latin since 1986

Fiction set the ancient Mediterranean

A surprisingly large number of books, mostly novels, has been written over the years which take place in the ancient Mediterranean world.  However, I am unaware of any catalogue of such books.  So, as a service to all those who are looking for something to read and have an interest in the classical world.  As this is very much a work in progress, please be patient as this substantial list is compiled.  Books are arranged alphabetically by author, with title, year of publication, genre and any other known and pertinent details provided.

You're sure to find something tasty to curl up with on those long winter nights.  If not, you can always try reading one of the books below.

 

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

K

L

M

N

O

P

Q

R

S

T

U

V

W

X

Y 

  

Z

  

 

And here are a few websites that also have a catatlogue of novels set in the ancient Mediterranean.  Among us all, we likely have every book covered.  But, if we don't, let me know and I'll be happy to add it to the list!

historical novels - this site covers the whole range of human history from prehistoric to 20th century!  You can also look up books by continent (setting)

a list of the top 100 novels set in the ancient world as determined by site visitors.

a blog of reviews of a select list of novels set in the ancient world (and not just the Mediterranean)

Roman Times - a website set up by a true devotee of the ancient Roman world as well as a trained classicist.  Includes book reviews

Wikipedia has a catalogue of fiction set in ancient Greece and another for ancient Rome; both divided into chronological sections.

A

 Atwood, Margaret Penelopiad (2005) Perhaps Canada's most well known author adds her perspective on the story of Odysseus.  The story id told from the point of view of Odysseus' wife, Penelope.
 Aveline, John A Death in the Senate (1989) A murder mystery set in 1st century BC Rome (73 BC).  Slave Diocles sloves the murder of his master.
   

 

B

 Bridger, DenyseAs Fate Decrees (2007)Set in ancient Athens in the times of Heracles and with a mythological theme.  Aramantha is a slave bought by Ares.
 Bulwer-Lytton, The Right Hon. Lord Edward  The Last Days of Pompeii (1834)One of the oldest books in this list, itself inspired by a painting by Russian artist Karl Briullov.  It relates the days leading up to the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD.  It contrasts the decadent Roman society to older and emerging societies.  The novel has been turned into a movie or mini-series no less than 8 times between 1900 and 1984.  The 1935 RKO version used only the title and nothing else.
   

 

C

 Cameron, Christian
Killer of Men (2010)
Marathon(2011)
The Long War series is about the Persian Wars of the 4th century BC.  There are several more titles waiting in the wings: Sicily, Artemisium, Plataea, Empire.
 Cameron, Christian
Tyrant (2008)
Storm of Arrows (2009)
Funeral Games (2010)
The Tyrant series is about Alexander the Great's campaigns in Scythia.  The idea first arose while Cameron was at the University of Toronto. There are 3 more novels planned for the series (King of the Bosporus, Besieger of Cities & Force of Kings).
 Cameron, ChristianGod of War (2012)The life of Alexander the Great as told by Ptolemy.  As with all of Cameron's novels, there is much for the historical re-enactor (Cameron is one himself).  Hence the military focus.
   

 

D

 Davis, Lindsay
The Silver Pigs (1989)
Shadows in Bronze (1990)
Venus in Copper (1991)
The Iron Hand of Mars (1992)
Poseidon's Gold (1993)
Last Act in Palmyra (1994)
Time to Depart (1995)
 Mystery series set in Rome at the time of Vespasian (70-72AD); main character Marcus Didius Falco, a private informer.  The series is written very much in the style of Raymond Chandler.
 Doherty, Paul
The Mask of Ra (1998)
The Horus Killings (1999)
The Anubis Slayings (2000)
The Slayers of Seth (2001)
The Assassins of Isisi (2004)
The Poisoners of Ptah (2007)
The Spies of Sobeck (2008)

Murder mysteries set in ancient Egypt (18th Dynasty, 1500's BC).  Amerotke is the chief judge of the Temple of Ma'at and the central character of this series.

Paul Doherty has also written a large number of medieval mystery novels including two series surrounding Brother Aethelstan and Hugh Corbett.

 Doherty, Paul
An Evil Spirit out of the West (2003)
The Season of the Hyena (2005)
The Year of the Cobra (2005)
The events of the reign of Akhenaten are related by the nobleman, Mahu.
 Doherty, Paul
Domina (2002)
Murder Imperial (2003)
The Song of the Gladiator (2004)
The Queen of the Night (2006)
Murder's Immortal Mask(2008)
Murder/suspense which takes place during the reign of Constantine the Great (312 AD). The main character is Claudia, an 'agent' in the employ of Helena, the mother of Constantine.
 Doherty, Paul
A Murder in Macedon (1997)
A Murder in Thebes (1998)
The House of Death (2001)
The Godless Man (2002)
The Gates of Hell (2003)
Mysteries t his time set in the time of Alexander the Great.
   

 

E

 Erskine, John The Private Life of Helen of Troy 1925 The story recounts the life of Helen of Troy after her and Menelaus' return from the Trojan War.
    

 

F

   

 

G

  Gedge, Pauline Child of the Morning (1977)During and about the reign of Hatshepsut
  Gedge, Pauline The Eagle and the Raven (1978)Gedge's one departure from the Egyptian scene.  This book is about Queen Boudicca in Roman Britain
  Gedge, Pauline The Twelfth Transforming (1984)The reign of Akhenaten
  Gedge, Pauline The Scroll of Saqqara (1990)The reign of Ramses the Great
  Gedge, Pauline
House of Dreams (1994)
House of Illusions (1996)
Ramses III
  Gedge, Pauline
The Hippopotamus Marsh (1998)
The Oasis (1999)
The Horus Roda (2000)
Seqenenra
 Gedge, Pauline
The Twice Born (2007)
Seer of Egypt (2008)
The King's Man (2011)
Thothmes III & Amunhotep III
 Graves, Robert Count Belisaurius (1938)A fictional biography of the Byzantine general, Belisaurius, who served under the emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD.  Owes much to Procopius's Secret History.
 Graves, Robert
 I, Claudius (1934)
 Claudius the God (1934)
The great masterwork of Graves, published by Penguin, filmed as a 13 part series and studied in University.  This fictional biography of the emperor Claudius, based largely on the accounts of Suetonius and Tacitus, has had a greater impact on our perception of the Julio-Claudian family than anything else.
 Gregory, Kristiana Cleopatra VII, Daughter of the Nile (1999)This book is one of the Royal Diaries series, published by Scholastic Books and aimed at young women.  This is the diary of Cleopatra between the years 57 and 55 BC (ages 12-14)
   

 

H

 Harris, Robert Pompeii (2003)
 Harris, Robert
Imperium (2006)
Lustrum (2009)
(2012)
The Imperium trilogy centres on the life and career of Cicero.  The 2nd of the trilogy was relesed under the title Conspirata.
 Hersey, John The Conspiracy (1972)This is prolific and Pulitzer Prize winning author, John Hersey's one foray into the classical world.  The book gives a detailed, fictionalized account of the conspiracy in 64/65 AD against Nero.  The entire account is in the form of documents; letters, memos and official records.  Hersey was better known as a journalist, although it was for his novel, A Bell for Adano, that he won the Pulitzer.
   

 

I

 Iggulden, Conn
The Gates of Rome (2003)
The Death of Kings (2004)
The Field of Swords (2005)
The Gods of War (2006)
The Blood of Gods (2013?)
Iggulden has written a four part series on the life of Julius Caesar from his birth to assassination.  There is a fifth book planned, which covers the time after Caesar's death.  Iggulden has also written the Dangerous Books for Boys series.
Iliffe, Glyn
King of Ithaca (2008)
The Gates of Troy (2009)
The Armour of Achilles (2010)
The story of the Trojan War is told from the point of view of Odysseus, beginning with his life on Ithaca to the end of the Trojan War.
   

 

J

Jackson, Douglas
Caligula (2009)
Claudius (2010)
Rufus, a slave in the imperial household, tries to survive the intrige of the imperial palace and gives us his take on these two Roman emperors (1st century AD)
Jackson, Douglas
Hero of Rome (2011)
Defender of Rome (2011)
Tribune Gaius Valerius Verrens is the hero of these novels, set in 1st century AD Roman Britain (in the days of Boudicca)
Jarman, Julia
The Egyptian Goddess (1992)
The Roman Eagle (2001)
The Time-Travelling Cat series is about a cat, named Topher, who follows Ka, an Egyptian time-travelling cat.  So far the time periods are quite wide (Pharaonic Egypt to Victorian times).  All of the titles are The Time-Travelling Cat and -. 
   

 

K

 Kane, Ben
The Forgotten Legion (2008)
The Silver Eagle (2009)
The Road to Rome (2010)
The trilogy follows the lives of twins Romulus and Fabiola during the first triumvirate in 1st century BC Rome.
 Kane, Ben
Hannibal, Enemy of Rome (2012)
Hannibal, Fields of Blood (coming)
The story of the Carthaginian general, Hannibal, who almost conquered Rome at the end of the 3rd century BC.
  Kane, Ben
Spartacus, the Gladiator (2012)
Spartacus, Rebellion (2012)
Spartacus gets another sympathetic treatment. 1st century BC
 Kazantzakis, Nikos Alexander the Great, a novel (1978) A novel written for young adults, was originally published in serial form in 1940.  Here the author of Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation of Christ tells the story of Alexnader from boyhood until his death.
 Kazantzakis, Nikos At the Palace of Knossos, a novel (1978) Another novel for young adults, this relates a story closer to the author's home (he was born on Crete) althoguth further away in time (Minoan times).
   

 

L

 Lawrence, Caroline
The Thieves of Ostia (2002)
The Secrets of Vesuvius (2002)
The Pirate of Pompeii (2002)
The Assassins of Rome (2003)
The Dolphins of Laurentum (2003)
The 12 Tasks of Flavia Gemina (2003)
The Enemies of Jupiter (2004)
The Gladiators from Capua (2005)
The Colossus of Rhodes
 Mystery series featuring 4 young people, led by Flavia Gemina - aimed at a pre-teen audience.  The books are about 200 paages long and the main characters are Flavia Gemina, Jonathan, Nubia and Lupus.  The series is set in Pompeii around the time of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius (79-80 AD)
   

 

M

Maddox Roberts, John
SPQR I (1990)
The Catiline Conspiracy (1991)
The Sacrilege (1992)
The Temple of the Muses (1999)
 Saturnalia (1999)
 Nobody Loves a Centurion (2001)
 The Tribune's Curse (2003)
 The River God's Venegance (2004)
 The Princess and the Pirates (2005)
 A Point of Law (2006)
 Under Vesuvius (2007)
 Oracle of the Dead (2008)
 The Year of Confusion (2010)
Decius Caecilius Metellus is the hero of this mystery/suspense series which involve many of the famous historical characters of the 1st century BC.  The first in the series read like bad pulp fiction and constantly felt anachronistic.  Since then the feel has improved considerably.
 Maddox Roberts, John
Hannibal's Children (2003)
The Seven Hills (2005)
What if Hannibal had won the Carthiginian War?  This early 2nd century BC series (of 2) follow Rome's efforts to regain control of Italy against the Carthaginians.
 McCullough, Colleen
The First Man in Rome (1990)
The Grass Crown (1991)
Fortune's Favourites (1993)
Caesar's Women (1996)
Caesar (1998)
The October Horse (2002)
Antony & Cleopatra (2007)

The Masters of Rome series follows the great historical switch in Rome from republic to empire.  The First Man in Rome is about Marius; The Grass Crown about Marius and Sulla during thr Social War; Sulla rules the Fortune's Favourites; while Pompey rises and Caesar is introduced; Caesar's Women covers 68-58BC and the rise of Caesar during Pompey's ascendency; Caesar is all about, well, Julius Caesar up to the assassination of Pompey in Egypt; The October Horse covers Caesar's dominance, his assassination and ends with the Battle of Philippi; the concluding novel, Antony & Cleopatra cover 41-27BC and the start of the Roman Empire.  A short synopsis of each book can be found on wikipedia.

The novels are quite long 600-900 pages and are supplied with 100-150 pages of explanatory glossary - pretty heavy going for a casual read.  The resultant roughly 5,000 pages would put Gibbon to shame.

 McCulloough, Colleen The Song of Troy (1998)The focus of this novel about the Trojan War is the story of Paris and Helen.  Each chapter is narrated by a different character, although some characters get multiple chapters (but never two in a row) 
 Mitchell, Jack Th Roman ConspiracyThe Catilinarian Conspiracy of 63 BC as told see through the eyes of a young client of Cicero who lives in Etruria.

 

N

   

 

O

   

 

P

   

 

Q

   

 

R

 Renault, Mary The Last of the Wine (1956) Takes place in Athens during the Peloponnesian War (late 5th century BC).  The main character is a student of Socrates.
 Renault, Mary  The King Must Die (1958) The story of the mythological character, Theseus, from his birth to the death of his father.
 Renault, Mary The Bull from the Sea (1962) The continuation of the story of Theseus.
 Renault, Mary The Mask of Apollo (1966) An actor in the time of Plato and Dionysus the Younger, the tyrant of Syracuse.
 Renault, Mary Fire from Heaven (1969) The life of Alexander the Great from brith to the death of his father, Philip.
 Renault, Mary The Persian Song (1972) Alexander the Great's conquest of Persia from the point of view of one Bagoas.
 Renault, Mary The Praise Singer (1978) The story of Simonides of Ceos.
 Renault, Mary Funeral Games (1981) The story of the successors of Alexander the Great.
 Rowe, Rosemary
The Germanicus Mosaic (1999)
A Pattern of Blood (2000)
Murder in the Forum (2001)
The Chariots of Calyx (2002)
The Legatus Mystery (2003)
The Ghosts of Glevum (2004)
Enemies of the Empire (2005)
A Roman Ransom (2006)
A Coin for the Ferryman (2007)
Death at Pompeia's Wedding (2008)
Requiem for a Salve (2010)
The Vestal Vanishes (2011)
A series of murder mysteries set in Roman Britain ni the late 2nd century AD.  The main character is a freedman, Libertus (which means 'freedman' in Latin whose patron is Marcus Septimus.

 

S

 Saylor, Steven
Roman Blood (1991)
Arms of Nemesis (1992)
Catilina's Riddle (1993)
The Venus Throw (1995)
A Murder of the Appian Way (1996)
Rubicon (1999)
Last Seen in Massilia (2000)
A Mist of Prophesies (2002)
The Judgement of Caesar (2004)
The Triumph of Caesar (2008)
The House of the Vestals (1997)
A Gladiator Only Dies Once (2005)
The Seven Wonder (2012)
The series features the main detective character, Gordianus the Finder.  The first novel takes place in 80 BC and pretty much mirrors the major events of 1st century BC Rome down to Caesar's triumph in 46 BC.  There are also 2 collections of shorts stories (The House of the Vestals & A Gladiator Only Dies Once) set between the first and second novels as well as a 'prequel' which takes place in 90BC.  Each book often has as its base a work of classical literature (Roman Blood is based on Cicero's Pro Roscio.
 Saylor, Steven
Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome (2007)
Empire: The Novel of Imperial Rome (2010)
The first novel covers 1,000 years of Roman history down to the assassination of Julius Caesar.  The second covers over 100 years from Augustus' death to Hadrian's reign - 141 AD.
 Scarrow, Simon
Under the Eagle (2000)
The Eagle's Conquest (2001)
When the Eagle Hunts (2003)
The Eagle and the Wolves (2004)
The Eagles Prey (2004)
The Eagle's Prophesy (2005)
The Eagle in the Sand (2006)
Centurion (2007)
The Gladiator (2009)
The Legion (2010)
Praetorian (2011)
'untitled' (2013)
The Eagle series follows two soldiers (Quintus Licinius Cato & Lucius Cornelius Macro) serving in the Roman army in the 1st century AD (the first book takes plac in 42 AD).
 Scarrow, Simon
Gladiator, Fight for Freedom (2011)
Gladiator, Street Fighter (2012)
A series of book aimed at a young audiences, they take place in the 1st century BC.  In the first book Titus Cornelius Pollenius, a Roman centurion, who saves the life of Pompey the Great during the battle with Spartacus.
 Sienkiewicz, Henryk Quo Vadis: a Tale of the Time of Nero (1895)This is the grand-daddy of them all.  The story of Nero and Christianity, it helped earn its author a Nobel Prize for literature.  The movie, with Peter Ustinov as Nero, is still a classic.  Originally written in Polish (and in instalments), it has been translated into 50 languages (but not Latin!).

 

T

 

 Todd, Marilyn
I, Claudia (1995)
Virgin Territory (1996)
Man Eater (1997)
Wolf Whistle (1998)
Jail Bait (1999)
Black Salamander (2000)
Set in 1st century BC Rome, this is the first in a series of mystery novels featuring the character, Claudia Seferius.
  

 

U

   

 

V

 Vidal, Nicole Nefertiti (1965) The story of Nefertit, originally written in French.
   

 

W

Waltari, Mika The Egyptian (1945)Set in the 18th Dynasty of Pharaonic Egypt (1400 BC), the physician Sinuhe tells the story of the fall and death of Akenhaten.  The book was translated into several languages (the English translation seems to have come from the Swedish version rather than directly from the Finnish; it is also abridged).  A film version was made in 1954.  The English version was the best selling foreign language written book until it was overtaken by Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose.
Waltari, Mika The Etruscan (1955)The story follows the travels and life of Turms, an Etruscan, in 480 BC as he discovers he is immortal.
Waltari, Mika
The Secret of the Kingdom (1959)
The Roman (1964)
These two books are about the early days of Christianity.  In the first, Marcus, a Roman citizen, finds himeself learning about Jesus and 'the Way' from his followers, immeidately after his death.  The sequel is about Marcus' son Minutus, who learns about Christianity. but also works for the emperor Nero.
Whyte, Jack
The Sky Stone (1993)
The Singing Sword (1993)
The Eagle's Brood (1994)
The Saxon Shore (1995)
The Fort at River's Bend (1999)
Metamorphosis (1999)
Set in early 5th century AD Rome, this is the first in a series which tells the story of the origins of King Arthur in the realm of Camulod (as in the Roman town of Camulodinum).  The story begins with sword maker and Roman officer Publius Varrus and his former general Caius Britannicus.  We eventually reach Caius 'Merlyn' Britannicus.  The final two books in the series were originally written as a single 1,100 page book, The Sorcerer.  In Canada the book was divided into two called Sorcerer vol. I and II.  The US publishers did not like the one and two and published them under titles sufficiently different to confuse the buying public into thinkin they were separate books. 
   

 

X, Y, Z