Ancient Rome

Delve into the rich history of one of the ancient world's largest empires via the Ancient Rome Collection. This Collection features diverse selections that include early dramas and philosophical treatises as well as contemporary fiction and historical analyses set in or focused on the Roman Empire.

Publication year -1Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Values/Ideas: FateTags Mythology, Narrative / Epic Poem, Ancient Rome, Italian Literature

An epic poem composed by the Roman poet Virgil between the years of 29 and 19 BCE, the Aeneid represents one of the most important and influential works in Western literature. It centers on the story of Aeneas, a refugee from the Trojan War who was fated to found the Roman nation in Italy. This guide refers to the Oxford World Classic’s edition of the Aeneid, translated by Frederick Ahl. All study guide citations refer... Read Aeneid Summary

Publication year 98Genre Book, NonfictionTags History: European, Ancient Rome

“Agricola” is an essay by Roman senator and historian Tacitus in praise of his father-in-law, Roman general Gnaeus Julius Agricola. Written c. 98 AD, five years after Agricola’s death, the work encompasses several genres. In one sense, it is a biography, a genre that in ancient Greece and Rome could also encompass history and oratory. “Agricola” also serves the function of a funeral oration, a speech praising the deceased that is meant to provide comfort... Read Agricola Summary

Publication year 1681Genre Poem, FictionTags Lyric Poem, Politics / Government, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Metaphysical

Publication year 1991Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: ArtTags Ancient Rome, Lyric Poem

Publication year -1Genre Poem, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: LoveTags Lyric Poem, Love / Sexuality, Ancient Rome, History: European

Publication year -1Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionTags Philosophy, Italian Literature, Ancient Rome

Written in 44 B.C. by Roman official, orator, and philosopher, Marcus Tullius Cicero, On Duties is a philosophical treatise on moral duty, or 'appropriateaction. 'It is written as a three-section letter, in lieu of a visit, to his son, Marcus Tullius Cicero Minor, who lived in Athens at the time, and was studying philosophy. Cicero wrote the letter in less than a month during the last year of his life. This text was written during... Read Cicero: On Duties Summary

Publication year 2010Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Identity: Femininity, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: WarTags History: World, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome

Publication year 524Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: FateTags Self Help, Italian Literature, Ancient Rome

The Consolation of Philosophy by Roman senator and philosopher Boethius is considered the last great philosophical work of the classical era and one of the foundational texts of medieval Christian thought. Anicius Boethius (c. 477-524 CE) was a philosopher and statesman in late Roman times, acting as advisor to the Gothic king Theodoric. Around 523, he was convicted of conspiracy and treason and sentenced to death. While in prison, and prior to his trial, he... Read Consolation Of Philosophy Summary

Publication year 170Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Values/Ideas: FateTags Classic Fiction, Fantasy, Mythology, Romance, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome

Content Warning: The source text and study guide both contain references to suicide.“Cupid and Psyche” is a story from the ancient Roman novel The Metamorphoses (also known as The Golden Ass) by Apuleius, written around 160 CE. The story describes the love between Cupid, the god of love, and Psyche (pronounced SY-kee), a young woman, and the trials they undergo as the result of human and divine meddling.Although the legend of Cupid and Psyche was... Read Cupid and Psyche Summary

Publication year -1Genre Collection of Letters, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Values/Ideas: FateTags Philosophy, Ancient Rome

Publication year 49Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Identity: Femininity, Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Play: Tragedy, Mythology, Ancient Rome

Publication year 180Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Fate, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Philosophy, Ancient Rome

Meditations is a collection of prose philosophical reflections and exercises composed in Koine Greek by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who lived from 121-180 and ruled from 161-180. Though the precise dating of his compositions is unknown and they are not believed to be presented in chronological order, at least some of the books were written while he was on military campaign in the north of Europe during his reign. Scholars are generally in consensus that... Read Meditations Summary

Publication year 1910Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Natural World: Nurture v. Nature, Emotions/Behavior: FearTags Philosophy, Italian Literature, Ancient Rome

On the Nature of Things is a philosophical work by the Roman author Titus Lucretius Carus (whom we call “Lucretius”). It was written in the early 50s BC, in Latin. Though this is a work of science and philosophy, it is also a poem. This work provides a detailed description of Epicurean philosophy, which encompasses theories of atoms, cosmology, theology, and a wide variety of natural phenomena. It also addresses the nature of the mind... Read On The Nature Of Things Summary

Publication year 49Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Life/Time: The Past, Life/Time: The Future, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Natural World: Nurture v. NatureTags Classical Period, Philosophy, Ancient Rome

Publication year 54Genre Play, FictionTags Play: Tragedy, Mythology, Classical Period, Ancient Rome, Drama / Tragedy, Play: Drama

Phaedra is one of the 10 surviving Roman tragedies attributed to Lucius Annaeus Seneca. It was probably composed in the first half of the first century CE, during the time when the Julio-Claudian Dynasty was in power in Rome. Considered one of Seneca’s most influential plays, Phaedra tells the story of Phaedra’s disastrous and unrequited passion for her stepson Hippolytus, loosely drawing on Euripides’s much earlier Greek tragedy, Hippolytus. The play explores themes such as... Read Phaedra Summary

Publication year -1Genre Play, FictionTags Classic Fiction, Ancient Rome

Pseudolus, by Roman playwright Titus Maccius Plautus, was written in 191 BCE. Like other Roman plays, Pseudolus would have been performed in temporary theaters during religious festivals. Though Plautus himself was not born in Rome—little is known about him, but it is thought he was born in the northern Italian town of Sarsina—his plays were remarkably popular. Writing during a time of Roman expansion, when Roman soldiers brought Greek culture back to Rome, Plautus often... Read Pseudolus Summary

Publication year 2Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Identity: Sexuality, Values/Ideas: Win & Lose, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Life/Time: Midlife, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Identity: Femininity, Identity: MasculinityTags Lyric Poem, Romance, Fairy Tale / Folklore, Ancient Rome, Didacticism, Love / Sexuality, Philosophy, Arts / Culture, History: European, Gender / Feminism, Relationships

Publication year 92Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & AngerTags Classic Fiction, Mythology, Narrative / Epic Poem, Military / War, Ancient Rome

Publication year 2014Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Colonialism, Self Discovery, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Natural World: Place, Emotions/Behavior: HopeTags Fantasy, Mythology, Action / Adventure, Leadership/Organization/Management, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Animals, History: European, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome

Originally published in 2014, The Blood of Olympus is the fifth and final book in Rick Riordan’s young adult fantasy series The Heroes of Olympus, inspired by Greek and Roman mythologies. The series follows seven demigods—children of one divine and one mortal parent—as they try to stop the earth goddess, Gaea, from rising to power. The novel won several awards, including the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Middle Grade and Children’s Book of 2014. The... Read The Blood of Olympus Summary

Publication year -1Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: BeautyTags Classic Fiction, Ancient Rome

Very little is known about Plautus’s life or the productions of his work. The only extant ancient Roman comedies are works written by Plautus and Terence, a playwright who was also a slave. During the time that Plautus was writing, there were no permanent theatres in Rome, as  (the first one wasn’t erected until 55 BC in Pompey), so performances occurred in temporary spaces at festivals. Like other Roman playwrights, Plautus adapted his works from... Read The Braggart Soldier Summary

Publication year -1Genre Play, FictionTags Classic Fiction, Ancient Rome, Play: Comedy / Satire

The Brothers Menaechmus is a comedy of mistaken identity, written by the Roman playwright Plautus around the beginning of the second century BC. With its shimmering wordplay, twisting plot and virtuosic use of metre, the play served a crucial role in the development of comedy as a genre, inspiring playwrights such as Shakespeare and Molière. It is among the earliest Latin works to have survived intact.Moschus, a merchant from Syracuse, in Sicily, has twin sons... Read The Brothers Menaechmus Summary

Publication year 426Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Society: CommunityTags Religion / Spirituality, Philosophy, Christian literature, Ancient Rome

Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Society: WarTags Ancient Rome, Politics / Government, History: World, Military / War

Publication year 159Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Sexuality, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Values/Ideas: ArtTags Fantasy, Mythology, Humor, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Relationships, Animals, History: European, Ancient Rome

Publication year 121Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: FateTags History: European, Ancient Rome

The Twelve Caesars, often titled Lives of the Caesars in English, is a collection of 12 biographies covering Julius Caesar and the first 11 emperors of the Roman Empire in historical order. It was written in 121 CE by Suetonius. The Twelve Caesars is, along with Tacitus’s Histories and the Annals and Cassius Dio’s History of Rome, one of the earliest sources that has a narrative covering political events in the Roman Empire from about... Read The Twelve Caesars Summary

Publication year 65Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Relationships: Siblings, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Play: Tragedy, Ancient Rome, Classical Period, Trauma / Abuse / Violence