In 2009, Lindsey Davis—writer of classical thrillers, creator of private investigator and poet Falco—listed in The Guardian newspaper her top ten books from her “shelves and shelves” of Roman material. She included Rosemary Sutcliff in “ten that are scholarly but user-friendly … all books I have enjoyed, all influenced my love of ancient Rome and most of them are in regular use for my work”.
Of The Eagle of the Ninth, by Rosemary Sutcliff, she wrote:
Somewhere about the year 117 AD, the Ninth Legion, which was stationed at Eboracum, where York now stands, marched north to deal with a rising among the Caledonian tribes, and was never heard of again. Hooked? If not, there’s no hope for you. A wonderful novel, for children of all ages.
With excerpts from her remarks, her other nine choices were:
Daily Life in Ancient Rome by Jérôme Carcopino
This dense depiction of the great, bustling, aromatic, highly superior city of Rome … has never gone out of date, and remains an excellent introduction to how Rome worked and how its people thought of themselves …
Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome, by Lesley Adkins & Roy A Adkins
… an excellent encyclopaedia of Roman facts, people, places and habits…The gazetteer, which gives the modern equivalent of Roman provinces and towns, is particularly useful, and the book answers all those tricky questions about time, numbers, personal names. And whether the Romans wore underwear.
Rome and Her Empire, by Barry Cunliffe
This chunky and beautifully photographed book begins with Rome itself, its roots and history… Finally it discusses how the empire that must have seemed so strong came to disintegrate.
Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide, by Amanda Claridge
… for ancient world purists nothing can beat this travel guide to more than 150 sites … this book unravels the mysteries, with photographs or drawings of most features …
The Colosseum, by Keith Hopkins and Mary Beard
… This engagingly written account tells of its long history as a venue for bloodthirsty sports and other uses (cattle pasture, glue factory …) and how it has inspired artists, authors and even botanists …
Ancient Inventions, by Peter James and Nick Thorpe
… I fell in love with this book instantly. I trust it absolutely on everything from catapults to hodometers, though the gynaecological instrument found at Pompeii always gives me a bit of a turn … Arranged thematically, the book covers all periods, delighting in human ingenuity from Aztec chewing gum to 2,000-year-old snow goggles.
The Lost World of Pompeii, by Colin Amery and Brian Curran Jr
… Pompeii books abound, but this is one of the best, with wonderful colour illustrations.
Roman Britain, by Keith Branigan
… There is no doubt that the Romans viewed Britain as particularly exotic and mysterious … They occupied for 400 years and though much disappeared quickly after they left, still our roads, towns and the fabric of our lives owe a very great deal to them.
I, Claudius, by Robert Graves
… There is no better way to get to grips with the complicated family tree of the early emperors, who are so vital to understanding how imperial Rome came about. And rarely has a male novelist created such a subtle female character as here in the devious Empress Livia …
- Source: Read the full article at The Guardian