Ancient Rome

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Lawrence Alma-Tadema Caracalla and Geta.jpg

Home of temples with even bigger columns, and brutal spearsword-wielding Roman legionaries, all of whom had extremely clean, well-kept, elaborate armour and helmets (even down to the lowliest grunt soldier). Also home to gladiators, mad emperors and elaborately coiffed women with slinky, see-thru stolas. Expect to see a lion eating a Christian or two.

A time when Classical Mythology was Serious Business for the pious. For more on the actual facts of the place, see The Roman Empire. The Roman Republic is less often depicted in fiction, except for the bit right at the end when it became The Roman Empire (though occasionally you will see fiction set against the earlier struggle with Carthage or the revolt of Spartacus).

Roman architecture featured much more bricks than marble, but in the intervening centuries most of the bricks either crumbled, collapsed or were just stolen to make other buildings while those useless marble blocks and columns were left pretty much alone, so in Hollywood movies you're now treated to the sight of Imperial Rome made of shiny, gleaming travertino marble, with little or no brick houses to be seen.

Sword and Sandal works may feature a Fantasy Counterpart Culture. May overlap with Bible Times. See Ancient Grome for unwitting crossovers with Ancient Greece.

Popular tropes of this time period include:

Works set in this time period include:

Anime and manga

  • Thermae Romae, set in the reign of the emperor Hadrian (and in 21st century Japan).

Comic Books



  • Pharsalia (61-65) by Lucan. It is an epic poem which covers the Roman Civil Wars.
  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1789) by Edward Gibbon's is considered the definitive, most exhaustively researched book ever written on the topic of history. It is a massive tome which took the better part of Gibbon's life to complete, as virtually every sentence is cited. Famously ignores all emperors from Augustus to Nerva (27 BC-98 AD). Starts with the rise of Trajan in 98 AD and continues through the entire history of The Roman Empire, and the Byzantine Empire. A lengthy legacy section follows events into The Renaissance.
  • The Last Days of Pompeii (1834) by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Adapted to film many times.
  • Römische Geschichte (Roman History, 1854-1856) by Theodor Mommsen is a detailed work on the history of The Roman Republic. Followed by the sequel The Provinces of the Roman Empire (1885-1886) which is also very detailed. The primary work earned the author the 1902 Nobel Prize in literature. Mommsen had also prepared another sequel, covering The Roman Empire, but never finished it. His notes and plans for the incomplete work were first published in 1992.
  • Quo Vadis? (1896) by Henryk Sienkiewicz.
  • The Silver Chalice (1952) by Thomas B. Costain. Made into an infamously bad movie in 1954.
  • Detectives in Togas (1953) by Henry Winterfeld.
  • The Eagle of the Ninth (1954) by Rosemary Sutcliff. Set in the Empire times in Britain.
  • Ecce Romani, the Latin textbook. First published in 1971.
  • Cambridge Latin Course, the UK's counterpart to Ecce Romani.
  • The Marcus Didius Falco series of detective novels. Started in 1989.
  • Masters of Rome series by Colleen McCullough's . Started in 1990.
  • The Roma Sub Rosa series by Steven Saylor. Started in 1991.
  • Time Scout spends a lot of time in Ancient Rome. The series started in 1995.
  • The Roman Mysteries by Caroline Lawrence. Started in 2001.

Live Action TV


Video Games

Western Animation