Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Aliasuk, Sep 30, 2020.
Again my thanks to the group.
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@Aliasuk, have some serious love, from that many of us. Or if you already did, have some more.
Right, you Can't lose with Robert Graves.
Ditto with Sidebottom. As much history as fiction.
@Aliasuk , I am not as much an historical novel reader, although I have read many of the above.
I am more of the history book reader. I recently acquired this book which has been a fun, simple read that gives a great overview of the history as well as the key figures through the Republic.
Chronicle of the Roman Republic: The Rulers of Ancient Rome From Romulus to Augustus
by Philip Matyszak
Pride of Carthage Paperback – January 3, 2006
by David Anthony Durham
Philip II of Macedonia: Greater Than Alexander Hardcover – Illustrated, August 1, 2010
by Richard A. Gabriel
So many CoinTalk friends have suggested so many good novels, I have nothing at present to add, but my prayers and good wishes for your health. I, too, am a cancer survivor; my chemo was from 1994/95. And here I am now, all those years later! God bless you!
Voulgaroktoou: thanks for your meassage
Great site, many thanks.
Not about ancient Rome, but it would be very difficult to top Mary Renault's The King Must Die and The Bull from the Sea, her two novels about Theseus, the mythical first king of Athens. Absolutely wonderful books.
I have enjoyed the relatively recent series of novels by Adrian Goldsworthy, another well-regarded historian. They're set in Roman Britain.
These authors write novels about the Roman military. "Blood and guts," but reasonably well-written and at least some attempt at characterization. I tend to read them like I"m eating potato chips -- once I discover such an author, I'll quickly read everything they've written in the past, and immediately buy their new books when they come out, usually annually. (I really don't have room in my apartment for more any more fiction, so I read them all on Kindle now.)
Robert Low (known for his series of novels about Vikings, but he's written some recently set in ancient Rome).
Mysteries/crime novels set in ancient Rome:
Steven Saylor, the Gordianus the Finder novels, set in late Republican Rome.
Lindsey Davis, the Marcus Didius Falco novels (I haven't read any of the ones published in the last 10 years or so, about Falco's daughter Flavia Alba). They're set during the reign of Vespasian. I also recently read and enjoyed her non-mystery, Master and God, set during the reign of Domitian.
John Maddox Roberts, the Decius Caecilius Metullus novels, also set in the late Republic. I think he's still alive, but he hasn't published anything new in years.
Ruth Downie, the "Medicus" series of books about Gaius Petronius Ruso and his British wife, primarily set in Roman Britain.
@Aliasuk, bouncing off of @Valentinian's recommendations of Alfred Duggan, Henry Treece was writing others along similar lines, at around the same time. Both authors were more or less doing 'Young Adult Fiction' before the genre got a formal name. But, like that much of it now (at least by reputation), neither stinted on their esteem and expectations of the reader's intelligence.
The Treece I gravitated toward first was about the late phases of the Viking Age. (This while I was reading Icelandic sagas in the Penguin translations, c. 1970's.) The two titles that come to mind first (partly since I had to find a copy of one of them, years after the fact) are
Man With a Sword (following the career of an Anglo-Dane, from maybe the 1040's into the reign of William the Conqueror) and
Splintered Sword (about a kid from the Orkneys, at the end of the 11th century, and his adventures. Spoiler: he winds up in the household of a particularly notorious, but here remarkably benign, Norman earl in Cumbria).
I remember both of these for the combination of relatively dense historical context and psychological insight. Granted, the latter is pretty relentlessly gender-specific. But for something on a more relaxed level than some of the rest of it, they might be another option.
...But only if you're okay with hanging out in the Middle Ages for a minute! My favorite Alfred Duggan has to be Lord Geoffrey's Fancy. That one is about a 13th-century English knight who winds up at the court of William de Villehardouin, 'Frankish' prince of Achaea, 1246-1278. ...Just So Happened that I'd just gotten my very first denier of him, and was starving for anything about the milieu from the local public library. Except, for the genre, it's Also a good book.
I'll keep you in my prayers. If you ever need to talk with one who's travelled that path, I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julian by Gore Vidal, quite good!)
Count Belisarius by Robert Graves (rollicking good book about the Byzantine general)
Also, the trilogy by Gene Wolfe (a talented writer of fiction) of the books Soldier of the Mist, Soldier of Arete, and Soldier of Sidon. Not exactly corresponding with coins but telling the tale of a Greek mercenary who fights in Palestine, Phoenicia, and Egypt under the Ptolemies.
@Aliasuk, No, No! Don't Do it! Find reading copies, and then get some coins! (Right, and I'm pulling for you, along similar lines as that many other people.)
Gore Vidal's Julian is an excellent read. It makes one wish Vidal had had a Tacitus or Suetonius to work with. I read it years ago and it left me with a positive view of the emperor that no subsequent study has been able to dispel. I also read Belisarius but while Graves knew how to weave a good story, and the TV series of "I Claudius" was an excellent production and good entertainment Graves never seemed to have moved beyond using the most common sources and seems to me to have lacked the skills to go beyond them.
@kevin McGonigal, I beg to differ. For someone who never subjected himself to the tv series, I, Claudius was a monument to the psychological incisiveness of which the novelist (and poet) was capable. ...Like @Alegandron, I don't do a lot with fiction, historical or otherwise. Or television. But in a more distinctly literary context, Graves powerfully evoked what can be known about the milieu of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.
I agree with all the recommendations of Gore Vidal's Julian; I simply forgot to mention it in my previous posts. I've never been able to get into any of Vidal's (very lengthy!) novels about American history, but I thought this was a wonderful book.
In the "literary" category, I also highly recommend the novel Augustus, by the novelist and poet John Williams; it won the National Book Award in 1973. It's written as an epistolary novel, which is not a form I usually enjoy, but it worked in this case. Try to get the NYRB (New York Review of Books) Classics paperback edition published in 2014, with an interesting introduction by the author Daniel Mendelsohn.
Two novels I enjoyed that I think might have been classified as young adult fiction (unless it was just a "No Sex Please, We're British!" kind of thing), but don't let that deter you: Gillian Bradshaw's Island of Ghosts from 1998 (about a troop of Sarmatian horsemen sent to Roman Britain under Marcus Aurelius), and Dark North from 2007 (about an African scout serving with a cavalry unit in Roman Britain under Septimius Severus). Both are very good, but if I had to recommend one of them, it would be the first one. Bradshaw has written quite a few other historical novels that I haven't read, including more than one set in the Byzantine Empire -- an unusual setting for fiction set in the ancient world, for whatever reason. (Not counting books about Vikings set partly in Constantinople, with the Varangian guard, etc.)
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