Bibliography for GURPS Imperial Rome
Books marked with an asterisk (*) are primary sources written by Roman citizens or contemporaries.
A Companion to Roman Britain. Edited by Peter Clayton. A collection of articles about the province of Britain. Good source for GMs setting a campaign or adventure there.
A Day in Old Rome. William Davis. A detailed account of life in Rome circa 100 A.D. An excellent source.
A History of Rome to A.D. 565. Arthur Boak and William Sinnigen. This is a good overview of political, social and cultural developments in Rome.
Ancient and Medieval Warfare. Edited by Thomas E. Griess. The Roman army is described in detail here.
The Barbarians. Tim Newark. This book has some good illustrations of Late Roman barbarians, drawn by Angus McBride, and many stories about the last days of Rome. A good source for visual aids.
Citizens of Rome. Simon Goodenough. A good source of Roman life and society.
The Civil War.* Julius Caesar. Caesar's book provides good historical references and insights into his personality.
The Civilization of Rome. Donald R. Dudley. A short, concise history of Rome.
Daily Life in Ancient Rome. Jerome Carcopino.
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Edward Gibbon. Several volumes long, this 18th-century book is not historically accurate in many instances, but the dramatic recounting of the late history of the Empire is a still a good source of inspiration and research.
The Fall of the Roman Empire: The Military Explanation. Arther Ferrill. A description of the decay of the legions during the Late Empire.
Greece and Rome at War. Peter Connelly. A well illustrated book on warfare of the Greeks and Romans, especially suitable for those unfamiliar with the subject.
The Greeks and Romans. Nathaniel Harris. This book also deals with Greek history, making it ideal for GMs wishing to set a campaign in the East.
Histories.* Polybius. These books were written by Greek historian Polybius during the 2nd century B.C., and recount the First and Second Punic wars as well as other events in Roman history in the previous two centuries. An excellent source for a historical campaign. There are several English translations; an excellent one is Ian Scott-Kilvert's The Rise of the Roman Empire. Penguin Classics, 1979.
Pompeii. Peter Connelly. Maps and cutaways restoring buildings destroyed during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Excellent way to show players what the buildings look like. MacDonald Educational, Ltd., 1979.
The Twelve Caesars.* Suetonius. The lives of the first Emperors are described here. It has lots of anecdotes, which may inspire adventures and campaigns.
The World of Ancient Rome. Edited by Giulio Gianelli. More information about Roman life and customs.
Agent of Byzantium. Harry Turtledove. A collection of short stories about a Byzantine secret agent, living in an alternate history where Islam never flourished and Byzantium remained strong.
The Aquiliad trilogy (Aquila in the New World, Aquila and the Iron Horse, and Aquila and the Sphinx). S.P. Somtow. A tongue-in-cheek alternate history where Rome never fell and moved on to conquer North America, as perceived by a sarcastic Indian.
Ben-Hur. Lew Wallace. Classic novel about a Romanized Jew during the time of Jesus Christ.
Birds of Prey. David Drake. A time traveler and a Roman secret agent team up to fight aliens in 262 A.D.
Envoy Extraordinary. William Golding. A mechanical genius' inventions are rejected by Roman culture. Full of interesting insights on the mindset of the ancient world.
The Eternal City. Edited by David Drake. Stories by several SF authors set in or dealing with Rome.
The Falco series. Lindsey Davis. A series of mystery novels about Marcus Didius Falco, a "private informer" in the Rome of Vespasian, starting with The Silver Pigs. Written in a "hard-boiled" style, the books are well-researched and well-written.
The First Man in Rome. Colleen McCullough. First in a series of novels about the rise of Marius and Sulla to power and the career of Julius Caesar.
From the Heart of Darkness. David Drake. A collection of short stories, including some set in Rome.
Killer. David Drake and Karl Edward Wagner. A bloodthirsty alien crashes on Earth to prowl the streets of Rome.
Krispos Rising. Harry Turtledove. Set in Videssos, a world that closely resembles Late Imperial Rome or the Byzantine Empire, with the addition of magic. A good source of ideas for GMs wishing to introduce magic in a Roman campaign.
Lest Darkness Fall. L. Sprague deCamp. A great look at late Rome, with a time travel/parallel world theme. A good resource.
Ranks of Bronze. David Drake. Roman soldiers are used against low-tech aliens throughout the galaxy.
The Robe. Lloyd C. Douglas. A novel about early Christianity.
The Videssos Cycle: The Misplaced Legion, An Emperor for the Legion, The Legion of Videssos, and Swords of the Legion. Harry Turtledove. A Roman army is swept to Videssos, a world where sorcery exists.
Films and Television
Ben-Hur. This movie version of the Lew Wallace novel immortalized chariot racing.
Cleopatra. An extravagant recreation of the life of the Egyptian queen.
The Fall of the Roman Empire. A typical Hollywood look at the last days of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Gladiator. This film covers the same time period as The Fall of the Roman Empire, but with a different plot and focuses more on Commodus.
I, Claudius. A BBC rendering of the Graves novels, and generally well done, but the lack of budget required some sacrifices. The greatest historical howler is the casting of the burly, energetic Brian Blessed as the small, sickly, Emperor Augustus.
Monty Python's Life of Brian. A hilarious satire of life in the East during the 1st century A.D.
Quo Vadis?. This movie deals with early Christians, the great fire at Rome, and Nero's persecutions.
Sign of the Cross. This film by C.B. DeMille is a pre-Hayes Code look at the Neronian persecution of Christians (Claudette Colbert's famous milk bath was shocking to the viewers of the time), and includes several scenes of the arena.
Rome. An HBO miniseries covering the death of Julius Caesar and the accession of Octavian. Lavishly produced, well-acted, well-written, and generally accurate, but it takes a few minor liberties with historical fact (and is rated R for violence and nudity). This is about as good as Hollywood gets.
Spartacus. A star-studded epic of the famous gladiator.
Asterix the Gaul (and many others). Uderzo and Goscinny. A small village holds out against the Roman conquest of Gaul due to a magic potion, these famous comics are useful resources for a tongue-in-cheek campaign and hilarious to read in any case.
Both of these are, sadly, out of print and collector's items.
Circus Maximus. Avalon Hill. A tactical game dealing with chariot racing.
Gladiator. Avalon Hill. A companion to Circus Maximus dealing with arena combat.