- Their territory extends for several thousands of li. It has more than four hundred walled towns. There are several tens of smaller dependent kingdoms. The walls of the towns are made of stone. They have established postal relays at intervals, which are all plastered and whitewashed. There are pines and cypresses, as well as trees and plants of all kinds.
Their kings are not permanent. They select and appoint the most worthy man. If there are unexpected calamities in the kingdom, such as frequent extraordinary winds or rains, he is unceremoniously rejected and replaced. The one who has been dismissed quietly accepts his demotion, and is not angry. The people of this country are all tall and honest. They resemble the people of the China and that is why we call this kingdom Da Qin ['Great China'].
—Gan Ying, prospective Chinese ambassador to Rome, c. 97 A.D.
Popular tropes of this time period are:
- Androcles' Lion
- Bread and Circuses
- The Caligula
- Canis Latinicus
- Colour Coded Patrician: Only the patrician class could wear Tyrian Purple.
- Condemned Contestant
- Fed to the Beast: The aforementioned Roman habit of throwing people to the lions.
- Finish Him!
- Gladiator Games
- Made a Slave
- The Glory That Was Rome
- The Queen's Latin
Works set in this time period are:
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Anime and manga
- Thermae Romae, set in the reign of the emperor Hadrian (and in 21st century Japan).
- Axis Powers Hetalia has a character who is the personification of Ancient Rome, affectionately referred to as "Grandpa Rome" by his descendent Italy. While most of the series is set in more modern times, there are some comics that are from this time period.
- Nero Fox (the "Jive-Jumping Emperor of Ancient Rome"), a Golden Age DC Comics Funny Animal character who was emperor of ancient Rome. The "jive-jumping" part referred to his anachronistic playing of 40s-era jazz/swing music on his "gobble pipe" (saxophone). His era's later revisited in The '80s by a time-traveling Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!.
- Suske en Wiske: The stories "Het Geheim van de Gladiatoren" and "De Nerveuze Nerviërs" take place in this time period.
- Nero: In "De Rode Keizer" Nero and his friends travel back to the era of Emperor Nero, which of course leads to a lot of confusion.
- Monty Python's Life of Brian: takes place in Judea during life of Jesus Christ.
- The second segment of History of the World Part I
- Spartacus (based on a novel by Howard Fast)
- Ben Hur (based on a novel by Lew Wallace)
- The Robe (based on a novel by Lloyd C. Douglas)
- The Sign of the Cross, based on a play by Wilson Barrett
- Fellini's Satyricon, loosely based on a work by the Ancient Roman author Petronius
- Quo Vadis? (See Literature, below.)
- Centurion, set among the Ninth Legion in Scotland, right when Hadrian pulled back.
- The Last Legion, also about the Ninth Legion.
- Agora, set in Roman Egypt.
- 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), The Mark of the Horse Lord (1965), and other novels set in Roman Britain by Rosemary Sutcliff.
- 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.
- Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp is an Alternate History sparked when a professor is teleported from the 20th century into ancient Rome and stops it from falling.
- To Bring The Light is an alternate history in the other direction - someone from a future Rome is brought to bring about the founding of Rome.
- Romanitas by Sophia McDougall is another alternate timeline diverging with the success of Pertinax as Caesar after Commodus' death.
- The Light Bearer by Donna Gillespie follows the son of a Roman nobleman and a woman from a Germanic tribe.
- I, Claudius and Claudius the God by Robert Graves.
- The Mark of the Lion trilogy by Francine Rivers, set circa A.D. 70. Published in the 1990s.
- Imperium, Robert Harris' trilogy chronicling the life of the lawyer and politician Cicero.
Live Action TV
- Spartacus: Blood and Sand
- I, Claudius (based on a novel by Robert Graves)
- The Caesars
- The Roman Mysteries - The TV adaptation
- The Doctor Who episodes The Romans obviously, The Fires of Pompeii and The Pandorica Opens
- Plebs, a Britcom about a couple of plebeians trying to get by in Rome.
- Pompeii The Last Day
- One of the eras in Pro Pinball: Timeshock! is named "Ancient Rome".