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Ancient Rome

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"Da Qin [Rome] has more than four hundred smaller cities and towns. It extends several thousand li in all directions. The king has his capital close to the mouth of a river. [...] The ruler of this country is not permanent. When disasters result from unusual phenomena, they unceremoniously replace him, installing a virtuous man as king, and release the old king, who does not dare show resentment. The common people are tall and virtuous like the Chinese, but wear hu [Western] clothes. [...] There are no bandits or thieves, but there are fierce tigers and lions that kill those travelling on the route. If you are not in a group, you cannot get through."
Gan Ying, prospective Chinese ambassador to Romenote , c. 97 A.D., providing a fanciful account based on stories from Parthian sailors.

Home of temples with even bigger columns, and brutal sword-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. A time when Classical Mythology was Serious Business for the pious. Expect to see a lion eating a Christian or two.

The Roman Republic is less often depicted in fiction, except for the bit right at the end from Julius Caesar's conquests in the Gauls, affair with Cleopatra VII and assassination to the transition into The Roman Empire by Augustus (although occasionally you will see fiction set against the earlier struggle with Carthage or, more often, the slave revolt of Spartacus). The even earlier Roman Kingdom is all but forgotten aside from the founding myth of Romulus and Remus. It's also pretty rare to see any fictional works set in the Eastern Roman Empire of Late Antiquity, which later evolved into the Byzantine Empire in The Middle Ages.

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.

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    Popular tropes of this time period 

Works set in this time period:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers has a character who is the personification of Ancient Rome, affectionately referred to as "Grandpa Rome" by his descendant Italy. While most of the series is set in more modern times, there are some comics that are from this time period.
  • Thermae Romae, set in the reign of Emperor Hadrian (and in 21st century Japan).

    Comic Books 
  • Alix
  • Aquila
  • Asterix
  • Murena
  • 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.
  • 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!.
  • The Sandman (1989) #30, "August", in which Morpheus visits the Emperor Augustus.
  • Suske en Wiske: The stories "Het Geheim van de Gladiatoren" and "De Nerveuze Nerviërs" take place in this time period.

    Films - Animation 

    Films - Live-Action 

  • Pharsalia (61-65) by Lucan. It is an epic poem which covers the Roman Civil Wars.
  • The Alexander Inheritance by Eric Flint is a time travel novel taking place in Ancient Greece and Rome
  • 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), Outcast (1955), The Silver Branch (1957), The Lantern Bearers (1959), The Mark of the Horse Lord (1965), Song for a Dark Queen (1977), Frontier Wolf (1980), and a number of shorter works by Rosemary Sutcliff.
  • The Last Legion is set in 476 CE, the conventional date of the Fall of the Western Empire. The deposed boy emperor Romulus Augustus is one of the main characters, with the others being the former legionaries who have a plan to rescue him from his prison in Capri.
  • Ecce Romani, the Latin textbook. First published in 1971.
  • Cambridge Latin Course, the UK's counterpart to Ecce Romani.
  • Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata, another Latin textbook. The main volume was first published (under a different title) in 1955, and revised in 1983 and 1991.
  • 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.
  • Julian
  • Daluz from the novella A Taste of Honey is a fantasy version of the Roman Empire, but with Physical Gods and Terra-de-Luce as a parody of the city of Rome. Lucrio is a tricenturion in the Daluçan army and his fighting style and uniform sounds exactly like that of a roman legionare. The Daluçan also speak Latin.
  • The poems of Catullus, including the infamous Carmen 16.
  • David Gemmell's Troy Saga features Aeneas, one of the legendary founders of the Roman people, as one of it's main character. With Rome being a young settlement he's founded as a colony with Odysseus that's occasionally referenced to.

    Live-Action TV 

    Mythology & Religion 
  • The Christian New Testament was written entirely in, and is set almost entirely in, the Roman Empire in the 1st century A.D./C.E.
  • The original context of the Arthurian Legend was set around this period specifically Roman Britain and the sub-Roman era respectively.


  • Dan Carlin's Hardcore History has covered the Ancient Romans several times throughout his series;
    • Punic Nightmares covers Rome's wars with Hannibal and Carthage during the Punic Wars.
    • Death Throes of the Republic looks at the collapse of the Roman Republic into political violence and Civil War, starting with the Gracchi brothers in the 130s-120s B.C.E to the assassination of Julius Caesar.
    • Romancing The Tribes and The Celtic Holocaust looks at Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars.
  • Mike Duncan's The History of Rome details the history of Rome from the legendary founding by Romulus to the deposition of Romulus Augustulus by Odoacer in 476.
  • Several episodes of Twilight Histories have taken place in alternate versions of Rome:
    • “Cleopatra Caeser” is set in a world where Julius Caesar was not assassinated and lived to a ripe old age. He expanded Rome’s territory from Britain in the west to India in the east.
    • “Rome Industrial” is an early episode set in a world where Rome experienced an industrial revolution, and then conquered almost all of the world.
    • “The Winged Victory” has Rome fall into civil war, resulting in the lose of the Greek territories. By the time of the episode, they’re determined to reconquer Greece.


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    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • The Unbiased History of Rome, documenting the Romans from their mythological beginnings, only from a comedically skewed perspective in spite of the name.

  • Deities has an arc set in Ancient Rome.
  • El Goonish Shive: Grace has a dream set during the Second Punic War. Where she's Fabius. And is trying to win the war via bake sales.
  • Tales of the Galli: Set in Rome circa 312 CE.

    Western Animation