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“Legend is historical, just as history is legendary.”
Alexandre Grandazzi, The Foundation of Rome

In writing ROMA, Steven’s research took him back to the very earliest days of Rome, long before the better-known age of Caesar and Cicero.

The first ten centuries of Rome are full of remarkable stories and people, from the city’s legendary founding by Romulus and Remus, to the epoch of the kings and the birth of the Republic, and on to the tumult of the Punic Wars, the revolutionary politics of the Gracchi brothers, and Rome’s conquest of the Mediterranean world.

If you share this fascination for early Rome and want to know more, here are some of the books (and even a few movies) Steven consulted during his research for ROMA.

(Be sure to visit the Roma Image Gallery, too.)


Few historians can match the intense drama and majestic sweep of Livy, who lived in the age of Augustus and recounted the story of Rome from its beginning. The texts fill four volumes brimming with tragedy and triumph: I. The Early History of Rome, II. Rome and Italy, III. The War with Hannibal, and IV. Rome and the Mediterranean.

VIRGIL: THE AENEID trans. by David West Aeneas, survivor of Troy, journeys to Italy and founds the Roman race. This prose translation reads like a gripping adventure novel.

POLYBIUS: THE RISE OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE trans. by Ian Scott-Kilvert One of our primary sources for the history of Rome’s wars with Carthage and Hannibal.

PLUTARCH: MAKERS OF ROME trans. by Ian Scott- Kilvert Nine biographies including Coriolanus, Fabius Maximus, Cato the Elder, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, and Marc Antony.

PLUTARCH: FALL OF THE ROMAN REPUBLIC trans. by Rex Warner Six essential biographies: Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Caesar, Cicero, and Crassus.

PLAUTUS: THE ROPE & OTHER PLAYS trans. by E.F. Watling The flat-footed playwright who lived in the time of Hannibal and Scipio Africanus appears in Chapter 8 of ROMA. PLAUTUS: THE POT OF GOLD & OTHER PLAYS trans. by E.F. Watling Includes his play “The Swaggering Soldier” and his comic masterpiece, “Pseudolus.”

OVID: FASTI trans. by Boyle & Woodard Celebrating the days of the Roman calendar, Ovid explains the origins of various rites and ceremonies.

CORIOLANUS by William Shakespeare The Bard’s towering tragedy of the hero-traitor of early Rome; Steven tells his own version of the tale in Roma.


REMUS: A ROMAN MYTH by T.P. Wiseman The tale of Romulus and Remus yields startling ideas about the foundation myths of Rome.

THE BEGINNINGS OF ROME by T.J. Cornell How archaeological discoveries revolutionized our thinking about the origins of Rome; a superb work of scholarship.

THE FOUNDATION OF ROME by Augusto Fraschetti An exploration of the meaning behind the origin myths of early Rome, especially the story of Romulus and Remus. THE FOUNDATION OF ROME: Myth & History by Alexandre Grandazzi Are the tales of Romulus and other early legends purely fictitious, or based on actual people and events?
SOCIAL STRUGGLES IN ARCHAIC ROME ed. by Kurt A. Raaflaub Essays on the conflict between the patricians and the plebeians in early Rome. ARCHAIC ROMAN RELIGION Volume I and Volume II by Georges Dumézil Scholars stand in awe of this 2-volume exploration of the origins of Roman religion. Complex, comprehensive, and often contentious.
A CRITICAL HISTORY OF EARLY ROME: From Prehistory to the First Punic War by Gary Forsythe A new synthesis of current research into our knowledge of Rome from Stone Age settlement to nascent super-power. CHRONICLE OF THE ROMAN REPUBLIC by Philip Matyszak Copiously illustrated survey of Rome and its rulers from Romulus to Augustus.

How many movies have been made about early Rome? Not many!
Here are a handful of films set in the mythic era, during the fledgling Republic,
and in the time of Hannibal.

WAR OF THE TROJANS stars Steve Reeves as Aeneas, the Trojan warrior searching for a new home in Italy; inspired by Virgil’s great epic The Aeneid. (This widescreen edition also includes Giant of Marathon.) EL RAPTO DE LAS SABINAS Mexican film from 1962 spins a romantic tale of Romulus and the capture of the Sabine women. In Spanish.

WARRIORS 50 MOVIE MEGAPACK 13-disk set includes Romulus and the Sabines starring Roger Moore as the legendary founder of Rome.

HERO OF ROME Gordon Scott as Mucius Scaevola, defender of the fledgling Republic when King Tarquin plots a return to power. Plus Invincible Gladiator with Richard Harrison.

DUEL OF THE CHAMPIONS To save Rome, Horatius (Alan Ladd) and his brothers must fight three Alban brothers to the death. With Robert Keith as King Tullus Hostilius. HANNIBAL (1960) Widescreen epic stars Victor Mature as the Carthaginian general who crossed the Alps with elephants to threaten Rome.
CABIRIA Italian silent brims with spectacle. As war rages between Rome and Hannibal, the strongman Maciste must rescue Cabiria from human sacrifice in Carthage. SCIPIO AFRICANUS: The Defeat of Hannibal Fascist Italy expended vast resources to make this saga of the greatest of all Roman generals, released in 1937.
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM Stephen Sondheim’s musical captures the bawdy spirit of comedies by Roman playwright Plautus (see above). Zero Mostel stars.

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