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July 2016

The Historia Augusta

The Historia Augusta or Augustan History is an anonymous collection of biographies of Roman Emperors of the period 117-284 CE, probably written in the late fourth or early fifth century. It is a highly controversial work from which historians have sought to glean insights despite suspicions that much of it is fictitious.

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Free Online texts

Intratext: Historia Augusta - latin text, HTML format.

LacusCurtius: Historia Augusta. HTML English and Latin text based on public domain Loeb editions edited by Susan H. Ballou and Hermann Peter, translated by David Magie. 

Loebulus. L139 - Scriptores Historiae Augustae I: Hadrian. Aelius. Antoninus Pius. Marcus Aurelius. L. Verus. Avidius Cassius. Commodus. Pertinax. Didius Julianus. Septimius Severus. Pescennius Niger. Clodius Albinus. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin and English.

Loebulus. L140 - Scriptores Historiae Augustae II: Caracalla. Geta. Opellius Macrinus. Diadumenianus. Elagabalus. Severus Alexander. The Two Maximini. The Three Gordians. Maximus and Balbinus. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin and English.

Loebulus. L263 - Scriptores Historiae Augustae III: The Two Valerians. The Two Gallieni. The Thirty Pretenders. The Deified Claudius. The Deified Aurelian. Tacitus. Probus. Firmus, Saturninus, Proculus and Bonosus. Carus, Carinus and Numerian. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin and English.

The Latin Library: Scriptores Historiae Augustae - Latin text, HTML format.

Wikisource: Historia Augusta - partial Latin text, HTML format.

Other resources

Livy.org: Introduction to the Historia Augusta

Newcastle University: David Rohrbacher, The Sources of the Historia Augusta re-examinedHistos 7 (2013) 146-80.

Wikipedia: Augustan History

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Suetonius: Lives of the Twelve Caesars - an example of the kind of work on which the Historia Augusta is purportedly modelled.

Latin Resources: Online materials for learning Latin.


Cassius Dio: The Roman History

The Roman History (Greek: Ῥωμαϊκὴ Ἱστορία, Latin: Historia Romana) by Dio Cassius is a work in 80 books covering the history of Rome from its legendary foundation until 229 AD. While much of the work survives only as fragments, many of the books covering the late republic and early empire are complete, providing one of the most valuable sources for this period.

Cassius Dio at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Gutenberg: Cassius Dio Cocceianus.

LacusCurtius: Cassius Dio: Roman History. Online English text based on Loeb Classical Library, 9 volumes, Greek texts and facing English translation: Harvard University Press, 1914 thru 1927. Translation by Earnest Cary.

Internet Archive: Dio's Rome, translated by Herbert Baldwin Foster (1905-6) - Vol I, Vol II, Vol III, Vol IV, Vol V, Vol VI. Multiple formats.

Loebulus. L032 - Dio Cassius -- Dio's Roman History I: Fragments of Books 1-11. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.
Loebulus. L037 - Dio Cassius -- Dio's Roman History II: Fragments of Books 12-35 and of Uncertain Reference. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.
Loebulus. L053 - Dio Cassius -- Dio's Roman History III: Books 36-40. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.
Loebulus. L066 - Dio Cassius -- Dio's Roman History IV: Books 41-45. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.
Loebulus. L082 - Dio Cassius -- Dio's Roman History V: Books 46-50. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.
Loebulus. L083 - Dio Cassius -- Dio's Roman History VI: Books 51-55. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.
Loebulus. L175 - Dio Cassius -- Dio's Roman History VII: Books 56-60. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.
Loebulus. L176 - Dio Cassius -- Dio's Roman History VIII: Books 61-70. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.
Loebulus. L177 - Dio Cassius -- Dio's Roman History IX: Books 71-80. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.

Perseus: Greek text (ed. Earnest Cary, Herbert Baldwin Foster). 

Other Resources

Tertullian.org: Dio Cassius - The Manuscripts of "The Roman History".

Livius: Cassius Dio.

Wikipedia: Cassius Dio.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.


Appian: The Roman History

The Roman History (Greek: Ῥωμαϊκά, Latin Historia Romana) is a history of the Roman Empire written in Greek by Appian of Alexandria some time before 165 CE. The surviving portions are often titled The Civil Wars, as Appian is the most important ancient authority for the period from 146 to 70 BC.

Free online and downloadable texts

Loebulus. L002 - Appian -- Roman History I: Books 1-8.1. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin and English.
Loebulus. L003 - Appian -- Roman History II: Books 8.2-12. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin and English.
Loebulus. L004 - Appian -- Roman History III: The Civil Wars, Books 1-3.26. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin and English.
Loebulus. L005 - Appian -- Roman History IV: The Civil Wars, Books 3.27-5. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin and English.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.


Arrian: The Anabasis of Alexander

Alexander_the_Great_mosaicThe Anabasis of Alexander (Greek: Ἀλεξάνδρου Ἀνάβασις) is an account of the conquests of Alexander the Great by Arrian, a Greek historian of the second century CE. The title reflects the influence of Xenophon's Anabasis on its structure and approach.

Arrian's work is the fullest extant account from the ancient world of Alexander's campaigns, drawing on contemporary sources which are now lost.

The Anabasis of Alexander at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Loebulus. L236 - Arrian -- Anabasis Alexandri, Books 1-4. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.

Perseus: Anabasis Alexandri, Greek text, edited by A.G. Roos (Teubner 1907).

Wikisource: The Anabasis of Alexander; or, The history of the wars and conquests of Alexander the Great.  (1884)  by Arrian, translated by E. J. Chinnock. Online, downloadable via Bookcreator. Greek text: Αλεξάνδρου Ανάβασις.

Continue reading "Arrian: The Anabasis of Alexander" »


Procopius: The Wars of Justinian

By Meister von San Vitale in Ravenna - The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain
Justinian and his retinue.

The Wars of Justinian (Greek: Ὑπὲρ τῶν πολέμων λόγοι, Hypèr tōn polémon lógoi; Latin: De Bellis) by Procopius of Caesaria is a major source for the history of the Byzantine Empire in the mid-sixth century CE. The first two books deal with campaigns against the Sassanids (The Persian War) . Books three and four cover Belisarius' campaign against the Vandals in North Africa (The Vandal War). The remaining books record the struggle to regain Italy from the Ostrogoths (The Gothic War).

The Wars of Justinian at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Gutenberg: History of the Wars, Books 1 & 2 | Books 3 & 4 | Books 5 & 6. Translated by H.B Dewing. Multiple formats.

Loebulus. L048 - Procopius I: History of the Wars, Books 1-2. (Persian War) |  L081 - Procopius II: History of the Wars, Books 3-4. (Vandalic War) |  L107 - Procopius III: History of the Wars, Books 5-6.15. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.

Wikisource: History of the Wars, translated by H.B. Dewing. Multiple formats.

Other resources

Duke.edu: The Dates of Procopius' Works: A Recapitulation of the Evidence, by J.A.S. Evans (1997).

Encyclopedia Iranica: Procopius.

RobertGraves.Org: Count Belisarius and Procopius’s Wars, by Peter G. Christensen, Gravesiana: The Journal of the Robert Graves Society, Vol.IV, No 1 (2014).

Procopius.net: History of the Wars (Excerpts) - notable extracts including sections 'on the racing factions' and 'the Roman silk industry'. (Site down as of Nov 18. See the Internet Archive).

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Procopius: The Secret History.

Jordanes: Getica.

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.


Xenophon: Cyropaedia

The Cyropaedia (Greek: Κύρου παιδεία 'The Education of Cyrus') is a work by Xenophon, which presents an account of the education of the Persian king Cyrus the Great, in order to address the question of why people obey some rulers and not others.

Although Xenophon had some experience of the Persian Empire as a result of the expedition chronicled in the Anabasis, it is not clear how far his picture of Cyrus is intended as historical. As an idealized vision of the proper education of a ruler, the work had a formative influence on the literary genre known as 'mirrors for princes'.

Xenophon's Cyropaedia at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Cyrus' Paradise: The World's first online commentary on an ancient text. Greek text with crowdsourced English commentary.

Loebulus. L051 - Xenophon -- Cyropaedia I: Books 1-4. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English. Also at the Internet Archive.

Loebulus. L052 - Xenophon -- Cyropaedia II: Books 5-8. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English. Also at the Internet Archive.

Gutenberg: Cyropaedia - The Education of Cyrus, translated by H.G. Dakyns. Multiple formats.

Perseus: Greek text (Oxford, 1910). English text, translated by Walter Miller (1914). HTML and XML formats.

Wikisource: Κύρου Παιδεία, Greek text. Multiple formats.

Continue reading "Xenophon: Cyropaedia" »


Plutarch: Parallel Lives

The Parallel Lives (Greek: Βίοι Παράλληλοι) is a collection of biographies by Plutarch, most of which are in pairs, enabling the life of a prominent Roman to be compared with that of a prominent Greek. The lives are a paradigmatic case of a concern with character which is often a central preoccupation of ancient historians.

The lives included are: 

Theseus and Romulus;  Lycurgus and Numa Pompilius; Solon and Poplicola; Themistocles and and Camillus; Pericles and Fabius; Alcibiades and Coriolanus; Timoleon and Aemilius Paulus; Pelopidas and Marcellus; Aristides and Cato the Elder; Philopoemen and Flamininus; Pyrrhus and Gaius Marius; Lysander and Sulla;  Cimon and Lucullus; Nicias and Crassus; Eumenes and Sertorius; Agesilaus and Pompey; Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar; Phocion and Cato the Younger; Agis / Cleomenes and Tiberius Gracchus / Gaius Gracchus; Demosthenes and Cicero; Demetrius and Antony; Dion and Brutus. There are also four unpaired lives, those of Aratus of Sicyon, Artaxerxes, Galba and Otho.

Plutarch's Lives at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Online Texts

Gutenberg: Plutarch's Lives - Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3, Vol 4. Multiple formats.

LacusCurtius: Plutarch's Lives, HTML format.

Loebulus. L046 - Plutarch -- Lives I: Theseus and Romulus. Lycurgus and Numa. Solon and Publicola. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.
Loebulus. L047 - Plutarch -- Lives II: Themistocles and Camillus. Aristides and Cato Major. Cimon and Lucullus. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.
Loebulus. L065 - Plutarch -- Lives III: Pericles and Fabius Maximus. Nicias and Crassus. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.
Loebulus. L080 - Plutarch -- Lives IV: Alcibiades and Coriolanus. Lysander and Sulla. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.
Loebulus. L087 - Plutarch -- Lives V: Agesilaus and Pompey. Pelopidas and Marcellus. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.
Loebulus. L098 - Plutarch -- Lives VI: Dion and Brutus. Timoleon and Aemilius Paulus. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.
Loebulus. L099 - Plutarch -- Lives VII: Demosthenes and Cicero. Alexander and Caesar. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.
Loebulus. L100 - Plutarch -- Lives VIII: Sertorius and Eumenes. Phocion and Cato the Younger. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.
Loebulus. L101 - Plutarch -- Lives IX: Demetrius and Antony. Pyrrhus and Gaius Marius. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.
Loebulus. L102 - Plutarch -- Lives X: Agis and Cleomenes. Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus. Philopoemen and Flamininus. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.
Loebulus. L103 - Plutarch -- Lives XI: Aratus. Artaxerxes. Galba. Otho. General Index. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English

Wikisource: Βίοι Παράλληλοι, Greek text. The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, English text, translated by John Dryden, 1683.

Other Resources

Librivox: Parallel Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans - public domain audiobook.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.

Bloom's Western Canon: The Parallel Lives is listed.


Sallust: The War with Catiline

Cicero Denounces Catiline, fresco by Cesare MaccariThe War with Catiline or Conspiracy of Catiline (De coniuratione Catilinae or Bellum Catilinae) by the Roman historian Sallust is an account of the turbulent political events of 63 BC, during which the senator Catiline plotted to seize the Roman government, only to be pre-empted by the consul Cicero. The rising Julius Caesar is portrayed sympathetically, protesting against Cicero's extra-judicial executions. This may be a reflection of Sallust's partisan sympathies at the time of writing, probably during the period of the civil wars two decades later.

The War with Catiline at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Gutenberg: De Bello Catilinario Et Jugurthino, Latin text. Conspiracy of Catiline and the Jugurthine War, English text. Multiple formats.

LacusCurtius: Bellum Catilinae - Latin Text. The War with Catiline - English text. HTML format.

Loebulus. L116 - Sallust -- War with Catiline. War with Jugurtha. Selections from The Histories. Doubtful Works. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin and English.

Perseus: Latin Text, edited by Axel W. Ahlberg (Teubner, 1919). English text, translated by John Selby Watson (1899). HTML and XML formats.

The Latin Library: Bellum Catilinae. Latin text, HTML format.

Wikisource: The War with Catiline, translated by John C. Rolfe, 1931. HTML, downloadable as PDF/EPUB/MOBI.

Other Resources

Librivox: The Catiline Conspiracy and the Jugurthine War - public domain audiobook.

Wikipedia: Sallust.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Sallust: The Jugurthine War.

Latin Resources: Online materials for learning Latin.


Sallust: The Jugurthine War

Txu-pcl-maps-oclc-70574898-mauritania-numidia-et-africa-propria-1851The Jugurthine War (Latin: Bellum Iugurthinum) is a work by the Roman historian Sallust on the Roman war with Jugurtha, King of Numidia in 112-105 BC, significant for its portrayal of the Roman political struggles of the time, centred on the rival statesmen, Marius and Sulla.

The Jugurthine War at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Online Texts

Gutenberg: De Bello Catilinario Et Jugurthino, Latin text. Conspiracy of Catiline and the Jugurthine War, English text. Multiple formats.

LacusCurtius: Bellum Jugurthinum I-XXXV, XXXVI-LXXVI, LXXVII-CXIV - Latin text. The War With Jugurtha 1-35, 36-76, 77-114 - English text. HTML format.

Loebulus. L116 - Sallust -- War with Catiline. War with Jugurtha. Selections from the Histories. Doubtful Works. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin and English.

Perseus. Latin Text, edited by Axel W. Ahlberg (Teubner, 1919). English text, translated by John Selby Watson (1899). HTML and XML formats.

The Latin Library: Bellum Iugurthinum. Latin text, HTML format.

Wikisource: The War with Jugurtha, translated by John C. Rolfe, 1921. Online, downloadable as PDF/EPUB/MOBI.

Other Resources

Librivox: The Catiline Conspiracy and the Jugurthine War - public domain audiobook.

Wikipedia: Sallust.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Sallust: The War with Catiline.

Latin Resources: Online materials for learning Latin.


Classical historians: A chronological reading list.

There's no better way of learning about history than from those who were there, and many of the key classical sources can be read in freely available, albeit older, scholarly editions online. There is a lot to be said for starting at the beginning and following the story through the generations. Not least because the two earliest classical historians are also two of the greatest.

Herodotus wrote a generation after the Persian Wars which he recounted in The Histories, but his reputation as the 'father of history' perhaps stands higher today than it did in later antiquity. The central confrontation between Greek and Barbarian provides the framework for a series of digressions that add up to an anthropological portrait of the whole Mediterranean world.

Thucydides inaugurated a less expansive genre of history with a sharp focus on politics and military affairs. His History of the Peloponnesian War, with its combination of rigour, realism, but also subtle rhetoric, has proved politically influential down to our own day.

Xenophon began his history of Greece, the Hellenica, where Thucydides broke off, though the continuation is generally considered inferior. He was also the author of the Anabasis, an eye-witness account of a mercenary expedition into the Persian Empire. The story of his adventure is said to have been read with care by Alexander the Great, and this simple soldier was often seen as an appropriate figure to introduce young scholars to the Greek language.

Polybius, a Greek statesman and client of the Roman Scipio was the first Greek historian to recount the emergence of Rome as a Mediterranean power, in his Histories.

Sallust's two best known works bring the reader into the heart of the political struggles in late Republican Rome. The Jugurthine War serves as the backdrop to the partisan struggle between Marius and Sulla. The Cataline Conspiracy illuminates the role of figures such as Cicero and Caesar as the Republic reached the point of breakdown.

Julius Caesar himself was an accomplished historian in commentaries whose Thucydidean rigour provided an effective rhetorical vehicle for his own partisan standpoint. His account of The Gallic War is important as an early firsthand account of Northwest Europe. In the original, it has often played the role for students of Latin, that Xenophon plays for students of Greek. The Civil War recounts the outbreak of conflict with his rival Pompey, and his appointment as Dictator of Rome. The Alexandrian War, The Spanish War, and The African War, are generally thought to be the work of Caesar's officers.

Tacitus (c.56-117 AD) is perhaps the greatest of Roman historians. In his account of the early empire we see at once the 'red Tacitus' who looks back to republican values, and the 'black Tacitus' who sees the forces that made the new order inevitable. The Annals documents the early imperial period from the death of Augustus to the  reign of Nero. The Histories describes the intense struggles of the Year of the Four Emperors and gives a Roman perspective on the Jewish people on the eve of the Great Revolt. In his Agricola, Tacitus showed how patriotic service was still possible in outlying provinces like Britain. In the Germania, a pioneering ethnographic account of Northern Europe, he helped to inaugurate the myth of the noble savage, through his contrast between German virtues and Roman vices. 

Josephus  recorded the history of the Great Revolt in his On the Jewish War, a work which he was uniquely placed to write. Initially the commander of Jewish forces in Galilee, Josephus surrendered under circumstances which historians have often found discreditable, and became a client of the Flavian dynasty founded by the Roman commander Vespasian. 

Suetonius served as director of the imperial archives under Trajan. His Lives of the Twelve Caesars is notorious for the gossipy anecdotes recorded as part of his attempt to convey the character of Rome's rulers.

Ammianus Marcellinus, a soldier born in the Greek-speaking east was the last of the great classical historians to write in Latin. His Res Gestae is a key source on a Fourth Century Empire facing mounting external threats as well as internal social change, addressing the rise of Christianity from a tolerant pagan point of view.

Not all the great classical historians fit into this chronological scheme. Many surviving authors were compilers or commentators on earlier writers. Those in this category include:

Livy: In his account of Rome From the Foundation of the City, the great historian of Augustan Rome made use of many earlier writers now lost. His account of early Rome begins in legend, and occassionally appears to adapt Greek history wholesale, but he remains important for his account of Rome's rise to dominance in Italy, and its epic struggle with Carthage.

Plutarch: By taking a comparative approach in his Parallel Lives of leading Greek and Roman statesman, Plutarch made a unique contribution to the genre of biography that has made him one of the most widely read classical authors over the centuries.