Roman History

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.

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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.


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.

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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.

University of Adelaide (Internet Archive): Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, translated by Dryden. edited by A.H. Clough. EPUB, HTML and MOBI formats.

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.

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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.

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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.


Suetonius: The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

The Murder of Caesar, by Karl Theodor von Piloty (1865).The Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius is often seen primarily as a source of gossipy anecdotes, something its author was well-placed to provide thanks to his position at the imperial court and access to its archives. Yet as Mary Beard argues, his work read as a whole, from the rise of Julius Caesar to the reign of Domitian, has important things to say about the transmission of political power.

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Free online texts

Gutenburg: The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, translated by Alexander Thomson. Multiple Formats.

Loebulus. L031 - Suetonius -- Suetonius I: Julius. Augustus. Tiberius. Gaius. Caligula. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin and English.

Loebulus. L038 - Suetonius -- Suetonius II: Claudius. Nero. Galba, Otho, and Vitellius. Vespasian. Titus, Domitian. Lives of Illustrious Men: Grammarians and Rhetoricians. Poets (Terence. Virgil. Horace. Tibullus. Persius. Lucan). Lives of Pliny the Elder and Passienus Crispus. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin and English.

Perseus: The Lives of the Twelve CaesarsLatin text. English translation (Reed, 1889). Online HTML only.

Poetry in Translation: The Twelve Caesars, translated by A.S. Kline (2010). multiple formats.

University of Adelaide (Internet Archive): Lives of the Twelve Caesars, translated by Alexander Thomson. Revised by T. Forester. EPUB, HTML and MOBI formats.

Wikisource: The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

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Tacitus: The Annals

The Death of Nero, by Vasily Smirnov (1888).The Annals are the final work of the great Roman historian Tacitus, covering the period from the death of Augustus in 14 AD to the death of Nero in 68 AD. Passages covering some 14 years of this 54 year period are lost. It is nevertheless the most important historical source covering this period, during which the principate, the autocratic regime established by Augustus, was consolidated by the later Julio-Claudian emperors. Tacitus understood that Rome's domination of the Mediterranean world was linked to the decay of its republican institutions, and his work is shot through with ambivalence about that development. 

The Annals at Amazon.com, .uk, .fr, .de, .ca.

Free Online Texts

 Internet Archive: The annals and history of Tacitus. A new and literal English version (Oxford: Talboys, 1839). Multiple formats.

Internet Classics Archive: The Annals, translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb. English HTML and TXT files.

Internet History Sourcebook: The Annals, translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb. English TXT file.

LacusCurtius: The Annals, The Histories. Loeb Edition, English HTML text.

Loebulus. L249 - Tacitus -- Histories II: 4-5. Annals 1-3. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin and English.

Perseus: The Annals. English HTML text, translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb. Latin text, edited by Charles Dennis Fisher.

University of Adelaide (Internet Archive): The Annals, translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb. EPUB, HTML and MOBI formats.

Wikisource: The Annals, translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb, 1876. Online, downloadable as PDF/MOBI/EPUB.

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Tacitus: The Histories

The Histories (Latin: Historiae) is a work by Tacitus, written at around the turn of the first century CE. Although written before The Annals, it covers a later period, in its original form chronicling the Roman Empire from 69 to 96 CE, years which largely coincided with the Flavian dynasty of Vespasian, Titus and Domitian.

Only the first four books and a part of the fifth survive, but their short span of 69-70 CE include the turbulent Year of the Four Emperors, and the rise of Vespasian, whose command in the east occasions a digressive section on the Jewish Revolt, an event chronicled in more detail by Tacitus' contemporary Josephus.

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Online Texts

Gutenberg: The Histories, translated by William Hamilton Fyfe. Multiple formats.

Internet Classics Archive: The Histories, translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb. HTML and TXT formats.

LacusCurtius: The Annals translated by J. Jackson - The Histories, translated by C.H. Moore. English text of public domain Loeb editions. HTML format.

Loebulus. L111 - Tacitus -- Histories I: Books 1-3. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin and English. Also available from the Internet Archive.

Loebulus. L249 - Tacitus -- Histories II: 4-5. Annals 1-3. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin and English.

The Latin Library: Historiae. Latin text, HTML format.

Poetry in Translation: The Histories, translated by A.S. Kline (2016). Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide (Internet Archive): The Histories,  translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb. EPUB, HTML and MOBI formats.

Wikisource: The Histories, translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb (1876). Online, downloadable as PDF/MOBI/EPUB.

Wikisource: The Histories, translated by William Hamilton Fyfe (1912). Online, downloadable as PDF/MOBI/EPUB.

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Julius Caesar: The Spanish War

Txu-pcl-maps-oclc-70574898-hispania-1851

The Spanish War (Latin: Bellum Hispaniense or De Bello Hispaniensi) is a sequel to Caesar's commentaries, probably drafted by a junior officer. It recounts Caesar's campaign in Spain in 45 BC against the sons of Pompey and Labienus, his own former general in Gaul. Caesar's victory at Munda marked the final battle of the civil wars.

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 Free online Texts

Internet Classics Archive: The Spanish Wars, Translated by W. A. McDevitte and W. S. Bohn. HTML and TXT formats.

LacusCurtius: The Spanish War. Latin text with translation by A.G. Way. HTML format.

Latin Library: De Bello Hispaniensi. Latin text. HTML format.

Wikisource: Julius Caesar: The Spanish War. (attributed; possibly written by Aulus Hirtius or Gaius Oppius), translated by William Alexander McDevitte and W. S. Bohn. Online with PDF/MOBI/EPUB downloads available

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