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Coins for the Holidays - Young Adults/Adult books
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Image courtesy of Souzana Steverding

The variety of books available on the subject of "The Roman Empire"  - many at truly
bargain prices and wonderfully illustrated -  makes such a book a gift which suits
everyone, no matter what their age, as the intellectual level of different books  and
their contents may be chosen from a large assortment to suit the recipient.

Age Group :  A variety of books to suit almost any age and taste and level of knowledge

Recommended Coins :  This general subject also allows for a large selection from
which to make a coin gift - but the ones that spring to my mind feature the Shewolf
with Romulus and Remus. . 

Coin Image
Denarius of Domitian - wolf and twins reverse

VRBS ROMA commemorative coin, wolf and twins reverse - photo courtesy of Kevin Ingleston

"Island of Ghosts"
Gillian Bradshaw

Description :   Fiction - After defeat on the Danubian frontier, Sarmartian cavalry are drafted
as auxiliaries into the Roman Army and sent to Hadrian's Wall in the 2nd century AD

Age Group : 15 onwards

Recommended Coin :   Marcus Aurelius  or Commodus

Coin Image
Denarius of Commodus - photo courtesy of Kevin Ingleston

"Beacon at Alexandria"
Gillian Bradshaw

Description :   Fleeing a forced marriage, the heroine arrives in Alexandria in the last quarter
of the 4th Century AD, where disguising her gender, she takes up the study of medicine -
fascinating details of contemporary medical practice.    Later forced to leave Egypt, she winds
up practising medicine at a Roman Army outpost in Thrace, and more action ensues. 

Age Group :  15 onwards

Recommended Coin :  Gratian  or Theodosius

(Coin - courtesy of Beast Coins)

"Render unto Caesar"
Gillian Bradshaw

Description :   Fiction - An Alexandrian Greek travels to the Rome of Augustus and
encounters the Roman culture.  Many strains run through this book - the arrogance of
the new Super Power of Rome, the Romans' attitude to homosexual love, slavery and
to foreigners such as the Greek main protagonist, as well as the basic tale of intrigue.

Age Group :  16 onwards

Recommended Coin :  Augustus

Coin Image
Denarius of Augustus - photo courtesy of Ralph DeMarco

"Imperial Purple"

Gillian Bradshaw

Description : Fiction - Set in Tyre in the 5th Century, the plot weaves through intrigue in
tumultuous times, with real life personae included.   Will the heroine, a weaver (!) succeed in
defeating a deadly plot !

Age Group :  15 onwards

Recommended Coin :  Theodosius II

Coin Image
Coin of Theodosius photo courtesy of Ancient Imports

"The Bearkeeper's Daughter"
Gillian Bradshaw

Description :  Fiction -  the "Bearkeeper's Daughter" is, of course, the Empress Theodora....
of low origins, but the chosen wife of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian.  Set later on in her life,
this is a marvellous picture of Byzantine court life.   

Age Group : 16 onwards

Recommended Coin :   Justinian

Coin Image
Coin of Justinian - photo courtesy of Barry & Darling

"The Sand-Reckoner"
Gillian Bradshaw

Description :  The genius of Archimedes  is the illuminating light of this book, set in the 3rd
century BC in Syracuse under King Hieron.

Age Group : 15 onwards

Recommended Coin : Hieron II of Syracuse

Coin Image
Coin of Hieron II - courtesy of Ancient Imports

Gore Vidal

Description :  The life of the Emperor Julian, fascinatingly recreated.   Brought up a Christian,
interested in philosophy and the military, his rule was the last surge of the Pagan world in an
Empire becoming centralized around Christianity.

Age Group : 16 onwards

Recommended Coin :      Julian

Coin Image
AE 1 coin of Julian - photo courtesy of Kevin Ingleston

"The Belt of Gold"
Cecilia Holland

Description :  Byzantium in the late 8th /early 9th century under the Empress Irene.

Age Group : 16 onwards

Recommended Coin :      Byzantine  - ideally Irene or Constantine VI & Irene, but
realistically a Byzantine prior to 780 AD  had likelihood of still being in circulation

Coin Image
Here is Maurice Tiberius in his wonderful consular robes which give a real feel of Byzantium compared with the earlier western Roman Emperors' clothing and headgear. - photo courtesy of Beast Coins

Howard Fast

Howard Fast

Description :  An early and one of the most famous books about Spartacus and the slave revolt
he led, this is told in retrospect after the revolt was crushed by Crassus in 71 BC.  It may seem
politically dated and there are few real facts actually known about Spartacus for the author to rely
on, but an interesting read nonetheless.

Age Group : 16 onwards

Recommended Coin :   Republican - see wonderful image below of a coin - Diana with a
hound reverse -   in circulation at the time of Spartacus' revolt  having been minted the
year before !

Coin Image
Roman Republican Denarius. Diana, hound reverse - photo courtesy of Imperial Coins

Allan Massie

Description :  Though not of the literary caliber of Robert Graves' "I, Claudius",  wherein
Augustus features largely; this story of the younger man, Octavian, advancing to become the first Roman Emperor, under the name "Augustus" has its merits.

Age Group : 16 onwards

Recommended Coin :     Octavian or, as he was known later, Augustus

Coin Image
AE coin Ocatvian obverse, Julius Ceasar rev. - photo courtesy of Herakles Numismatics

"The King Must Die"   &   "The Bull from the Sea"
Mary Renault

Description :  These are wonderful books, the one taking up the story where the earlier one
leaves off.   They basically relate the story of Theseus, set in the late Bronze Age of  Mycenaean
Greece, and later Minoan Crete.  Many subtle mythological references come into play - amazing
atmosphere - a tremendous feat of writing.

Age Group : 16 onward

Recommended Coins :  Since this is set circa 1400 BC, there were no coins  but the central
place taken by bulls in the second novel would mean that to me at least a Sicilian man-faced
bull coin of around 335 BC would be a perfect fit.... Or another option is a search amongst
ancient Greek coins which produces many wonderful bull images, such as this Pantikapaion
Bull's head reverse
Coin Image
Photo courtesy of Harlan J. Berk

Coin Image
Photo courtesy of Imperial Coins

Other Ancient Greece-centred books by Mary Renault :

"The Praise Singer"
"The Last of the Wine"
"The Mask of Apollo"

Coin Image
Photo courtesy of John Jencek

      Here are other books  centered on Alexander the Great

      " Fire from Heaven"
      "The Persian Boy"
       "Funeral Games "

 "The First Man in Rome"  and  "The Grass Crown"
Colleen McCullough

 "The First Man in Rome"  and  "The Grass Crown"
Colleen McCullough

Description :  Set in the late Roman Republic ( around 110 BC), these are  the first two in a
series of extremely well researched and fascinating books.    They chronicle the rise of Gaius
Marius and Sulla, and the interwoven connections with the family of the future Julius Caesar for
whom it sets the stage. This is a big, powerful book with intriguing detail and generous
background information.

Age Group : 16 onwards

Recommended Coin :     Late Republican Denarius

Coin Image
Republican Denarius with Sulla in Quadriga rev. - photo courtesy of Harlan J. Berk

"Fortune's Favorites"  and  "Caesar's Women"

Colleen McCullough

Description :  In these third and fourth books,  the author moves her story on as time and history
dictate from the declining Sulla to Julius Caesar and Pompey.   Perhaps an over emphasis on
Caesar's heartless sexual conquests at times, but the same rich detail and well researched
factual background are evident

Age Group :  16 onwards

Recommended Coin :  Roman Imperatorial

Coin Image
The reverse celebrates Pompey's victory in Hispania - photo courtesy of John Jencek

"Caesar"  and  "The October Horse"
Colleen McCullough

Description : As McCullough's Masters of Rome series progresses, we come next to the 5th
volume "Caesar", which concentrates more than previously in the series on battles, but, as the
story proceeds,  Cato, Cicero, Mark Antony and Brutus become players, as Julius Caesar's
power is consolidated, but his enemies emerge.
In the 6th volume  "The October Horse" the author leads up to Caesar's assassination, and its
aftermath,  the victory of Mark Antony & Octavian  over Caesar's assassins at Philippi in
42 BC,  but with the seeds of the ascendancy of Octavian becoming obvious.  

Age Group:   16 onwards

Recommended Coin :  Julius Caesar

Coin Image
Denarius of Julius Ceasar - photo courtesy of Beast Coins

“The Raven and the Eagle”
Pauline Gedge

Description: Set in Roman Britannia, during the early days,  this wonderful book relates the epic
uprisings, all doomed, of the Britons against the Romans.  The characters come alive, the
background is fully researched, and though sadly it has not yet been reissued here in the US, you
can order it online from the large and reputable bookstore “Chapters” in Canada… it is worth it !

Age Group : 16 onwards

Recommended Coin :    Claudius

Coin Image
Sestertius of Claudius - photo courtesy of Imperial Coins

Ancient Mysteries

The following  is a short list of mysteries and their authors, where the action is set in Ancient
Rome - due to the genre, plot descriptions are not given, but the occasional historical anacronism
will raise a classical eyebrow !

Lindsey Davis 
 - the Marcus Didius Falco series -
set in the time of Vespasian - Falco not only shows us Ancient Rome as the background, but the provinces ....Britannia, Gaul, Syria, Greece, etc.                See some of the titles below

Silver Pigs
Shadows in Bronze
Venus in Copper
The Iron Hand of Mars
Poseidon's Gold
Last Act in Palmyra
Two for the Lions
One Virgin too many
The Jupiter Myth
See Delphi and Die
Coin Image
Vespasian Denarius - photo courtesy of Harlan J. Berk

Steven Saylor
The Gordianus the Finder 
( Sub Rosa) series 
set in the last period of the
Republic - 79 BC on

Roman Blood
Arms of Nemesis
Catilina's Riddle
The Venus Throw
and others - some books are
 a collection of short mysteries
See also Saylor's
Ancient Mysteries book list

Coin Image
Balbus denarius - photocourtesy of Imperial Coins

David Wishart  - the Marcus Corvinus series
Ovid;  Germanicus;  Sejanus; 
Parthian Shot;
and others

Rosemary Rowe - the Libertus Mysteries - set in Britannia
A Roman Ransom

Tom Harper
The Mosaic of Shadows -
(set in the Byzantine era towards the end of the 11th century).
Coin Image
Coin of Alexius Comnenus - photo courtesy of Beast Coins

We hope that you found this list useful.
Print it out and take it shopping with you.!

Click here to download this list (pdf 8kb)