Read on: Recommended media for fans of Ancient Rome …and opera

nero

Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus

This is a collection in progress, a heartfelt, juicy and rewarding list of the pieces of research bringing me great joy, inspiration and explosive insights as I attempt to write my third book, a retelling of George Frideric Handel’s Agrippina. I’ve been digging deep since last September, and as many historical fiction writers will attest, it feels as though I’ve only scraped the surface. But that is the pleasure of it, isn’t it? Our books should inspire our curiosity. If our writing bores us, we’ve lost our way. So here is my scrapbook of treasures, which I’ll update as I move forward with my novel. If you share my passion for all things Italian, please comment with your suggestions!

Books (There are many excellent books about Ancient Rome. The following are those I find myself returning to repeatedly while I research and write:)

Agrippina: Sex, Power, and Politics in the Early Empire Author nthony A. Barrett is the go-to expert on Ancient Rome. This book is proving highly useful.

The Emperor Nero: A Guide to the Ancient Sources There are several texts about Emperor Nero, but this guide by Anthony A. Barrett, Elaine Fantham, and John C. Yardley is, in my opinion, one of the most insightful.

The Annals: The Reigns of Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero by Tacitus, and The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Volume 06: Nero by Suetonius can be considered “required reading,” but I do prefer texts that compare their passages, along with Dio’s, and provide commentary. (Hat tip to Anthony Barrett and Stephen Phillips.)

Veni, Vidi, Vici by Peter Jones, is an infinitely enjoyable and digestible compendium of Ancient Roman history, beginning with the Etruscans. I picked up a copy at The Coliseo when I visited last summer.

Visual Media
Agrippina A DVD of the opera starring Véronique Gens, and Philippe Jaroussky, directed by Tiziano Mancini.

Rome This HBO series is superb.It follows the story of Julius Caesar’s triumph over Pompey, and the rise of Caesar Augustus, an introduction to Marcus Agrippa, along with the an unforgettable portrayal of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra. The fictional plot highlighting the friendship between two Roman soldiers creates a believable pleb view of life in Ancient Rome. It’s rumored that the period sets spanned a whopping 5 acres and that would make it one of the largest period sets ever. The joint BBC/HBO production had an estimated budget of $100,000,000. Highly recommended.

Da Vinci’s Demons This Starz series is a wonderful (extraordinarily fictional) story about Leonardo Da Vinci’s beginnings, primarily set in Florence. The acting, costumes and sets are wonderful. The view of Rome and the Vatican during the Renaissance offers an interesting counterpart to the Ancient Roman Empire. Actor Tom Riley is a compelling (and sensual) Leo.

 I, Claudius (35th Anniversary Edition). Rated one of the “100 Best TV Shows of All Time” by Time magazine, this epic BBC series spans the history of the Roman Empire from Augustus through Claudius, a stuttering scholar who learns early to play the fool and stay alive. Based on the novels by Robert Graves.

National Geographic When Rome Ruled 3-DVD Set I ordered this on my smart phone while standing in the shadow of the temple of Jupiter at the Palatino in Rome last summer. Tablets of communication have come a long way.

Music
Handel: Agrippina (3 CDs) featuring Alastair Miles, Della Jones, Derek Lee Ragin, Donna Brown, English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner, and Michael Chance.

YouTube: George Frideric Handel – Agrippina

Web pages
About the opera Agrippina: Wikipedia; Synopsis at About Entertainment; NPR Music;
Julia Agrippina | Roman patrician | Britannica.com
heroinesofhistory – Agrippina the Younger
How Empress Agrippina the Younger Scandalized Rome
Roman Emperors – DIR Agrippina the Younger
Women in the Roman World: Agrippina the Younger
Nero – Ancient History – HISTORY.com
Nero | Roman emperor | Britannica.com
Emperor Nero – The Roman Empire
NeroEmperor, Theater Actor, Poet – Biography.com
Nero – Ancient History Encyclopedia
Roman Emperors DIR Nero
BBC – History – Historic Figures: Nero (37 AD – 68 AD)
Nero – Citation of Nero’s homosexual relationship with Marcus Otho
Marcus Otho, Emperor of Lusitania, lover of Nero; Poppaea
Roman Emperor Claudius
Synopsis of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations

Italian and Latin
Italian words we don’t use in English

palatine

One of my favorite pics from my trip

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Filed under Fiction Novel Writing, For the love of writing

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