Greece and Rome

In the Obsidian Dive episode, @MacSparky mentions an interest in Greece and Rome. I’ve been interested in ancient history for some years. A few book recommendations:

Currently reading: “Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age,” by Annalee Newitz. It’s a history of a Bronze Age proto-city from 9,000 years ago, Pompeii, Angkor in Cambodia, and the Native American city of Cahokia, near the site of present-day St. Louis. I’m about halfway through. Very good!

“Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar” and “Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic,” by Tom Holland. (Not the Spiderman actor). Covers the decline of the Roman Republic and its replacement by empire.


Want an insider tip? Go see the Acropolis in a driving rain storm. We have photos of the monuments with no people in them. It was awesome. Of course, there’s a down side…


If y’all have an interest in active archaeology you might be interested in the Time Team Patreon.


Or go see the tomb of Phillip of Macedonia (the father of Alexander the Great). Nearly no one was there when I was and it was great. The tiaras with gold shaped into oak leafs and Phillips breastplate with the embossed lionheads were especially captivating. Some ancient bling here. You see that this guy was Aristotles boss, haha:)

I love the ancient world and reading the Iliad might be the best way for the interested to understand the difference in morality and mentality of the pre-christian Mediterranean world to our own.


I love Time Team. Phil Harding stomping all over the U.K. in search of just one more solidus. It’s great to see that there is a movement afoot to bring it back.


In undergrad I studied political philosophy, which forced me to dive deep on ancient thinkers and lately I’ve been re-reading all of that. I also just started Ryan Holiday’s “Lives of the Stoics”. It’s not very deep on any one person and definitely written for the masses, but I’m enjoying it anyway.


Ancient Rome comes alive in the Colleen McCullough novels starting with First Man in Rome - which starts with Marius and the father of the Julius Caesar we know. I can’t remember which novel in the series it is, but the showdown between Cicero and Cataline in the Senate leaves you feeling you were on the benches there (or should that be, in the room where it happened?)

Another series that brings that world alive are the Lindsey Davies Falco series and Alba series - start with the Silver Pigs.

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In all seriousness, I do have a couple of tips if you go to see the Acropolis:

  1. Go to the new Acropolis Museum before you go to the monument. You will understand the Acropolis much better this way.
  2. When you leave the Acropolis, turn right. This will take you through a section of ancient Athens (the Plaka) that relatively few tourists see.

BTW, the last place we saw before the world fell apart was Angkor (in Cambodia) and it was absolutely fabulous! My second-favorite trip, after Egypt.