BOOKS BY THE AUTHOR

 
 

Readers of Seneca's philosophic works have long wondered how a sober Stoic moralist could have worked hand in glove with Nero, an unstable, self-indulgent ruler who tried to secure his reign by murdering his rivals.  This book explores Seneca's political career and his extensive writings in an effort to understand the disjuncture between the two.  The trials Seneca faced, as a committed Stoic caught in a moralist's worst nightmare, able to do good in the public realm only by undergoing private torment, stands as a paradigm of the timeless conflict between individual conscience and political compromise.

Dying Every Day was selected by the New York Times as one of the 100 Most Notable Books of 2014.

Published December 2, 2014 by Penguin Random House


“Gripping . . . the narrative verve of a born writer and the erudition of a scholar” — Daniel  Mendelsohn

Press and Reviews for Dying Every Day:

"School for a Scoundrel" - New York Times Sunday Book Review

"Such a Stoic" - New Yorker Books

"Fratricide, Matricide, and the Philosopher" - London Review of Books


 
 

When Alexander the Great died at the age of thirty-two, his empire stretched from the Adriatic Sea in the west all the way to modern-day India in the east. In an unusual compromise, his two heirs—a mentally damaged half brother, Philip III, and an infant son, Alexander IV, born after his death—were jointly granted the kingship. But six of Alexander’s Macedonian generals, spurred by their own thirst for power and the legend that Alexander bequeathed his rule “to the strongest,” fought to gain supremacy. Perhaps their most fascinating and conniving adversary was Alexander’s former Greek secretary, Eumenes, now a general himself, who would be the determining factor in the precarious fortunes of the royal family.

Ghose on the Throne was recognized as the Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Title in 2012.

Published November 13, 2013 by Penguin Random House


Press and Reviews for Ghost on the Throne:

"The Diodachi Delivered" - The New Criterion 


 
 

Herodotus, widely known as the father of history, was also described by Aristotle as a mythologos, or "tale-teller." 

Although most ancient historians wrote only about events they themselves had lived through, Herodotus explored an era well before his own time—from the rise of the Persian Empire to the Persian invasions of Greece in 490 and 480 B.C., the heroic fight of the Greeks against the invaders, and the final Greek victory. Working without the aid of written sources, Herodotus traveled widely and wove into his chronology descriptions of people and countries he visited and anecdotes that shed light on their lives and customs.

Published as a part of the Hermes Book Series on December 11, 1998 by Yale University Press


“Romm has provided what we have long needed in English: a reliable, sophisticated, well-written, up-to-date treatment of the literary and intellectual aspects of Herodotus’ Histories. It can be recommended enthusiastically to students and interested laypeople alike. Scholars too will learn much from this delightful and stimulating book.” -John Marincola, Classical Journal

"This introduction to Herodotus touches on every aspect of his genius, includes a comprehensive bibliography, and—as part of the admirable Hermes series—is intended for the non-classicist reader." -Washington Post Book World


 
 

For the Greeks and Romans the earth's farthest perimeter was a realm radically different from what they perceived as central and human. The alien qualities of these "edges of the earth" became the basis of a literary tradition that endured throughout antiquity and into the Renaissance, despite the growing challenges of emerging scientific perspectives. The Greeks, and to a somewhat lesser extent the Romans, saw geography not as a branch of physical science but as an important literary genre.

Published 1994 by Princeton University Press


"An immensely engaging and erudite work, packed full of provocative insights.... Romm successfully sorts out for us some of the most complex traditions of ancient geographic literature; and he deserves high marks for doing it in such an intelligent, original, and attractive manner." -T. Corey Brennan, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"Romm's incisive and brilliant analysis of Greco-Roman ideas of earth's geography is grounded in a linguistic interpretation of Greek conceptions of space and boundary. . . . His work captures the imagination as few others have and will provide material for the study of the classical legacy in the shaping of the modern scientific mind for many years to come." -Helen Liebel-Weckowicz, Classical Bulletin


 

Edited Volumes

 
 

Translation by Pamela Mensch, Forward by Mary Beard, with Introduction and Notes by James Romm

Pompey, Caesar, Cicero, Brutus, Antony: the names resonate across thousands of years. Major figures in the civil wars that brutally ended the Roman republic, their lives still haunt us as examples of how the hunger for personal power can overwhelm collective politics, how the exaltation of the military can corrode civilian authority, and how the best intentions can lead to disastrous consequences. Plutarch renders these history-making lives as flesh-and-blood characters, often by deftly marshalling small details such as the care Brutus exercised in his use of money or the disdain Caesar felt for the lofty eloquence of Cicero.

Plutarch was a Greek intellectual who lived roughly one hundred years after the age of Caesar. At home in the world of Roman power, he preferred to live in the past, among the great figures of Greek and Roman history. He intended his biographical profiles to be mirrors of character that readers could use to inspire their own values and behavior―emulating virtues and rejecting flaws. For Plutarch, character was destiny for both the individual and the republic. He was our first master of the biographical form, a major source for Shakespeare and Gibbon.

To be published on January 31, 2017 by W. W. Norton & Company


“The formidable duo of Romm & Mensch have pulled it off again―accomplishing with ease the tricky feat of making some of the best biographies from the best biographer of the ancient Roman world newly accessible in fresh, accurate, intelligently commented translations to a readership extending well beyond the usual Classicist suspects.” - Paul Cartledge


 

New Translations Edited by Mary Lefkowitz and James Romm

The great plays of Ancient Greece are among the most enduring and important legacies of the Western world. Not only is the influence of Greek drama palpable in everything from Shakespeare to modern television, the insights contained in Greek tragedy have shaped our perceptions of the nature of human life. Poets, philosophers, and politicians have long borrowed and adapted the ideas and language of Greek drama to help them make sense of their own times.
 
This exciting curated anthology features a cross section of the most popular—and most widely taught—plays in the Greek canon. Fresh translations into contemporary English breathe new life into the texts while capturing, as faithfully as possible, their original meaning.

Published August 23, 2016 by Penguin Random House


Praise for The Greek Plays:

“Mary Lefkowitz and James Romm deftly have gathered strong new translations from Frank Nisetich, Sarah Ruden, Rachel Kitzinger, Emily Wilson, as well as from Mary Lefkowitz and James Romm themselves. There is a freshness and pungency in these new translations that should last a long time. 
            
I admire also the introductions to the plays and the biographies and annotations provided. Closing essays by five distinguished classicists—the brilliant Daniel Mendelsohn and the equally skilled David Rosenbloom, Joshua Billings, Mary-Kay Gamel, and Gregory Hays—all enlightened me. This seems to me a helpful light into our gathering darkness.” - Harold Bloom


 
 

Translated by Palmela Mensch, Edited with Introduction and Notes by James Romm

"This edition reproduces the fluent pace and readability of Herodotus' world-encompassing work. Mensch has produced a close translation of Herodotus' Greek that is also an engrossing read in English. As an old-time Herodotean, I found myself drawn into Herodotus' universe of history and story all over again. Combined with Romm's elegant introduction, which conveys the lure of Herodotus' work, the lucid maps and tables, and the pertinent, uncluttered notes, this is an edition to read for pleasure and for education. I recommend it to future students of Herodotus and their instructors, and to any reader who wants to discover and rediscover Herodotus in a vibrant new translation." - Emily Greenwood, Yale University

Published March 2014 by Hackett Publishing


 
 

Translation by Pamela Mensch, Introduction by Paul Cartledge, Edited by James Romm, Landmark Series Editor Robert B. Strassler

Arrian’s Campaigns of Alexander, widely considered the most authoritative history of the brilliant leader’s great conquests, is the latest addition to the acclaimed Landmark series. 
 
After twelve years of hard-fought campaigns, Alexander the Great controlled a vast empire that was bordered by the Adriatic sea to the west and modern-day India to the east. Arrian, himself a military commander, combines his firsthand experience of battle with material from Ptolemy’s memoirs and other ancient sources to compose a singular portrait of Alexander. This vivid and engaging new translation of Arrian will fascinate readers who are interested in classical studies, the history of warfare, and the origins of East­–West tensions still swirling in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan today. Enriched by the Landmark series’ trademark comprehensive maps, illustrations, and annotations, and with contributions from the preeminent classical scholars of today.

Published January 17, 2012 by Penguin Random House

View a Sample From The Landmark Arrian: The Campaigns of Alexander


Press and Reviews for The Landmark Arrian:

"Ancient Ancient History" - The New Criterion 

"Paths to Glory" - New York Times Sunday Book Review


 
 

Translation by Pamela Mensch; Edited, with Introduction and Notes by James Romm

Although Plutarch did not intend his Lives as a historical record, they sometimes furnish the best account we have of events in classical Greece. In many instances they are the only account available to those exploring ancient history through primary sources.

In this compilation from Plutarch's Greek Lives, James Romm gathers the material of greatest historical significance from fifteen biographies, ranging from Theseus in earliest times to Phocion in the late fourth century BCE. While preserving the outlines of Plutarch's character portraits, Romm focuses on the central stories of classical Greece: the rivalry between Athens, Sparta, and Thebes, the rise of Macedon, and the conflicts between these European states and the Achaemenid Persian empire. Bridging Plutarch’s gaps with concise summaries, Romm creates a coherent narrative of the classical Greek world.

Published September 2012 by Hackett Publishing


 
 

Edited, with Introduction, by James Romm; Translated by Pamela Mensch and James Romm

Comprising relevant selections from the four ancient writers whose portraits of Alexander the Great still survive—Arrian, Diodorus, Plutarch, and Quintus Curtius—this volume provides a complete narrative of the important events in Alexander's life. The Introduction sets these works in historical context, stretching from the conclusion of the Peloponnesian War through Alexander's conquest of Asia, and provides an assessment of Alexander's historical importance as well as a survey of the central controversies surrounding his personality, aims and intentions. 

Published 2005 by Hackett Publishing


Praise for Alexander the Great: Selections from Arrian, Diodorus, Plutarch, and Quintus Curtius

"The translations . . . are rendered in clear, modern style. Romm's Introduction is fresh, mature, and insightful—one of the best brief synopses of Alexander's life and impact this reviewer has read in recent years. . . . Romm's carefully selected and well-translated passages from Arrian provide a vivid and cohesive narrative of the highlights of Alexander's career. Wherever there is a major discrepancy among our ancient sources, or wherever an alternate version seems to enrich Arrian's account, Romm relegates the variant source to his notes, thereby providing the enhancement without disrupting the main narrative.  He has thus preserved the flow of Arrian's narrative, while also providing a commentary that alerts the reader to some of the pitfalls that mark any attempt to understand the course of Alexander's achievements."  - Eugene N. Borza, The Classical Outlook


 
 

Translated by Samuel Shirley; Edited, with Introduction and Annotation, by James Romm

Designed for students with little or no background in ancient Greek language, history, and culture, this new abridgment presents those selections that comprise Herodotus’ historical narrative. These are meticulously annotated, and supplemented with a chronology of the Archaic Age, Historical Epilogue, glossary of main characters and places, index of proper names, and maps.

Published 2003 by Hackett Publishing


Praise for Herodotus: On the War for Greek Freedom:

“Romm has made a judicious selection of the most important passages from the Histories and he has joined them with concise summaries of the intervening events so as to make the book a unified, coherent whole. The translation (provided mainly by Shirley, although many key passages have been translated by Romm) is lively and readable, and Romm’s notes provide just the sort of information that a first-time reader of Herodotus would need... In short, Romm and Shirley have produced a valuable desideratum: an excellent, one-volume introduction to Herodotus’ Histories. It would be eminently suitable for undergraduate readers, particularly in a Greek History or Ancient Greek Civilization class.” Susan O. Shapiro, The Classical Outlook