List of 10 Great Ancient Histories

Written by Aulus.

I welcome you to my list of 10 great ancient histories. I will rank them from worst to best, and hopefully have some fun along the way.

10. Anabasis (Xenophon)

The excellent story of how 10,400 Greeks marched from Ionia to Iran, and then back again. Narrated by the witness Xenophon. This is one of the greatest entertainment stories ever, an excellent narrative packed with accurate history.

9. History of the Spanish Wars of Rome

This history is excellent despite that barely any of it survives which is why I can't rank it higher.

8. The Anabasis of Alexander

The Anabasis of Alexander is excellent.

7. Suetonius' Life of the Twelve Caesars

A good read.

6. Herodian's History of Rome

Herodian's history is lesser known but it's wild and generally I prefer it to Cassius Dio. It includes awesome anecdotes (like Seppy Severus faking his own death to test Plautianus the Prefect's loyalty). Very good.

5. The Histories (Herodotus)

The Histories are notable for being very unbiased, Herodotus only casts judgment on a foreign culture once (the Babylonians for having their goddess of love be worshipped by having married women make love to random man). He is proud to be Greek but he doesn't look down on foreign cultures. Furthermore, he includes excellent stories even though he doesn't believe all of them simply because it is an interesting story and he wants the future generations to be able to read it. I treat it as a half a work of entertainment and half a work of history.

4. Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans (Plutarch)

Plutarch's history is an excellent source because its purpose is to highlight why people succeeded or failed, so for example Marcellus and Pelopidas fail because of their rashness and Pericles and Fabius succeed because of their prudence. It's also a crucial source on, for example, the Sicilian Expedition (you should totally read my article about that and subscribe to my substack btw) and other such more obscure stuff. Very good!

3. The Histories (Polybius)

Polybius' histories only have 1/8 of its content left, which is a same but it contains detailed descriptions of the Roman constitution and also on the Second Punic War. He interviewed the people who fought in it personally and is generally unbiased.

2. History of the Peloponnesian War (Thucydides)

A generally unbiased account with a wealth of good details.

1. Hellenica (Xenophon)

An awesome read! It's a little bit biased towards the Spartans but it is great! It literally starts at the very last sentence of Thucydides, so cool! It describes Greek history from 404 BC to 362 BC. Very based!