The First Man in Rome (Masters of Rome Series #1)

The First Man in Rome (Masters of Rome Series #1)

by Colleen McCullough
4.8 33


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The First Man in Rome (Masters of Rome Series #1) by Colleen McCullough

With extraordinary narrative power, New York Times bestselling author Colleen McCullough sweeps the reader into a whirlpool of pageantry and passion, bringing to vivid life the most glorious epoch in human history.

When the world cowered before the legions of Rome, two extraordinary men dreamed of personal glory: the military genius and wealthy rural "upstart" Marius, and Sulla, penniless and debauched but of aristocratic birth. Men of exceptional vision, courage, cunning, and ruthless ambition, separately they faced the insurmountable opposition of powerful, vindictive foes. Yet allied they could answer the treachery of rivals, lovers, enemy generals, and senatorial vipers with intricate and merciless machinations of their own—to achieve in the end a bloody and splendid foretold destiny . . . and win the most coveted honor the Republic could bestow.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061582417
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/11/2008
Series: Masters of Rome Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 1152
Sales rank: 200,105
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.84(d)

About the Author

Colleen McCullough is the author of The Thorn Birds, Tim, An Indecent Obsession, A Creed for the Third Millennium, The Ladies of Missalonghi, The First Man in Rome, The Grass Crown, Fortune's Favorites, Caesar's Women, Caesar, and other novels. She lives with her husband on Norfolk Island in the South Pacific.


Norfolk Island, 1,000 miles off the Australian coast

Date of Birth:

June 1, 1937

Place of Birth:

Wellington, New South Wales, Australia


Attended University of Sydney

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First Man in Rome 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Cierdwyn More than 1 year ago
The first volume of McCullough's Masters of Rome series completely floored me. The author's ability to get me into the Roman mindset and become emotionally invested in characters who do some REALLY nasty things left me in awe. Do yourself a favor and read all 7 volumes
JWH More than 1 year ago
Writing about historical characters always carries the temptation to project modern attitudes onto them. In this well researched series, the author has resisted that temptation and has presented them as interesting and human. While sources are somewhat limited for the beginning of the series as compared to the later periods, the story is written wih a respect for the avaialble information while still making the characters intersting as people. This is not a dry history, but rather an intersting story of chatracters large and small and how their actions built a significant historical change as Rome moved from the Republic to the Empire. I have read the series several times and have literally worn out the hard-cover edition of this book.
Oneira More than 1 year ago
Great book! I'm not sure if it's for people who don't know this period of Roman History well (Roman Revolution), perhaps someone can correct me on that. As a Classicist, I am so glad she began this series with Marius. Most skip over him and Sulla completely and start with Caesar. And truly, the fall of the Republic began with Marius and ended with Octavian who began the Empire (hence why this period is called the Roman Revolution). I am definitely reading the rest of the series, there are 7 in all. If you're interested at all in this period in history, read this!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I urge everyone to read the Masters of Rome series, starting with The First Man in Rome. As the series progresses (Fortunes Favorites, The Grass Crown, Caesars Women, Caesar, The October Horse) you are caught up in a world that has long since vanished, although today's members of the Senate remain the same. The insight which McCullouch brings to this series is masterful. I have read and reread the series, and each time I am transported back to that age that shaped the modern world.
DAMiller More than 1 year ago
Colleen McCullough's "The First Man in Rome" is a masterpiece when it comes to historical fiction novels. She's managed to produce an excellent plot that features details about the Classical-Era and the Roman domestic life yet still keeps the reader hooked. Several main characters are introduced in the story, ranging from Gaius Marius to Sulla. The progression is not super-fast-paced nor is it excruciatingly slow. For those interested in history, especially Classical-Era Rome, this is a must-read. For those who are not avid readers of historical fiction this is high on the list of good literature, even if you are the kind of person that despises reading about history, this book should be at least somewhere on your list. Without a doubt this novel deserves any awards it receives. What’s even better is that “The First Man in Rome” is only the beginning of an excellent series of novels, each supposedly better than the last. McCullough makes sure that each entry is not only of high quality, but that it leaves you wanting more and more. Most readers of this novel would tell you that it is worth the occasional “info-dump” that occurs at points. I would give this entry in McCullough’s series a solid 5 out of 5 stars. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once I got thru the first few chapters where I didn't like the grammar and style of language I really started to get into it. It's nice to feel vested in characters of a story for a change even if there are several liberties of history that the author took. I will be getting the rest of the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ColinB More than 1 year ago
This novel, which is based on some historical fact, covers the rise of republican Roman statesmen Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla. This early in the series they are still friends rather than enemies (that happens in the second book in the series, "The Grass Crown"). Marius is born from a non-noble family and cannot hope to get to the upper echelons of the Roman political ladder, despite being able to "buy and sell half the Senate" as he puts it. On the other hand, Sulla has an aristocratic name, but his branch of the Cornelii has run out of money and he's been living in abject poverty his whole life. They're both in the same situation because Marius has money but no name, and Sulla has a name but no money. They are brought together by fortune and by their distaste for the aristocracy that rules Rome. The events covered in the book include the famous Jugurthine War and the war with the German tribes invading Italy. You really root for Marius because he is the underdog, ignored by the Roman republican aristocracy but possessing far superior abilities than other Roman generals and statesmen with better names than his. In fact, Marius would be consul (like president of the republic, to misuse a modern term) seven times in his life. McCullough portrays him as a real person, and not a real schmuck like Plutarch paints him. Probably Plutarch (a Greek) looked down his nose at Marius because he spoke poor Greek. McCullough makes him an underdog that her readers will love rather than object to, and Sulla, despite his somewhat evil character and unscrupulousness, is also a good choice of protagonist. The characters seem real, the action is fluid, and the book, despite being over 1000 pages, is no longer than it really needs to be. I honestly believe this is one of the greatest epic novels of all time, ranking right up there with the Lord of the Rings, dare I say it.
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altenmon More than 1 year ago
I read the whole series. This was a gift to a very good friend. It takes awhile to get used to all the Roman names and nomenclature but once you get going you can't put it down. I read them as She wrote them and could not wait for each book as it came out. As far as I could tell, the history is accurate ( talked about it with a professor of history from Rome). An absolutely wonderful read.
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BOBPANY More than 1 year ago
Mccullough has brought ancient Rome to life. Her characters are brilliantly drawn. I was able to picture Marius in his armor, Sulla in his German disguise. The pain of Little Julilla. This is a MUST READ!
Guest More than 1 year ago
when i first read the book i couldnt believe it was written by a neurophysicist and trust me this is more than worth a read .this book is one of those rare books that you buy and then pass on to your kids bacause it opens up for you a world which vanished long time ago and you curse your luck that you were born in this age .
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading a very poorly done novel about the early yrs of Julius Caesar, I came across this 1st book of the 'Masters of Rome' series here on B& N's site. I love accurate historical novels and decided to give this one a try after reading some of it's great reviews. Boy, did I hit the jackpot! I asked for 'good' & got 'amazingly outstanding' - two thumbs WAY up! McCullough takes you on the journey of the rising Gaius Marius, a wealthy New Man labeled an 'Italian hayseed w/ no Greek', & Lucius Cornelius Sulla, a Roman patrician living on the other end of the spectrum, having nothing but his aristocratic birth, who rises out of the slums of Rome's Subura. Both marry a Julia sister (Caesar's aunts) who are their tickets into the senate. You're taken through Marius' unprecedented 6 consulships w/ Sulla at his side. this story is so well written w/ amazing detail, you're able to feel as though you're right in Rome w/ the characters. Although the story is about Marius & Sulla, I loved the book even more for not focusing just on them but letting you into their lives w/ the places they go, their family's lives & the many members of the senate. McCullough even includes maps & sketches of the characters along w/ a 100+ pg glossery explaining the meanings of Roman words & cities found in the story. Pronunciations of Roman names are also given! The book covers everything from the overthrow of King Jugurtha, Marius' 3 consulships 'in absentia' & his use of the Head Count for his armies, the defeat of the Germans, the continuous back-stabbing & bribery of the senate & finally to Marius' rise, & eventual somewhat fall, from the 'First Man in Rome' title. From you Roman history buffs to the average reader looking for something different but completely enthralling, give it a try, you're bound to love it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Though the book is long, it's no longer than it needs to be (which is a rare find in long books) because every page is packed with action or historical detail. You can tell both the author's passion for the subject as well as her in depth knowledge of it. The characters are well developed and you get the sense that the author almost knows them personally by the way they are brought out in detail, and the Roman Senate is brought to life as it really was quite errily, little different from its counterparts in Washington or Westminster. But most of all, McCullough actually accomplished something rare among historians: she made it absolutely fascinating. The book left me wanting to know more about the Romans, for whom I could have cared less before reading The First Man in Rome. Plus, I love stories where the underdog (like Marius) triumphs over his enemies.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the story of Gaius Marius (157-86 BC) a novus homo (new man) from an equestrian family of landowners origin and a military genius and of Lucius Cornelius Sulla (138-78 BC) a peniless roman patrician who became partners in the army and related by marriage with the Julia sisters, Marius as a leader of the invictus roman legions and Sulla as an aprentice and close collaborator. This book covered the conquest of Numidia, the overthrown of King Jughurta, the invasion of Gaul by the german hordes, the defeat of the cimbris and teutons in 102-101 BC, the plans of Gaius Marius to establish veteran colonies outside Italy to expand the roman influence, language and culture in the new conquered territories also gives us an idea of how the romans legislate, fight and intrigue to win influence and power to rule Rome and how the citizenship were divided by classes and nationalities. Once again, Ms. McCullough gives us a wonderful story, an illustrative narrative and a detailed history class.