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Roma Sub Rosa

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Title: Roma Sub Rosa  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Last Seen in Massilia, The House of the Vestals, A Murder on the Appian Way, Catilina's Riddle, A Mist of Prophecies
Collection: Novel Series, Roma Sub Rosa
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Roma Sub Rosa

Roma Sub Rosa
A paperback version of the first book in the series, Roman Blood.
Author Steven Saylor
Country United States
Language English
Genre Detective, Historical fiction
Publisher St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books
1991 –
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback) and

Roma Sub Rosa is the title of the series of historical mystery novels by Steven Saylor set in ancient Rome and populated by noteworthy denizens thereof. The series is noted for its historical authenticity. The phrase "Roma Sub Rosa" means, in Latin, "Rome under the rose". If a matter was sub rosa, "under the rose", it meant that such matter was confidential.

The detective is known as Gordianus the Finder, and he mixes with non-fictional citizens of the Republic including Sulla, Cicero, Marcus Crassus, Catilina, Catullus, Pompey, Julius Caesar, and Mark Antony.


For an ancient Roman, Gordianus has an unconventional family:

  • Bethesda, his beautiful Egyptian slave purchased from a slave market in Alexandria. Bethesda and Gordianus have a mutually affectionate relationship and are later married.
  • Eco, his oldest adopted son, was a former mute who was a key player in the book Roman Blood that followed in his father's (meaning Gordianus) footsteps as an investigator. Eco is most likely named after Umberto Eco who wrote The Name of the Rose, a historical mystery novel.
  • Meto, his second adopted son, was a slave of Crassus who became a soldier serving under Julius Caesar.
  • Rupa, his third adopted son, brother to Cassandra, a mute.
  • Diana, his intellectual and headstrong daughter (by Bethesda).
  • Davus, his son-in-law (Diana's husband) who was Gordianus' former slave and bodyguard.
  • Aulus, his grandson (by Diana).
  • Little Bethesda, his granddaughter (by Diana).


While the books were written in a different order, they are listed below in chronological order:

  1. The Seven Wonders (2012) — 92-90 BC: The young Gordianus travels to see the Wonders of the Ancient World.
  2. Raiders of the Nile (2014) — 88 BC: The young Gordianus must travel into the Nile Delta to find a gang of bandits.
  3. Roman Blood (1991) — 80 BC: Gordianus investigates a murder case for the famous lawyer Cicero.
  4. The House of the Vestals (1997) — 80-72 BC : Short stories.
  5. A Gladiator Dies Only Once (2005) — 77-64 BC: Short stories.
  6. Arms of Nemesis (1992) — 72 BC : Gordianus tries to save the lives of 99 slaves, while Spartacus threatens Rome.
  7. Catilina's Riddle (1993) — 63 BC: Gordianus is embroiled in the Catiline conspiracy.
  8. The Venus Throw (1995) — 56 BC: Gordianus tries to discover who murdered an Egyptian diplomat.
  9. A Murder on the Appian Way (1996) — 52 BC: Gordianus investigates the death of Publius Clodius Pulcher.
  10. Rubicon (1999) — 49 BC: Gordianus investigates a murder close to home as Rome nears civil war.
  11. Last Seen in Massilia (2000) — 49 BC:
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