Rock, Paper, Shotgun linked to this nice retrospective of Roman-themed games over the years, starting with Legionnaire (1982) and ending with Rome: Total War (2004). The series of musings includes wrap ups and discussion, strengths and weaknesses. I began my academic life as a classicist with a knack for lyric poetry — while I hopped ship to history (East Asian at that), I still have many reminders hanging around of those halcyon days spent with Horace and Livy. A nostalgic look back at how and why these classically-themed games have succeeded (or not) is a welcome reminder of many games I played as a youngster:
... SimRomes stick around for a reason. As much as I loved the alien nature of the Egypt in Tilted Mill's Children of the Nile, Rome remains the most accessible ancient city. A century of movies and books have primed us for gladiators, togas, legions on the march...much moreso than, say, Sophoclean drama, chitons and peltasts.
Oh, sure, they're generally wildly historically inaccurate (what else is new?), but panem et circenses, people - who needs realistic class conflict, slavery, and rioting when you've got red-caped legions and chariot racing? The wisdom of Roman satirists still holds true today. Anyways, it's a fun look back at one popular theme if you're a closet (or not) classics geek, or just a fan of some of the titles.