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An unforgettable depiction of the Roman empire at the height of its power and reach, and an elegantly sensational retelling of the lives and times of the twelve Caesars
One of the them was a military genius, one murdered his mother and fiddled while Rome burned, another earned the nickname "sphincter artist". Six of their number were assassinated, two committed suicide—and five of them were elevated to the status of gods. They have come down to posterity as the "twelve Caesars"—Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. Under their rule, from 49 BC to AD 96, Rome was transformed from a republic to an empire, whose model of regal autocracy would survive in the West for more than a thousand years. Matthew Dennison offers a beautifully crafted sequence of colorful biographies of each emperor, triumphantly evoking the luxury, license, brutality, and sophistication of imperial Rome at its zenith. But as well as vividly recreating the lives, loves, and vices of this motley group of despots, psychopaths and perverts, he paints a portrait of an era of political and social revolution, of the bloody overthrow of a proud, five-hundred-year-old political system and its replacement by a dictatorship which, against all the odds, succeeded more convincingly than oligarchic democracy in governing a vast international landmass.
This is a new biography of the infamous Empress Livia, a woman long thought to be one of the most feared villainesses of history
Livia, Empress of Rome tells the story of one of the most fascinating, perplexing, and powerful figures of the ancient world: the empress Livia. Second wife of the emperor Augustus and the mother of his successor Tiberius, Livia has been vilified by posterity (most notably by Tacitus and Robert Graves) as the quintessence of the scheming Roman matriarch, poisoning her relatives one by one to smooth her son’s path to the imperial throne.
In this elegant and rigorously researched biography, Matthew Dennison rescues the historical Livia from this crudely drawn caricature of the popular imagination. He depicts a complex, courageous and richly gifted woman whose true crime was not murder but the exercise of power, and who, in a male-dominated society, had the energy to create for herself both a prominent public profile and a significant sphere of political influence.