By Matthew Dennison
An unforgettable depiction of the Roman empire on the top of its strength and achieve, and an elegantly sensational retelling of the lives and occasions of the twelve Caesars
One of the them was once an army genius, one murdered his mom and fiddled whereas Rome burned, one other earned the nickname "sphincter artist". Six in their quantity have been assassinated, devoted suicide―and 5 of them have been increased to the prestige of gods. they've got come all the way down to posterity because the "twelve Caesars"―Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. lower than their rule, from forty nine BC to advert ninety six, Rome used to be remodeled from a republic to an empire, whose version of regal autocracy could live to tell the tale within the West for greater than 1000 years.
Matthew Dennison deals a fantastically crafted series of colourful biographies of every emperor, triumphantly evoking the luxurious, license, brutality, and class of imperial Rome at its zenith. yet in addition to vividly recreating the lives, loves, and vices of this motley crew of despots, psychopaths and perverts, he paints a portrait of an period of political and social revolution, of the bloody overthrow of a proud, five-hundred-year-old political procedure and its alternative by means of a dictatorship which, opposed to all of the odds, succeeded extra convincingly than oligarchic democracy in governing an enormous foreign landmass.
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Extra resources for The Twelve Caesars: The Dramatic Lives of the Emperors of Rome
Like Gaius prior to him, Nero was once emperor part-time. As aged senators have been fast to notice, he used to be the 1st princeps of Rome to hire a ghostwriter for his speeches. His selection, made for him by way of his mom, fell upon no much less a luminary than author and thinker Lucius Annaeus Seneca. on the time it may possibly were brilliant: later it gave the impression of detachment – even worse, like play-acting. His terrible father, Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, ‘a guy hateful in each stroll of life’, devoted incest together with his sister, killed a boy for kicks and, in complete view of the crowds within the discussion board, gouged out the eyes of a colleague who criticized him. Vicious and untroubled by way of public contempt, he's a problem to historians’ impartiality. As a tender guy, his son Nero roamed the streets after darkish, disguised by way of a wig or cap or dressed as a slave. In corporation with acquaintances and individuals of his shield, he raided brothels, smashed and looted retailers, and attacked passers-by with blows and daggers. In fifty six, he got here as regards to wasting his eyes in such an stumble upon: a senator known as Julius Montanus took the possibility of darkness to avenge himself on an affront made via Nero to Montanus’ spouse. With grim complacency Domitius had claimed that nobody of whom he used to be father and Agrippina mom might be whatever yet an endemic and an apprehension to the general public. And so, in a shadowy alley-way within the moment yr of Nero’s reign, it appeared to be. yet Nero’s cruelty didn't lengthy enjoy informal violence. Chariot-racing, wrestling bouts, appearing and making a song competitions cooled the warmth of his mood. against this the killings of his reign have been directed at political competitors. not like his 3 speedy predecessors, we don't have any cause to imagine that Nero quite loved their deaths. In time, he threatened that he could blot out the complete senatorial order ‘and give up the rule of thumb of the provinces and the command of the armies to the Roman knights and to his freedmen’. no matter if he intended it or no longer, it used to be a plan the ancients couldn't let. the outcome could be a fictionalized Nero rising from the styluses of the earliest writers, an archetype of evil offensive to the nationwide myths of the Republic nonetheless expensive to Tacitus et al. Little ask yourself this senate-hater is accused of sexual incontinence and tyranny. Such, we all know, are the aspersions forged by way of our resources upon their political rivals. the tale repeats itself: Julius, Tiberius, Gaius, even Claudius. In Nero’s case, a lot of his startling waywardness will be actual: there's a homogeneity to the assets’ extremism that is persuasive in itself. Nero is by myself one of the twelve Caesars in succeeding to the throne with out political adventure: even Gaius and Claudius controlled a magistracy apiece (Gaius the quaestorship, Claudius a consulship). in its place, on the outset, he governed with the help of a thinker of educational bent who thrilled ‘in boys previous their leading’ – Seneca;1 and a guardsman with a deformed arm who had started his occupation as overseer of estates belonging to Livia – Burrus.