Biography

The Twelve Caesars: The Dramatic Lives of the Emperors of Rome

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 used to be 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, dedicated suicide―and 5 of them have been increased to the prestige of gods. they've got come right down to posterity because the "twelve Caesars"―Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. below 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 may live on within the West for greater than 1000 years.

Matthew Dennison bargains a fantastically crafted series of colourful biographies of every emperor, triumphantly evoking the posh, license, brutality, and class of imperial Rome at its zenith. yet in addition to vividly recreating the lives, loves, and vices of this motley workforce 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 method and its alternative via a dictatorship which, opposed to all of the odds, succeeded extra convincingly than oligarchic democracy in governing an unlimited overseas landmass.

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Such megalomaniac theatricality served merely to claim the impossibility of incorporating inside conventional Roman mores developments that have been alien, out of sympathy, a problem. He forfeited acceptance. He had antagonized the senate and distanced the folk via lengthy absence from Rome. His misdeeds have been all identified, the tally (beginning with these murders in his family) an extended and painful one. He had squandered the riches of empire, the loyalty of troops and commons alike. now not Claudius’ divinity, Germanicus’ lustre or the far-off shadow of Augustus availed him now. within the spring of sixty eight, a provincial governor of excessive start and outdated tendencies issued a proclamation repudiating Nero. within the aftermath of Galba’s bid for the crimson, Dio writes, Nero chanced on himself ‘abandoned through every body alike’. 22 within the first example, the historian overstates the case. Nero spoke back with calmness and indifference to the inside track of Galba’s insurrection – and did not anything. Inertia used to be the expression of his contempt. was once he drugged by way of detachment, too misplaced within the echoing chambers of his inner most international of Greek triumphs to remember himself to the company of Rome? honestly he were absent for a very long time. He declared himself sole consul for the yr, ignorant of the irony of looking safe haven within the tatters of Republican office-holding. He summoned legions from Britain and Illyricum and made plans to complement their numbers with sailors stationed at Misenum. by the point he took decisive motion, it was once too overdue. part of him sought after it that means. He desired to get away to Egypt yet there has been not anyone left who could decide on him. The Praetorians had defected, Nymphidius Sabinus resorting to bribery of their move of allegiance to Galba. during this Rome of the principate, lack of the Praetorians most likely amounted to an insuperable quandary. within the backyard of Livia’s villa at Prima Porta, the place a laurel sprig got by means of the outdated Augusta as a portent had grown right into a hedge delivering branches for wreaths, the laurels have been demise. There will be not more crowns for Augustus’ heirs, not more garlands for scions of the Julii or the Claudii; that day used to be earlier. occasions have been urgent in on Nero. The palace, while at size he back to it, stood empty. It needed to be so, in Suetonius’ tale the determine of a forlorn emperor misplaced between empty rooms and echoing corridors again and again a picture of tyranny unmasked. Nero fled to the home of a freedman outdoor Rome. Sporus used to be one of the small occasion who followed him. Disguised as a slave, Nero bore little resemblance to the younger guy who, fourteen years prior, had roamed Roman streets at evening in pursuit of straightforward violence and inexpensive thrills. An far more than reliable residing had made him bloated and waddling; the sway of early attractiveness was once all long gone. while the instant got here, the surfeit of self-indulgence even stopped him from steeling himself for suicide. He performed the final scene badly, this emperor whose reign is bequeathed to us as a sequence of gaudy tableaux vivants. A slave steadied his hand as he plunged a dagger deep into his neck: probably this understudy even made the deadly stroke for him.

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