A Brief History of the Private Lives of the Roman Emperors by Anthony Blond

By Anthony Blond

With the new good fortune of "Rome" on BBC2, not anyone will examine the non-public lives of the Roman Emperors back within the similar gentle. Anthony Blond's scandalous disclose of the lifetime of the Caesars is a must-read for all attracted to what rather went on in old Rome. Julius Caesar is mostly awarded as a wonderful basic whilst in reality he was once an smug charmer and a swank; Augustus was once so aware of his peak that he positioned lifts in his sandals. yet they have been not anything in comparison to Caligula, Claudius and Nero. This publication is interesting interpreting, eye-opening in its revelations and without difficulty wonderful.

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The first was murdered by young nobs and the second outlawed by senatorial decree. A man born into this world was weaned, coddled, taught, fed, entertained and indeed often loved by a variety of slaves from the cradle to the grave. Long-serving slaves were manumitted on his deathbed – Seneca’s was the classical example – and the rest were left as part of his estate. Slaves in Rome were completely inside society and indeed often, if a play on words is permissible, inside their owners. By the end of our period few families in Rome were not laced with slave blood, which may have diminished Roman severitas but also made Romans more tolerant.

Only one Jew, a nephew of Philo the philosopher and historian from Alexandria, abandoned his religion and became Prefect of Egypt, as well as Prefect of Police and Corn and of the Praetorian Guard, one of the top jobs in the Empire. 7 Herod came from Idumaea, the biblical Edom, the bottom left-hand corner of what is now Israel, inland of the Gaza Strip. The Herod of the New Testament, he who massacred the Innocents, gross, cruel and stinking, like Henry VIII at the end of his life but with four more wives, has left an impression of horror difficult to dent.

How they would have enjoyed the telephone! Cicero, so different from the ponderous and indignant orator presented by generations of Latin masters, was fascinated by the affairs of his sons’ ex-mistresses. When a Roman marriage ‘broke up’, they used the expression, as we do, in a passive sense, as if a bad-tempered wind had picked up the marriage vessel and smashed it to the ground. The former partners might behave in a ‘civilized’ way towards each other. The poetess Lucretia, prized by Professor Richlin, remarks that her marriage lasted fifteen years and that she was still remarkably fond of her husband.

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