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13 January, 2012
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus
The Roman emperor Nero is remembered by history as the vain and immoral monster who fiddled while Rome burned. Edward Champlin reinterprets Nero's enormities on their own terms, as the self-conscious performances of an imperial actor with a formidable grasp of Roman history and mythology and a canny sense of his audience.
Nero murdered his younger brother and rival to the throne, probably at his mother's prompting. He then murdered his mother, with whom he may have slept. He killed his pregnant wife in a fit of rage, then castrated and married a young freedman because he resembled her. He mounted the public stage to act a hero driven mad or a woman giving birth, and raced a ten-horse chariot in the Olympic games. He probably instigated the burning of Rome, for which he then ordered the spectacular punishment of Christians, many of whom were burned as human torches to light up his gardens at night. Without seeking to rehabilitate the historical monster, Champlin renders Nero more vividly intelligible by illuminating the motives behind his theatrical gestures, and revealing the artist who thought of himself as a heroic figure.
Nero is a brilliant reconception of a historical account that extends back to Tacitus, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio. The effortless style and artful construction of the book will engage any reader drawn to its intrinsically fascinating subject.
|Nero (Blackwell Ancient Lives)|
The fifth Roman emperor, Nero has gone down in history as the archetypal narcissistic tyrant. In this fascinating new biography, Jürgen Malitz invites readers to reconsider Nero’s reputation.
Malitz focuses on the growing tension between Nero’s artistic tendencies and the political role for which his ambitious mother, Agrippina the Younger, groomed him. The author reveals how, after sound beginnings under Seneca and other serious men, Nero succumbed to his love of acting; and how, while using the arts to please the people, Nero alienated the senate with his increasingly autocratic style. Finally, he explains how Nero met his untimely end following a failure of nerves in the face of rebellion.
Nero’s crimes are notorious: he murdered his mother and all possible contestants to the throne and brutally persecuted the Christians. Despite Nero’s notoriety, Malitz outlines the often forgotten aspects of his reign: his early, surprisingly responsible political agenda, his initial popularity, patronage of the arts, and innovations in architecture.
This original biography allows readers to form a balanced judgment of this divisive and controversial Emperor.
|Nero: The End of a Dynasty|
Acclaimed as a classic portrait, Griffin's work is widely considered to be the definitive biography of this notorious emperor.
Nero's personality and crimes have always intrigued historians, novelists and general readers. The first Princeps to be declared a Public Enemy by the Roman Senate, Nero became one of the canonical tyrants along with Caligula and Domitian, and bears the dubious honor of having essentially brought about the end of the Augustan dynasty.
Griffin observes the emperor in the worked in which he lived, his intense relationship with the arts, and the factors leading to his final downfall.
|The Twelve Caesars|
Translated by Robert Graves and Revised with an Introduction by Michael Grant.