Propelled to power by the age of 17 by an ambitious mother, self-indulgent to the point of criminality, inadequate, paranoid and the perpetrator of heinous crimes including matricide and fratricide, and deposed and killed by 31, Nero is one of Rome’s most infamous Emperors.
But has history treated him fairly? Or is the popular view of Nero as a capricious and depraved individual a travesty of the truth and a gross injustice to Rome's fifth emperor?
This new biography will look at Nero’s life with fresh eyes. While showing the man 'warts and all', it also caste a critical eye on the 'libels' which were perpetrated on him, such as claiming he was a madman, many of which were most probably made up to suit the needs of the Flavians, who had overthrown his dynasty.
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"A leading authority on imperial Rome and the historical work of Tacitus, as well as being an expert on coins, David Shotter has a distinguished record of publications on the Julio-Claudians. His new biography of the ever-fascinating Nero is up to date on the latest scholarship, extremely readable, and attractively illustrated."
Anthony Birley, author of Hadrian: the Restless Emperor (1997), Marcus Aurelius (2nd ed. 1987) and The African Emperor Septimius Severus (2nd ed. 1988).
We all think we know Nero – murderer of his brother, his mother and his pregnant wife, the Emperor who believed himself a god, fiddled while Rome burned and threw his Christian subjects to the lions.
But has history got it right?
The Emperor Nero is one of the most notorious figures in Roman history. His fourteen year reign was marked by paranoia, murder and persecution. He has remained ever since a benchmark for tyranny in the popular imagination.
Yet, as this fascinating study shows, his reign began with high hopes. He was young, attractive, a refreshing change from his stepfather, Claudius. He was also, however, wholly inadequate to the task of ruling Rome on his own. His addiction to popular approval and fear of potential rivals drove a wedge between him and Rome’s senators. The quality of his government deteriorated and he retreated more and more into his own cultural and artistic interests. Self-indulgent and paranoid to the point of criminality, he created a vicious circle which detached him from his subjects and encouraged the very conspiracies he feared.
Terrible crimes, obsessive self-indulgence, big-hearted generosity, erratic judgements – David Shotter’s account reveals the many contradictory faces of Nero and gives the most balanced introduction currently available for students and general readers alike of this endlessly fascinating figure.About the Author:
David Shotter is Professor Emeritus in Roman Imperial History at the University of Lancaster. His many books include Rome and Her Empire (2002), Tiberius Caesar (2nd edition, 2004), and The Fall of the Roman Republic (2nd edition, 2005).
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