One of them was a military genius; one murdered his mother and fiddled while Rome burned; another earned the nickname 'sphincter artist'. Six of their number were assassinated, two committed suicide - and five of them were elevated to the status of gods. They have come down to posterity as the 'twelve Caesars' - Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. Under their rule, from 49 BC to AD 96, Rome was transformed from a republic to an empire, whose model of regal autocracy would survive in the West for more than a thousand years. Matthew Dennison offers a beautifully crafted sequence of colourful biographies of each emperor, triumphantly evoking the luxury, licence, brutality and sophistication of imperial Rome at its zenith. But as well as vividly recreating the lives, loves and vices of this motley group of despots, psychopaths and perverts, he paints a portrait of an erao of political and social revolution, of the bloody overthrow of a proud, 500-year-old political system and its replacement by a dictatorship which, against all the odds, succeeded more convincingly than oligarchic democracy in governing a vast international landmass.
About the Author
Matthew Dennison is the author of two critically acclaimed previous biographies: the Hatchards number one besteller, The Last Princess: The Devoted Life of Queen Victoria's Youngest Daughter (2007), and Empress of Rome: The Life of Livia (2010). As a journalist, he has been published in every national weekday broadsheet and continues to contribute regularly to Country Life, The Times, Telegraph Magazine and the Daily Express. He read English Language & Literature at Christ Church, Oxford, as Douglas Jerrold Scholar, and afterwards the History of Decorative Arts at the University of Glasgow.
'The author's prose style - epigrammatic, swift, and spiced with humour - is like Tacitus in translation. Which is meant as a compliment. His relish for his material shines infectiously through his sentences.' - Thomas Hodgkinson, Spectator 'Dennison's series of impressionistic pen portraits are compelling and imaginative.' - Sunday Times 'Dennison's approach combines thoughtful reflection and analysis with gossipy irreverence in a bewitching cocktail... hugely entertaining.' - Daily Express 'Unputdownable... These histories from 2,000 years ago are riveting in their insight, their black humour and their sheer readability, give or take a few highbrow verbal flourishes. Matthew Dennison fleshes out their gaudy history with boisterous scholarship.' - Daily Mail 'Matthew Dennison has had the clever idea of updating a famously scandalous work, Suetonius's The Twelve Caesars, written in AD 117 - what you might call the Private Eye version of ancient Rome. It has been plundered, translated and reprinted hundreds of times since it was first compiled nearly 2,000 years ago, but this version, colourfully embroidered for a modern audience, I found unputdownable.' The Daily Mail 'Gossipy and insightful, making for an enjoyable introduction to this power -hungry crowd.' - Financial Times 'Magnificent' The Spectator 'Dennison nicely balances scholarship and anecdote... His book is a vivid reminder of a very mixed bunch: some born great, some having greatness thrust upon them and some grabbing for themselves - and invariably paying the price.' The Mail on Sunday 'Matthew Dennison is one of those rare marvels, a historical biographer whose work has reached the bestseller lists... For his latest work, Dennison has chosen a larger canvas. Taking as his starting-point The Twelve Cesars by Suetonius, he has built around that definitive text a humorous, intelligent, highly personal stroll through the careers of the first 12 men who ruled in post-republican Rome... Each story is told with humour and personal interpretations of the facts. Then there's the glory of language: Dennison is in love with the English language, and it shows.' The Independent
Number Of Pages: 400
Published: 1st July 2012
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Dimensions (cm): 24.1 x 16.7 x 3.7
Weight (kg): 0.686