Tag Archives: Ancient Rome

The Confessions of Young Nero

3 Apr

Margaret George has made a career out of excellent pseudo-autobiographical novels.

“The Confessions of Young Nero”, the first part of the life story of Nero, is a welcome addition.

It starts with Nero’s earliest memories and goes up to the fire that destroyed much of Rome.

Margaret George is taking an interesting path with this book.  Her Nero is not the monster of legend, but a young man doing his best in a crazy and often dangerous world.

It is interesting to see a depiction of Nero as man with hopes, fears and loves, rather than the tyranical nutbag of history.  History, as they say, is written by the winners, and none of the Emperors who came after him had a vested interest in rehabilitating him.  In fact for many of them, the blacker they could paint him, the better.

I thoroughly enjoyed this rich and vibrant novel and look forward to reading the rest of Nero’s story.  Even though I know how it ends.

Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar

8 Jun

An interesting and in depth look at the family of Gaius Julius Caesar, and their rise to ultimate power, followed by their equally dramatic fall, by noted historian Tom Holland.

Even though the name Caesar came to mean ruler (the words Kaiser and Tsar are both derived from it), and was adopted by all the rulers of the Roman world, the only two true Caesars were Julius and his great nephew Octavius, later Augustus.  Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero were all adopted into the family, which is why historians tend to refer to the family as Julio-Claudian.

The book covers from Julius to Nero and is extremely interesting.  I first came to the family via Robert Graves “I, Claudius”, and later to his translation of Suetonius’ “The Twelve Caesars”.

Tom Holland presents us with a well researched and deeply interesting look at the House of Caesar, and Rome itself, the turmoils of which brought to mind the ructions within several countries at the moment.  It is hard not to draw comparisons between Imperial Rome and the United States of America.

Even though I am reasonably well read in the area (Robert Graves gave me a deep interest in Imperial Rome that I have read widely on since), I found “Dynasty” to be absorbing, interesting, and added to my knowledge, especially to that of the reign of Nero, as it’s hard to find a balanced book about either him or Caligula.

“Dynasty” is well balanced and thoughtful.

Highly recommended, whether you are a newcomer to this period of world history, or it’s a favourite area.  There is something for everyone to enjoy.

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