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Emperor and Court


  • Date Published: April 2021
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108460071

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About the Authors
  • This book portrays Nero, not as the murderous tyrant of tradition, but as a young man ever-more reluctant to fulfil his responsibilities as emperor and ever-more anxious to demonstrate his genuine skills as a sportsman and artist. This reluctance caused him to allow others to rule, and rule surprisingly well, in his name. On its own terms, the Neronian empire was in fact remarkably successful. Nero's senior ministers were many and various, but notably they included a number of powerful women, such as his mother, Agrippina II, and his second and third wives, Poppaea Sabina and Statilia Messalina. Using the most recent archaeological, epigraphic, numismatic and literary research, the book explores issues such as court-politics, banter and free speech; literary, technological and scientific advances; the Fire of 64, 'the persecution of Christians' and Nero's 'Golden House'; and the huge underlying strength, both constitutional and financial, of the Julio-Claudian empire.

    • Argues for a new view of Nero's principate by focusing on those around him and by directly addressing key topics, such as his mental health and the imperial fiscal system, which are usually side-lined or avoided
    • Takes a particular interest in the role of women in central Roman imperial politics and administration
    • Assumes little or no prior knowledge of the topic or period and is written in accessible and non-technical language
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Nero: Emperor and Court is a worthwhile read for those seriously interested in the early Roman Empire.' A. A. Nofi, StrategyPage (

    '… this stimulating, carefully researched and instructive book is an important contribution to the history of Rome in the time of Nero and to the study of political structures and the practice of rule in the early imperial period.' Holger Sonnabend, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2021
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108460071
    • length: 467 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.622kg
    • contains: 11 b/w illus. 5 maps 4 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Background:
    1. Nero, 'bad' or 'good'?
    2. Agrippina and her legacy
    3. The establishment team
    4. Dissimulation?
    5. Frankness and enquiry
    6. Warfare and the generals
    7. Politics
    Part II. Assessment:
    8. Killer? I – 54-62
    9. Killer? II – 62-68
    10. Arsonist, persecutor and ruthless urban developer?
    11. Divinity, madness, acting, ideology, burn-out
    12. Depravity? 13. Finance
    Part III. End:
    14. Entr'acte – Greece
    15. Fall
    16. Conclusion.

  • Author

    John F. Drinkwater, University of Nottingham
    John F. Drinkwater is Emeritus Professor of Roman Imperial History at the University of Nottingham. He has been joint editor of the Derbyshire Archaeological Journal and is now also honorary lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Sheffield. He has been elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. His principal field of research is the Roman West and his publications include Roman Gaul (1983); The Gallic Empire (1987); Fifth-Century Gaul (ed., with Hugh Elton, Cambridge, 1992); and The Alamanni and Rome 213–496 (2007).

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