Empress of Rome is the fascinating biography of one of the most perplexing and powerful figures of the ancient world: the empress Livia. Second wife of the emperor Augustus and the mother of his successor Tiberius, Livia has been vilified by posterity (most notably by Tacitus and Robert Graves) as the quintessence of the scheming Roman matriarch, poisoning her relatives one by one to smooth her son's path to the imperial throne. In this elegant and rigorously researched biography, Matthew Dennison rescues the historical Livia from this crudely drawn caricature of the popular imagination. He depicts a complex, courageous and richly gifted woman whose true crime was not was not murder but the exercise of power, and who, in a male-dominated society, had the energy to create for herself both a prominent public profile and a significant sphere of political influence.
Matthew Dennison is the author of 'The Last Princess: The Devoted Life of Queen Victoria's Youngest Daughter' (2007). A journalist, he contributes to The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Spectator and Country Life. He is married and lives in London and North Wales.
Author's Note. Family tree. Preface 'He chopped down the family tree'. 'Superbissima'. In the beginning ... were the Claudii. 'Innocent of guilt'. 'Virility to her reasoning power'. A young man of noble family, of native talent and moderation? 'Night would last for ever'. Fugitive. 'The whimsicality of fate'. 'An eagle flew by'. The price of comfort. 'No magic chant will make you a mother'. By the side of the goddess. Sacrosanct. 'A charming view with minimal expense'. 'A man and his family should live together as partners'. 'They compelled him, as it seemed, to accept autocratic powers'. 'Born of his sacred blood'. 'Her sacred office'. 'If you come to any harm ... that is the end of me too'. Three cities of Judea. 'The man set apart by such an alliance would be enormously elevated'. 'Outstandingly virtuous'. 'Tiberius closer to Caesar'. 'What more can I ask of the immortal gods?' 'Try not to guess what lies in the future'. 'Perpetual security'. Purer than Parian marble? 'Blood -red comets'. Augusta. 'His mother Livia vexed him'. Above the law? Epilogue: 'You held your course without remorse'. Notes. Bibliography. Glossary. Index. List of illustrations.