cover image Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine

Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine

Barry Strauss. Simon & Schuster, $28 (416p) ISBN 978-1-4516-6883-4

History professor Strauss (The Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination) explores the reigns of Rome’s ten most influential emperors in his captivating modern take on Suetonius’s 121 CE history, The Twelve Caesars. He covers most of the emperors who ruled during the empire’s first 300 years of existence, a crowded timeline that begins with the bloody end of the republic under Augustus and ends with the reforms of Diocletian and the startling religious conversion of his successor Constantine. Strauss persuasively argues that each man brought his own personality and peccadilloes to his rule, and that each was successful and revolutionary in his own way: Vespasian and Severus won the throne via civil wars and stabilized a broken empire; Trajan expanded the empire to its greatest extent; and Hadrian and Tiberius both retreated from wars of expansion to focus on domestic projects. Even Nero transformed Rome with his building projects and exhibitionism. The women surrounding these emperors are also given their share of the credit and vividly portrayed. Citing numerous primary and secondary sources and providing modern analogies to convey complex relationships and ruling styles, this captivating narrative breathes new life into a host of transformative figures. [em]Agent: Cathy Hemming, Cathy Hemming Literary Agency. (Mar.) [/em]