Great Women of Imperial Rome: Mothers and Wives of the Caesars

Great Women of Imperial Rome: Mothers and Wives of the Caesars

Great Women of Imperial Rome: Mothers and Wives of the Caesars

Great Women of Imperial Rome: Mothers and Wives of the Caesars

Synopsis

Examining the wives, daughters, sisters and mothers of emperors, the study includes: a pregnant Roman princess who saves a Roman army through an act of personal heroism; three third-century empresses who rule the most powerful state on Earth, presiding over unprecedented social and political reform; and an empress, though revered by her husband, is immortalized in history for infidelity and corruption by students of her greatest enemy. Jasper Burns paints portraits of these exceptional women that are colourful, sympathetic, and above all profoundly human. This book will be highly valuable to numismatists, students and scholars of Roman history or women's studies.

Excerpt

The Roman Empire was one of the greatest political and cultural achievements in human history. Never before or since have people of so many different nationalities and cultural backgrounds been the willing members of a single state.

The story of how the ancient city of Rome gradually became the center of a vast empire is one of desperate battles, domestic sacrifices, courageous soldiers, ambitious politicians, and clever businessmen. Bit by bit, over a period of centuries, Rome gained control over all the countries that surrounded the Mediterranean Sea, and many of the lands of northern Europe as well.

During most of the time of Roman expansion, the city was a republic, ruled by the people, or, rather, by certain privileged groups of the people. There was no king or emperor and political power was in the hands of the free male citizens of Rome. Most positions of leadership were occupied by the senators, a class of wealthy aristocrats. Senators commanded the Roman armies and two of their number were elected each year to be the consuls, or co-leaders of the state. in times of emergency, a dictator might be elected to rule with supreme authority until the crisis had passed.

Among the most successful of Rome’s military and political leaders under the Republic was Julius Caesar. He was a senator and consul who became more powerful than any of his predecessors. After defeating his rivals in war, he assumed supreme power on a permanent basis, receiving the title of “Perpetual Dictator.” Naturally, this did not sit well with many of the other senators and, on the “Ides of March” (15 March) in the year 44 bc, Caesar was stabbed to death on his way to a meeting of the senate in Rome.

The death of Julius Caesar was followed by a violent struggle for control of the Roman world. the eventual winner was Caesar’s great-nephew and adopted son, Octavian, who became known as Caesar Augustus, the first emperor of Rome. the golden age of the Roman Empire, which he inaugurated in 31 bc, lasted almost three centuries until ad 235 when fifty years of devastating war and political turmoil began.

The basic unit of Roman society was the familia, or household. It consisted not only of the members of an immediate family but also of relatives living . . .

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