Publication Date: 07/09/2023 ISBN: 9780861542307 Category:

A History of the Roman Empire in 21 Women

Emma Southon

Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Publication Date: 07/09/2023 ISBN: 9780861542307 Category:


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Rome as you’ve never seen it before – brazenly unconventional, badly behaved and ever so feminine.

‘Hugely entertaining and illuminating’ -Elodie Harper, author of The Wolf Den


Here’s how the history of the Roman Empire usually goes…

We kick off with Romulus murdering his brother, go on to Brutus overthrowing Tarquin, bounce through an appallingly tedious list of battles and generals and consuls, before emerging into the political stab-fest of the late Republic. After ‘Et tu, Brute?’, it runs through all the emperors, occasionally nodding to a wife or mother to show how bad things get when women won’t do as they’re told, until Constantine invents Christianity only for Attila the Hun to come and ruin everything.

Let’s tear up this script. The history of Rome and its empire is so much more than these ‘Important Things’.

In this alternative history, Emma Southon tells another story about the Romans, one that lives through Vestal Virgins and sex workers, business owners and poets, empresses and saints.

Discover how entrepreneurial sex worker Hispala Faecenia uncovered a conspiracy of treason, human sacrifice and Bacchic orgies so wild they would make Donna Tartt blush, becoming one of Rome’s unlikeliest heroes.
Book yourself a table at the House of Julia Felix and get to know Pompeii’s savviest businesswoman and restauranteur. Indulge in an array of locally sourced delicacies as you take in the wonderful view of Mount Vesuvius… what could possibly go wrong?
Join the inimitable Septimia Zenobia, who – after watching a series of incompetent, psychopathic and incompetently psychopathic emperors almost destroy the Empire – did what any of us would do. She declared herself Empress, took over half the Roman Empire and ran it herself.

Publisher Review

'Hugely entertaining and illuminating... Emma Southon brilliantly walks the line between humour and heartbreak, never shying away from the brutality some of the women endured, yet doing so with the lightest touch and managing to keep their humanity always in focus.' -- Elodie Harper, author of The Wolf Den 'The women in Southon's book are nuanced, fearless and thanks to Southon's brilliant storytelling, unforgettable: ambitious kingmakers, charming courtesans, political actors, brave survivors and proud poets. Funny, original and often moving, this is exactly the type of book I wish I could have read when I was younger.' -- Costanza Casati, author of Clytemnestra 'A History of the Roman Empire in 21 Women is a fantastic read. It is sparkling, irreverent and entertaining... Where was Emma Southon when I studied Roman history!?' -- Laura Shepperson, author of The Heroines 'Emma Southon is a truly original voice in popular historical writing. She has this amazing ability to take everything you thought you knew about Roman history, turn it upside down, reorient it, and show it to you anew, all the while making you laugh uproariously because she is, frankly, hilarious. A History of the Roman Empire in 21 Women is the history book I didn't know I needed but I now find indispensable - an instant classic.' -- Jane Draycott, author of Cleopatra's Daughter 'A whip-smart and revelatory read. Emma Southon brings us "the story of Rome as told through women" - women like a priestess, a businesswoman, and a poet; women who were queens, rebels, scapegoats, and survivors. This is the history you didn't know you needed from a writer who should be on everyone's radar.' -- Shelley Puhak, author of The Dark Queens

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