Publication Date: 06/10/2022 ISBN: 9780861542536 Category:

The Mad Emperor

Harry Sidebottom

Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Publication Date: 06/10/2022 ISBN: 9780861542536 Category:
Hardback

£20.00

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Description

What happens when you put the Roman Empire in the hands of a teenage boy? Discover the scandalous life and times of Rome’s worst emperor.

‘Buy the book; it’s very entertaining.’ David Aaronovitch, The Times

On 8 June 218 AD, a fourteen-year-old Syrian boy, egged on by his grandmother, led an army to battle in a Roman civil war. Against all expectations, he was victorious.

Varius Avitus Bassianus, known to the modern world as Heliogabalus, was proclaimed emperor. The next four years were to be the strangest in the history of the empire.

Heliogabalus humiliated the prestigious Senators and threw extravagant dinner parties for lower-class friends. He ousted Jupiter from his summit among the gods and replaced him with Elagabal. He married a Vestal Virgin – twice. Rumours abounded that he was a prostitute. In the first biography of Heliogabalus in over half a century, Harry Sidebottom unveils the high drama of sex, religion, power and culture in Ancient Rome as we’ve never seen it before.

*****

A Financial Times, BBC History and Spectator Book of the Year

‘Combining the pace of a novelist, the training of a scholar and the instincts of a true historian, this is a wonderful exploration of the Roman world under its strangest emperor.’ Adrian Goldsworthy, author of Pax Romana

‘The decadence, debauchery and sexual promiscuity that marked the adolescent’s time on the imperial throne make for a rollicking read.’ Daily Mail

‘Ancient history was never less dry than in Harry Sidebottom’s superbly entertaining and always scholarly account of the reign of Heliogabalus… There is something for every reader: sex, politics, scandals and a compelling portrait of imperial society and culture.’ Financial Times

Publisher Review

'Sidebottom is an agile guide and draws the reader's attention to the remarkably inclusive nature of the empire, from its acceptance of different cultures into citizenship (the exact and polar opposite of, say, Qatar), its routine freeing of slaves and its acceptance of new gods into its pagan pantheon... Buy the book, it's very entertaining.' -- David Aaronovitch, The Times 'We are used to being told that the historical truth is less exciting than the myth. But, as Harry Sidebottom's The Mad Emperor demonstrates, this is one of those rare cases when the history does not fall short. While working hard to correct the preconceptions of both scholars and general readers, Sidebottom presents a picture of third-century imperial Rome that is, if anything, wilder than the popular imagination.' -- Telegraph 'The Mad Emperor recreates the Ancient World with the eye of a poet and the sure hand of a scholar.' -- Barry Strauss, author of Ten Caesars 'A scholarly but highly readable account of the teenager who became classical Rome's most reviled emperor, but who may be viewed with a touch more sympathy now.' -- Matthew Kneale, author of Rome: A History in Seven Sackings 'A riveting and rollicking account of a much maligned but truly thrilling era in Roman history.' -- Emma Southon, author of A Fatal Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum 'Combining the pace of a novelist, the training of a scholar and the instincts of a true historian, this is a wonderful exploration of the Roman world under its strangest emperor.' -- Adrian Goldsworthy, author of Pax Romana

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