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Ten Caesars

af Barry S. Strauss

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1755122,780 (3.77)6
"Best-selling historian and classicist Barry Strauss tells the story of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire through the lives of ten of its most important emperors, from Augustus to Constantine"-- "Bestselling classical historian Barry Strauss tells the story of the Roman Empire through the lives of ten men who ruled Rome, from Augustus, the founder, to Constantine, who refounded the empire as Christian and established a new capital at Constantinople, three and a half centuries later. During these centuries Rome gained in splendor and territory, then lost both. The empire reached from modern-day Britain to Iraq, and over time emperors came not from the old Roman families of the first century but from men born in the provinces, some of whom had never even seen Rome. By the time of Constantine, the Roman Empire had changed so dramatically in geography, ethnicity, religion, and culture that it would have been virtually unrecognizable to Augustus. But in one way it remained faithful to his vision: it survived, no matter the cost. In the imperial era Roman women--mothers, wives, mistresses--had substantial authority and influence over the emperors, and Strauss profiles the most important among them, from Livia, Augustus's wife, to Helena, Constantine's mother. But even women in the imperial family often found themselves forced by their emperors to marry or divorce for purely political reasons, and at times they faced exile or even murder. Rome laid the foundations of the West, and its legacy still shapes us today in so many ways, from language, law, and architecture to the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. Strauss examines this enduring heritage through the lives of the men who made it: Augustus, Tiberius, Nero, Vespasian, Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus, Diocletian, and Constantine. In time they learned to maintain the family business--the government of an empire--by adapting when necessary and always persevering. [This book] is essential history as well as fascinating biography."--Dust jacket.… (mere)
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» Se også 6 omtaler

Viser 5 af 5
A Lot More Than Ten

Barry Strauss has written a non-academic, highly-readable, and yet nuanced history of the first 250 years of the Roman Empire. While it focuses on a "top ten" list of emperors, the lives of those ten are connected together in a way that will give you a working knowledge of the "other" emperors that appeared during that time as well.

The style was a bit unnerving in the beginning. I knew I was opening a non-academic work, but I was unprepared for Professor Strauss' frequent use of contractions and colloquialisms. On the other hand, the short, Hemingway-esque sentence structure was welcome. In the end, I came to like this new (to me) style of conversational and yet thoughtful and nuanced writing in a popular history book. It is much more like listening to a good, focused lecture or podcast (see, e.g., The History Of Rome) than reading an academic paper; and why shouldn't that be a good thing?

The ten Emperors at the heart of the book are: Augustus (Octavian), Tiberius, Nero, Vespasian, Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus, Diocletian and Constantine. I was familiar with all ten from other reading, but was surprised to find new information about or a new way of looking at each of these subjects. In particular, Professor Strauss makes an effort to undermine common beliefs about these emperors that current academic work has refuted. Great stuff.

Professor Strauss also can't resist debunking Gibbons' attribution of the fall of the Empire to its adoption of Christianity. And, in a "whatever happened to them?"-style coda, Professor Strauss teases the wonderful characters and stories of the Byzantine Empire. I would recommend reading this book after finishing first [b:The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic|34184069|The Storm Before the Storm The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic|Mike Duncan|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1492585818l/34184069._SY75_.jpg|55222026] and then [b:Julius Caesar|1701815|Julius Caesar|Philip Freeman|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1349034194l/1701815._SY75_.jpg|1698868].

Highly recommended! ( )
  TH_Shunk | Jul 6, 2021 |
A good introduction to imperial Roman history for beginners. I'm by no means an expert but it wasn't till we got to Septimius Severus that I really felt the author was bringing any new perspective apart from his interest in emperors' relations with their mothers. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Sep 19, 2020 |
Mr. Strauss has an easy reading style. He also has excellent command of the subject matter. It is no simple task to write a book which is essentially a collection of biographies and still maintain some degree of continuity. Strauss does that well.

As always, the author often goes out of his way in an attempt to establish the importance of female actors when often the facts do not support his claim. This to some extent detracts from his overall credibility.

Otherwise, a quality work which is recommended for those who seek an informative overview of the most significant emperors of the Roman Empire. ( )
  la2bkk | Jun 11, 2020 |
This book has a fascinating and potentially engrossing subject matter. Ancient Rome is a particular interest of mine, though mainly focused on the Republic and immediately succeeding years, so I was very familiar with Octavian/Augustus. The succeeding Emperors kind of all blended together. This was an opportunity to flesh out those Emperors and increase my understanding of the period from 14 A. D. to 350 A. D.

Unfortunately, this book was a huge disappointment. First, it was so shallow as to be almost useless. Second, it contains so much conjecture and supposition, without any supporting documentation, as to be virtually meaningless. Finally, the writing style of the author is so informal and, at times, inappropriate as to be extremely irritating.

For example, the author says that one of Marcus Aurelius’s aides got “chewed out”. Chewed out? Really? I was shocked to learn that the author had published numerous other “histories”. This book reads like a self-published work, it is so poorly written.

As an aside, the author has a particularly irritating habit of misusing the concept of “end notes”. On numerous occasions, he references historical personages without naming them. Instead, you have to reference the end notes to even find out the name of the person referenced. Why not just put their name in the text? It almost seems like the author knows he needs end notes to support the academic credentials of the work. However, the text is so “general” and basic conjecture, there is no supporting reference to justify an end note. What to do? Generate bogus end notes by simply placing the name of referenced personages in the end notes instead of the text. This has to be one of the silliest things I’ve ever seen. ( )
1 stem santhony | Apr 6, 2020 |
While I did learn a bit from this, and reinforced some things I already knew, the history was overall fairly disappointing. It is very shallow, and focused entirely on the emperors and only minimally covering anything broader going on in the Roman Empire. Well, not focused entirely on the emperors; strangely, every chapter also has sections on the emperor's wife and mother, sometimes completely speculative sections in the cases where nothing about them is known. Too much is scratched out and not backed up. How many times can Strauss write, "Emperor X was a good administrator, and divided his attention between the military and politics, but not failing to promote Roman art and culture"? Utterly generic, unsupported and therefore vacuous, sentences like this are repeated for most of the emperors. ( )
1 stem breic | Apr 26, 2019 |
Viser 5 af 5
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"Best-selling historian and classicist Barry Strauss tells the story of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire through the lives of ten of its most important emperors, from Augustus to Constantine"-- "Bestselling classical historian Barry Strauss tells the story of the Roman Empire through the lives of ten men who ruled Rome, from Augustus, the founder, to Constantine, who refounded the empire as Christian and established a new capital at Constantinople, three and a half centuries later. During these centuries Rome gained in splendor and territory, then lost both. The empire reached from modern-day Britain to Iraq, and over time emperors came not from the old Roman families of the first century but from men born in the provinces, some of whom had never even seen Rome. By the time of Constantine, the Roman Empire had changed so dramatically in geography, ethnicity, religion, and culture that it would have been virtually unrecognizable to Augustus. But in one way it remained faithful to his vision: it survived, no matter the cost. In the imperial era Roman women--mothers, wives, mistresses--had substantial authority and influence over the emperors, and Strauss profiles the most important among them, from Livia, Augustus's wife, to Helena, Constantine's mother. But even women in the imperial family often found themselves forced by their emperors to marry or divorce for purely political reasons, and at times they faced exile or even murder. Rome laid the foundations of the West, and its legacy still shapes us today in so many ways, from language, law, and architecture to the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. Strauss examines this enduring heritage through the lives of the men who made it: Augustus, Tiberius, Nero, Vespasian, Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus, Diocletian, and Constantine. In time they learned to maintain the family business--the government of an empire--by adapting when necessary and always persevering. [This book] is essential history as well as fascinating biography."--Dust jacket.

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