Empress of Rome is the fascinating biography of one of the most perplexing and powerful figures of the ancient world: the empress Livia. Second wife of the emperor Augustus and the mother of his successor Tiberius, Livia has been vilified by posterity (most notably by Tacitus and Robert Graves) as the quintessence of the scheming Roman matriarch, poisoning her relatives one by one to smooth her son's path to the imperial throne. In this elegant and rigorously researched biography, Matthew Dennison rescues the historical Livia from this crudely drawn caricature of the popular imagination. He depicts a complex, courageous and richly gifted woman whose true crime was not was not murder but the exercise of power, and who, in a male-dominated society, had the energy to create for herself both a prominent public profile and a significant sphere of political influence.
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