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Empress of Rome: The Life of Livia
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Empress of Rome: The Life of Livia

3.25 of 5 stars 3.25  ·  rating details  ·  56 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Empress of Rome is a brand-new biography of one of the most fascinating, perplexing and powerful figures of the ancient world: the empress Livia.
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 1st 2010 by Quercus Books
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Empress of Rome is a meticulously detailed biography of the first empress of Rome, Livia, the wife of Augustus. It deals with the accusations of murder that were levelled at her by later writers, touches on the reason for Tacitus et al.'s hatred of her, and tries to present a positive image of her. It notes her happy marriage and her faithfulness to both Augustus and her first husband (though she abandoned the first husband for Augustus ultimately), and examines the role she played in defining t...more
I picked up this book because I have been interested in Livia since watching "I, Claudius" in my college years. She was a wife, mother, and grandmother to a number of earliest emperors of Rome. History has also left her with a reputation of being willing to do anything to help her family, including poisoning and murdering rivals to the men in her life.

This book and its author strive to paint a different picture of Livia, a woman from a very old and established Roman family. Since most of the his...more
Livia's always held a certain fascination for me. She's a fairly obscure figure among non-history-buffs. (Versus Cleopatra. Everyone knows about Cleopatra.) Yet during her era, no other woman held the sort of precedence that she did. Praised for her beauty--praised, at the time, for her matronly virtues--she would go down in history as a wicked stepmother sort of figure, a scheming matriarch who makes men's penises shrivel up at the sound of her name. (No, seriously. Is it any surprise that "I,...more

Dennison might be a great researcher, but he's no story teller. He took a fascinating figure from history and wrote a very boring book about her.
I have to say I enjoyed this much more than the other book about Livia that was published at the same time. This one was much more detailed. Rather than simply saying "we don't know" about things that happened in her life Dennison gave examples from what is known about women's lives in general at that time. Therefore this book was not just a good book about Livia's life but also about women in Roman times. It did however feel like he was trying to cram too much in. In order to explain Livia's li...more
This is a really interesting book. The author makes connections and comes to good conclusions based in a sound appraisal of the existing sources and an understanding of then-current Roman outlook with no benefit of historical hindsight. This book could have been up there with Anthony Barrett's biography of Livia.

Yes, I said "could have."

I don't know why, but this book seems to have suffered from the lack of a good copyeditor. The author frequently chooses large or impressive words when a sharper...more
Author is completely focused on presenting Livia as a virtuous roman empress rather than poisonous behind-the-scenes villainess. There might be something about it, as every historical document dating from contemporary times describes her as a cautious and regal presence - gossip and speculations about her assumed ambitions, power and influence came much, much later after her death and it might be that historians simply detested the idea of woman having a power that Livia had. Unfortunately, whil...more
I wasn't sure how to rate this book. Dennison is a good writer and presented a lot of great historical information that was easy to read. However, I think the book isn't titled correctly. There is some information on Livia but most of the information is on Roman culture and the place of women in their culture. I did enjoy Dennison's theories on Livia and her relationship with her son, Tiberius and her husbands, Nero and of course Augustus. This is a book worth reading as long as you're prepared...more
I read this on my Kindle. An excellent biography of Rome's first "empress," Livia, the wife of Augustus. Dennison does an excellent job of drawing together all the extend sources - and there is more there than you might think - and drawing a fairly complete picture of Livia and her place in Augustus' principate.
Lauren Albert
Most of the faults of the book are not the fault of the author. I mean what can you do but speculate when you are a biographer and you have very little factual information? Dennison does give the reader a pretty good feel for what it was like to be an elite woman in Rome at the time.
Very interesting but it lacked flow. The historical backtracking interrupted the flow of the story and made it difficult to keep track of what was going on. Still, an interesting look at an intriguing woman.
Doesn't quite rehabilitate Livia like Dennison wants it to. Also, it's not an interesting read, though the subject should be.
Did not finish... I don't think some biographies are for me... Well presented but I got bored.
Livia Komosa
was nice to read another point if view that Livia didn't poison everyone she met.
Feb 28, 2011 Bill marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
This one didnt grab me either perhaps later.
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