From Publishers Weekly
Former BBC freelance researcher Freisenbruch addresses a long-neglected topic in this intriguing study of the first ladies of the Roman Empire. While emphasizing such colorful individuals as Livia, the long-lived, scheming wife of Augustus; Agrippina, the mother of Nero, whose assertion of authority over him ended in her execution; and Julia Domna, the brilliant and tragic wife of the African-born Emperor Septimius Severus, Freisenbruch has also given us valuable information on less dramatic but steadier women whose presence enabled the Western Empire to flourish. Particularly significant were the roles of Helena and Fausta, the mother and wife respectively of Constantine the Great, in ensuring the triumph of Christianity in the Empire. Weakened only by a slight tendency to compare and contrast events with the modern media versions of Rome, Freisenbruch's debut is both fascinating and enjoyable. (Nov.) (c)
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“A groundbreaking study of some of the most powerful women in early Western civilization….The author breathes new life into these overlooked subjects. A captivating look at imperial Rome’s roots in the making of the modern stateswoman.”
“Fascinating and enjoyable.” --Publishers Weekly
“A book both scholarly and racy…[Freisenbruch] restores to life some of the toughest, most colorful, and most bizarre women who ever existed.” –Robert Harris for Sunday Times