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Conspiracy Narratives in Roman History Hardcover – December 31, 2004

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews


"This often provocative book ... is a significant contribution to the field, for there is no comparable study."David Potter, University of Michigan, author of Literary Texts and the Roman Historian


This often provocative book . . . is a significant contribution to the field, for there is no comparable study. (David Potter, University of Michigan, author of Literary Texts and the Roman Historian)

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 197 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press (December 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0292705611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292705616
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,472,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Wayne Lusvardi on April 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating and riveting book that unfortunately probably will appeal more to academicians than the public. Its topic is the five written conspiracy stories about the assassinations and threats to ancient Roman rulers.

The first three are of failed, or betrayed, conspiracies:

Catiline's conspiracy to assassinate two Roman consuls after he was disqualified from office for electoral bribery, betrayed by Fulvia (a woman), as told by Sallust 20 years after the fact (called the Catilinarian Conspiracy); the Bacchic religious cult's threat of a counter state as betrayed by another woman Hispala, as told by Livy 100 years afterwards, called the Baccanalian Conspiracy; and the aborted plot by Piso against Nero betrayed by Epicharis (a woman), as related by Tacitus, called the Pisonian Conspiracy written 100 years from the event. In each case women were the betrayers of the failed plots, thereby thwarting conspiracies and preserving the political status quo.

The last two stories are about successful conspiracies: the assassination of Caligula by three conspirators as told by Josephus whereby the actress Quintilia was tortured for not revealing the plot; and the assassination of Julius Caesar by a cabal of Roman Senators led by Brutus whose wife showed her loyalty to keep the plot secret by intentionally cutting herself to show she was prepared to endure pain rather than reveal the plot, as told by Appian.

This work is feminist in the best, non-politically correct, use of the term. The book is enhanced by the author's acute perception of the role of women and slaves in channeling secrets to those in power. This is the first study of Roman political conspiracies.
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