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Nero: The End of a Dynasty (Roman Imperial Biographies) Paperback – December 28, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0415214643 ISBN-10: 0415214645 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A vain, suspicious, vindictive man, the Roman Emperor Nero admitted by the end of his reign that he had failed completely. PW concluded: "Griffin's excellent biographical history is both perceptive and evenhanded."
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"An important book based upon a complete mastery of the material."." -- Joint Association of Classical Teachers Review

"Likely to find a wide readership, and deservedly so..."." -- Times Literary Supplement
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Product Details

  • Series: Roman Imperial Biographies
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (December 28, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415214645
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415214643
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,339,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 7 customer reviews
And Ms. Griffin's splendid biography is an excellent place to begin.
"voychek"
She also examines whether he really deserves to be seen as the monster that he shown to be.
JPS
Ms. Griffin also contrasts Nero with Caligula and Domitian, I think incorrectly.
David A. Wend

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
A rather dry, scholarly account of Nero's reign (not quite biographical, but with some like elements). Obviously, this isn't a completely entertaining book, and if you're looking for a more "novelistic" account of the popular image of Nero, there are plenty of books that indulge in that excess. This is the finest resource on Nero that I know of : a complete, belated modern analysis. Griffin presents upfront the remaining contemporary accounts of Nero (Tacitus, Suetonius, Dio) and other evidence, especially coinage, to piece together the reign of Nero, debating it point-by-point to find the most likely of occurances. Many myths of Nero are dealt with in this probing, even-handed professional history that, I believe, paints a pretty convincing picture of his personality and politics.
If you love Roman history, this deserves to be in your library.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By "voychek" on December 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
If you thought Caligula was the last word in Caeserian depravity, you must check out the life and times of Nero, the last of the Julio-Claudian emperors. And Ms. Griffin's splendid biography is an excellent place to begin. She's both a classically trained (Oxford, Harvard, Columbia) historian and a gifted writer,
Thus, this biography is both scholarly and fascinating in a grisly rise and fall of an ancient psychopath sort of way. What follows is just a partial list of Nero's major crimes: matricide, parricide, fratricide, uxoricide, foeticide, homicide, suicide and maybe arson. Ironically, arson for which his name is historically synonymous, is the one felony for which hard evidence is lacking. However, he probably did play the lyre (not the fiddle) while Rome burned to the ground. Nero was absolutely devoted to the arts.
Ms. Griffin, like all good historians, has her own educated slant on Nero, but uses the primary sources--Roman historian Tacitus, Roman biographer Suetonius (The Twelve Caesars) and Greek historian, Cassius Dio--extremely well: she doesn't agree completely with any of them. My own favorite among this group is Suetonious. He's gossipy, entertaining, highly opinated and sometimes accused of not always being totally reliable because he was writing not too long after Nero's death and his sources were, for the most part, then current word of mouth:
"Besides abusing freeborn boys and seducing married women, he debauched the vestal virgin Rubria. The freedwoman Acte he all but made his lawful wife, after bribing some ex-consuls to perjure themselves by swearing that she was of royal birth.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David A. Wend on January 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A biography of a Roman emperor should concentrate on the life being observed but must also convey the events that occurred in the empire. Otherwise, the biography will be incomplete. However, the author runs the risk of writing a history without providing insight into the biographical subject. Miriam Griffin understands this and although she writes at length on the history of the principate she does not bury her immediate subject. Nero's life emerges from the sources that have come down to us (mainly by Tacitus, Suetonius, Seneca and Dio). As far as the book evoking a flesh and blood Nero, Ms. Griffin refrains from speculation and does not add her opinion although she seems to want to. Perhaps this will not be to the liking of some readers, and I think the lack of information invites intelligent theorizing about what Nero was really like.
This is an excellent study of Nero and has become the standard study to many. There are excellent appendices on historical sources and Nero's coinage. I agree that the book is a thoroughly researched and well-written but it could use some updating. I found it a little odd that Ms. Griffin brings the story of Nero's life to an end and then has chapters dealing with events in the empire, such as the Jewish revolt and Nero's tour of Greece. I think it would have been better to avoid this division. I was interested in some more detail about the Jewish revolt. Ms. Griffin also contrasts Nero with Caligula and Domitian, I think incorrectly. The issue of Caligula declaring himself a god is raised in contract with Nero (who did not). However, I think it is clear now that Caligula only authorized the worship of his numen. In a similar vein, Ms.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
Nero is one of the most despised Emperor's of Rome and he is typically portrayed as a monster. In hr excellent scholarly book, Miriam Griffin shows to what extent this view is based on historical but also how much it owes to the hugely negative press that Nero has received from written sources. As she mentions, "Nero was to become one of the canonical tyrants along with Caligula and Domitian." In all three cases, however, the story of their regin, as it has come down to us, has essentially been written by (or on behalf of) the Senators, who were their main opponents and the main focus of their multiple and ruthless purges. Another point that the author makes is that Nero's picture as the incarnation of evil "trimphed as Chrisitianity triumphed", given his persecution of Christians.

This leads the author to examine to what extent and why his reign has been seen as so disastrous. She also examines whether he really deserves to be seen as the monster that he shown to be. Finally, she looks beyond the conventional picture of Nero that Roman authors have given us to explain why Nero fell. While Griffin clearly does not withwash Nero in any away, she does show that the first years of his reign were seen, even at the time, as something of a golden age. The horrific portraits of Nero, his paranoïa verging on madness and all of his other excesses, would only appear and increase over time, as difficulties increased, as Nero got rid of his best counsellors and advisors, and as he increasingly became unable to cope in his role of Princeps and rule the Empire.
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