- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; annotated edition edition (December 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195124685
- ISBN-13: 978-0195124682
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.3 x 6.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 35 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,671,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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69 AD: The Year of Four Emperors Hardcover – December 1, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Nero's suicide in June of A.D. 68 touched off a tumultuous year in the Roman Empire, full of political intrigue, social upheaval and military disorder. With judicious historical insight, Morgan, who teaches classics and history at the University of Texas–Austin, provides a first-rate history of this chaotic year while challenging many of the reigning theories. Unlike earlier books, Morgan's incorporates the versions of Tacitus, Plutarch, Suetonius and Dio in his quest for a balanced account. Galba was the first of four emperors to rule in this one-year span. But he never achieved popularity, and Otho, one of Nero's closest companions, murdered him in January 69 and took the reins. A civil war erupted between Otho's supporters and those of Vitellius, leading to Otho's suicide in April. The Senate then confirmed Vitellius as emperor, though his nine-month reign was marked by great extravagance. In December, the Senate acclaimed Vespasian, who had murdered Vitellius, as emperor, and he brought an end, temporarily, to the civil strife in the empire. Despite its turbulence, Morgan prudently points out that the year 69 was not the period of total anarchy that others have claimed. Although at times pedantic and even turgid, Morgan's book provides a superb portrait of this enigmatic and intriguing year. 4 maps. (Dec.)
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"Morgan's book is a fresh and accessible look at a period that has been discussed, with sometimes horrified fascination, since antiquity itself."--Times Literary Supplement
"Morgan's acute analyses and wry judgments on each episode as well as the whole year are indispensable, however one might differ on details, for he is never satisfied with the obvious or even the ingenious; his analysis of Othonian strategy before Bedriacum is particularly striking."--The International History Review
"A superb portrait of this enigmatic and intriguing year."--Publishers Weekly
"Few people rival Gwyn Morgan in knowledge of Tacitus' Histories. The result is a fine narrative, cogent and convincing, of this momentous year."--Herbert W. Benario, author of Tacitus Germany
"This important book on the Histories of Tacitus surpasses earlier works on the civil wars that shook Rome and its empire in the year of 69. Like Tacitus, Morgan illuminates the universal themes that make the history of this one year significant for all time--the political and social upheavals consequent on a contested transfer of power; the nature of military and political leadership, the psychology of the military and civilian masses who are involved in, or spectators of, civil war. General readers will be enlightened and moved by Morgan's narrative, while specialists will appreciate the solid scholarship on which it is founded."--Mark Morford, Professor of Classics Emeritus, University of Virginia
"Gwyn Morgan has produced a long-awaited and engagingly written account of the Year of Four Emperors that is unfailingly instructive and a pleasure to read. Not surprisingly, since it is based on a careful reconsideration of all the sources, while it will provide enjoyment for many, it will also prove controversial in some quarters."--Leslie Murison, author of Galba, Otho and Vitellius: Careers and Controversies
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Top customer reviews
Of course, almost any book about 69 CE is going to be exciting. Gather round friends and listen to the sad fate of over-ambitious men. After Nero dies, the Empire, already shaken by Boadicea's rebellion (61 CE), The Great Fire of 64 CE, the Plague (didn't know about that did you?), Nero's charming little habit of ordering the most successful generals in the Empire to commit suicide (Corbulo and others), and to top it off, a major revolution in Judea by those troublesome monotheists!
Almost everybody agrees that Nero didn't really have to kill himself, and if he'd just had a smidge more common sense, he could have pulled his fat out of the fire. Did you know that for several centuries there were tales circulating that Nero wasn't dead, but sort-of "waiting to come again"--I'm not kidding! Especially among the Greeks. I think Augustine mentions it. But he goes ahead and does the deed and the government gets kicked around in a ditch for over a year. I'm not exactly a Flavianoid but at least they did stabilize things for a generation or two. The other candidates were total losers, and it's no wonder they did lose.
Exciting while a tad overboard about the horror of it all.
During the course of the journey, we meet numerous dishonourable men, scycophants and soothsayers who sometimes end up having a greater impact on history than their lowly stations in life would otherwise entail. The author keeps a gripping pace and the book unfolds like a thriller rather than a boring tome and is a good read for anyone looking to go deep in a most curious phase of the Roman empire
Morgan offers a look at the political, economic and cultural implications of this chaotic year and--when needed--takes the action off of the Roman stage to highlight other territories. This is excellent but more maps could have been included to help the reader along. Readers who are looking for an account of battles and troop positions will be disappointed--but Morgan is not offering a military history (indeed, civil wars and revolutions can never be understood in only military terms).
While scholarly, Morgan does not write just for scholars. Readers who want to know more about this important year and those with Roman interests will profit from reading this enjoyable and instructive book.
This year set the stage for the continuing weakness of the Empire ... lack of any coherent legal framework for imperial sucession.
What is lacking, or perhaps the author expects the reader to already have acquired, is more detailed knowledge of the Roman society and how the people of the Roman state had little influence or even interest in the political operations of the government.
Overall the author gives a decent chronologic progress of the this termultous period and the strengths and weaknesses of the sources available for information about this period.
Most recent customer reviews
I anticipated a more narrative description of the Classic Year of the Four Emperors.
This is, IMHO, a critical analysis of the various classic histories...Read more