From the Inside Flap
It was an unfitting death for any Roman soldier. For the empire's greatest heroa brilliant thirty-three-year-old general, fierce warrior, and gifted diplomat, beloved by the people and in line to become the third emperorto die in his bed, after suffering weeks of agony, was more than a shock: it was a crime. Germanicus Julius Caesar died with the names of his presumed murderers on his lips, imploring his friends to bring charges against them. The year was a.d. 19, and, says noted historian and author Stephen Dando-Collins, the seeds of the destruction of the empire had just been sown.
In Blood of the Caesars, the fifth of his stirring histories of Rome, Dando-Collins delves into this ancient murder mystery with a fresh eye, a keen mind, and a host of questions. He lays out the evidence that Germanicus was poisoned, assesses the cases against those accused of the murder, and unearths a raft of new suspects, many of whom were among the most prominent and respected citizens of Rome. Then, he supplies a stunning solution to the mystery.
This provocative account unveils the labyrinthian array of intrigues, plots, counterplots, deceptions, and double-dealing that led up to the death of Germanicus and came into full flower after his murder. Beginning with the killing (not suicide, as many claimed) of one of those accused of poisoning Germanicus and followed by verdicts and sentences in the trial that many believed to be a sham, these sub-rosa doings included both failed and successful attempts on the lives of emperors.
How profound was the impact of Germanicus's death? Huge mobs stormed temples around the city because the gods had ignored their prayers for his life; Rome's bitter enemy King Atarbanus of Parthia declared a period of mourning; barbarians at war with the empire made peace in his honor. More darkly, Dando-Collins shows that the emperor Augustus had picked Germanicus to succeed Augustus's immediate heir, Tiberius, believing that the young general was the only man in Rome who could complete the job of empire-building that the first emperor had begun. With his death, Rome ceased to be a work in progress and became an unfinished edifice that could only crumble with time.
Blood of the Caesars combines a fascinating journey into the ancient world with a compelling real-life murder mystery and a truly astonishing solution that will require the rewriting of Roman history.