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I, Livia: The Counterfeit Criminal. The Story of a Much Maligned Woman Paperback – June 30, 2005
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About the Author
Mary Mudd, who holds a Ph.D. in Roman and Byzantine History from Rutgers University, resides with family and cats at the New Jersey shore. The Mudds are activists for theatrical and environmental causes.
Top customer reviews
Mudd uses only original sources, but doesn't use those, like Suetonius and Tactus, that malign her. Since they are our primary references for the time, her task is made more difficult, often relying on inscriptions, Livia's possible ritualistic roles in public, and poems dedicated to her. I found myself asking continually if these things couldn't be true even of the evil Livia. Of course they could. They do not contradict it.
While Mudd's effort is laudable, she doesn't tell us up front why the more quoted authors are discarded, and, quite often, we get a telling of the deeds of the men in Livia's life, because there just isn't much about her in the public record.
Finally she never directly addresses accusations against Livia. To address the death of Agrippa, the first to be laid by Graves at Livia's feet, she uses one sentence. Basically that he got sick and died on his way home to Rome. Good historical biographies would discuss why the accusation is untrue. They would cite more facts, they would provide a possible explanation. Mudd does none of this.
I'm left felling as if much has been l;eft out, as it has (Suetonius and Tacitus) and even more not addressed.
Livia may be maligned but this book has not convinced me that this is true.
Review written by Jennifer E. Pergola