Nero

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $12.69
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 53%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (13) from $12.69   
  • New (9) from $19.59   
  • Used (4) from $12.69   

Overview

The Roman emperor Nero is remembered by history as the vain and immoral monster who fiddled while Rome burned. Edward Champlin reinterprets Nero's enormities on their own terms, as the self-conscious performances of an imperial actor with a formidable grasp of Roman history and mythology and a canny sense of his audience.

Nero murdered his younger brother and rival to the throne, probably at his mother's prompting. He then murdered his mother, with whom he may have slept. He killed his pregnant wife in a fit of rage, then castrated and married a young freedman because he resembled her. He mounted the public stage to act a hero driven mad or a woman giving birth, and raced a ten-horse chariot in the Olympic games. He probably instigated the burning of Rome, for which he then ordered the spectacular punishment of Christians, many of whom were burned as human torches to light up his gardens at night. Without seeking to rehabilitate the historical monster, Champlin renders Nero more vividly intelligible by illuminating the motives behind his theatrical gestures, and revealing the artist who thought of himself as a heroic figure.

Nero is a brilliant reconception of a historical account that extends back to Tacitus, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio. The effortless style and artful construction of the book will engage any reader drawn to its intrinsically fascinating subject.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Washington Post Book World

Champlin's Nero...is a compelling reminder that historical 'truth' is usually a lot more complex and elusive than we realize and that history is rarely written without bias or hidden motives, conscious or otherwise. You will not love Nero any more after reading Champlin's account of him, but you will have a far keener understanding of him, and his context, than you likely had before.
— Jonathan Yardley

Sunday Telegraph

Champlin argues that Nero saw himself first and foremost as an artist, a sort of Oscar Wilde figure whose love of theatricality dominated his life...Champlin judges Nero to have been an artist, aesthete, showman and PR man of considerable talent, ingenuity and energy, who understood what the people wanted to see—and this, he concludes, accounts for Nero's remarkable afterlife. Whether one believes that conclusion or not, Champlin's brilliant interpretation of Nero's stage activities strikes me as an important advance in our understanding of what drove that dreadful man.
— Peter Jones

Times Literary Supplement

Nero is an excellent read, an atmospheric retelling of the wonders and horrors of its fascinating subject. Champlin piles up contexts and materials to fill out the shorter accounts offered by ancient authors in an attempt to find meaning in Nero's extraordinary actions...It is vivid and exciting. Nero's world appears in a series of brilliant tableaux and the central character entrances as he horrifies.
— Greg Woolf

London Review of Books

Champlin has a keen eye for the parallels between Neronian history and the mythic inheritance of Greco-Roman culture...There is much else in the book that is the fruit of careful and astute analysis.
— Mary Beard

Good Book Guide

Nero is fascinating because he epitomizes the decadence of Rome. This book—a rare combination of scholarship with elegance of expression and wit—explains why. It reveals him as the ultimate performance artist who plundered history and mythology for themes and props with which to give purpose and justification to his aberrant behaviour. His life was pure theatre, played out for his people and for posterity to marvel at.
— Adam Zamoyski

Classical Review

[Champlin's] Nero is as dazzling an achievement as the Sun King and his creations.
— D. Wardle

Scholia Reviews

Not the least of the many fine features of Edward Champlin's brilliant new book on Nero, however, is a refreshing discussion of the lost sources on which extant accounts drew...By far the most enjoyable and rewarding modern work on Nero I know...The book is imaginative, evocative, stylishly written, and a delight to read (and re-read). It is based on impeccable research and a fine sense of Roman topography.
— Keith Bradley

Journal of Roman Archaeology

This book is a tour de force...Champlin weaves a stunningly cohesive picture of a man of unlimited power confined only by the theatrical capacity of his imagination; but among the multiplicity of roles that Nero played, is there no room for contradiction or inconsistency? Nero and Champlin share the same dexterity in persuading their audience of the logic of their vision; their dual act will be very hard for the next biographer of Nero to follow.
— Kathleen Coleman

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

A glittering achievement...Champlin represents Nero as a brilliant interpreter and exploiter of mythological exempla, an ironic Saturnalicus princeps whose inversions of societal norms and power-structures were embedded within an overarching program of populist public imagery that sought constantly to confirm and extend the connection between the emperor and his audience...It is hard to praise Champlin's achievement sufficiently...Anyone interested in the emperor or the early empire must consult this work. It is indispensable.
— Paul Roche

Classical Bulletin

[Champlin's] working method is efficient, his style is vivid, especially in description and narrative...Champlin's book, a real tour de force, will certainly appeal to a large audience.
— Bertrand Goffaux

Washington Post Book World - Jonathan Yardley
Champlin's Nero...is a compelling reminder that historical 'truth' is usually a lot more complex and elusive than we realize and that history is rarely written without bias or hidden motives, conscious or otherwise. You will not love Nero any more after reading Champlin's account of him, but you will have a far keener understanding of him, and his context, than you likely had before.
Sunday Telegraph - Peter Jones
Champlin argues that Nero saw himself first and foremost as an artist, a sort of Oscar Wilde figure whose love of theatricality dominated his life...Champlin judges Nero to have been an artist, aesthete, showman and PR man of considerable talent, ingenuity and energy, who understood what the people wanted to see--and this, he concludes, accounts for Nero's remarkable afterlife. Whether one believes that conclusion or not, Champlin's brilliant interpretation of Nero's stage activities strikes me as an important advance in our understanding of what drove that dreadful man.
Times Literary Supplement - Greg Woolf
Nero is an excellent read, an atmospheric retelling of the wonders and horrors of its fascinating subject. Champlin piles up contexts and materials to fill out the shorter accounts offered by ancient authors in an attempt to find meaning in Nero's extraordinary actions...It is vivid and exciting. Nero's world appears in a series of brilliant tableaux and the central character entrances as he horrifies.
London Review of Books - Mary Beard
Champlin has a keen eye for the parallels between Neronian history and the mythic inheritance of Greco-Roman culture...There is much else in the book that is the fruit of careful and astute analysis.
Good Book Guide - Adam Zamoyski
Nero is fascinating because he epitomizes the decadence of Rome. This book--a rare combination of scholarship with elegance of expression and wit--explains why. It reveals him as the ultimate performance artist who plundered history and mythology for themes and props with which to give purpose and justification to his aberrant behaviour. His life was pure theatre, played out for his people and for posterity to marvel at.
Classical Review - D. Wardle
[Champlin's] Nero is as dazzling an achievement as the Sun King and his creations.
Scholia Reviews - Keith Bradley
Not the least of the many fine features of Edward Champlin's brilliant new book on Nero, however, is a refreshing discussion of the lost sources on which extant accounts drew...By far the most enjoyable and rewarding modern work on Nero I know...The book is imaginative, evocative, stylishly written, and a delight to read (and re-read). It is based on impeccable research and a fine sense of Roman topography.
Journal of Roman Archaeology - Kathleen Coleman
This book is a tour de force...Champlin weaves a stunningly cohesive picture of a man of unlimited power confined only by the theatrical capacity of his imagination; but among the multiplicity of roles that Nero played, is there no room for contradiction or inconsistency? Nero and Champlin share the same dexterity in persuading their audience of the logic of their vision; their dual act will be very hard for the next biographer of Nero to follow.
Bryn Mawr Classical Review - Paul Roche
A glittering achievement...Champlin represents Nero as a brilliant interpreter and exploiter of mythological exempla, an ironic Saturnalicus princeps whose inversions of societal norms and power-structures were embedded within an overarching program of populist public imagery that sought constantly to confirm and extend the connection between the emperor and his audience...It is hard to praise Champlin's achievement sufficiently...Anyone interested in the emperor or the early empire must consult this work. It is indispensable.
Classical Bulletin - Bertrand Goffaux
[Champlin's] working method is efficient, his style is vivid, especially in description and narrative...Champlin's book, a real tour de force, will certainly appeal to a large audience.
The Washington Post
Champlin's Nero will not diminish my fondness for Suetonius in the splendid Robert Graves translation, but it is a compelling reminder that historical "truth" is usually a lot more complex and elusive than we realize and that history is rarely written without bias or hidden motives, conscious or otherwise. You will not love Nero any more after reading Champlin's account of him, but you will have a far keener understanding of him, and his context, than you likely had before. — Jonathan Yardley
Publishers Weekly
Nero is infamous for his persecution of Christians, for fiddling while Rome burned and for matricide-among other acts of brutality. In a graceful and lively tale of Nero's short reign (A.D. 54-68)-he committed suicide at age 30-Champlin, a professor of classics at Princeton, invites us to reconsider the emperor's ways and work, drawing on the three major histories of the empire, by Suetonius, Tacitus and Dio. Although none of these writers was a contemporary of Nero, Champlin argues that each likely drew on eyewitness sources to paint their portraits of the emperor. Each indicts Nero for the excesses of his reign. However, Champlin persuasively demonstrates that these accounts can be questioned by focusing on Nero's disposition to think of himself as an actor on a stage. Champlin argues that Nero thought of his matricide, the murder of his wife (there is a question still about whether he intended to kill her) and his burning of Rome as elements in what was for him a great drama in which he was the star. He loved to play the roles of Orestes and Oedipus, two ancient matricides, performed pantomime, played the lyre and raced chariots in the Olympic games. He also cast himself as descended from the god Apollo and the hero Hercules. Champlin shows that although the Senate ran Nero off the throne because of their jealousy and fear of his eccentric behavior, the populace loved him and mourned his death. This is a first-rate study and a compelling re-evaluation of an oft-maligned ancient figure who created his own myth out of the fabric of his life. Illus., maps. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674018228
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2005
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 965,307
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward Champlin is Professor of Classics and Cotsen Professor of Humanities, Princeton University.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1. The Once and Future King

2. Stories and Histories

3. Portrait of the Artist

4. The Power of Myth

5. Shining Apollo

6. Saturnalia

7. One House

8. Triumph

Epilogue

Note on Sources

Bibliography

Notes

Acknowledgments

Illustration Credits

Index

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2008

    Zero for Nero

    As the author himself states: 'Readers of the present book will have little idea of the events of Nero's day or the fortunes of the Roman empire under him they will have little idea of the variety of literary discourses that evolved to deal with him and the fact of empire, during his lifetime and posthumously they will have little knowledge of the outrage vented by the aristocracy after his death, none of the attitude of the army which he ignored to his ultimate peril in his life, and none of the day-to-day workings of the empire which were barely affected by the pyrotechnics at Rome. Readers will have learned nothing about the various mechanissms of accommodation to tyranny, nothing about dissidence and dissimulation, nothing about modes of representation. All of this can be found in the best of the ever-flowing stream of modern literature on Nero.' Unfortunately, this revealing paragraph came at the end of this frivolous, wishy-washy book which does little more than grant theatrical license to the cruel deeds of the Roman emperor he assumes everyone should know. A picture may paint a thousand words but thousands of words do not necessarily paint a picture.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)