Palatine: An Alternative History of the Caesars

Palatine: An Alternative History of the Caesars

Peter Stothard

‘Lets us see how power really worked, in public and private … Stothard tells this story superbly’
Dominic Sandbrook, SUNDAY TIMES

14 CE: The first Roman emperor is dead. A second is about to succeed. The Forum of Rome, once fought over so fiercely, has become hardly more than a museum. The house of all power is up above on the Palatine Hill, about to become the birthplace of Western bureaucracy, a warren of banqueting and bedrooms, a treacherous household where it takes special talents to survive.

This is a Roman history with a cast of new men and newly dominant women, those reviled too often in the past as flatterers and gluttons, uppity slaves and former slaves, lawyers-for-hire, chancer arrivistes and unhinged party animals.¬†Palatine¬†uncovers the lives of the Vitellii, perhaps Rome’s least admired imperial clan, of Publius, an old-fashioned soldier snared in the politics of the new age, of Lucius, an exceptionally skilled and sycophantic courtier, and of Aulus a genial sluggard whose prowess at the table carries him all the way to the throne before collapsing his family’s reputation for ever. Few now remember them. Yet in their creeping ascent to the very summit of the imperial hierarchy lie neglected truths about a lasting legacy of Rome.