About Ten Caesars

Bestselling classical historian Barry Strauss tells the story of three and a half centuries of the Roman Empire through the lives of ten of the most important emperors, from Augustus to Constantine.

The grandeur and the decadence, the cunning and the brutality, the surprising prominence of imperial women in a man’s world, and the practical wisdom that allowed Rome to maintain its rule over millions for centuries before finally losing its grip in the West: it’s all there in one book.

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Simon & Schuster has published a brief video about the book as a part of their ‘History in Five’ series.

Barry Strauss’s Ten Caesars is the story of the Roman Empire from rise to reinvention, from Augustus, who founded the empire, to Constantine, who made it Christian and moved the capital east to Constantinople.

During these centuries Rome gained in splendor and territory, then lost both. The empire reached from modern-day Britain to Iraq, and gradually emperors came not from the old families of the first century but from men born in the provinces, some of whom had never even seen Rome. By the fourth century, the time of Constantine, the Roman Empire had changed so dramatically in geography, ethnicity, religion, and culture that it would have been virtually unrecognizable to Augustus.

In the imperial era Roman women—mothers, wives, mistresses—had substantial influence over the emperors, and Strauss also profiles the most important among them, from Livia, Augustus’s wife, to Helena, Constantine’s mother. But even women in the imperial family faced limits and the emperors often forced them to marry or divorce for purely political reasons.

Rome’s legacy remains today in so many ways, from language, law, and architecture to the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. Strauss examines this enduring heritage through the lives of the men who shaped it: Augustus, Tiberius, Nero, Vespasian, Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus, Diocletian and Constantine. Over the ages, they learned to maintain the family business—the government of an empire—by adapting when necessary and always persevering no matter the cost. Ten Caesars is essential history as well as fascinating biography.

“Citing numerous primary and secondary sources and providing modern analogies to convey complex relationships and ruling styles, this captivating narrative breathes new life into a host of transformative figures.”
Publishers Weekly

“Lively biographies of the 10 best-known emperors of Rome.”
Kirkus Reviews

“No one knows the secrets, the curses, the power and the glory of the Imperial families of Rome better than Barry Strauss. His Ten Caesars is captivating—essential reading for Romanophiles and for everyone who seeks to understand the most formidable personalities of the Roman Empire.”
—Adrienne Mayor, author of The Amazons and The Poison King

“In a single volume, Barry Strauss delivers the near-impossible: a straightforward, factual, insightful survey of the vast and turbulent history of Rome’s emperors from Augustus to Constantine. Any reader, from novice to expert, will arrive at the final page with a clearer understanding of the men (and sometimes women) who oversaw the shifting fortunes of Rome for over three hundred years.”
—Steven Saylor, author of The Throne of Caesar and the New York Times bestseller Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome

To Come
Barry StraussTen Caesars