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Agrippina: Mother of Nero (Roman Imperial Biographies) Hardcover – 5 Jun 1996

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (5 Jun. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713468548
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713468540
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,387,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From the Back Cover

Agrippina the Younger attained a level of power in first-century Rome unprecedented for a woman. According to ancient sources, she achieved her success by plotting against her brother, the emperor Caligula, murdering her husband, the emperor Claudius, and controlling her son, the emperor Nero, by sleeping with him. Modern scholars tend to accept this verdict. But in his dynamic biography - the first on Agrippina in English - Anthony Barrett paints a startling new picture of this influential woman. Drawing on the latest archaeological, numismatic, and historical evidence, Barrett argues that Agrippina has been misjudged. Although she was ambitious, says Barrett, she made her way through ability and determination rather than by sexual allure, and her political contributions to her time seem to have been positive. After Agrippina's marriage to Claudius there was a marked decline in the number of judicial executions and there was close cooperation between the Senate and the emperor; the settlement of Cologne, founded under her aegis, was a model of social harmony; and the first five years of Nero's reign, while she was still alive, were the most enlightened of his rule. According to Barrett, Agrippina's one real failing was her relationship with her son, the monster of her own making who had her murdered in horrific and violent circumstances. Agrippina's impact was so lasting, however, that for some 150 years after her death no woman in the imperial family dared assume an assertive political role. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Anthony Barrett is Professor of Classics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He studied at the Universities of Oxford, Durham and Toronto and has written extensively in the field of classical antiquity.


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Format: Paperback
I think to understand Nero, you need to know Agrippina the Younger (and indeed as many of the Julio-Claudian gens as possible). You cannot know or judge Nero on his own; as a standalone character he does not exist; he exists solely as the product of his famly, of his times and of Rome as it stood in the second half of the first century AD. This makes him a sadder character than he might otherwise be considered; not better, just sadder.

The key to this book is that it `humanises' Agrippina - from being the great-granddaughter of Livia (wife of Augustus), granddaughter of Drusus, daughter of Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder, sister of Gaius Caligua, wife of Claudius, mother of Nero - she is shown to us, as best as can be anticipated given the distance in time, as a human being; a woman of her times, who used those same relationships by which she is so often defined to give her the power in the only way that was attainable to a Roman woman in the first century AD. I don't imagine she was a particularly likeable woman, and she certainly was ruthless in both setting and aiming towards her goals, and in removing any obstacles and people who stood in the way. But as with all history, historical characters must be judged as best we can in the context of the times in which they lived. And Agrippina was a woman of her times who rose above the limitations of her sex and her family and strove to make her own mark.

Where it all goes horribly wrong is in the ultimate relationship that she has with her son, Nero - and was he a product of the upbringing that he received? The upbringing influenced by the same woman who he then went on to destroy? I think that's the ultimate irony, and a rather sad one, in both the lives of Nero and of his mother Agrippina the younger.
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By Keen Reader TOP 50 REVIEWER on 16 Dec. 2015
Format: Paperback
I think to understand Nero, you need to know Agrippina the Younger (and indeed as many of the Julio-Claudian gens as possible). You cannot know or judge Nero on his own; as a standalone character he does not exist; he exists solely as the product of his famly, of his times and of Rome as it stood in the second half of the first century AD. This makes him a sadder character than he might otherwise be considered; not better, just sadder.

The key to this book is that it `humanises' Agrippina - from being the great-granddaughter of Livia (wife of Augustus), granddaughter of Drusus, daughter of Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder, sister of Gaius Caligua, wife of Claudius, mother of Nero - she is shown to us, as best as can be anticipated given the distance in time, as a human being; a woman of her times, who used those same relationships by which she is so often defined to give her the power in the only way that was attainable to a Roman woman in the first century AD. I don't imagine she was a particularly likeable woman, and she certainly was ruthless in both setting and aiming towards her goals, and in removing any obstacles and people who stood in the way. But as with all history, historical characters must be judged as best we can in the context of the times in which they lived. And Agrippina was a woman of her times who rose above the limitations of her sex and her family and strove to make her own mark.

Where it all goes horribly wrong is in the ultimate relationship that she has with her son, Nero - and was he a product of the upbringing that he received? The upbringing influenced by the same woman who he then went on to destroy? I think that's the ultimate irony, and a rather sad one, in both the lives of Nero and of his mother Agrippina the younger.
Read more ›
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
This excellent biography by Anthony A. Barrett details the extraordinary life of one of history's most notorious woman, the Roman Empress Agrippina. As the full tile of the book says she was "Sister of Caligula, Wife of Claudius and Mother of Nero", quite a collection of men to be associated with and it is little surprise that even to this day Agrippina is tarnished with a reputation that is equal parts murderous, devious and manipulative. Despite this rather fascinating image as a not particularly inviting and morally bankrupt individual Barrett has managed to write an extremely well researched and very balanced biography of this nevertheless fascinating woman. The book gives an extremely detailed background to the Julio-Claudian family and that goes a long way to wards explaining how Agrippina turned out the way she did. Certainly not an easy read it nevertheless is without a doubt the best biography of Agrippina and her times and is excellent in not only detailing her marriages, especially that to her own uncle the Emperor Claudius, but also in showing how the one weak spot in her otherwise icy grip on power. ie her underestimating her own deadly son the Emperor Nero was her undoing which perhaps makes her seem a little more a human being than you would otherwise think. A highly recommended read for any one interested in the early history of the Roman Empire and of this amazingly prominent Roman Empress who survived for as long as she did by sheer willpower, inherent cunning and by the murderous determination to see her son as Emperor against all the odds
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars 10 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great story presented with too many details about other unrelated characters. 21 Mar. 2015
By Richard J. Bair - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Agrippina is one of my favorite characters in ancient history. There are really no other stories like this. The problem with this book is the way it is written. Page after page, the author strays into information about hundreds of other Romans, many who had not relationship with Agrippina. I found myself skipping those pages and jumping ahead to paragraphs about her.

I understand how this might have happened as much of the information about Agrippina was destroyed during her final years with Nero and after her death. Nero was apparently fearful that the popular daughter of Germanicus could help to turn the public against him. But even the murder of Agrippina by her own son turned out to be a remarkable event in history. Quite possibly, the story of Agrippina and her family is unmatched anywhere in history......... a direct decendent of Augustus, daughter of the beloved Germanicus, mother of the Emperor Caligula, wife of the Emperor Claudius, and finally, mother of the deranged Emporer Nero.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great biography of Agrippina, mother of Nero 4 Aug. 2014
By Ken Jensen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An interesting biography of Agrippina, and a story every person with interest in ancient Rome should read. This book is probably mostly for academics, but is not bad at all if you are just into history. How could it not be interesting, Agrippina was the mother of emperor Nero, that later ordered her killed. Everything in between Neros birth and death is deeply fascinating, dramatized and colored to the extreme by the historians of that time. Anthony A. Barrett is much closer to the truth, mildly put.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating study of an influential Roman Imperial woman 26 Jan. 2003
By Richard Sawyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Overall, this was a very good biography of Agrippina. The author should be commended for writing a biography from the perspective of a highly influential and important woman during Imperial Rome. The author certainly takes an academic approach to the study, and appears to have done a good job with research and use of sources. His treatment of Agrippina seems fair and even-handed. The author does a very good job of providing the story of Agrippina, the Imperial family, and other important Romans. My only criticism of the book is that somewhat more background about Roman society, social classes, the economy, foreign affairs was needed. Nevertheless, the author has provided us with a very informative and entertaining biography. I will undoutedly read his newest book on Livia. I highly recommend this biography of Agrippina.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful 17 Dec. 2012
By Kya - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great read. Fantastic story. Wow, what struggles for power and domination in a tight knit family. What a corrupt political and economic system obtained in Rome
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cover was not as expected. 13 Nov. 2013
By Kimberly - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The cover was not as picture shows. It looks like a generic copy or classroom version, plain light blue with tiny lettering.
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