Blond, Anthony. A Scandalous History of the Roman Emperors. New York: Carroll & Graf,
2000 (Originally, 1994).
This is a beautiful "alternative history," a different "story" from the one told to children about the
Roman Empire. Thus, I recall reading Roman history when taking high school ancient history. I
was fascinated. The Romans interested me much more, than, say Americans who bored me silly.
Ah, the glory of Rome was some one could dream about. It was the stuff of colossal movies and
And this book "is the personal view of an amateur..." (P. xi) who clearly enjoys writing this stuff.
The result is a lively and humorous version of the family of Julius Caesar (Augustus, Tiberius,
Caligula, Claudius and Nero). He includes his descriptions of the City of Rome, its houses, its
religion, its food and daily life. It is heavily loaded in terms of what we would call sexual
aberrations: pederasty, and so on. And it's right here that the "alternative" nature of this story is
emphasized: I certainly heard little or nothing about "scandalous misbehavior" by the emperors,
at least until I read Seutonius, sometime in college. Yet, here it all is, hanging out like it's all just
See especially Chapter 2, "Sex" (pp. 3-12) to get a fair idea of exactly what's in the book and a
clear notion of what's told here and left out of "children's histories."