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A fantastic and thorough examination of the Emperors from Augustus to Constantine.
I appreciated his balanced view of each Emperor, and his frank appraisal of the sources. Too many "scholars" take the most sensational tales from lesser sources at face value, but Fagan is careful to point out the problems with many of the most famous and outrageous episodes that have entered popular culture about Emperors like Caligula and Nero.
Fagan's delivery is entertaining throughout, although sometimes he does stumble a little, and it feels as if he is reading from a script rather than just delivering a lecture.
Overall, I would highly recommend this. Perhaps the best summary of the period in question, and I include both written and audio books when I say that.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
Professor Fagan always delivers the goods! Great read. I've listened to several of lectures, find him solid, informative, and entertaining.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
This course gives a very detailed account of the Roman Emperors, starting with a summary of the civil wars that lead to the reign of Augustus, and finishing at Constantine. I enjoyed it but for me it was a little too full of minor factual detail (dates, very detailed sequences of events etc) that are of limited value in an audio (rather than reference book) format. Nevertheless it is a valuable follow-up to Professor Fagan's Great Course on the History of Ancient Rome. I actually listened to the Emperors course first and that was a mistake -- definitely better to do the full history first. Another reviewer writes "Prof Fagan takes the time to explain what was happening politically in the Roman empire during the period covered". While I agree with this, it should also be noted that this course does not contain any significant information about the social context or the Roman way of life. These are covered in the History of Ancient Rome lectures. Finally, I comment that as with all Great Courses it is worth looking at the Great Courses web site before deciding to go with this course -- there one can find lots of detail on content, incl titles of each lecture.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I went on holiday to Rome and wanted something that would give me some historical background so this was one of a number of listens I downloaded. At first I was concerned that it might simply be a list of the emperors with some character details thrown in for entertainment ("megalomaniac; statesman; psychopath; pervert, followed by another pervert then a perverted psychopath....") which is a risk even for the best historians; even John Julius Norwich's "The Popes" suffers from a slight touch of it. But this is a really satisfying listen in which Prof Fagan takes the time to explain what was happening politically in the Roman empire during the period covered; how the emperors were forced to respond to the strategic context and how some of our contemporary images of them have been coloured by the way events were recorded at the time. Don't worry though; there are still plenty of inventively dissolute emperors, plotting slaves, nymphomaniac wives, imperial mothers who get busy with the poison to further junior's succession prospects and overly affectionate sons who can't seem to leave it at a box of chocolates on mother's day. Added to that Prof Fagan himself is a charming Irish guy who delivers his material in a very winning style. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful