The Crimes of Elagabalus : The Life and Legacy of Rome's Decadent Boy Emperor, Hardback

The Crimes of Elagabalus : The Life and Legacy of Rome's Decadent Boy Emperor Hardback

2.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Elagablus, raised to the throne at the age of fourteen in 218 AD, and assassinated only four years later, remains among the most notorious and enigmatic of Roman Emperors.

The contemporary and Byzantine sources on his reign portray a life of decadence and sexual and criminal excess, as well as religious affront to Rome's traditions.

In this entertaining but scholarly read Martijn Icks treats the lurid contemporary stories alongside the emperor's afterlife in art and literature, seeking both to get at what may actually have happened in his reign and how his actions should be interpreted and at how they have resonated down the centuries.

He takes a thematic approach, examining aspects of the reign and Elagabalus' otherness in turn, including his Syrian upbringing, his religious reforms and his reputation for decadence, whilst at the same time showing that religion aside, there is little from the non literary sources which actually marks out his reign as unusual.




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The problem with Elagablus as a subject is that his reign was short, and the sources of information about it, thin. Martijn Icks basically covers anything you need to know in 40 pages. The remaining 170 are concerned with fairly repetitive discussion of what his life and his legend mean in terms of both contemporary culture and histiography. Mildly interesting but it doesnt sustain