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

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

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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.

Author Info

Martijn Icks is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Dusseldorf, Germany. He obtained his PhD cum laude at the University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands in 2008.


'...[a] racy biography.'
Christopher Hart, The Sunday Times

'A serious, stimulating study of Elagabalus.'
Judith Weingarten, Times Higher Education

'A clear and well-organised account written in a lively and approachable way.'
Brian Campbell, Professor of Roman History, Queen’s University Belfast

'Eminently readable.'
The Historical Association


A Rebel on the Imperial Throne Read

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781780765501
Publication Date: 29 Apr 2013
Number of Pages: 288
Height: 216
Width: 135
Illustrations: 8pp bw plates

ISBN: 9781848853621
Publication Date: 31 Jul 2011
Number of Pages: 276
Height: 234
Width: 156
Illustrations: b/w pls

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