Title: Agrippina: The Most Extraordinary Woman of the Roman World
Author: Emma Southon
Publication: August 6th 2019 by Pegasus Books
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Ancient History
Purchase it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google | Kobo
Rating: 1/5★ (DNF)
In her own time, she was recognized as a woman of unparalleled power. Beautiful and intelligent, she was portrayed as alternately a ruthless murderer and helpless victim, the most loving mother and the most powerful woman of the Roman empire, using sex, motherhood, manipulation, and violence to get her way, and single-minded in her pursuit of power for herself and her son, Nero.
This book follows Agrippina as a daughter, born in Cologne, to the expected heir to Augustus’s throne; as a sister to Caligula who raped his sisters and showered them with honors until they attempted rebellion against him and were exiled; as a seductive niece and then wife to Claudius who gave her access to near unlimited power; and then as a mother to Nero—who adored her until he had her assassinated.
Through senatorial political intrigue, assassination attempts, and exile to a small island, to the heights of imperial power, thrones, and golden cloaks and games and adoration, Agrippina scaled the absolute limits of female power in Rome. Her biography is also the story of the first Roman imperial family—the Julio-Claudians—and of the glory and corruption of the empire itself.
Agrippina: The Most Extraordinary Woman of the Roman World was one of those books where I could say what the fuck did I just read. It started out good enough and I was genuinely liking the beginning but it wasn’t long until I started losing interest in this book and getting pretty frustrated, which is a real shame because I was very much looking forward to this book. And it wasn’t a cheap one to buy. I did learn more, which was great but I wish I had enjoyed it more in general as well.
I had only 120 pages left but I just couldn’t bother with this book anymore so it was a DNF for me. I figured my opinion wasn’t going to change anymore and I’d rather focus on books that I’d enjoy more. With that said, the thing that put me off the most was the informal way this book was written. I’m not saying this is a bad thing because sometimes it was pretty funny the way the author would say or explain certain things but sometimes it was a little too much.
Another thing that bothered me was the weird swearing. I don’t mind swearing at all no matter if it’s in fiction or nonfiction but again after a while it just became too damn much. Also, the repetitive use of the word bonking (which means fucking for those who don’t know) was also becoming quite annoying. This may be a personal thing but I prefer the word fucking or literally any other synonym. Honestly, it made me want to scream.
Did I learn more about Agrippina’s life and ancient Rome in general? Yes. But was it worth it? Not so much, unfortunately. I totally get what the author was going for, though. But to me it just fell flat. I guess I prefer my nonfiction books a little less informal and a little more academic.