The emperor Gaius ('Caligula') was assassinated in January A.D.41. Since he was the last of the Julii, and he left no heir, it seemed that the dynasty of Caesar and Augustus was finished. Accordingly, the Republic was restored, but then a coup d'etat by the Praetorian Guard put Claudius in power . . . the dramatic events of these few days are a crucial turning-point in Roman history - the moment when the military basis of the Principate was first made explicit. Tacitus' account has not survived, and Suetonius and Dio Cassisu offer no adequate substitute. Fortunately, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus chose to insert into his 'Jewish Antiquities' - as an example of the providence of God - a detailed narrative of the assassination plot and its aftermath taken from contemporary and well-informed Roman sources. This new edition of T.P. Wiseman’s acclaimed Death of an Emperor (his translation and commentary of Josephus’ account of Caligula’s assassination) includes an updated bibliography, revised introduction, translation and commentary. Appendix 1 on the Augustan Palatine has been completely revised to take account of recent archaeological information.
Josephus' account of the murder of the Emperor Gaius (now better known as Caligula) is the most vivid and detailed ancient account we have of the final moments of any Roman emperor. It's full of intriguing detail -- from Gaius' tummy upset (or hangover) which made him skip lunch on the day he died, to the words spoken by the assassins as they put the knife in. Peter Wiseman is a learned and most engaging guide to the whole story, exploring many of the puzzles and questions that it raises. Where did Josephus get his information from? Where exactly did the murder take place? Wiseman knows the layout of the Julio-Claudian Palatine better than anyone else in the world, and he takes us down its back alleys and dark passages to pinpoint the very spot where the emperor met his very nasty end.
In a concise and readable way, W. walks through the early imperial development of the [Augustan Palatine] in light of recent archaeology, locating the original houses of Augustus and Tiberius to recreate the scene at the time of Gaius. This may not be indispensable for the foregoing study, but it is a welcome bonus in the new edition...W.’s book remains as valuable as it always was. Students of ancient history in all subdisciplines should be pleased that it is available again, and with a particularly useful update in the new appendix.
Steve Mason, Histos 10