Cover: The Crimes of Elagabalus: The Life and Legacy of Rome's Decadent Boy Emperor, from Harvard University PressCover: The Crimes of Elagabalus in HARDCOVER

The Crimes of Elagabalus

The Life and Legacy of Rome's Decadent Boy Emperor

Product Details


$29.95 • £26.95 • €27.95

ISBN 9780674064379

Publication Date: 02/29/2012


304 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

16 color illustrations

North America only

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Icks not only reconstructs the events of Elagabalus’s short reign, but looks at how artists and writers have perceived him. Elagabalus has been seen as an archetype of decadence and Orientalism and, in recent years, as a member of the gay community. The fictional Elagabalus has strayed far from the historical evidence. This ambitious book is the result of earnest research, and it will challenge readers.—J.A.S. Evans, Choice

Icks’ book [is] an excellent overview, worth adding to the Roman history shelves of anybody’s library. But it’s the second half of The Crimes of Elagabalus that makes the book truly remarkable. In those later chapters, Icks completes his careful, detailed narrative of the boy-emperor’s brief reign and turns to the surprisingly vast literary legacy that reign generated. Play by play, pamphlet by pamphlet, novel by novel, Icks painstakingly traces how centuries of non-historians have characterized Elagabalus… This will be the standard account in English for the foreseeable future.—Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly

This is not a routine imperial biography, but a much wider study of the nature of religious belief, culture, and ethnicity in the Roman Empire, on the staging of the emperor’s image and the subsequent response throughout the Empire. In this accessible and lively study, Icks sheds new light on the dissemination of classical culture and the reception of Rome in later periods by following the evolving figure of Elagabalus in opera, drama and fiction through the centuries.—Brian Campbell, Queen’s University, Belfast

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