Paperbacks: The First Emperor, by Anthony Everitt

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The Independent Culture

Lucid and compelling, this life of Augustus, ruler of Rome for almost 44 years, encompasses some of the best-known events of Classical times. Everitt provides enlightenment about the assassination of Julius Caesar – stabbed 28 times in the Forum, though only one of the blows was fatal – and the suicide of Cleopatra (being two and half metres long, the asp is an unlikely means of dispatch). Augustus emerges as restrained in habits and a brilliant tactician on the battlefield and in the political arena. Oddly, Everitt devotes only two lines to Augustus's longest lasting legacy: the month of August.

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