Hadrian and his successors. Given the biases and methods of these ancient authors, there is reason to doubt the veracity of all these works. Making sense of their mixture of the true and not-true keeps modern historians busy.

Dio Cassius is another important source, though the books of his Roman History that cover the period after Claudius survive only in fragments and in abridged form. Josephus’s The Jewish War describes the bitter conflict between Rome and Jerusalem. Pliny’s Natural History is full of historical details, hopefully more accurate than his scientific observations. The letters written by his nephew, Pliny the Younger, give us a vivid portrait of his times, including the eruption of Vesuvius, the paranoid reign of Domitian, and Trajan’s “ask not, tell not” policy regarding the troublesome Christians. Our major source for the life of Apollonius of Tyana is a fanciful account by Philostratus, who lived a hundred years later; purportedly a biography, it might better be called a novel.

Poets and playwrights also provide many historical details and images of daily life. Under Augustus, we have Virgil, Horace, and Ovid; under Nero, Petronius, Seneca, and Lucan; under later emperors, Quintilian, Martial, and Juvenal.

The joke about two fifteen-year-olds versus one thirty-year-old comes from the oldest known joke book, a Greek text called the Philogelos (The Laughter-Lover). I first heard it from Mary Beard when she delivered the annual Sather Lecture series at the University of California at Berkeley in 2008. The joke as originally recorded does not mention Trajan, but it suits him. (A later emperor, Julian, made his own joke about Trajan in his satire The Caesars; when Trajan visits the Olympians, “Zeus had better look out, if he wants to keep Ganymede for himself!”)

The sophist Dio of Prusa, who appears in the novel, is better known as Dio Chrysostom (“Golden-Mouthed,” an epithet applied to him by later generations). It is Dio, in his Discourse 21, who tells us that Sporus had something to do with the death of Nero, who otherwise might have continued to reign. This is J. W. Cohoon’s translation, with italics added: “It was solely on account of this wantonness of his, however, that he [Nero] lost his life – I mean the way he treated the eunuch [Sporus]. For the latter in anger disclosed the Emperor’s designs to his retinue; and so they revolted from him and compelled him to make away with himself as best he could. Indeed the truth about this has not come out even yet; for so far as the rest of his subjects were concerned, there was nothing to prevent his continuing to be Emperor for all time, seeing that even now everybody wishes he were still alive.”

Where poems are quoted in the novel, the translations are my own. Tacitus (Annals, 15.70) tells us that Lucan spoke his own verse as his dying words; historians conjecture he quoted Pharsalia, 4:516-17. The poem by Statius casting Earinus as the cup-bearer of Domitian is Silvae, 3.4. Earinus’s song is from Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things); a previous version appeared in my novel Arms of Nemesis. Martial’s poem celebrating the arrival of Trajan in Rome is Epigrams, 10.6. The lines by Virgil used to describe Ceionius are from the Aeneid, 6:869-70. The poem by Hadrian is known to us from his biography in the Historia Augusta.

Almost all the sources cited above can be found, in English translation and in searchable formats, on the Internet; one merely has to open a search engine and start looking. My own research led me almost daily to Bill Thayer’s site LacusCurtius, a remarkable fountainhead of information that includes the texts of Suetonius, Tacitus, Plutarch, the Historia Augusta, Dio Cassius, Dio Chrysostom, Samuel Ball Platner’s A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, William Smith’s A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiq uities, and much more, beautifully presented and intelligently annotated. The home page is here: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/ home. html.

Another site of special interest is Jona Lendering’s Livius (www.livius.org). His illustrated text of Philostratus’s Life of Apollonius has become an old, dear friend. (I plan to post more links of interest to the readers of Empire at my own website, www.stevensaylor.com.)

In uncertain times, longtime relationships matter more than ever. Keith Kahla has been my editor since 1994, Alan Nevins my agent since 1995, and Rick Solomon my partner since 1976. Thank you all. And special thanks to my friend Gaylan DuBose, author of Farrago Latina, who kindly read and commented on the galleys.

Another old, dear friend – though we never met – is the late Michael Grant. When I was a boy growing up in Goldthwaite, Texas, Grant’s were the first serious books about the ancient world I encountered. As my interest grew, I discovered more of his works; wherever my curiosity led, it seemed there was a book by Michael Grant on the subject – from biographies of Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Nero, and Jesus to books about the Etruscans, gladiators, Roman coinage, and the ancient historians themselves. It was Grant’s translation and notes for Cicero’s Murder Trials (specifically the oration for Sextus Roscius) that inspired to me write my first novel, Roman Blood. Catilinas Riddle, The Venus Throw, and A Murder on the Appian Way (upon which Grant kindly commented) were inspired by his translations of Cicero in Selected Political Speeches. Deep into my research for Empire, I found myself without a compass in the brambles of the Roman thought-world, where astrology, Stoicism, the ancient gods, and the new cults all become tangled together; it was Grant who showed me a path with two brilliant books, The World of Rome and The Climax of Rome. With gratitude for all that Michael Grant has given me, and continues to give me, I dedicate this book to his memory.

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