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It was really the army’s fault. Bored with respectable middle-aged generals, they picked Elagabalus, thirteen-year-old high priest of a Syrian sun-god, to be Emperor of Rome.
Golden-haired, handsome as a god, a brilliant charioteer with a passion for stable boys – this wilful adolescent was hardly a fit successor to Caesar and Augustus. With real government in the able hands of family favourites – grandmother, mother, aunt – he was left free to pursue his own extravagant pleasures until his inevitable assassination.
This fantastic reign with its fabulous banquets and practical jokes, painted boys and rickshaw girls, makes a fine subject for one of Alfred Duggan’s most skilful reconstructions of history.
‘An intimate first-hand account of the bizarre, off-beat moment in history when the exotic East descended upon the sober West’ Evening Standard
‘Mr Duggan has a marvellously wry quality in his writing. Behind the straight face of his novel there is a disciplined hilarity which is tremendously appealing’ Sunday Times