Agrippina brought with her the advantage of strengthening his ties to the line of the deified Augustus, from whom she, unlike he, was directly descended; she also brought her impressive intelligence and political ability. Griffin has earlier observed that the freedmen on whom Claudius relied, no matter how capable and intelligent they may have been, were nonetheless shaped by a similar experience of disenfranchisement to learn flattery and deception as techniques of survival. Here, Barrett disputes the conventional wisdom that Agrippina's influence over her son had ended by the third year of his reign, replaced by that of Seneca and Burrus, and proposes instead that despite their conflicts, she "remained an important force in political affairs right up to the end. On pages , Barrett lists every reference to Agrippina in the ancient authors, organized by author, in chronological order and in order of the appearance of each reference in the ancient text. Agrippina used the existing system of promotions and rotations to ensure that at Rome, not only the highest ranks but the middle levels of command as well would be held by men loyal to herself and her son, while those less sympathetic to her cause would receive honorable promotions that removed them from the city.
Over the past twelve years, Yale University Press has issued a series of biographies of the Julio-Claudian emperors, all distinguished by both their rigorous scholarship and their readability for general audiences. Agrippina brought with her the advantage of strengthening his ties to the line of the deified Augustus, from whom she, unlike he, was directly descended; she also brought her impressive intelligence and political ability. Ten brief appendices, finally, address problems of chronology and prosopography that are important and relevant, but that would have interrupted the coherence of the narrative had they been discussed in the main text. Barrett allows that the arrangement into wife, daughter, niece etc. This volume, therefore, takes the series of biographies in a new direction: Barrett assumes a certain background knowledge in his readers, e. Most readers will not need to consult the remainder of the appendices, but those who have a particular interest, for example, in whether Agrippina or Drusilla was the eldest daughter of Germanicus pp. Researchers will find this concordance useful; the present reviewer expects to consult it frequently. On pages , Barrett lists every reference to Agrippina in the ancient authors, organized by author, in chronological order and in order of the appearance of each reference in the ancient text. The clock ticked another half hour by. Barrett's analysis of her relationship to the Praetorians is perhaps the best exposition in the book of the political skills for which he admires her: Levick, Claudius New Haven: Claudius knew, after the treasonable conspiracies of Messalina, that he was vulnerable to attempted coups, and needed a partner in power. Early in the narrative, Barrett establishes his own clear-eyed attitude toward his subject: The Owl Pen bee-yard, a dream for years, was at last a reality. This is not a partisan observation, since both liberal and conservative women suffer the same sort of abuse: The fact remains that any reader with an interest in the history of Roman women, or of the Roman imperial system, whether scholar or interested layman, will find this biography indispensible. The lesson of her fate was not lost on women of later dynasties, none of whom ever again tried to claim the official status of coregent. Barrett devotes the bulk of his text to a narrative of Agrippina's life, organized according to her changing roles in the imperial family: Much of this is because of the distractions of the authorial voice: Having acknowledged the historical circumstances that created Agrippina and the other notorious women of her dynasty, however, Barrett adds that there is little value in righteous indignation on her behalf: Claudius seemed to have provoked less opposition in the latter part of his principate than he had done earlier. Agrippina used the existing system of promotions and rotations to ensure that at Rome, not only the highest ranks but the middle levels of command as well would be held by men loyal to herself and her son, while those less sympathetic to her cause would receive honorable promotions that removed them from the city. Also, Barrett is not great at telling a chronological story. Her marriage to Claudius does seem to have marked a change for the better in his government, or at the very least, for the more peaceful, in that far fewer people were put to death for treason from A. Barrett acquits Tacitus of misogyny but finds him guilty of sloppily prejudiced thinking:
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