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Pertinax (Hardback)

The Son of a Slave Who Became Roman Emperor

Ancient History Greenhill Books Rome Biographies Military

By Dr Simon Elliott
Greenhill Books
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 50 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781784385255
Published: 30th September 2020


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RRP £25.00

In the press!

As featured in The Times, June 2020: 'Forgotten emperor Pertinax was Rome's JFK, says historian Simon Elliott'

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The son of a former slave, Pertinax was the Roman Emperor who proved that no matter how lowly your birth, you could rise to the very top through hard work, grit and determination.

Born in AD 126, he made a late career change from working as a grammar teacher to a position in the army. As he moved up the ranks and further along the aristocratic cursus honorum, he took on many of the most important postings in the Empire, from senior military roles in fractious Britain, the Marcomannic Wars on the Danube, to the Parthian Wars in the east. He held governorships in key provinces, and later consulships in Rome itself. When Emperor Commodus was assassinated on New Year’s Eve AD 192/193, the Praetorian Guard alighted on Pertinax to become the new Emperor, expecting a pliable puppet who would favour them with great wealth. But Pertinax was nothing of the sort and when he then attempted to reform the Guard, he was assassinated. His death triggered the beginning of the ‘Year of the Five Emperors’ from which Septimius Severus, Pertinax’s former mentoree, became the ultimate victor and founder of the Severan Dynasty.

This previously untold story brings a fascinating and important figure out of the shadows. A self made everyman, a man of principle and ambition, a role model respected by his contemporaries who styled himself on his philosophising predecessor and sometime champion Marcus Aurelius, Pertinax’s remarkable story offers a unique and panoramic insight into the late 2nd century AD Principate Empire.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

What an amazing book this is. The research and work done by the author must have taken a very long time and the level of detail is amazing. Not only does Dr Elliott look at the life of Pertinax but also so many other facets that would affect life in Rome, etc

This is a large piece of work and if you are at all interested in Roman history it is something you will keep going back too for reference.

Definitely a 5 star review from me.

NetGalley, Joe Singleton

Elliot’s key virtue as a writer is his clarity - information handled very efficiently: it is organised into neat units, presented directly - he likes tables and bullet points - and supported by direct references to ancient and modern sources. He makes good use of modern archaeological finds and inscriptions. This last bit is important as there are not too many written sources to work from.

NetGalley, Nathan Uglow

Forgotten emperor Pertinax was Rome's JFK, says historian Simon Elliott

The Times 9/6/20

About Dr Simon Elliott

Simon Elliott is an archaeologist, historian and leading aerospace journalist, and former editor at both Jane’s Defence Weekly and Flight International. He has just completed his PhD in Archaeology at Kent University and has an MA in Archaeology from UCL and an MA in War Studies from KCL. He is an Honorary Research Fellow at Kent University.

His research has been published in History Today, RUSI Journal, Military History Monthly and British Archaeology, and he is the author of Sea Eagles to Empire: The Classis Britannica and the Battles for Britain (shortlisted for the Military History Monthly Book of the Year Award). Simon lectures widely to local history societies and archaeological groups. He is co-Director of the Roman villa excavation at Teston and is a council member of the Council for British Archaeology’s South East region.

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