It was a genuine honour to have the renowned author and historian, Tom Holland, deliver the last talk at the BSR this year, on the subject of ‘Whores and the House of Caesar’. Tom’s latest acclaimed book Dynasty, traces the lives of the Julio-Claudian family and delves just as deeply into their personal lives as their political ones.
Stories of debauchery, iniquity, and prostitution make for compelling subjects particularly when the protagonists are the wives and daughters of Roman emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. For his talk at the BSR, Tom unravelled the ancient sources and explored the motives behind the writings of Tacitus and Suetonius by examining the context in which they were written. In addition, he considered more recent interpretations, which have themselves drawn on Robert Graves’ enduring book, ‘I Claudius’, all adaptations of an ancient soap opera that have perpetuated the notion of Julio-Claudian depravity.
Captivating a packed audience, Tom admitted that the colourful and grippingly sordid stories surrounding the consorts of the first Imperial family that appear too good to be true, are probably just that. Tales of incest, visits to whore houses and adultery are more likely the product of gossip-mongering and slander than an accurate portrayal of the lives of the women who ranked highly in Rome.
We cannot thank Tom enough for coming to the BSR and for sharing his acute observations in such an entertaining and enthralling manner. It crowned a successful year of events at the BSR, and for anyone who could not come to the talk a film of the event will shortly be available to watch online.
In the meantime, to whet your appetite, Tom has very kindly filmed a surprising teaser trailer…
The BSR proudly presents the premiere of Dinosty, a film about the Julio-Claudian dynasty directed by Jamie Muir and starring Tom Holland, an elite cast of Emperors and somewhat stealing the limelight, Tom’s beloved dinosaurs…
Text by Sophie Hay, images by Antonio Palmieri and Sophie Hay.
We are grateful to Tom Holland and Jamie Muir for being good sports and accepting our last-minute commission to produce Dinosty.