Further Reading: The Crimes of Elagabalus

The Crimes of Elagabalus

The Life and Legacy of Rome’s Decadent Boy Emperor

by Martijn Icks

Elagabalus is one of the most notorious of Rome’s ‘bad emperors’: a sexually-depraved and eccentric hedonist who in his short and riotous reign made unprecedented changes to Roman state religion and defied all taboos. An oriental boy-priest from Syria – aged just 14 when he was elevated to power in 218 CE – he placed the sun god Elagabal at the head of the established Roman pantheon, engaged in orgiastic rituals, took male and female lovers, wore feminine dress and prostituted himself in taverns and even inside the imperial palace.

Since his assassination by Praetorian Guards at the age of 18, Elagabalus has been an object of fascination to historians and a source of inspiration for artists and writers. This immensely readable book examines the life of one of the Roman Empire’s most colourful figures, and charts the many guises of his legacy: from evil tyrant to firebrand rebel, from mystical androgyne to modern gay teenager, from decadent sensualist to ancient pop star.

A sample chapter can be read here: The Rejected Ruler

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