We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.


Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781474621014

Price: £10.99

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.

‘Lets us see how power really worked, in public and private … Stothard tells this story superbly’
Dominic Sandbrook, SUNDAY TIMES

14 CE: The first Roman emperor is dead. A second is about to succeed. The Forum of Rome, once fought over so fiercely, has become hardly more than a museum. The house of all power is up above on the Palatine Hill, about to become the birthplace of Western bureaucracy, a warren of banqueting and bedrooms, a treacherous household where it takes special talents to survive.

This is a Roman history with a cast of new men and newly dominant women, those reviled too often in the past as flatterers and gluttons, uppity slaves and former slaves, lawyers-for-hire, chancer arrivistes and unhinged party animals. Palatine uncovers the lives of the Vitellii, perhaps Rome’s least admired imperial clan, of Publius, an old-fashioned soldier snared in the politics of the new age, of Lucius, an exceptionally skilled and sycophantic courtier, and of Aulus a genial sluggard whose prowess at the table carries him all the way to the throne before collapsing his family’s reputation for ever. Few now remember them. Yet in their creeping ascent to the very summit of the imperial hierarchy lie neglected truths about a lasting legacy of Rome.


Profound scholarship written with the verve and expertise of an accomplished novelist. On every page lapidary phrases evoke the reality of life in the ancient world . . . Wonderful, evocative stuff!
Harry Sidebottom, Daily Telegraph
Fans of Peter Stothard's previous books - On the Spartacus Road (2010), The Last Assassin (2020), and Crassus (reviewed here October 2022) - will need no urging towards his latest, a wonderfully evocative study of that dynasty, leading up to the fall of Vitellius in the Year of Four Emperors (AD 69). Palatine, like its predecessors, is imaginatively constructed from a series of realistic vignettes charting the imperial court from the last days of Augustus through to the arrival of the Flavians ... Stothard tells the familiar story in a very original way, making the two Vitellii his central characters ... it's a brilliant device that illustrates how, with some paternal scheming, a relatively ordinary man could push his way through the corridors of power and emerge on top ... This hugely readable novel-like account [is] a Succession for the Julio-Claudian years
Sir Michael Fallon, Founder of the Parliamentary Classics Group, CLASSICS FOR ALL
This is a story you think you know, told through the eyes of people you don't ... Not so much an alternative history as an alternative epic, farce and satire rolled into one. Palatine is an absorbing saga of battles and banquets, as densely populated and richly depicted as Game of Thrones
Rachel Cunliffe, The Times
Lets us see how power really worked, in public and private. We glimpse the emperors at work and at play, in the dining room and in the bedroom. And we see how even they, despite the sycophants, were often prisoners, not architects, of the system. One false step and it would all be over ... Stothard tells this story superbly
Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times