London: Arthur Barker, 1934. [Historical Fiction] FIRST EDITIONS. Two volumes, octavo (22 x 14 x 9cm). With a folding family tree of the Julio-Claudian dynasty to rear. Publisher's black cloth with gilt titles to spine, bottom edges untrimmed, illustrated dust-jackets. A used set with bookplate to first title, some spotting within, jackets uniformly worn with chips, tears and rubbing. Arguably the defining piece of Roman historical fiction from the twentieth century, Graves' classic fanciful autobiography of Rome's fourth Emperor builds a tangled web of family feuds and internecine murder from hints provided by Tacitus and Suetonius. The story was dramatised by the BBC in 1976, staring Derek Jacobi, and has since inspired the tone of the acclaimed series 'Rome' (2005-07). Graves was a gifted classicist at Charterhouse and later Oxford, but decided to pursue literature and poetry after he completed his degree. As well as contributing translations of Apuleius' 'The Golden Ass' and Suetonius' 'Twelve Caesars' to the Penguin Classics collection, he also published a controversial encyclopaedia of Greek Myths containing some of his own original theories, generally rejected by the academic community. Item #55935
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