Emma Southon

Emma Southon


Emma Southon has a PhD in Ancient History from the University of Birmingham. A version of her thesis was published as Marriage, Sex and Death: The Family and the Fall of the Roman West (Amsterdam University Press, 2016). After a few years teaching Ancient and Medieval history, followed by some years teaching academic writing she quit academia and started writing for her own enjoyment.

Her critically praised Agrippina, a biography of the much-maligned mother of Nero, was published by Unbound in 2016.

Her acclaimed A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, an exploration of murder and homicide in the Roman world, was published by Abrams in the US and by Oneworld in the UK and has also been translated into Russian and Spanish.

Abrams and Oneworld will publish her A History of the Roman Empire in 21 Women in 2023.

Yale University Press publish her Agrippina the Elder in 2024.

Emma co-hosts the 'History is Sexy' podcast with Janina Matthewson.

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Emma Southon

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A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum by Emma Southon

An entertaining and informative look at the unique culture of crime, punishment, and killing in Ancient Rome

In Ancient Rome, all the best stories have one thing in common murder. Romulus killed Remus to found the city, Caesar was assassinated to save the Republic. Caligula was butchered in the theatre, Claudius was poisoned at dinner, and Galba was beheaded in the Forum. In one 50-year period, 26 emperors were murdered.

But what did killing mean in a city where gladiators fought to the death to sate a crowd? In A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Emma Southon examines a trove of real-life homicides from Roman history to explore Roman culture, including how perpetrator, victim, and the act itself were regarded by ordinary people. Inside Ancient Rome's darkly fascinating history, we see how the Romans viewed life, death, and what it means to be human.

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    by Emma Southon

      A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum