Memories of the man the Princeps had once been were long since faded. As tales of the great war hero who had twice hauled the Republic back from ruin gathered dust, fresher stories told of Tiberius now had currency among his fellow citizens. No rumour of his perversities was so hideous that it could not be believed in Rome. That he had trained little boys to slip between his thighs as he went swimming and tease him with their licking; that he had put unweaned babies to the head of his penis, as though to a mother’s breast; even, most repellently of all, that he enjoyed cunnilingus. Yet beyond the streets and taverns of Rome, where slanders of the mighty, and mockery of their pretensions, had always bred, there were others who saw Tiberius in a very different light. In the provinces […] he had ended up widely admired as a prince of peace. ‘For wisdom and erudition,’ one declared flatly, ‘there is nobody of his generation to compare.’ Bloodstained pervert and philosopher-king: it took a man of rare paradox to end up being seen as both.

– Tom Holland, Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar (2015)


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