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Reviews

"In The Ruler's House, Harriet Fertik addresses a puzzle central to Roman political thought—how the Romans navigated the profound transformations produced by one-man rule—in an original way with a focus on the household as a site of conflict and anxiety over power, privacy, and status. Fertik's study is a valuable contribution to cross-disciplinary studies of Roman political and social thought."

"From the imperial family's lofty struggles for dominance to the lowly maintenance of bodily functions within domestic space, Fertik surveys multiple and surprising ways the house—its members, its functions, its architecture—channeled power in the early Roman Empire. Compelling and accessible, The Ruler's House examines competing drives to display and privacy that continue to resonate today."

"The Ruler's House engagingly combines two areas of scholarly study that have, individually, received considerable attention in recent decades: the Roman domus/familia and Augustan/Julio-Claudian ideology. Fertik expands our understanding of the emperors' use of traditionally private aspects of Roman culture to further their public political ambitions in this formative period of the Empire. Analyzing archaeological material from Rome and Pompeii, literary sources, and contemporary scholarly commentary, this ambitious book casts a broad net in order to offer new insights into both subject areas and achieves a satisfying depth. The end result is a new, singular perspective on the Roman political philosophy of visibility in the public/private spheres of the early imperial period."

"The Ruler's House provides a valuable and well-documented account of how domestic space functioned as a locus of power and vulnerability during the early Roman Empire. Fertik engages with an impressive range of literature and material culture to demonstrate how Romans of varying degrees of wealth and power negotiated the seemingly dichotomous realms of public and private, ruler and ruled, and seeing and being seen within their own households as well as within that of the imperial family."

"This book is an excellent contribution to, and continuation of, the interdisciplinary study of early imperial politics. Fertik deftly weaves together analyses of material culture and different genres of literary texts to explore what the rise of one-man rule did to conceptions of privacy and authority. By setting the actual physical environment of the Roman house next to metaphorical and artistic representations of it, Fertik gives us insight into the ways that early imperial Romans both created and were created by 'public' expressions of 'private' life."