I said I was going to talk about Livia.
But since then, I read a bit more of Dynasty, and Agrippina proves all I wanted to say, and does it with some style. Tom Holland is too much of a gentleman to believe the rumors about pious Livia, and exonerates her of all the alleged crimes against her stepdaughter and her family. I, on the other hand, can not believe that an intelligent and proud woman will not do all that is in her power to make her children succeed. There is no way that she did not ruin the willful daughter of her husband. To me, the assumption of her passivity seems disrespectful. A woman who had a long and successful career as the most important woman in Rome did not achieve this by making homespun clothes for her husband.
Agrippina also tried the same strategy, but failed. She made at least two mistakes, which Livia had avoided. One, she did not have the patience to let her husband consolidate his rule. If she had waited, she could have trained her son in the ways of power. Nero would have been older when his mother’s machinations brought him into power, and who knows, he might have been more mature. Which was the second mistake she made. She did not train her son properly. In a society as prone to obedience to parents as Rome, she could not make her son follow her.
So that is about Livia and Agrippina. I just realized that Rome hasn’t burned yet, so I haven’t finished this book.