It’s a story of madness, horror, splendour, excess, depravity and destruction. The crazier the emperor, the more fun Saltus’s analysis becomes. He really hits his stride when he reaches the age of Caligula. For Saltus Caligula is a kind of creative genius, an inspired madman who made debauchery and horror into an art form on an epic scale. Competent emperors like Vespasian hold little fascination for Saltus. For Saltus the true spirit of imperial Rome is to be found in the persons of emperors such as Nero, Domitian and Heliogabalus. To understand the specific ways in which these rulers were spectacularly unhinged is to glimpse into the soul of Rome. The women of imperial Rome are not neglected. Messalina, Agrippina the Younger (Nero’s mother whom he later murdered) and Faustina (consort of Marcus Aurelius) all attract Saltus’s admiring attention.