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"Beware the Ides of March" (Shakespeare)

julius caesarOn the Roman calendar the Ides of March corresponds to March 15 - the day that has become notorious for the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BCE. Caesar was killed because his political opponents feared that he would use his power to overthrow the Senate and declare himself king of Rome, destroying the Republic. Caesar had been a triumphant general with campaigns in Gaul (as any Latin student knows), Egypt (think Cleopatra) and Britain, and had extended Rome's dominance across Europe and the Mediterranean region. He had also used his armies to win a civil war that left him with unrivaled military might and political influence. According to Plutarch, a soothsayer had warned Caesar that harm would come to him by the Ides of March, as the line in Shakespeare's play dramatizes. Caesar was stabbed 23 times by a group of conspirators who intercepted him on his way to the Senate that day.

 

Discover the political intrigue that was ancient Rome:

triumphofcaesarThe Triumph of Caesar by Steven Saylor
Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series covers the Roman Republic in the times of Caesar, Pompey, Cato, and Cicero, as experienced by Gordianus the Finder, an ancient-world private eye who is employed by the rich and powerful elite for his competence and discretion. In this installment, the Roman civil war has come to its conclusion - Pompey is dead, Egypt is firmly under the control of Cleopatra (with the help of Rome's legions), and for the first time in many years Julius Caesar has returned to Rome itself. Appointed by the Senate as Dictator, the city abounds with rumors asserting that Caesar wishes to be made King - the first that Rome has had in centuries. And that not all of his opposition has been crushed. Caesar's wife, Calpurnia, hires Gordianus to investigate her fears for Caesar's life. "Fast-paced action, a deeply realized main character, and accessible history make this series first-rate on all fronts." (Booklist)

 

godsofwarThe Gods of War by Conn Iggulden
Part of Iggulden's Emperor series, and set in Rome in 53 BCE, the novel sets up the confrontation between Caesar and his enemies in the Republic. Fresh from victory in Gaul, Julius Caesar leads battle-hardened legions across the fabled Rubicon river - threatening Rome itself and initiating civil war. Even the master strategist Pompey is caught unprepared by the strike, and forced to abandon his city. The armies of Rome will face each other at last, led by the two greatest generals ever to walk the seven hills. Even as the he extends his military dominance, Caesar also cultivates political allies like Marcus Brutus, Mark Antony, Octavian, and, of course, Cleopatra. "Brimming with military, political, and romantic intrigue, this action-packed epic provides a breathtaking panorama of one of the most exciting episodes in the ancient world and breathes new life into a legendary historical figure." (Booklist)

 

caesarswomenCaesar's Women by Colleen McCullough
This is the fourth installment of McCullough's Masters of Rome series which follows the decline of the Republic and the rise of Julius Caesar. Caesar repeatedly foils the plots of his adversaries as he amasses power and influence, essentially ruling Rome as a king without a crown. Throughout his climb, he depends on the women in his life for support and advantage. He relies on his astute mother for advice, marries strategically, seduces the wives of his rivals, and dangles the hand of his beloved daughter in matrimony as bait for political alliances. "With great brio, and ample attention to Roman customs and rites, as well as to the religious, sexual and social institutions of the day, including slavery, McCullough captures the driven, passionate soul of ancient Rome." (Publishers Weekly)