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Caesar: Life of a Colossus

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Caesar: Life of a Colossus Cover

ISBN13: 9780300126891
ISBN10: 0300126891
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Tracing the extraordinary trajectory of the great Roman emperor’s life, Goldsworthy covers not only the great Roman emperor’s accomplishments as charismatic orator, conquering general, and powerful dictator but also lesser-known chapters during which he was high priest of an exotic cult, captive of pirates, seducer not only of Cleopatra but also of the wives of his two main political rivals, and rebel condemned by his own country. Ultimately, Goldsworthy realizes the full complexity of Caesar’s character and shows why his political and military leadership continues to resonate some two thousand years later.

In the introduction to his biography of the great Roman emperor, Adrian Goldsworthy writes, “Caesar was at times many things, including a fugitive, prisoner, rising politician, army leader, legal advocate, rebel, dictator . . . as well as husband, father, lover and adulterer.” In this landmark biography, Goldsworthy examines Caesar as military leader, all of these roles and places his subject firmly within the context of Roman society in the first century B.C.

Synopsis:

In this landmark biography, Goldsworthy places Caesar firmly within the context of Roman society in the first century B.C.

Synopsis:

"An authoritative and exciting portrait."—New York Times Book Review

Synopsis:

The first major biography of Julius Caesar in decades, this volume offers an astonishingly intimate and complex view of the life of this singular leader

About the Author

Adrian Goldsworthy read history at Oxford and is the author of The Roman Army at War, The Punic Wars, and other books about the ancient world. He lives in Wales.

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JackLaPlante, February 18, 2009 (view all comments by JackLaPlante)
I've been a fan of this period in history, and of the Late Roman Republic, since I first read "Roman Realities" by Finley Hooper over twenty years ago. Ever since then, I often see social and political parallels between our current era of American history and that of the second and first centuries back in Rome. I always gravitate toward the most recent biographies that I can find on any historical figure, because even though we live in a highly decadent age, our biographers tend to look at morality, social trends and competing historical texts with a sharper eye than in the past.

At the beginning of Adrian Goldsworthy's readable, thorough, and fascinating take on one of the most celebrated figures of the ancient world, he tells us that this is going to be a long book. I didn't find that to be the case, he could have easily doubled the length of the book to 1200 pages to suit me. One of the themes he reiterates throughout the book is that Caesar never knew what was going to happen next: on the verge of all the victories he experienced, he couldn't view his future with the hindsight that we could. While we may admire his feats, he could never take the next challenge for granted, and his contemporaries in power often viewed him with suspicion, and many loathed him for his success, popularity and ambition.

The volume begins with a good backgrounding in the politics and upheavals of the times. Caesar's early life is necessarily short on intimate details, but the unprecedented civil wars and political violence that took place during his formative years are well described, giving us an idea of what it must have been like as a young aspirant to fame in a very dangerous time. Goldsworthy often takes the reader aside from his main narrative to describe how different histories available to us may not agree, which facts that have been handed down were more than likely propaganda of the times, and many common sense observations that cut through the controversy so enjoyed by academic historians.

Much of the middle part of the biography covers Caesar's exploits in Gaul. Here, Goldsworthy often flourishes raft loads of facts before our eyes, and it is easy to become overwhelmed with all the data. Caesar himself left the most detailed accounts of his exploits of the tribes of Gaul, and most of them have survived. But the author is also skillful at opening and closing the many episodes of Caesar's military career with thoughtful commentary that help the lay reader understand the onrush of events in a more holistic sense. The sheer excitement of being in the thick of battle is also well conveyed.

There is much more available to the historian of Caesar's life, and the life of Rome, after he crosses the Rubicon. Interested readers will have to resort to other biographies of Caesar and the various luminaries and villains of this age for the whole story. I would have enjoyed even more detail, especially of the goings-on of those who finally plotted to assassinate him. All told, however, this is a very readable and fast paced biography of a complicated subject in a tumultuous time.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780300126891
Author:
Goldsworthy, Adrian
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Subject:
Ancient - Rome
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Biography-Historical
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20080131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16 pp. b/w illus.
Pages:
608
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in 1.5 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » Historical
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » Ancient Rome
History and Social Science » World History » Ancient Near East

Caesar: Life of a Colossus New Trade Paper
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Product details 608 pages Yale University Press - English 9780300126891 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , In this landmark biography, Goldsworthy places Caesar firmly within the context of Roman society in the first century B.C.
"Synopsis" by ,

"An authoritative and exciting portrait."—New York Times Book Review

"Synopsis" by ,
The first major biography of Julius Caesar in decades, this volume offers an astonishingly intimate and complex view of the life of this singular leader

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