Synopses & Reviews
As Adrian Goldsworthy writes in the introduction to this book, "in his fifty-six years, 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 all of these roles and places his subject firmly within the context of Roman society in the first century B.C.
Tracing the extraordinary trajectory of Caesar's life from birth through assassination, Goldsworthy covers not only Caesar'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.
"The man who virtually defined the West's concept of leadership comes alive in this splendid biography. Military historian Goldsworthy (The Complete Roman Army) gives a comprehensive, vigorous account of Caesar's conquest of Gaul and his victories in the civil war that made him master of Rome. But he doesn't stint on the nonmartial aspects of Caesar's life his dandyism, his flagrant womanizing (which didn't stop enemies from gay-baiting him), his supple political genius and the flair for drama and showmanship that cowed mutinous legionaries and courted Rome's restive masses. Goldsworthy's is a sympathetic profile. In his telling, Caesar's massacres and group enslavements, though 'utterly ruthless,' are considered and pragmatic, not wanton, and the conqueror seems to possess a moderation and magnanimity that sprang from the same idealized self-image that fed his ambition. The author's vivid portrait of the late Roman Republic that Caesar toppled is correspondingly jaundiced: its politics are about nothing except the personal ambitions of powerful men, and chaos, corruption and violence reign beneath the ritualistic niceties of republican procedure. More compellingly than most biographies, Goldsworthy's exhaustive, lucid, elegantly written life makes its subject the embodiment of his age. 16 pages of b&w photos, maps. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Goldsworthy includes details of events great and small to expand on the key known facts of Caesar's life." Library Journal
"Adrian Goldsworthy is one of our most promising young military historians today." Sir John Keegan, author of The Iraq War
"An authoritative and exciting portrait."New York Times Book Review
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
A conversation with Adrian Goldsworthy
Q:and#160; What is new about your book?
A:and#160; The overall approach is new. As far as possible I have tried to write this as if it were the biography of a twentieth-century statesman, looking in as much detail as possible at every aspect of his life. One of the biggest differences with Meierand#151;and also Gelzer, who wrote the most important biography of Caesar before Meierand#151;is that I have tried to cover each stage of his life in equal detail. Their focus was always on the politics. Yet Caesar spent a very large part of his life at warand#151;he was on campaign for no less than thirteen of the last fifteen years of his life. We need to understand Caesar the soldier as much as Caesar the politician because the two were so closely intertwined.
Q:and#160; What are the parallels between Ancient Rome and our own times?
A:and#160; It would be wrong to claim exact parallels between Rome in the first century B.C. and the modern world, but there are undeniable lessons to be learnt from the turbulent history of these years. One of the most important is to show the fragility of political systems. Caesar lived in the last decades of the Roman Republic, a system which was already three centuries old at the time of his birth. But less than twenty years after his death, his adopted son Octavian had turned Rome into what was a monarchy in all but name. There is perhaps a lesson for modern democracies in the danger of allowing entrenched lobby groups, political parties, and other interests to stifle real debate.and#160;
Q:and#160; Where was Caesar headed at the time of his assassination?
A:and#160; Caesar was about to set out on a series of campaigns against the Dathians and Parcians, in what is modern Iraq.