A fascinating, comprehensive biography of the cunning Roman conqueror Julius Caesar.
More than two thousand years after his death, Julius Caesar remains one of the great figures of history. He shaped Rome for generations, and his name became a synonym for “emperor”—not only in Rome but as far away as Germany and Russia. He is best known as the general who defeated the Gauls and doubled the size of Rome’s territories. But, as Philip Freeman describes in this fascinating new biography, Caesar was also a brilliant orator, an accomplished writer, a skilled politician, and much more.
Julius Caesar was a complex man, both hero and villain. He possessed great courage, ambition, honor, and vanity. Born into a noble family that had long been in decline, he advanced his career cunningly, beginning as a priest and eventually becoming Rome’s leading general. He made alliances with his rivals and then discarded them when it suited him. He was a spokesman for the ordinary people of Rome, who rallied around him time and again, but he profited enormously from his conquests and lived opulently. Eventually he was murdered in one of the most famous assassinations in history.
Caesar’s contemporaries included some of Rome’s most famous figures, from the generals Marius, Sulla, and Pompey to the orator and legislator Cicero as well as the young politicians Mark Antony and Octavius (later Caesar Augustus). Caesar’s legendary romance with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra still fascinates us today.
In this splendid biography, Freeman presents Caesar in all his dimensions and contradictions. With remarkable clarity and brevity, Freeman shows how Caesar dominated a newly powerful Rome and shaped its destiny. This book will captivate readers discovering Caesar and ancient Rome for the first time as well as those who have a deep interest in the classical world.
Historian Freeman (The Philosopher and the Druids: A Journey Among the Ancient Celts) paints a flattering portrait of Caesar in this admirable biography, exalting his cunning, military skill, political insights and allegiance to the plebeian class. In fast-paced prose and detailed historical sketches, Freeman traces Caesar's life from early youth onward, covering his marriage and service as a priest (or pontifex); his election to pontifex maximus in 63 B.C.; his command of Roman forces in the Gallic Wars; his ascension to leader of the republic; and his famous assassination. Drawing on Caesar's own writings, Freeman portrays him as a brilliant military strategist whose defense of Roman land in the Gallic Wars extended the rule of Rome from Italy to the Atlantic. Caesar returned to Italy in 49 B.C. and became dictator three years later, seeking to improve the republic through civic reforms, including the taking of a proper census, the building of a library, the codification of Roman law and the conversion of Rome to a solar calendar. Although Freeman's biography reveals little new information about Caesar, his cultural and historical knowledge bring the emperor to life and humanize him in a way no writer before him has succeeded in doing.