Author: Barry Strauss
Publication: March 22, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Ancient History, Ancient Rome
Find it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Blackwell’s | Google Play | Kobo | Waterstones
Julius Caesar was stabbed to death in the Roman Senate on 3/15/44 BC—the Ides of March according to the Roman calendar. He was the last casualty of one civil war, the first casualty of the next, which would end the Roman Republic, inaugurating the Empire.
Why was Caesar killed? For political reasons, mainly. The conspirators wanted to return Rome to the days when the Senate ruled, but Caesar hoped to pass along his new powers to his family, especially Octavian. The principal plotters were Brutus, Cassius (former allies of Pompey) & Decimus. The killers left the body in the Senate & Caesar’s allies held a public funeral. Mark Antony made a brilliant inflammatory speech that caused a riot. The conspirators fled Rome. Brutus & Cassius raised an army in Greece. Antony & Octavian defeated them.
Barry Strauss continues to be my favorite author when it comes to ancient Rome. He always has an accessible and uncomplicated writing style which I can really appreciate in nonfiction. I’m slowly making my way through his books and this one is all about the assassination of Julius Caesar on the Ides of March, 45 BC. Before I started it I felt like I knew a considerable amount of things about this famous historical event but I actually learned a lot of new details and facts, which I of course loved.
The book starts out seven months before the bloody assassination of Caesar in the Roman Senate. Even though every reader knows where everything is leading to I must say that Strauss still managed to even make a nonfiction suspenseful. What I also enjoyed was how the book not only went into Caesar but also in the other main players on the scene: Brutus, Cassius, Decimus, Mark Antony and Octavian. Although not all of these men were actually part of the conspiratiors (as far as we know anyways, you never know) they all played a role in ancient Rome’s political world. I’m glad to have learned more about Cassius and Decimus, especially because I feel like the other three always have more of an highlight when you read books or watch documentaries of Caesar’s death.
It can feel hard to connect with all these people from ancient Rome that are long dead, at least in some other books, but I’ve always found Strauss to be able to correlate the ancient world with our own modern one. Especially with this book it became rather apparant that not that much has changed in those thousand of years, notably in a political sort of way.
The Death of Caesar is stand-out book about the most famous assassination in history. Strauss once agian managed to write about the intriguing and often cruel world of the ancient Romans in an easy-to-read, accessible but still skillful way. I highly recommend this book and all of his work.
About the author:
Barry Strauss is a professor of history and classics at Cornell University, The Corliss Page Dean Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a leading expert on ancient military history. He has written or edited several books, including The Battle of Salamis, The Trojan War, The Spartacus War, Masters of Command, The Death of Caesar, and Ten Caesars. Visit BarryStrauss.com.