Publication date: May 14, 2009
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
“Freeman’s cultural and historical knowledge bring the emperor to life and humanize him in a way no writer before him has succeeded in doing.”
Anthony Everitt, author of Augustus and Cicero:
“Julius Caesar packed more into his life than most of history’s great men – and Philip Freeman unpacks it all with skill and clarity. He takes the reader through every dizzying thrill and spill. The scholar will find much to admire in this book, but, better still, the newcomer to ancient Rome will turn its pages with excitement, enlightenment – and sheer narrative suspense.”
Paul Cartledge, author of The Spartans and Alexander the Great, Professor of Greek History, University of Cambridge:
“Reading Philip Freeman’s pacy and panoptic narrative of his life from unpromising early beginnings to the fateful Ides is one very rewarding approach to answering that perennially fascinating question.”
Barry Strauss, author of The Trojan War and Professor of History and Classics, Cornell University:
“Elegant, learned, and compulsively readable, Julius Caesar moves from broad sweep to brilliant detail. Freeman triumphantly tells the story of one of history’s greatest and most terrible figures. The author is as knowledgeable about Cleopatra’s Alexandria as he is about Celtic tribes, and he writes about the Roman Senate with the assurance of an insider. Through it all, the figure of Caesar draws our attention and stimulates our deepest thoughts.”