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Julius Caesar (Roman Imperial Biographies)



By: Richard A. Billows(Author)

Language: English

Genre: Biography

Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (19 Aug. 2011)

Format: pdf doc docx mobi djvu epub ibooks (*An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.)

The original title of the book: Julius Caesar (Roman Imperial Biographies)

Julius Caesar offers a lively, engaging, and thoroughly up-to-date account of Caesar’s life and times. Richard Billows’ dynamic and fast paced narrative offers an imaginative recounting of actions and events, providing the ideal introduction to Julius Caesar for general readers and students of classics and ancient history.

The book is not just a biography of Caesar, but an historical account and explanation of the decline and fall of the Roman Republican governing system, in which Caesar played a crucial part. To understand Caesar’s life and role, it is necessary to grasp the political, social and economic problems Rome was grappling with, and the deep divisions within Roman society that came from them. Caesar has been seen variously as a mere opportunist, a power-hungry autocrat, an arrogant aristocrat disdaining rivals, a traditional Roman noble politician who stumbled into civil war and autocracy thanks to being misunderstood by his rivals, and even as the ideal man and pattern of all virtues. Richard A. Billows argues that such portrayals fail to consider the universal testimony of our ancient sources that Roman political life was divided in Caesar’s time into two great political tendencies, called "optimates" and "populares" in the sources, of which Caesar came to be the leader of one: the "popularis" faction.

Billows suggests that it is only when we see Caesar as the leader of a great political and social movement, that had been struggling with its rival movement for decades and had been several times violently repressed in the course of that struggle, that we can understand how and why Caesar came to fight and win a civil war, and bring the traditional governing system of Rome to an end.


Columbia University, USA --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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  • By B. Santa on 24 August 2010

    After reading Goldworthy`s interesting and exhaustive `Life of a Colossus` I thought that not much more could be written about the topic and how wrong I was! This is an excellent analysis of Caesar`s life put in the context of the decline and the fall of the republic starting with the roots in the 2nd century BC. Although this book is much shorter than Goldworthy`s, it`s much stronger on the analysis. I liked Goldworthy`s book and I`m sure I will reread it and use it as a reference book, as I have bought it, but I find that the lengthy accounts of what happened exactly when and what happened after that etc. unnecessary and a little boring to be quite honest as I`d expect a book written by a historian to be an analysis rather than a mere account of events which you can read about if you read the relevant sources anyway. I`m more interested in the whys, the background and the possible motives I might lack the necessary overall view to make sense of. If you have some knowledge about the Roman republic you will extremely enjoy this book otherwise I would suggest you read Goldsworthy`s book first which is an exhaustive and exciting account in itself if weaker on the analysis. The only negative thing about Billows`book is its price, it`s ridiculously expensive, so I just borrowed it. Waiting for the price to go down.

  • By Pamela Johnson on 18 January 2016

    Excellent book and I would recommend. Gives a thorough understanding of the times that Caesar lived in and is not biased in any way like some books.

  • By Keir on 14 June 2015

    A good overall summary of the life and career of Caesar, putting his actions into context to put him into context. Clearly written by an expert in the field, the work is an easy, accessible read if (for me) a bit breezy. I would have liked more detail with moments in his life that continue to astound- his capture by pirates and his ultimate revenge, his adversaries such as Vercingetorix- and whilst I understand that this is difficult given the nature of the sources that remain, I would have liked an expert's interpretation; at times Wikipedia appears to offer more. Another particular strength is the focus- there is a chapter devoted just to Caesar's literary skills. I must say however, that for one who can master the grammar and style of Latin, it is disconcerting that English grammar is not as demonstrably appreciated- "none of his speeches survive [sic], though a number of them were [sic] available to be read more than 150 years after his own day."

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