Week 9: Thursday, December 8, 2016
Julius Caesar was born in 100 BC and he died March 15, 44, BC. Caesar may be the most controversial figure in all of European history. For two thousand years, hIs life and death have represented the fate of the Roman Republic and the onset of the Roman Empire. The fate of the Republic has often been the most important issue of debate in various periods of European history, including our own US history. During any crisis of democracy, whether in Rome itself, or during the many later political crises, (1215 and the Magna Carta, the crises of the Tudor century, the crises of the Stuart era)—in each one of these moments when Western democracies have debated the true nature of political health in the West—debate has often gone back to Julius Caesar: Was he a tyrant, or was he a failed savior of the Roman Republic? In 60 BC, and 50 BC, this was exactly the debate among Romans. And then in 44 BC, the debate was ended with a sword. For our study of the Republic, we must evaluate Julius Caesar and his life and career, and we must also try to decide what happened. Was he the final destructive last chapter of the 500 year old Roman Republic? HIs life and his debate with Cicero are the most important sources for debating such an issue.
Julius Caesar on film
Michael Grant, History of Rome, Part VI, Chapter 12: “Caesar”
The Conquest of Gaul,
Goldsworthy presents a wonderful exploration of Caesar's life, including his military and political conquests, revealing his personality in a sympathetic telling. Many, many books have been written about Caesar and his time. This one is very accessible and worthwhile, and, I think, the best.
Caesar: Life of a Colossus,
Yale University Press,
Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (May 14, 2009),
From Publishers Weekly
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