Caesar's Women (Masters of Rome Series #4)

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New York Times bestselling author Colleen McCullough re-creates an extraordinary epoch before the mighty Republic belonged to Julius Caesar—when Rome's noblewomen were his greatest conquest.

His victories were legend—in battle and bedchamber alike. Love was a political weapon he wielded cunningly and ruthlessly in his private war against enemies in the forum. Genius, general, patrician, Gaius Julius Caesar was history. His wives bought him influence. He sacrificed his beloved ...

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New York Times bestselling author Colleen McCullough re-creates an extraordinary epoch before the mighty Republic belonged to Julius Caesar—when Rome's noblewomen were his greatest conquest.

His victories were legend—in battle and bedchamber alike. Love was a political weapon he wielded cunningly and ruthlessly in his private war against enemies in the forum. Genius, general, patrician, Gaius Julius Caesar was history. His wives bought him influence. He sacrificed his beloved daughter on the altar of ambition. He burned for the cold-hearted mistress he could never dare trust. Caesar's women all knew—and feared—his power. He adored them, used them, destroyed them on his irresistible rise to prominence. And one of them would seal his fate.

The first three novels in McCullough's Masters of Rome series--First Man in Rome, The Grass Crown, and Fortune's Favorites--have all led to this book: Caesar in his ascension. This dramatic novel tells the story of Julius Caesar and the Republic of Rome: a world that loved him, resented him, fought to destroy him--but never managed to ignore him.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Senator and debtor, general and seducer, orator and would-be world conqueror, Julius Caesar, as depicted in this fourth installment (after Fortune's Favorites) in McCullough's epic re-creation of ancient Rome, is both a force of nature and something of a momma's boy. He worships his sophisticated mother Aurelia, ``a fount of experience and a mine of common sense,'' while dismissing as ``not important'' his ``expensive, idle, and monumentally silly'' second wife, Pompeia. Its title notwithstanding, this marvelously researched and detailed novel focuses on traditional male pursuits-political intrigue, war, conquest-in the corruption-riddled late Roman republic even as it elucidates the behind-the-scenes influence of women in a repressively patriarchal society. Caesar, though tenderly loving and protective toward his daughter, Julia, pledges her as a child to the adolescent Brutus, with whose mother-the cruel, scheming Servilia-the future dictator of Rome has a purely sexual affair. Years later, Caesar cancels the betrothal in order to use his blossoming daughter as bait to forge a political alliance with the commander of the Roman legions. Meanwhile, Cicero, Caesar's main rival, is portrayed as an incurable vacillator and social climber who displays scant gratitude toward his ``sour'' and ``ugly'' wife, Terentia, despite her foiling a conspiracy against his life. With great brio, and ample attention to Roman customs and rites, as well as to the religious, sexual and social institutions of the day, including slavery, McCullough captures the driven, passionate soul of ancient Rome. Illustrations; maps. Author tour. (Jan.)
Library Journal
In the fourth book in her "Masters of Rome" series, McCullough (Fortune's Favorites, LJ 9/1/93) details Caesar's rise to power from 68-58 B.C. Caesar repeatedly outmaneuvers his enemies, who devise one scheme after another to bring about his political, economic, and social downfall. Eventually he allies himself with Pompey and Crassus to create a formidable triumverate. Despite the book's title, women play minor roles in the novel. Caesar consults his shrewd mother about strategy and depends on her to manage his household. He adores his daughter and misses her dead mother. Nonetheless, he consistently subordinates personal affection to political ambition, seducing the wives of his rivals and maintaining an emotional distance from his own wives and lovers. McCullough crams the book with details about Roman life and politics and includes many pages of notes and a glossary. Those readers following the series and others with an intense interest in the time period will enjoy this installment.-Kathy Piehl, Mankato State Univ., Minn.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061582424
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/11/2008
  • Series: Masters of Rome Series, #4
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 928
  • Sales rank: 230,905
  • Product dimensions: 8.02 (w) x 5.22 (h) x 1.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Colleen McCullough

Colleen McCullough is the author of The Thorn Birds, Tim, An Indecent Obsession, A Creed for the Third Millennium, The Ladies of Missalonghi, The First Man in Rome, The Grass Crown, Fortune's Favorites, Caesar's Women, Caesar, and other novels. She lives with her husband on Norfolk Island in the South Pacific.

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    1. Hometown:
      Norfolk Island, 1,000 miles off the Australian coast
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 1, 1937
    2. Place of Birth:
      Wellington, New South Wales, Australia
    1. Education:
      Attended University of Sydney

Read an Excerpt

Caesar's Women

Chapter One

"Brutus, I don't like the look of your skin. Come here to the light, please."

The fifteen-year-old made no sign that he had heard, simply remained hunched over a single sheet of Fannian paper with his reed pen, its ink long since dried, poised in midair.

"Come here, Brutus. At once," said his mother placidly.

He knew her, so down went the pen; though he wasn't mortally afraid of her, he wasn't about to court her displeasure. One summons might be safely ignored, but a second summons meant she expected to be obeyed, even by him. Rising, he walked across to where Servilia stood by the window, its shutters wide because Rome was sweltering in an unseasonably early heatwave.

Though she was short and Brutus had recently begun to grow into what she hoped was going to be tallness, his head was not very far above hers; she put up one hand to clutch his chin, and peered closely at several angry red lumps welling under the skin around his mouth. Her hand released him, moved to push the loose dark curls away from his brow: more eruptions!

"How I wish you'd keep your hair cut!" she said, tugging at a lock which threatened to obscure his sightand tugging hard enough to make his eyes water.

"Mama, short hair is unintellectual," he protested.

"Short hair is practical. It stays off your face and doesn't irritate your skin. Oh, Brutus, what a trial you're becoming!"

"If you wanted a crop-skulled warrior son, Mama, you should have had more boys with Silanus instead of a couple of girls."

"One son is affordable. Two sons stretch the money further than it wants to go. Besides, if I'd givenSilanus a son, you wouldn't be his heir as well as your father's." She strode across to the desk where he had been working and stiffed the various scrolls upon it with impatient fingers. "Look at this mess! No wonder your shoulders are vacation, but some of the Mighty were out and about nonetheless, distinguished by the bobbing red-thonged bundles of rods their lictors carried shoulder-high to proclaim their imperium.

It's so hilly, Mama? Can't you slow down?" panted Brutus as his mother marched up the Clivus Orbius on the far side of the Forum; he was sweating profusely.

"If you exercised more, you wouldn't need to complain," said Servilia, unimpressed.

Nauseating smells of foetor and decay assailed Brutus's nostrils as the towering tenements of the Subura pressed in and shut out the light of the sun; peeling walls oozed slime, the gutters guided dark and syrupy trickles into gratings, tiny unlit caverns that were shops passed by unnumbered. At least the dank shade made it cooler, but this was a side of Rome young Brutus could happily have done without, "everyone" notwithstanding.

Eventually they arrived outside a quite presentable door of seasoned oak, well carved into panels and owning a brightly polished orichalcum knocker in the form of a lion's head with gaping jaws. One of Servilia's attendants plied it vigorously, and the door opened at once. There stood an elderly, rather plump Greek freedman, bowing deeply as he let them in.

It was a gathering of women, of course; had Brutus only been old enough to put on his plain white toga virilis, graduate into the ranks of men, he would not have been allowed to accompany his mother. That thought provoked panic-Mama must succeed in her petition, he must be able to continue to see his darling love after December and manhood! But betraying none of this, he abandoned Servilia's skirts the moment the gushing greetings began and slunk off into a quiet corner of the squeal-filled room, there to do his best to blend into the unpretentious decor.

"Brutus, ave," said a light yet husky voice.

He turned his head, looked down, felt his chest cave in. "Ave, Julia."

"Here, sit with me," the daughter of the house commanded, leading him to a pair of small chairs right in the comer. She settled in one while he lowered himself awkwardly into the other, herself as graceful and composed as a nesting swan.

Only eight years old-how could she already be so beautiful? wondered the dazzled Brutus, who knew her well because his mother was a great friend of her grandmother's. Fair like ice and snow, chin pointed, cheekbones arched, faintly pink lips as delicious as a strawberry, a pair of widely opened blue eyes that gazed with gentle liveliness on all that they beheld; if Brutus had dipped into the poetry of love, it was because of her whom he had loved for — oh, years! Not truly understanding that it was love until quite recently, when she bad turned her gaze on him with such a sweet smile that realization had dawned with the shock of a thunderclap.

He had gone to his mother that very evening, and informed her that he wished to marry Julia when she grew up.

Servilia had stared, astonished. "My dear Brutus, she's a mere child! You'd have to wait nine or ten years for her."

"She'll be betrothed long before she's old enough to marry," he, had answered, his anguish plain. "Please, Mama, as soon as her father returns home, petition for her hand in marriage!"

"You may well change your mind."

"Never, never"'

"Her dowry is minute."

"But her birth is everything you could want in my wife."

"True." The black eyes which could grow so hard rested on his face not unsympathetically; Servilia appre ciated the strength of that argument. So she had turned it over in her mind for a moment, then nodded. "Very well, Brutus, when her father is next in Rome, I'll ask. You don't need a rich bride, but it is essential that her birth match your own, and a Julia would be ideal. Especially this Julia. Patrician on both sides."

And so they had left it to wait until Julia's father returned from his post as quaestor in Further Spain. The most junior of the important magistracies, quaestor. But...

Caesar's Women. Copyright © by Colleen McCullough. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2002

    Behind Every Great Man..........

    By the fourth installment of this Roman series Ms McCullough is as wittily vibrant as ever. Few historians could have told this history of Rome in its pomp as well as this. A slightly different departure from its three predecessors, this novel pretty much remains within the city limits of Rome, but forms a terrific backdrop to the famous events to come.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2002

    A Hypnotizing Novel

    I read this novel after I read 'Caesar' by Colleen McCullough and I have to say I was enchanted by both. I've always been fascinated by Julius Caesar and to read this book it was almost as if I were reading his exact thoughts and living his life with him. Colleen McCullough writes in so much detail and how she can capture all the smallest intricacies is amazing. It's a long book but I couldn't put it down. This is definitely a book for people who want to feel like they are actually in Ancient Rome. And even though the title is 'Caesar's Women' it's also good for men because of all the political drama. A definite ten.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2000

    Political Intrigue

    Pages and pages of roman politics --- not enough of the interactions between the people to keep it moving. There is a lot of history, but the story develops too slowly as the focus of the first part of the book is on the politics of Rome.

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    Posted October 25, 2008

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