The Ides: Caesar's Murder and the War for Romeby Stephen Dando-Collins
Unraveling the many mysteries surrounding the murder of Julius Caesar
The assassination of Julius Caesar is one of the most notorious murders in history. Two thousand years after it occurred, many compelling questions remain about his death: Was Brutus the hero and Caesar the villain? Did Caesar bring about his own death by planning to make himself king of… See more details below
Unraveling the many mysteries surrounding the murder of Julius Caesar
The assassination of Julius Caesar is one of the most notorious murders in history. Two thousand years after it occurred, many compelling questions remain about his death: Was Brutus the hero and Caesar the villain? Did Caesar bring about his own death by planning to make himself king of Rome? Was Mark Antony aware of the plot, and did he let it go forward? Who wrote Antony's script after Caesar's death? Using historical evidence to sort out these and other puzzling issues, historian and award-winning author Stephen Dando-Collins takes you to the world of ancient Rome and recaptures the drama of Caesar's demise and the chaotic aftermath as the vicious struggle for power between Antony and Octavian unfolded. For the first time, he shows how the religious festivals and customs of the day affected the way the assassination plot unfolded. He shows, too, how the murder was almost avoided at the last moment.
Praise for Stephen Dando-Collins
"Absorbing . . . Military history is the muscle of this book, with enough political sinews to give it coherence."
?The Washington Times on Caesar's Legion
"The meticulous research and racy writing style make this a fascinating and revealing book."
?The Good Book Guide on Cleopatra's Kidnappers
"Cleverly structured and well paced."
?The Age on Nero's Killing Machine
"A tough, gritty chronicle."
?Booklist on Mark Antony's Heroes
"A work to keep you fascinated, and to make you wonder at the web of deceit that could occur in Rome."
?BBC History Magazine on Blood of the Caesars
* Trying to clear away the ""twaddle"" that surrounds Julius Caesar, Dando-Collins (Caesar's Legion) provides a page-turner of a history describing step-by-step the events leading to the assassination of Julius Caesar and the impact of his removal on the collapse of the Roman Republic. Caesar's rise to power and his limitless ambition posed an immediate threat to the survival of the Republic, which caused fear and consternation in those, such as Marcus Brutus, who nobly wished to defend Roman democracy. Brutus and his fellow senator Cassius planned the assassination and, with the help of yet other senators, carried it out on March 15, 44 B.C.E. Public sentiment originally favored the Liberators, as the assassins were known, but, thanks to the scheming of Marc Antony and the fickleness of the crowds, Brutus, Cassius, and others were forced to flee the city. In the months that followed, Antony and his sometime ally, Caesar's heir, Octavian, destroyed the Liberators only to later wage war against each other. Antony's ultimate defeat led to Octavian's installation as the first emperor, Augustus Caesar. The dramatic story examines the roles of soldiers, politicians, philosophers, wives, and mistresses with perhaps too much emphasis placed on the ever-popular Cleopatra. 2 maps. (Feb.) (Publishers Weekly, December 21, 2009)
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Meet the Author
Stephen Dando-Collins is an Australian-born historian and award-winning author who has spent more than three decades studying the individual legions of the Roman army of the late Republic and the empire of the Caesars. He is the author of Caesar's Legion: The Epic Saga of Julius Caesar's Elite Tenth Legion and the Armies of Rome, Nero's Killing Machine: The True Story of Rome's Remarkable Fourteenth Legion, Cleopatra's Kidnappers: How Caesar's Sixth Legion Gave Egypt to Rome and Rome to Caesar, Mark Antony's Heroes: How the Third Gallica Legion Saved an Apostle and Created an Emperor, and Blood of the Caesars: How the Murder of Germanicus Led to the Fall of Rome.
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Stephen Dando Collins has written a brisk account of Julius Caesar’s assassination and the events that followed it. Most writers-Tom Holland is an example-insert the events of 44-42 BC into the larger context of the fall of the Roman republic. Collins instead places the drama into a time frame similar to Shakespeare’s classic tragedy. He uses his knowledge of the classical sources and Roman customs to create a narrative that reads like a political thriller. Caesar, Octavian, Antony, Cassius, Brutus, Cicero, and their wives and mistresses all appear in the drama. My only complaint is that Collins gave very little detail of the military campaigns that ended the contest for power. He does write a short epilogue giving his analysis of the might have beens of the Ides of March. I highly recommend this book to ancient history scholars and Shakespeare analysts.
The Ides is a masterfully insightful, dynamic and engaging book that breathes new life into the people and places it covers. It is a captivating interjection into a conversation too long dominated by worn out academic reflections. An attention to detail and emphasis on the most basic of routines of life throughout lend a type of driving momentum more often found in best-selling blockbusters than historical texts. Tom Tiballi, 'Philadelphia City Paper'
First the good points, this is a easy to read book. Mr. Dando-Collins does a good job of showing what the liberators/assassins do before the assassination. He also does a good job of showing what happens after the deed. Now for the flaws. What Caesar does and does not do before the assassination is clearly missing. Caesar is a military and a political genius. But the author does not explain how Caesar does not know what is going on. The author admits that there are 60 assassins, who are Senators. He admits that people are asked who are friends of Caesars, Dolabella and Albinus. Dolabella does not participate, but does not tell Caesar. Albinus, does not tell Caesar, and particpates. Albinus even has dinner with Caesar the night before. Why do these two individuals, who have ridden Caesar's coattails to fame and wealth, turn on Caesar? Caesar dissmisses his bodygaurd, the author offers a feeble explanation. How could Caesar not know of this plot, his friends are being asked, and there is huge number of people who know of the plot. One ancient historian, Suetonius, offers a explanation. That Caesar wanted to die, because of his declining health. The author acknowledges this, but dismisses it. The author says that Caesar does not know because of declining mental health. But his generals are willing to follow and fight for him in Parthia. The next point that I have an issue with is that Octavian is 18 when Caesar is assassinated. His parents, fearing for his safety, does not want him to take Caesar's offer of being an adopted son. The author then describes how Octavian spends money like it is water, but never explains where he gets the money. He does say that Anthony stops Octavian getting money from Caesars will. He states that other establshed senators, don't have money to spend on troops, but Octavian does. Where does this money come from? My final issue is in his conclusions. He states "The most striking thing about the sixty assassins is that in putting their lives on the line to join the conspiracy, none asked for anything". But Cassius is the one who starts the plot to assassinate Caesar, according to the author. But on the next page, after the above quote, the author states that "had Cassius and Brutus defeated Octavian and Anthony, he may have rid imself of Brutus, taken sole power for himself, and been just as oppressive a ruler as Caesar, Anthony, and Octavian". To me, that means that Cassius who started the ball rolling, probably wanted to take Caesar's power. The author does not give a fair evaluation of the assassins and their motives, and does not give fair representation of Caesar.