Caesar (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
While classical scholars may have been arguing since the Renaissance about the true character and accomplishments of the Roman general and politician Gaius Julius Caesar, for the past four hundred years educated people around the world have drawn conclusions about him largely from the portrait created by William Shakespeare. In the English playwright’s tragedy Julius Caesar (pr. c. 1599-1600), the title character is an aging, imperious, self-absorbed egomaniac, already thinking of himself as a god, unwilling to listen to advice, blind and deaf to warnings that his days are numbered. The constancy of character that he brags of is little more than willful obstinacy. Shakespeare makes it easy to see his faults and understand why men like Brutus could be led easily to join a conspiracy to rid Rome of this dictator and restore republican government. There is a ring of truth to Brutus’s explanation to the crowd gathered outside the capitol after the assassination that he struck Caesar down because Caesar was too ambitious, despite Mark Antony’s clever rebuttal that eventually incites the populace against the conspirators.
As Adrian Goldsworthy demonstrates admirably in Caesar: Life of a Colossus, the real Julius Caesar was a much more complex character, and the Republic he had a hand in bringing down was not as idyllic as Shakespeare’s Brutus would have audiences believe. The man who emerges from the pages of Goldsworthy’s lengthy...
(The entire section is 2026 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
The Atlantic Monthly 298, no. 3 (October, 2006): 126.
Booklist 103, no. 2 (September 15, 2006): 18.
Library Journal 131, no. 15 (September 15, 2006): 67.
Publishers Weekly 253, no. 29 (July 24, 2006): 45-46.
The Spectator 300 (April 29, 2006): 47.
The Wall Street Journal 248, no. 97 (October 24, 2006): D6.
The Washington Times 25, no. 281 (October 8, 2006): B7-B8.
(The entire section is 34 words.)