Reader's Almanac

On this day in 44 BC the Roman dictator Julius Caesar was assassinated. His murder and the ensuing warfare and chaos has been written about by historians, poets, playwrights and novelists.  SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Cambridge classicist Mary Beard, is a highly regarded and compulsively readable work in which she discusses the significance of Caesar's life and death, as well as other important figures in Roman history such as Cicero, Hannibal and Augustus. If you're interested in learning more about the culture that produced Julius Caesar, I highly recommend Daily Life in Ancient Rome by Florence Dupont. Originally written in French, the English translation is lively and readable and topics covered in a manner suitable for a general audience. Dupont engages with questions such as how did the Romans think about the self, or about their gods? What did they eat? What relationships defined a person in Roman society?  What social messages did various articles of Roman clothing convey? The most famous dramatic treatment of Caesar's life and death is, of course, William Shakespeare's play The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.  Thornton Wilder's The Ides of March (1948) is a thoroughly enjoyable novel about the months leading up to Caesar's assassination, as told from the points of view of various members of Roman society.  Bennet Cerf, one of the founders of Random House, remarked in 1948 that "only three novels published since the first of the year that were worth reading ... Cry, The Beloved Country, The Ides of March, and The Naked and the Dead."  

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