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Gary Taylor, 9 January 1992

... Act Three, Scene Three of Julius Caesar ends with the murder of a poet. It begins with a stage direction: Enter Cinna the poet, and after him the Plebeians. This direction creates two oppositions. The poet is opposed to the plebeians. And ‘Cinna the poet’ is opposed to ‘Cinna the conspirator’, a character with the same name but a different vocation ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Caesar’s Birthday, 22 February 2007

... that I shared a birthday with Charles Dickens, the Appalachian banjo-player Dock Boggs, and Julius Caesar. All other authorities seem to agree, however – and it’s only just occurred to me to check this – that Julius Caesar was born in the middle of July. Unhelpfully, few of them say which calendar ...

How do you see Susan?

Mary Beard: No Asp for Zenobia, 20 March 2003

Cleopatra: Beyond the Myth 
by Michel Chauveau, translated by David Lorton.
Cornell, 104 pp., £14.95, April 2002, 0 8014 3867 5
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The Roman Mistress: Ancient and Modern Representations 
by Maria Wyke.
Oxford, 452 pp., £40, March 2002, 9780198150756
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... had other ideas, however. She had presumably witnessed Roman triumphs during her stay in Rome as Julius Caesar’s amant en titre and well understood their techniques of humiliation. She would also have known that the most dangerous and distinguished of Rome’s victims never reached the end of the procession: they were put to death in the Forum, just ...

Mad John

Gabriele Annan, 28 June 1990

McEnroe: Taming the Talent 
by Richard Evans.
Bloomsbury, 216 pp., £14.99, June 1990, 0 7475 0618 3
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... hero. The comparison may sound pretentious, but then Evans compares McEnroe to Coriolanus and Julius Caesar, with quotations from Shakespeare and from Peter Levi on Shakespeare. He uses adjectives like ‘pavonine’, and describes McEnroe’s style as pointilliste – rather a good idea, except that it leads to an analysis of pointillism: ‘tiny ...

A Furtive Night’s Work

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare’s working habits, 20 October 2005

1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare 
by James Shapiro.
Faber, 429 pp., £16.99, June 2005, 0 571 21480 0
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... against a view of Shakespeare as a poet who transcends his age.’ In 1599, Shapiro reads Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It and Hamlet as texts written solely to ‘show … the very age and body of the time his form and pressure’. He cites this remark of Prince Hamlet’s as evidence that ‘Shakespeare certainly thought of his art in this ...

New Man from Nowhere

James Davidson: Cicero, 4 February 2016

by Robert Harris.
Hutchinson, 299 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 0 09 175210 1
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... people and events were written up by ancient historians whose works have survived: historians like Julius Caesar, who chronicled his own conquest of France in a deceptively simple style that long ago endeared him to teachers of Level-1 Latin; or Caesar’s Level-2 protégé Sallust, whose endless variety of ...

A Very Bad Man

Michael Kulikowski: Julius Caesar, Génocidaire, 18 June 2020

The War for Gaul: A New Translation 
by Julius Caesar, translated by James J. O’Donnell.
Princeton, 324 pp., £22, September 2019, 978 0 691 17492 1
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... Consider​ the many things that would not exist without Caesar’s account of the Gallic Wars: Asterix and Obelix; The Wicker Man; Gauloises cigarettes; the little Airfix Romans and Britons that many of us grew up with. Even today, Caesar’s legionaries and their colourful Gallic foes are bread and butter for companies that sell expensive toy soldiers to middle-aged schoolboys ...

Short Cuts

Dominic Dromgoole and Clive Stafford Smith: Shakespeare in Guantánamo, 7 November 2013

... Medical Officer … . . Leonato (Much Ado about Nothing) Force-Feeding Doctor … . . Varro (Julius Caesar) Behavioural Health Doctor … . . Cordelia (King Lear) Behavioural Health Doctor … . . Cressida (Troilus and Cressida) Psychiatrist … . . Helena (All’s Well That Ends Well / A Midsummer Night’s Dream) Medical Corpsman … . . Silius ...

Lucky City

Mary Beard: Cicero, 23 August 2001

Cicero: A Turbulent Life 
by Anthony Everitt.
Murray, 346 pp., £22.50, April 2001, 0 7195 5491 8
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... political figures in Rome in the hundred years of civil war that led up to the assassination of Julius Caesar. The head of Antony’s own grandfather was said to have graced the dinner table of Gaius Marius in one of the pogroms of the early first century BC. A cousin of Cicero had his severed head (‘still alive and breathing’, in Cicero’s ...

So Much for Caligula

Julian Bell: Caesarishness, 24 March 2022

Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern 
by Mary Beard.
Princeton, 369 pp., £30, September 2021, 978 0 691 22236 3
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... libraries and his longstanding insider status at court. Suetonius began with the career of Julius Caesar, whose rise to political supremacy 170 years earlier had marked the end of republican Rome. His sequence finished with the emperor Domitian, after whose assassination in the year 96 power passed to the Nerva-Antonine dynasty, for whom Suetonius ...

In one era and out the other

John North, 7 April 1994

Joseph Scaliger: A Study in the History of Classical Scholarship. Vol II: Historical Chronology 
by Anthony Grafton.
Oxford, 766 pp., £65, December 1993, 0 19 920601 5
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... elder Scaliger’, there must have been readers who asked themselves whether he wasn’t confusing Julius Caesar Scaliger, one of the 16th century’s most formidable literary scholars, and his son Joseph, who, as it happens, was successor to Lipsius at Leiden. And if their distinctive styles of pedantry make the two of them discernible to connoisseurs of ...

Between Troy and Rome

Denis Feeney: Trojan Glamour, 15 June 2017

Virgil’s Ascanius: Imagining the Future in the ‘Aeneid’ 
by Anne Rogerson.
Cambridge, 246 pp., £75, January 2017, 978 1 107 11539 2
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... from him. When he was 18, and still called Octavius, Augustus had been adopted by his great-uncle Julius Caesar into the ancient clan of the Iulii, who had supposedly come to Rome from Alba Longa and claimed descent from Iulus, the son of Aeneas, grandson of Venus. Exactly how long the Iulii had been making this claim is uncertain – perhaps they only ...

What would Plato have done?

Christopher Krebs: Plutarch’s Lives, 29 June 2017

The Age of CaesarFive Roman Lives 
by Plutarch, translated by Pamela Mensch.
Norton, 393 pp., £28, March 2017, 978 0 393 29282 4
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... uneven collection’, as James Romm writes in his engaging preface to The Age of Caesar, which has nonetheless provided ‘a model for modern moral essayists, including Montaigne and Emerson’. Plutarch’s Lives exerted an even greater influence. They can be imagined as a gallery, one spacious wing housing individual portraits of Roman ...

Art of Embarrassment

A.D. Nuttall, 18 August 1994

Essays, Mainly Shakespearean 
by Anne Barton.
Cambridge, 386 pp., £40, March 1994, 0 521 40444 4
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English Comedy 
edited by Michael Cordner, Peter Holland and John Kerrigan.
Cambridge, 323 pp., £35, March 1994, 0 521 41917 4
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... puzzled by the fact that Cleopatra should have concealed more than half her property from Octavius Caesar’s prying eyes (as the steward Seleucus reveals) if she was really intent on death. The strange thing here is that Barton writes as if there were no obvious answer to hand – but, famously, there is. In Shakespeare’s principal source for Antony and ...

See you in hell, punk

Thomas Jones: Kai su, Brutus, 6 December 2018

Brutus: The Noble Conspirator 
by Kathryn Tempest.
Yale, 314 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 300 18009 1
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... Among​ Shakespeare’s tragedies Julius Caesar is unusual in not being named for its hero. By any conventional measure, the play is the tragedy of Brutus, over whose corpse his antagonist Antony declares at the end of Act V: ‘This was the noblest Roman of them all.’ Still, it makes sense that the tragedy of Brutus should be called Julius Caesar, since Caesar is the figure around whom Brutus’ story revolves ...

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