Caius Julius Caesar remains the most famous Roman ever to have lived. Charismatic leader of men, serial seducer of women, he was also both a brilliant politician and a military genius capable of some of the most spectacular victories in history. One of the single most important men of his era, his rise to power continues to provoke as strong reactions amongst historians as it did amongst his contemporaries.
From the very beginning Caesar’s career was unusually dramatic. In his late teens he narrowly avoided execution for opposing the military dictator Sulla. He was decorated for valour in battle, captured and held to ransom by pirates, and almost bankrupted himself by staging games for the masses. In politics he quickly gained a reputation as a dangerously ambitious maverick, and by his early thirties he was already beginning to dominate the Senate. His affairs with nobelwomen were both frequent and scandalous: his personal magnetism was such that he was able to seduce many of his political opponents’ wives, and he captivated countless other women, including the beautiful and enigmatic Cleopatra.
His greatest skill, however, was as a military commander. In less than a decade he conquered all of Gaul, invaded Germany, and twice landed in Britain – an achievement which in 55BC was greeted with a public euphoria comparable to that generated by the moon landings in 1969. In just thirty years he had risen from a position of virtual obscurity to become one of the richest men in the world, with the power single-handedly to overthrow the Republic. By his death, itself a spectacular event, he was effectively emperor of most of the known world.
In this new biography, Adrian Goldsworthy places Caesar within the broad canvas of the Mediterranean world in which he lived, describing the rich but turbulent society that produced the man. Written exclusively from contemporary sources, it is the first work for more than a generation to bring together all aspects of Caesar’s character – the politician, the general and the man – into a single, definitive volume.