Caesar salad? Caesarian sections? Beware the Ides of March? Which of these popular items are actually connected to Julius Caesar’s extraordinary life? Caesar’s campaign in Gaul, his successes in the civil war against Pompey the Great, his liaison with Cleopatra, and his assassination by his own friends and former supporters, are all historical. But for countless artists and poets, for Shakespeare, Napoleon, Mussolini, Hitler, Patton, and many others across world history, Caesar has served as inspiration, model, and warning. In this course, we’ll examine Caesar’s early successes in politics and oratory, as well as his military career. We’ll also discover which legends surrounding his deeds are based in truth and which, like the salad dressing, are fictions?
Caesar, The Conquest of Gaul, translated by S.A. Handford
Julius Caesar: Politician and Statesman, by Mattias Gelzer and Peter Needham
Caesar: Life of a Colossus, by Adrian Goldsworthy
- How did Caesar transform the Roman empire and contribute to the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire ruled by autocrats?
- Why does Caesar offer such a powerful model of a general and leader across time?
- Why was Caesar assassinated by his peers and friends? Were they justified?
There’s a lot of material here – so much that it was worth a second listen. I learned a few things the second time around that I had missed the first time.