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The Assassination of Julius Caesar

A People’s History of Ancient Rome




The New Press, 2003

Parenti . . . recreates the struggles of the late Republic with such scintillating storytelling and deeply examined historical insight.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Savagely entertaining ... history at its most provocative ...
[a] lively, lucid tract.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“With laser sharp research and analysis, Michael Parenti burns away stale orthodoxy and distortion. What a remarkable people’s history!”
—Mark Solomon, Professor of History, Simmons College

“A remarkable and accessible work of history and political analysis, with profound implications for the U.S. empire.”
—Mumia Abu Jamal

****** This book was chosen “Book of the Year” 2004 (nonfiction) by Online Review of Books (www.Onlinereviewofbooks.com). ******

Most historians, both ancient and modern, have viewed the Late Republic of Rome through the eyes of its rich nobility. They regard Roman commoners as a parasitic mob, a rabble interested only in bread and circuses. They cast Caesar, who took up the popular cause, as a despot and demagogue, and treat his murder as the outcome of a personal feud or constitutional struggle, devoid of social content. In The Assassination of Julius Caesar, the distinguished author Michael Parenti subjects these assertions of “gentlemen historians” to a bracing critique, and presents us with a compelling story of popular resistance against entrenched power and wealth. Parenti shows that Caesar was only the last in a line of reformers, dating back across the better part of a century, who were murdered by opulent conservatives. Caesar’s assassination set in motion a protracted civil war, the demise of a five-hundred-year Republic, and the emergence of an absolutist rule that would prevail over Western Europe for centuries to come.

Parenti reconstructs the social and political context of Caesar’s murder, offering fascinating details about Roman society. In these pages we encounter money-driven elections, the struggle for economic democracy, the use of religion as an instrument of social control, the sexual abuse of slaves, and the political use of homophobic attacks. Here is a story of empire and corruption, patriarchs and subordinated women, self-enriching capitalists and plundered provinces, slumlords and urban rioters, death squads and political witchhunts.

The Assassination of Julius Caesar offers a compelling new perspective on an ancient era, one that contains many intriguing parallels to our own times.

Contents

    Introduction: Tyrannicide or Treason?
  1. Gentlemen’s History: Empire, Class, and Patriarchy
  2. Slaves, Proletarians, and Masters
  3. A Republic for the Few
  4. “Demagogues” and Death Squads
  5. Cicero’s Witchhunt
  6. The Face of Caesar
  7. “You All Did Love Him Once”
  8. The Popularis
  9. The Assassination
  10. The Liberties of Power
  11. Bread and Circuses
Appendix: A Note on Pedantic Citations and Vexatious Names

What readers, editors, and other authors are saying about The Assassination of Julius Caesar.

“A wonderful book” Richard Wiebe

“A magnificent read”Peter Livingston

“Fascinating . . . thrilling” Colin Robinson

“Excellent, parts of it are great literature” Carlo Ferretti

“Very impressive. It is a wonderful read! with a very effective use of humor” Gregory Elich

“The most enjoyable work of classical history I have ever read.” Mark Graham

“So interesting and well-written . . . endlessly fascinating.” Marco Ugolini

“A fantastic book . . . beautifully written.”Craig Murdock

The Assassination of Julius Caesar is a major scholarly work and will surely be read and discussed for generations. It is history and historical analysis of the highest order and should not be missed by anyone with an inkling of historical curiosity.”Drew Hunkins

“Parenti's discussion of the assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar is radically enlightening. His presentation, like a fork of lightning, illumines the history of Rome. It’s real and revelatory. I understand the history as I never before did. I can relate it to my life experiences and give it heft and dimensions because Parenti writes of and documents very well the crucial forces that were at work. He makes clear what the “gentlemen historians” with their upper class biases have so muddled. The words flow clear, the concepts easily grasped. He has a sweet way with words. He adds a very useful appendix that enables one on their own to penetrate into the scholarly resources available. An excellent book.” —William Yates



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