Watching the Ides of March 2018: The Death of Caesar: 3 of 4. The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination by Barry Strauss.

Mar 16, 2018, 01:51 AM

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(Photo:Woodcut manuscript illustration by Johannes Zainer, c. 1474

kladcat - Woodcut illustration of Porcia Catonis counseling Marcus Junius Brutus, Julius Caesar's death at the hands of Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, and Porcia's suicide

Woodcut illustration (leaf [m]8v, f. cviij) of Porcia Catonis counseling Marcus Junius Brutus, Julius Caesar's death at the hands of Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, and Porcia's suicide, hand-colored in red, green, yellow and black, from an incunable German translation by Heinrich Steinhöwel of Giovanni Boccaccio's De mulieribus claris, printed by Johannes Zainer at Ulm ca. 1474 (cf. ISTC ib00720000). One of 76 woodcut illustrations (1 on leaf [e]8v dated 1473), each 80 x 110 mm., depicting scenes from the life of the women chronicled (for a full list of subjects, cf. W.L. Schreiber, Handbuch der Holz- und Metallschnitte des XV. Jahrhunderts (Nendeln: Kraus Reprints, 1969), no. 3506). "Pour la première moitie le nom se trouve inscrit à côte de la tête de chaque femme, pour le reste il es ajouté entre les deux réglettes. Il n'y en a que trois, qui n'ont qu'un seul trait carré."--Schreiber. Established form: Zainer, Johannes, ‡d d. 1541?. Established form: Brutus, Marcus Junius, ǂd 85?-42 B.C. Established form: Caesar, Julius. Established form: Cassius Longinus, Gaius, ǂd fl. 54-42 B.C. Penn Libraries call number: Inc B-720 All images from this book Penn Libraries catalog record

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File:Woodcut illustration of Porcia Catonis counseling Marcus Junius Brutus, Julius Caesar's death at the hands of Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, and Porcia's suicide - Penn Provenance Project.jpg

Created: 22 December 2011

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Watching the Ides of March 2018: The Death of Caesar: 3 of 4. The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination by Barry Strauss.

In this story of the most famous assassination in history, “the last bloody day of the [Roman] Republic has never been painted so brilliantly” (The Wall Street Journal).

Julius Caesar was stabbed to death in the Roman Senate on March 15, 44 BC—the Ides of March according to the Roman calendar. He was, says author Barry Strauss, the last casualty of one civil war and the first casualty of the next civil war, which would end the Roman Republic and inaugurate the Roman Empire. “The Death of Caesar provides a fresh look at a well-trodden event, with superb storytelling sure to inspire awe” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).

Why was Caesar killed? For political reasons, mainly. The conspirators wanted to return Rome to the days when the Senate ruled, but Caesar hoped to pass along his new powers to his family, especially Octavian. The principal plotters were Brutus, Cassius (both former allies of Pompey), and Decimus. The last was a leading general and close friend of Caesar’s who felt betrayed by the great man: He was the mole in Caesar’s camp. But after the assassination everything went wrong. The killers left the body in the Senate and Caesar’s allies held a public funeral. Mark Antony made a brilliant speech—not “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” as Shakespeare had it, but something inflammatory that caused a riot. The conspirators fled Rome. Brutus and Cassius raised an army in Greece but Antony and Octavian defeated them.

An original, new perspective on an event that seems well known, The Death of Caesar is “one of the most riveting hour-by-hour accounts of Caesar’s final day I have read….An absolutely marvelous read” (The Times, London).