Caesar - The Life of a Colossus

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 June, 2007, 12:00am

Caesar - The Life of a Colossus

by Adrian Goldsworthy

Phoenix, HK$165

Hailed after its hardback release last year as being as close to definitive as scholarship can be, Adrian Goldsworthy's Caesar - The Life of a Colossus sets the bar extremely high for any future biographer. He raises standards of scholarship too, by readily admitting that there are things we'll just never know about the murdered Julius Caesar. What's especially good about Caesar is that Goldsworthy makes a conscious decision to focus on the man and how he came to realise Rome had outgrown the republic. The empire was too big for the institutions of an aristocracy. Goldsworthy doesn't pretend that his sources, such classical greats as Cicero and Plutarch, are impeccable. If the available facts - and he carefully weighs knowledge against speculation - don't prove a point, he says so. Julius Caesar, like most great leaders, was careful to have scribes around him to take down his version of events as they unfolded, and Goldsworthy's handling of the ancient histories is authoritative and exciting. The result is a captivating book that opens up for the general reader the pleasures to be had from what's so often dismissed as just ancient history.


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