The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People's History of Ancient Rome

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New Press, 2003 - History - 276 pages
The story of popular resistance to wealth and power in ancient Rome. 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 religious augury 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 witch-hunts. The Assassination of Julius Caesar offers a compelling new perspective on an ancient era, one that contains many intriguing parallels to our own times.

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User Review  - Colby_Glass - LibraryThing

An absolutely outstanding history of late Rome. Focuses on the concerns of the common people and how deluded historians (Parenti calls them "Gentleman historians") in their prejudice for the wealthy ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Colby_Glass - LibraryThing

A "people's history," like Howard Zinn. A very different viewpoint on Caesar: a champion of the people (lower and middle classes) rather than a tyrant. Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Michael Parenti is the author of sixteen books including History as Mystery, The Terrorism Trap, Democracy for the Few, Against Empire, Dirty Truths, Blackshirts and Reds, and America Besieged. His work has been translated into twelve languages. He lives in Berkeley, California.

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