Caesar: A Life in Western Culture by Maria Wyke - review by Peter Jones

Peter Jones

Julius Through The Ages

Caesar: A Life in Western Culture


Granta Books 279pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

I did warn the Editor that I have, on principle, little time for books like this, but she insisted. This review, therefore, may not be up to LR’s typically cool and Olympian standards of objectivity.

Maria Wyke, Professor of Latin at University College London, has written a ‘metabiography’ of Julius Caesar. Using ancient sources to pick out certain aspects of Caesar, she matches them with accounts of later ages’ use of them for their own, usually political, purposes. 

For example, she examines the story of Caesar’s military abilities, particularly through his dealings with one of his most fearsome opponents in Gaul, Vercingetorix. Caesar presents the Gallic chieftain as the man most responsible for inciting revolt against Roman rule, and contemporary texts describe his capture and humiliation at his

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