Peter Jones

Kai Su, Teknon

Caesar

By

Weidenfeld & Nicolson 656pp £25 order from our bookshop

In December 62 BC, Pompey returned to Rome after clearing the Mediterranean of pirates and defeating the Eastern potentate Mithridates, thus laying the groundwork for Roman control of the East up to the Parthian border (roughly Iraq). At his celebratory triumph on 28 and 29 September 61 BC, Pompey had placards made to inform the crowds of precisely what he had achieved: 12,183,000 people killed, captured or defeated; 846 warships taken or sunk; 1,538 towns surrendered; every soldier given a bounty of 1,500 denarii (more than ten years’ pay); 20,000 talents of gold and silver paid into the state coffers; and Rome’s annual revenue nearly trebled from 50 million to 135 million denarii a year. Three hundred kings, queens, princesses, chieftains and generals, all wearing national costume, walked ahead of Pompey as hostages. Pompey himself rode in a gemstone-encrusted chariot, wearing a cloak taken from Mithridates and said to have been worn by Alexander the Great. The crowds went absolutely berserk: that’s what it meant to be Roman. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'It would be nice to think that women will achieve equal pay in my lifetime, rather than to watch gloomily as stati… ,
    • In 1660, two of the signatories of King Charles I's death warrant fled across the Atlantic to New England. But were… ,
    • Howard Jacobson's sixteenth novel is 'a love story of sorts, one characterised not by physical desire or even conta… ,
    • 'The sudden immersion in the new and unfamiliar can lead people to write with a rare lack of self-consciousness' P… ,
    • 'Pools bend the rules. Clothes slip off, skin glistens, consciousness heightens. A dreamlike scenario unfolds' Jam… ,
    • 'Although he surely didn’t know W H Auden’s theory that every high C proclaims human freedom and our capacity to tr… ,
    • RT : With beginning tomorrow, we've uncovered a 1997 article from the archive reviewing 'Golf Dream… ,