Robert Morstein-MarxApr 4, 2022
Julius Caesar and the Roman People
Cambridge University Press 2021
Julius Caesar was no aspiring autocrat seeking to realize the imperial future but an unusually successful republican leader who was measured against the Republic's traditions and its greatest heroes of the past. Catastrophe befell Rome not because Caesar (or anyone else) turned against the Republic, its norms, and institutions, but because Caesar's extraordinary success mobilized a determined opposition that ultimately preferred to precipitate civil war rather than accept its political defeat. Based on painstaking re-analysis of the ancient sources in the light of recent advances in our understanding of the participatory role of the People in the republican political system, a strong emphasis on agents' choices rather than structural causation, and profound skepticism toward the facile determinism that often substitutes for historical explanation, Julius Caesar and the Roman People (Cambridge University Press, 2021) offers a radical reinterpretation of a figure of profound historical importance who stands at the turning point of Roman history from Republic to Empire.
Robert Morstein-Marx is Professor of Classics at the University of California, Santa Barbara.