Tag Archives: Classical Era

The Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination by Barry S. Strauss (Review by Rupert C. ’23)

The Death of Caesar: The Story of History's Most Famous AssassinationThe Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination by Barry S. Strauss
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In painstaking detail, Strauss shines light on the political climate of 44 B.C. in this non-fiction, focusing on the motivations, tensions, and people involved in Caesar’s assassination on the Ides of March. In vivid prose, he brings to life the complex networking of Roman politics–a dramatic departure from the dry and factual tone of the textbooks that I am accustomed to reading for Junior Classical League (JCL).

Strauss adeptly balances intellectual rigor with broad accessibility, managing to make pages fly by without diluting their substance. I particularly enjoyed his blend of Livian day-by-day analysis in the immediate aftermath of the assassination with more episodic construction, a technique that allows him to paint broad strokes and highlight trends while still focusing deeply on pivotal moments.

I personally would give this book a deserving 4.5./5 stars, but I do think that this book only satisfies a certain niche of non-fiction history readers and might not appeal to a more general audience. However, if you’re still reading this review, I urge you to try this book! Even though this is the first of Strauss’ works that I’ve read, Strauss has earned a place among my go-to classical historians such as Mary Beard and Patrick Hunt. I look forward to reading his other works! —Review by Rupert C. ’23

For those who enjoyed this book, Rupert has recommended SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome and Hannibal for you to check out!

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The Lost Books of The Odyssey by Zachary Mason (review by Allison W. ’16)

The Lost Books of The OdysseyThe Lost Books of The Odyssey by Zachary Mason
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Lost Books of the Odyssey consists of short stories that center mainly on well-known parts of The Iliad and The Odyssey, with twists that create new perspectives on well-known mythology. Although each story is engaging and worth reading, the work as a whole is disconnected. Every “book” is independent, with some even contradicting others, which is consistent with the oral tradition of The Iliad and The Odyssey; however, this organization also causes the novel to lose its momentum between stories. A chronological ordering would have been less confusing and potentially more compelling, but even without any clear arrangement, The Lost Books of the Odyssey is worth reading for its interesting additions and alterations to Greek mythology. – Allison W. ’16

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