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The Ides of March

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  716 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
Drawing on such unique sources as Thornton Wilder's unpublished letters, journals, and selections from the extensive annotations Wilder made years later in the margins of the book, Tappan Wilder's Afterword adds a special dimension to the reissue of this internationally acclaimed novel.

'The Ides of March', first published in 1948, is a brilliant epistolary novel set in Jul
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Paperback, 282 pages
Published September 16th 2003 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 1948)
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I, Claudius by Robert GravesThe First Man in Rome by Colleen McCulloughClaudius the God and His Wife Messalina by Robert GravesThe Agricola and The Germania by TacitusThe Twelve Caesars by Suetonius
Best Books About Ancient Rome
76th out of 533 books — 848 voters
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38th out of 316 books — 144 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,963)
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C.
Aug 29, 2012 C. rated it it was amazing
This is the perfect book for lovers of three types of readers: those who love Ancient Roman history, love epistolary novels, and those who love reading the Star Magazine. It's a gossip filled train wreck heading for a certain date in history. If you were turned off Thornton Wilder during high school due to the obligatory reading of Our Town, do yourself a favor and dive into the squirrelly squabbling sneaky lives of the Ides of March. Julius Caesar, Catullus, Brutus and Little Missy Crocodile ha ...more
Bryant
Dec 30, 2007 Bryant rated it really liked it
Thornton Wilder's Ides of March is a polyphonic improvisation on the events and people surrounding the death of Julius Caesar on 15 March 44 BCE. This is an epistolary novel, each letter like a set piece, produced as a distinctive monologue and with a distinctive voice. Wilder's most accomplished re-creations are Caesar himself and the poet Catullus. Caesar is depicted as a man so committed to the philosophical notion of skepticism as opposed to his own belief in what is right that he cannot be ...more
Erik Graff
Aug 15, 2014 Erik Graff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: literature
In high school we were forced to read Our Town. Didn't much like it--too dated even then. Tried to read The Bridge of San Luis Rey in junior high. Didn't much like it. Don't think I finished it--a rare event. Gave Wilder his, to date, last chance with Ides of March, an epistolary novel leading up to the assassination of Caesar, on the theory that the topic would excite some interest. It didn't. For one thing, Wilder plays loose with the facts, introducing impossible events and meetings. At least ...more
Mark
Jul 20, 2012 Mark rated it it was amazing
Three very interesting ideas at work in the Ides of March:
The use of the epistolary novel form. This is a particularly appropriate technique for a novel about ancient Rome, as the Romans were great letter writers. Not only does the form gain plausibility, but the author gains from having so many stylistic models. Not that Wilder necessarily imitates Roman epistolary style, but he does at least reflect the tenor of some of the writers. I don't think imitation was at all a goal for Wilder: rather,
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Ben
Aug 18, 2011 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an absolute wonder to me. Wilder has taken a reasonably well-documented period of ancient history and convincingly and thoroughly fleshed out the characters to turn a dusty history into a vibrant pageant of characters, intrigues, and events that continue to shape the world today. Caesar especially, who in his own writing went to such lengths to remove as much of himself as possible, becomes a truly human dramatis persona, one who has the hopes and dreams and worries and fears of eve ...more
Beli_grrl
Dec 22, 2008 Beli_grrl rated it it was amazing
Excellent food for thought. Just what I needed at the holidays. I picked this up on a whim from the library for some airplane reading. It looked alright. Imagine my delight when I realized that I had stumbled upon a work of genius.

After reading a few other reviews, I feel compelled to add that this is historical fiction used as a vehicle for ideas. Wilder states right up front that he has taken some very big liberties with the facts and dates and that he is using the historical setting and peopl
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Anastasia
Mar 21, 2015 Anastasia rated it it was amazing
У книги между строк отчетливо читается "Автор зхакончил Йель или Гарвард." Приятно почитать книгу, написанную эрудированным человеком. Причем эрудированность Уайлдера не такая махровая, как, например, у Эко. Эрудированность Эко после первых же десяти страниц будит чувство интеллектуальнорй неполноценности и отправлет на пятичасовую экскурсию по Википедии. У Уайлдера эрудированность приятная: парочка выражений на латыни, несколько интересных исторических фактов, которыми можно при случае сверкнут ...more
Wayne
Jan 26, 2014 Wayne is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wayne by: Curiosity about the Past

Reading other people's diaries/letters CAN be more tedious than revelatory.
And I've yet to overhear a private mobile call that had me riveted and prepared to miss my train/bus stop.

Here we are plunged into the private conversations of Ancient Rome's
Who's Who...by letter.
AND I'M RIVETED !!!

Gossip, passion, politics, abuse, invites to dinner, cunning, humour philosophising, frustration, manipulation
...and ALL from the pens of such Luminaries as Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Catullus the Poet, Cicero t
...more
Rick
Aug 04, 2011 Rick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: usfiction
The first thing to remember is that this is a "fantasia" - it is not historically accurate. I kept wondering what happened to Calpurnia and why Catullus was still alive. Once you get over that it's fine.

Wilder explores the events leading up to the assassination of Caesar through the letters - private and public - of various characters as they plot, explain and obfuscate their way to the Ides of March.

Caesar emerges as a complex character, who has realized that he has to leave aside his needs as
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Milagro Espinosa
Este libro se convirtió en uno de mis favoritos, esta lleno de sentencias morales, de pasajes históricos, no más que divertidos, y de una fascinación exhaustiva por el gobierno, los gobernantes y la forma de gobernar. Desde la primera página este libro es un deleite, recomendado.
Ann Agayan
Jun 19, 2015 Ann Agayan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
You will definitely like it if only you are willing to travel so deep into the history and meet Julius Caesar...
Amy
Feb 13, 2014 Amy rated it it was amazing
Never read a book quite like this: the layered communications of this epistolary novel, the end days of Julius Caesar. Through this medium, Wilder imagines a man worshipped as a god and reviled as a tyrant, a man beyond both love and susceptibility to adoration, wistfully yearning for a meaningful legacy, to be exalted through poetry, a man still deeply inquiring yet deeply tired by a life that puzzled him, disappointed him, yet still had the power to move him. Wilder evokes Rome at this time mo ...more
Jutta Ortlepp
Mar 08, 2014 Jutta Ortlepp rated it it was amazing
"Die Iden des März" ist ein außergewöhnlicher (Brief-)Roman über die letzten Monate vor der Ermordung Cäsars. Sehr gut recherchiert, exzellenter Stil, brillant konstruiert. Einmal angefangen, fällt es schwer, das Buch noch mal aus der Hand zu legen, denn es ist alles enthalten, was die Lektüre interessant und spannend macht: Liebe, Betrug, Politik, Eifersucht, Machtgerangel, Intrigen, Klatsch, Skandale, Mord, kurz - ein wunderbar geistreicher Historienroman und eine klare Empfehlung für alle Lie ...more
Jane Davis
Jun 13, 2010 Jane Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
This humorous little book written as a series of letters sent around the Roman Empire from real and fictional characters is a treat to read. Is loaded with witty lines as when Cicero is nicknamed "Nobody up there but smoke." Because of the format of the book and the detail to public and private Roman life, I once found it cataloged as non-fiction history in a school library! To bad the real Rome had a more serious nature.
Rozonda
Nov 07, 2009 Rozonda rated it it was amazing
This excellent book makes you admire later authors a little less. Like Pierre Grimal, Robert Graves and Mary Renault, Wilder re-invented historical novel and made it fresher and more modern.
(Sadly, it also made the way for much of the pseudo-historical crap we're having lately-but that's the price you pay)

Catullus and his beloved Lesbia, Caesar, Cleopatra and Brutus come alive and feel very real in this book. Wonderful.
A.H.  Salem
Apr 02, 2015 A.H. Salem rated it it was amazing
"...I've never heard it said that there is a limit to wisdom. The way is open to better poets than Homer and to better rulers than Caesar."
- Julius Caesar.

Those whose dreams came true say that they had days when they doubted their dreams. Today is one of those days for me. Not so much that it might not happen but when it will happen. The earlier the date, the closer the dream.

This is an amazing book. It took me about two months and a half because I was busy. But it was the perfect book for th
...more
Brian
Jan 05, 2010 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the few books I was forced to read in high school that I immensely enjoyed. I read it so long ago but thought it was fantastic, an epic. The book center around Julius Caesar and the plot to kill him. My second favoirte book of alltime. I definately recommend this book to anyone. Have to reread to provide a more indepth review.
Adam
Nov 08, 2010 Adam rated it it was amazing
One of the best, most engaging books I've ever read. I highly recommend it for any Thornton Wilder fan. It's an epitolary novel about the final months of Julius Caesar's reign, and heavily inspired by Gertrude Stein's ideas about history and human progress. Wonderful.
Nacho
May 28, 2015 Nacho rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: histórica, roma, hcc
Buen libro, aunque, teniendo en cuenta que Wilder ganó el Pulitzer tres veces, y que García Márquez dijo que era la mejor novela histórica de todos los tiempos, esperaba algo más.
Kelly
Mar 04, 2008 Kelly marked it as to-read
i really want to read this. FUCK, i need to pay off my library fines
Faith Bradham
3 1/2 stars

What? Clever historical fiction? Did you know that was a thing? Sometimes, I forget that there is well written, non-tackily-scintillating historical fiction out there.

I'm a huge dork for Rome and the Caesars, so this was a sure hit for me, but I did find myself wishing this was about Augustus instead of Julius. Obviously the Ides never happened to Augustus, but still, I must confess that I'm more an Augustus girl than a Julius one. Time to reread I, Claudius, methinks.

Anyways, I like
...more
Stephan Frank
Jul 19, 2015 Stephan Frank rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hah - that way history is even more fun !
Such a unique way to illuminate the (admittedly speculative) ideas and motivations of some of the key players, especially Caesar himself.
Of course, we all how the story is going to end, but it is entirely enjoyable to follow Wilder on his attempt to piece together the months before the murder, in a masterful assembly of entirely fictitious "documents" of a variety of formats from a variety of different persons' viewpoints.
Jonathan Cantor
Oct 20, 2015 Jonathan Cantor rated it really liked it
This is a pretty fun book that traces the demise of Caesar. It reads like a series of historical documents even though it is fiction. There are some good anecdotes and thoughts on political economy or love on almost every page. Solid read if you like historical fiction, mostly because of the clever way in which it is written.
Josh
Jul 01, 2014 Josh rated it really liked it
Fascinating read that I just stumbled upon in the library. Epistolary novels don't come any better than this and the craft is really impressive. Wilder, it turns out, is so much more than a simple playwright. I do hope that he had his history correct bc I'd say 50% of what I know about Caesar comes from Wilder. The other half, of course, comes from Shakespeare.
Veronica
May 23, 2012 Veronica rated it really liked it
It's really hard to mess up a story as good as the final days of the Roman Republic -- and Wilder hasn't, which is good.

Interestingly enough, the book is written in a series of letter from Rome's most powerful players. Cicero, Clodia, Caesar -- the whole shi-bang. Although completely fictitious (as Wilder points out in the beginning of the novel) the letters seemed very true to their respective writers.

-- And they humanize Caesar which is nice.

Historically accurate for the most part, with the
...more
Bettie☯
Mar 06, 2014 Bettie☯ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Susanna - any one who is into ancient Rome
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Daphne
This is a tough one. I can't say I actually enjoyed reading it, but it was also very interesting in it's structure, so I appreciate that part. Glad I read it, and just as glad I'm finished.
Ankeyt Acharya
Jul 23, 2015 Ankeyt Acharya rated it liked it
So much hyped this book is, and what do I find? Series of letters after letters. I'm sure that the content is great, but the series of events is written in letters to and from the characters. I'm unconvinced.
Karen
Jan 07, 2015 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good novel about Julius C.
Patrick Hadley
Oct 19, 2007 Patrick Hadley rated it really liked it
If Thornton Wilder's goal was to bring his favorite poets and historical figures to life, then he accomplishes it brilliantly. This book helps you to feel what Catullus and Caesar felt. To me (and it's been a while since I read it) this book seems like basically a very long character sketch of Catullus and some of his key contemporaries. But as a character sketch, it is so engrossing that I would read it again and again, and I know that repeat readings would only reveal new and deeper levels of ...more
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Thornton Niven Wilder was an American playwright and novelist. He received three Pulitzer Prizes, one for his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey and two for his plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth, and a National Book Award for his novel The Eighth Day.
For more see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thornton...
More about Thornton Wilder...

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“You swore you loved me, and laughed and warned me that you would not love me forever.
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