Jtp's Reviews > The Assassination Of Julius Caesar: A People's History Of Ancient Rome

The Assassination Of Julius Caesar by Michael Parenti
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Jan 10, 2011

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Read from December 05 to 26, 2010

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message 1: by Jtp (last edited Jan 09, 2011 12:14PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jtp Not groundbreaking for anyone with even a surface understanding of Roman politics, but amusing enough, and a good way to brush up on your ancient history.

My main problem with the book was that Parenti kept trying to sell the reader on his revolutionary theory that the rich Romans in charge of the Republic were actually (cue drum roll), just looking out for themselves!!! He comes up with lines like "it was a disgrace to be poor and an honor to be rich." And you can set to stirring music this fantastic bit of fire, "The nobles protected the constitution...to the extent that it fortified their oligarchy. It was their (italics) constitution, their (italics) law, and indeed their (italics) Republic, made to accomodate "sacred traditions" including, above all, their long-standing class interests." Damn. My sister was playing 1000 Ships of the Underworld on her computer and it fit perfectly. Too bad that little bit should be common knowledge to anyone with a rudimentary understanding of the way power, politics, and money affect people.

Apart from that you get pretty great tidbits of information - like the fact that launderers put out piss pots on the street so they could later use the accumulated urine to treat clothing. Or the one time Cato was pissed off at Caesar and demanded Caesar read out a secret note he received in the senate, crying out that it must be from those trying to overthrow the government. Caesar read it out with pleasure. It turned out to be a, "you sexy beast I want you in my bed now" sort of note from Caesar's mistress, who was also Cato's half-sister. Snap.

So basically, decent enough, some great anecdotes (Shameless Cicero I do love you), but don't look for enlightenment or "laser-sharp research and analysis"/"deeply examined historical insight."

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