This volume provides an account of the life and career of Gaius Marius, sets his achievements and failures within the wider context of the decline of the Roman Republic, and discusses his political legacy in the following decades. It also provides an assessment of the main modern interpretations of the man and his policies.
The book is not just a biography of Caesar, but an historical account and explanation of the decline and fall of the Roman Republican governing system, in which Caesar played a crucial part. To understand Caesar’s life and role, it is necessary to grasp the political, social and economic problems Rome was grappling with, and the deep divisions within Roman society that came from them. Caesar has been seen variously as a mere opportunist, a power-hungry autocrat, an arrogant aristocrat disdaining rivals, a traditional Roman noble politician who stumbled into civil war and autocracy thanks to being misunderstood by his rivals, and even as the ideal man and pattern of all virtues. Richard A. Billows argues that such portrayals fail to consider the universal testimony of our ancient sources that Roman political life was divided in Caesar’s time into two great political tendencies, called "optimates" and "populares" in the sources, of which Caesar came to be the leader of one: the "popularis" faction.
Billows suggests that it is only when we see Caesar as the leader of a great political and social movement, that had been struggling with its rival movement for decades and had been several times violently repressed in the course of that struggle, that we can understand how and why Caesar came to fight and win a civil war, and bring the traditional governing system of Rome to an end.
There was, she argues, less difference than might appear between the ambitious youth who overthrew Anthony and Cleopatra and the admired Emperor of later years. However seemingly benevolent his autocracy and substantial his achievements, Augustus’ overriding purpose was always to keep himself and his dynasty in power. Similar techniques were practised against surviving and fresh opponents, but with increasing skill and duplicity, and in the end the exhausted members of the political classes were content to accept their new ruler. This book charts the stages of Augustus’ rise, the evolution of his power and his methods of sustaining it, and finally the ways in which he used artists and literary men to glorify his image for his own time and times to come.
This fascinating story of the realities of power in ancient Rome has inescapable contemporary resonance and will appeal equally to students of the Ancient World and to the general reader.
Weaving together a wide range of evidence, Flower sets forth a new interpretation of the much-disputed nature of the lares. She makes the case that they are not spirits of the dead, as many have argued, but rather benevolent protectors—gods of place, especially the household and the neighborhood, and of travel. She examines the rituals honoring the lares, their cult sites, and their iconography, as well as the meaning of the snakes often depicted alongside lares in paintings of gardens. She also looks atCompitalia, a popular midwinter neighborhood festival in honor of the lares, and describes how its politics played a key role in Rome’s increasing violence in the 60s and 50s BC, as well as in the efforts of Augustus to reach out to ordinary people living in the city’s local neighborhoods.
A reconsideration of seemingly humble gods that were central to the religious world of the Romans, this is also the first major account of the full range of lares worship in the homes, neighborhoods, and temples of ancient Rome.
Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.