Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic

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9780316861304: Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic

The Roman Republic was the most remarkable state in history. What began as a small community of peasants camped among marshes and hills ended up ruling the known world. "Rubicon" paints a vivid portrait of the Republic at the climax of its greatness - the same greatness which would herald the catastrophe of its fall. This was the century of Julius Caesar, the gambler whose addiction to glory led him to the banks of the Rubicon, and beyond; of Cicero, whose defence of freedom would make him a byword for eloquence; of Spartacus, the slave who dared to challenge a superpower; of Cleopatra, the queen who did the same. Tom Holland brings to life this strange and unsettling civilization, with its extremes of ambition and self-sacrifice, bloodshed and desire. Yet alien as it was, the Republic still holds up a mirror to us. Its citizens were obsessed by celebrity chefs, all-night dancing and exotic pets; they fought elections in law courts and were addicted to spin; they toppled foreign tyrants in the name of self-defence. Two thousand years may have passed, but we remain the Romans' heirs.

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From the Inside Flap:

A masterful, witty, brilliantly researched popular history of perhaps the greatest civilization ever and the events and people that led to its transformation from a republic to an empire.

On a dark January morning, Julius Caesar, the governor of Gaul, rode with his closest aides towards a river named the Rubicon, which marked the line of the frontier with Italy. A governor was forbidden to lead troops out of his allotted province ? to break this severest of laws was tantamount to a declaration of civil war. Caesar was a gambler, however. Like the consummate actor on the public stage he had always been, he quoted a line from one of Menander's plays: "It's time to roll the die." Then he ordered the legion behind him to advance, over the river and on towards Rome. Crossing the Rubicon was a step so consequential that it has come to stand for every fateful step in history since. When Caesar rolled his die, the result was indeed a civil war, one that would end up destroying Rome's traditional freedoms and establishing a permanent dictatorship on the wreckage of her constitution.

In Rubicon, Cambridge- and Oxford-educated historian and novelist Tom Holland gives us a harrowing and exciting account of the fall of the Republic, one that begins in 100 BC, the approximate birthdate of the generation that was to bring about the Republic's ruin. He then traces the development of these men into the ruling minds of the Republic, and the occurrence at the Rubicon that marked the end of the expansionism for which they had fought. Rubicon captures the suspense and drama of Rome's most famous political rivalries and shows its vibrant and charged atmosphere, all the while featuring some of the most celebrated personalities in history?Julius Caesar, Cicero, Spartacus, Cleopatra, Brutus, Pompey, Virgil, and Augustus. As America embarks on its own imperial adventures, Rubicon is the chronicle of Rome for which we have all been waiting?carefully researched and wildly compelling.

From the Inside Flap:

In 49 B.C., the seven hundred fifth year since the founding of Rome, Julius Caesar crossed a small border river called the Rubicon and plunged Rome into cataclysmic civil war. Tom Holland's enthralling account tells the story of Caesar's generation, witness to the twilight of the Republic and its bloody transformation into an empire. From Cicero, Spartacus, and Brutus, to Cleopatra, Virgil, and Augustus, here are some of the most legendary figures in history brought thrillingly to life. Combining verve and freshness with scrupulous scholarship, "Rubicon is not only an engrossing history of this pivotal era but a uniquely resonant portrait of a great civilization in all its extremes of self-sacrifice and rivalry, decadence and catastrophe, intrigue, war, and world-shaking ambition.

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