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The Ides of March Paperback – Sep 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 281 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060088907
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060088903
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,796,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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To the most reverend Supreme Pontiff: Sixth report of this date. Read the first page
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 18 Sep 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Told in a series of letters and other documents, this retells the famous story of the run-up to Julius Caesar's death.

I love the way Wilder brings ancient Rome to life, especially in the letters from Clodia Metelli to Caesar. All the expected people are here - Cleopatra, who is visiting Rome, Cicero, Clodia herself (one of my favourite Roman women), Catullus - but the story isn't only one we know, but also opens up new areas of fictional exploration.

If you like your ancient Rome to be all gladiators, legions and bloody battles, this will disappoint - it's far more domestic than that.

Wilder is especially good at manoeuvering himself into a position which liberates his imagination yet which doesn't completely violate the historical record.

This is a small book, and yet offers a much deeper reading experience than we might expect for the number of pages. Highly recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Taylor VINE VOICE on 6 Dec 2009
Format: Paperback
This novel is not really a novel - although it is fiction - it uses invented letters and edicts to tell a Roman tale, and a well known one. The central character around whom all the correspondence is centered is Caesar and the period leading up to his assassination. There is however not much of the cruel and vicious world of Roman politics, these are personal letters between himself and other famous C's, Cleopatra, Clodia, Catallus and Cicero amongst others as well as instructions to priests and his secret police.

It's a great piece of imagination - I particularly like the letters to the priests and the wordy tomes of Caesar pondering on life and death - they are extremely well written and thoughtful. Be prepared though this is not a modern book it was written in the last century about a long ago time so the language is somewhat archaic - and that doesn't make for an easy read. Its somewhat of a scholarly tome, so might not appear to all reader types, so I would not recommend this for those individuals looking for action - there are no gory battle scenes, no great set pieces, no floating down the Nile on a barge - but it is a well researched and lovingly produced book and those two facts come though. All in all it's a niche book, well written, detailed, worthy and scholarly but not perhaps everyones cup of tea.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 18 reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Great Drama!! 12 Aug 2000
By Greg Feirman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I really liked Thornton Wilder's "The Ides of March" because of it's drama and it's philosophical content. The first thing to note is the great structure of the book which makes it very dramatic. The book is structured into four separate parts and each parts leads up to a scene that is anticipated throughout the part. For part I, it is the dinner at Clodia and Clodius Pulcher's; for part II, it is the reception at Cleopatra's; for part III, it is the profanation of the mysteries of the goddess by clodia pulcher and her brother; and for part IV, it is Caesar's assasination. From the very start of each part, Wilder whets your appetite for how the climactic event is going to go and I was so anxious to find out what happened, which kept me turning the pages. The second thing I want to mention is the great amount of thought provoking philosophical content in this concise, 246 page novel. There is alot of reflection in Caesar's journal about the rational grounds for religion (a belief in God or the Gods), there is a passage on living one's life with the knowledge that one will die one day, and stuff about love and relationships. Also, there is alot of character analysis, analyzing Caesar's character, contrasting it to Cicero's and Junius Brutus's and others. The fact that Caesar and these others are these famous historical figures from ancient rome tinges it all with that feeling that one is gaining an education about the roots of Western Civilization, in touch with the classics. My favorite parts are probably the letters of Caesar to his friend Lucius Mamillius Turrinus because of the great philosophical content and also the letters at the end of each section where some other character will describe in a long letter what happened at the climactic event. I heartily recommend this book because of the great drama and philosophical content. I've read other books set in the ancient past, such as Mary Renault's "The Last of the Wine", set in ancient Greece during the Peloponessian War, but I like this one better because there is more drama, more excitement, as well as more philosophical content, more real wisdom about life. And it does all this in 246 pages compared to around 430 for Renault's book. Any fans of this book who have recommendations for me please e-mail me! Greg Feirman
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Gripping treatment of the last year of Julius Caeser's life. 9 Dec 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is the perfect book for adolscents whom you want to interest in history. Told in the form of letters from some of Rome's most famous citizens, including Mark Antony, Cleopatra, Julius Caeser himself and Catullus, the poet, the book is divided into four parts, each of which starts earlier and ends later than the previous section. The letter format not only allows the characters to ruminate on the meaning of their lives--and some big issues as well, such as religion and destiny--but it also allows Wilder to show an event from multiple perspectives, a technique he uses well to deepen the complexity of events over the course of the book. Caeser may be the worst writer in the book. He is given to repeating phrases for lyrical effect in a way that can be a little cloying, but on the whole he is viewed a little admiringly to be fashionable in our revisionist times. Wilder's women are strong as usual, and the story is always gripping. It's amazing to me that this book is out of print.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A unique historical novel of the last year of Julis Caesar 26 Mar 2004
By gac1003 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I think most people know the story of Julius Caesar's death: stabbed 23 times on March 15th during a session of the Senate. What Thornton Wilder has done with his novel is to give the reader a glimpse in to the human side of Caesar, through journal entries and correspondence from him and those surrounding him. We learn of the statesman, who tries his best to govern his people; of his "divinity" and his tolerance of the belief in gods and goddesses; of the family man living in a tepid marriage with his wife Pompeia; and of his attraction to intellectuals, whether if be the poet Catullus, whose poetry he highly regards even if it mocks him, and the beautfiul Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, whom he considers almost an equal in terms of ability to rule. Wilder also lets us in on public opinion concerning the Dictator, as Caesar was also known, through intercepted correspondence of Clodia Pulcher and others. Caesar becomes more of a human figure in the hands of Wilder. He has his foibles and his share of indecisions, just like any other person. He also tries to do what he believes to be the right thing in terms of treating others. A unique historical novel.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating novel about Caesar 17 July 2006
By Bomojaz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This excellent novel, Wilder's masterpiece, is set during the last 17 years in the life of Julius Caesar in Rome. In it he attempts to answer the following: "What sort of person was Caesar and why was he assassinated?" Told mainly through letters and documents of people who knew him, from the famous - Cleopatra, Catallus, Cicero, Brutus - to the lesser known - Cytheris, an actress; Turrinus, a friend; Cornelius Nepos, a political observer - and including such sources as Caesar's commonplace book and journal, broadsides, and various official memoranda, Wilder creates a brilliant picture of the man and the people who surround him. We learn of Caesar's great love for Rome, but his disdain for those who populate her. In a magnificent observation by his physician Sosthenes, he says, "Caesar does not love, nor does he inspire love. He diffuses an equable glow of ordered good will, a passionless energy that creates without fever, and which expands itself without self-examination or self-doubt....I could not love him and I never leave his presence without relief." Those few sentences speak volumes. We see in Caesar's own (private) letters how different the public figure (lofty, dictatorial, the great warrior) is from the private man (amused by human folly, lonely, sensitive to those who have been injured by life's cruelties). Yet the book is not just a history lesson, despite its appearance, but a moving novel that builds masterfully to a stunning climax on the Ides of March with his murder. The book is truly magnificent, filled with much insight into human motivation and observation. Definitely worth looking into.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A different historical novel 24 Jan 2003
By Papagena - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Contrary to what we could think, this novel is not dedicated to Julius Caesar's death, as Shakespeare did in his tragedy. It does not talk about his life, either. It just tells us about his last eight months.
He does it with a tecnique different from tradicional historical novel from the XIXth century and it's different, too, from the pseudo-memories, which is the favourite form of historical novel in the XXth century. Thornton Wilder prefers to juxtapose in four books a series of documents from different sources: letters, political pamphlets, inscriptions, poetry... He does not follow a chronological order but, as a kind of consecutive focusing, each book starts before and ends later than the previous one. And the very core, the central point, is September 45 BC, when an attempt against Julius Caesar's life was made. This way of telling the story is very pleasant but it asks a little effort from the reader to organize those materials in his mind.
Anyway, Thornton Wilder is not strictly historical, and he tells us beforehand. Some events happened years before 45 or 44, some characters were already dead. I think he does not really want to talk about Caesar or his time. He prefers to talk about loneliness: of a ruler that can trust no one, of man in front os his own mortality, of the absence of gods (lived not dramatically but with no consequence, either).
In the last part of the book I think he tells exactly what he's worried about: the mistery of life is very huge. It's so big that we have not a definitive idea about it, is life good or bad? tidy or chaotic? To sum it up, has it got any sense at all?
It looks as if Caesar was only worried about posthumous glory, the way future generations were going to remember him. It sounds a very poor reward, but it is more that what the majority of us will achieve.
I liked some femenine portrays in this book. Not Cleopatra or Clodia Pulcher, the first one is a mistery in herself (a Greek princess in an Egyptian kingdom), the second one so evilishly depicted by Catullus poetry that we could never get what she really was. The great women are the Roman matrons, the ones that had such a big influence in the Roman Republic, and the respect towards them as the real shadow cabinet.
Why should anyone read this book? Because it's very entertaining and you could learn some philosophy and a little bit (not too much, really) history.
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