Most historians, both ancient and modern, have viewed the Late Republic of Rome through the eyes of its rich nobility. In The Assassination of Julius Caesar, Michael Parenti presents us with a story of popular resistance against entrenched power and wealth. As he carefully weighs the evidence concerning the murder of Caesar, Parenti sketches in the background to the crime with fascinating detail about wider Roman society. In these pages we find reflections on the democratic struggle waged by Roman commoners, religious augury as an instrument of social control, the patriarchal oppression of women, and the political use of homophobic attacks. The Assassination of Julius Caesar offers a whole new perspective on an era we thought we knew well.
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Michael Parenti is the author of sixteen books including History as Mystery, The Terrorism Trap, Democracy for the Few, Against Empire, Dirty Truths, Blackshirts and Reds, and America Besieged. His work has been translated into twelve languages. He lives in Berkeley, California.
Why did a group of Roman senators gather near Pompey's theater on March 15, 44 B.C., to kill Julius Caesar? Was it their fear of Caesar's tyrannical power? Or were these aristocratic senators worried that Caesar's land reforms and leanings toward democracy would upset their own control over the Roman Republic? Parenti (History as Mystery, etc.) narrates a provocative history of the late republic in Rome (100-33 B.C.) to demonstrate that Caesar's death was the culmination of growing class conflict, economic disparity and political corruption. He reconstructs the history of these crucial years from the perspective of the Roman people, the masses of slaves, plebs and poor farmers who possessed no political power. Roughly 99% of the state's wealth was controlled by 1% of the population, according to Parenti. By the 60s B.C., the poor populace had begun to find spokesmen among such leaders as the tribunes Tiberius Gracchus and his younger brother, Gaius. Although the Gracchi attempted to introduce various reforms, they were eventually murdered, and the reform movements withered. Julius Caesar, says Parenti, took up where they left off, introducing laws to improve the condition of the poor, redistributing land and reducing unemployment. As Parenti points out, such efforts threatened the landed aristocracy's power in the Senate and resulted in Caesar's assassination. Parenti's method of telling history from the "bottom up" will be controversial, but he recreates the struggles of the late republic with such scintillating storytelling and deeply examined historical insight that his book provides an important alternative to the usual views of Caesar and the Roman Empire.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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