The Triumph of Caesar
by Steven Saylor
#10 in the Roma Sub Rosa mystery series
Like Saylor's other mystery novels, The Triumph of Caesar is more about the history than the mystery: all the more reason for some readers to relish it. We don't have to be history majors to know Julius Caesar was assassinated. So when his wife Calpurnia summons a reluctant Gordianus the Finder to tell him she's had ominous dreams and warnings, and asks him to find out who may be plotting Caesar's murder, our hearts do not leap into our throats. That one of Gordianus's old friends has already been murdered, possibly by the same person or persons plotting Caesar's death, does little to pull the focus away from Caesar or get the reader wondering "whodunit." There are other reasons to enjoy The Triumph of Caesar.
At the end of the Roman Civil War, with Pompey dead and Caesar appointed dictator for life, Caesar celebrated an unprecedented series of four triumphs. A triumph was something like a Fourth of July parade on steroids, and Caesar's triumphs were all-star affairs, with a lot going on behind the pomp and display. Vercingetorix, the defeated hero of Celtic Gaul, was present. Cleopatra was present. Antony and Brutus and Octavius (the future Caesar Augustus), too, are among the dramatis personae who people this novel.
If we already know a lot about Caesar, Saylor turns up quite a bit that most of us probably don't, like the controversy over his correction of the calendar. And Saylor does surprise us in the end: Gordianus has a more interesting case to solve than readers may have realized, and with the help of the daughter he loves but tends to underestimate, he does solve it. (2008, 311 pages)
More about The Triumph of Caesar from Powell's Books
See the Ancient History page for the first nine books in the series. The Triumph of Caesar can easily be read as a stand-alone mystery, but it's also worthwhile to read this series from the beginning, since Gordianus's family grows and his relationships with his family members change and develop in interesting ways over time.
Other novels about Caesar's rise to power and the end of the Roman Republic:
A Friend of Caesar: A Tale of the Fall of the Roman Republic by William Stearns Davis (1900); available as a free ebook from Project Gutenberg
Three's Company by Alfred Duggan (1958), about the civil war between Caesar and Pompey, the assassination of Caesar, and the government of the triumvirs from the persepctive of Lepidus, who served as triumvir with Antony and Octavian. More info
The Ides of March by Thornton Wilder (1948), a story about the events leading up the the assassination of Julius Caesar, told in the form of fictional journal entries and letters written by Caesar and those who knew him. More info
Nonfiction about Julius Caesar:
Julius Caesar: The Life and Times of the People's Dictator by Luciano Canfora (2007). More info
Julius Caesar by Philip Freeman (2008). More info
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