At the age of forty-eight, Cicero--the greatest orator of his time--is in exile, separated from his wife and children, tormented by his sense of failure, his great power sacrificed on the altar of his principles. Read more...
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At the age of forty-eight, Cicero--the greatest orator of his time--is in exile, separated from his wife and children, tormented by his sense of failure, his great power sacrificed on the altar of his principles. And yet, in the words of one of his most famous aphorisms, -While there is life, there is hope.-
By promising to support Caesar--his political enemy--he is granted return to Rome. There, he fights his way back to prominence: first in the law courts, then in the Senate, and finally by the power of his pen, until at last, for one brief and glorious period, he is again the preeminent statesman in the city. Even so, no public figure, however brilliant and cunning, is completely safeguarded against the unscrupulous ambition and corruption of others.
Riveting and tumultuous, Dictator encompasses some of the most epic events in ancient history--the collapse of the Roman Republic and the subsequent civil war, the murder of Pompey, the assassination of Julius Caesar. But the central problem it presents is a timeless one: how to keep political freedom unsullied by personal ambition, vested interests, and the erosive effects of ceaseless, senseless foreign wars. In Robert Harris's indelible portrait, Cicero attempts to answer this question with both his thoughts and his deeds, becoming a hero--brilliant, flawed, frequently fearful yet ultimately brave--both for his own time and for ours.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-11-30
- Reviewer: Staff
The closing volume of British bestseller Harriss Ancient Rome trilogy, following Imperium and Conspirata, is as skillful as it is sobering. In 58 B.C.E., Cicero, the brilliant 49-year-old author and orator who was Romes undisputed leader only five years before, is punished with exile for his principled resistance to the triumvirate that now controls Rome. Making a reluctant peace with the triomost notably Julius Caesarallows him to return to Rome and his family, but even his political genius cannot return the republic to stability. The triumvirate collapses, civil war ensues, and Caesar seizes power, declaring himself dictator and god. Cicero lauds Caesars assassination as an act of liberation; though he is swept back into power afterward, he can neither restore the Roman government he views as mankinds noblest creation nor save himself from betrayal. The perfect foil to the passionate and sometimes paradoxical protagonist, Ciceros quietly capable secretary Tiro (a slave Cicero frees in one of the books most poignant scenes) remains an appealing narrator, offering readers a shrewd and stable perspective on the tumult Cicero embraces. With its complex historical context and searing scenes of violence, Dictator is not easy reading. Yet its gripping dramas and powerful themesthe fragility of democracy and the fallibility of human beings among themrichly illuminate the conflicts of its era and our own. 100,000-copy first printing. (Jan.)