Patricia Hunter's "Immortal Caesar" is well researched and provides a
"human side" to one of the most famous figures in world history. Caesar
is portrayed as an intellectually and physically mesmerizing man whose
charisma attracted both men and women to his political causes and
produced support for his personal ambitions. I also appreciated
Hunter's view of Caesar as an ardent lover but one who refrained from
salubrious expressions of affection to the women in his life.
Of course I enjoyed Colleen McCullough's latest novel about Caesar's
final years, "The October Horse", but found her dialogue between Caesar
and Cleopatra repeatedly sprinkled with "darling" somewhat a bit out of
place in the mental image of an astute and articulate Caesar I had
formed over the years reading her entire "Masters of Rome" series of
novels as well as a number of the ancient sources.
My primary regret was that Hunter's novel was short. I would have
appreciated much more detail about Alesia and Caesar's personal
interaction with the Gauls (men and women - McCullough hinted at a
relationship with a Gallic woman that resulted in a son), Caesar's
thoughts and actions during the battle of Miletus, his first major
military engagement, and his personal interaction with Octavian.
McCullough portrayed the relationship between Caesar and Octavian so
sympathetically that I actually developed a more positive viewpoint
towards Caesar's heir, at least until he allowed Lucius Caesar to be
proscribed. So I would have been interested in another perspective.
Hunter also shares my speculation that Caesar's seizures were caused by
a head wound sustained at Munda rather than lifelong epilepsy, although
McCullough's suggestion of a condition resembling hypoglycemia was
certainly plausible as well. The ancient sources do not mention this
condition until later in his life.
I also liked Hunter's casting of the relationship between Caesar and
Calpurnia, much more so than the soap opera overtones of "I can't live
with you as husband and wife" that marked the end of the romance in the
recent "Julius Caesar" miniseries on TNT Network. The affair with
Cleopatra was just one of many over his lifetime and Calpurnia was well
aware of Caesar's notoriety with other women when she agreed to marry
him. I think she would have accepted the situation as a matter of
course, just as Hunter envisioned it.
"Immortal Caesar" is interesting, factual, and fast paced -- a good
effort for a first novel.
(aka Mary Harrsch)
Network & Information Systems Manager
College of Education
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403
Commentary Section Editor
The Technology Source
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