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The Death of Caesar

The Story of History's Most Famous Assassination

About The Book

In this story of the most famous assassination in history, “the last bloody day of the [Roman] Republic has never been painted so brilliantly” (The Wall Street Journal).

Julius Caesar was stabbed to death in the Roman Senate on March 15, 44 BC—the Ides of March according to the Roman calendar. He was, says author Barry Strauss, the last casualty of one civil war and the first casualty of the next civil war, which would end the Roman Republic and inaugurate the Roman Empire. “The Death of Caesar provides a fresh look at a well-trodden event, with superb storytelling sure to inspire awe” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).

Why was Caesar killed? For political reasons, mainly. The conspirators wanted to return Rome to the days when the Senate ruled, but Caesar hoped to pass along his new powers to his family, especially Octavian. The principal plotters were Brutus, Cassius (both former allies of Pompey), and Decimus. The last was a leading general and close friend of Caesar’s who felt betrayed by the great man: He was the mole in Caesar’s camp. But after the assassination everything went wrong. The killers left the body in the Senate and Caesar’s allies held a public funeral. Mark Antony made a brilliant speech—not “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” as Shakespeare had it, but something inflammatory that caused a riot. The conspirators fled Rome. Brutus and Cassius raised an army in Greece but Antony and Octavian defeated them.

An original, new perspective on an event that seems well known, The Death of Caesar is “one of the most riveting hour-by-hour accounts of Caesar’s final day I have read....An absolutely marvelous read” (The Times, London).

About The Author

Photograph by Maria Åkerhielm

Barry Strauss is a professor of history and classics at Cornell University, The Corliss Page Dean Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a leading expert on ancient military history. He has written or edited several books, including The Battle of SalamisThe Trojan WarThe Spartacus WarMasters of CommandThe Death of Caesar, and Ten Caesars. Visit

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (March 3, 2015)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781451668827

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Raves and Reviews

"Barry Strauss has a rare gift for the crafting of narrative history: in his hands, figures who had seemed forever frozen in marble breathe again. The Death of Caesar deftly depicts a world in which tangled motives, Machiavellian strategies, and a dose of sheer accident conspired to bring down the most powerful man in the world."

– Stephen Greenblatt, author of The Swerve: How the World Became Modern

"[A] compelling, clarifying account of one of history's most dramatic assassinations. . . . [Strauss] conveys the complexity of late republican Roman politics while keeping up a lively pace."

– Lev Grossman, Time

“Strauss’ account of the world’s most famous assassination is as thrilling as any novel.”

– Robert Harris, bestselling author of the Ancient Rome Trilogy

“[A] page-turner. . . . Detail after detail clothes the familiar facts of Caesar’s seemingly inevitable murder with fresh images. . . . The last bloody day of the Republic has never been painted so brilliantly."

– Greg Woolf, The Wall Street Journal

“With keen historical insights and the pace of a thriller, Barry Strauss brings vividly to life the Rome of 44 B.C., the final days of Julius Caesar, and the men who killed him. This is history as it should be written—a deeply human story of all the men and women caught up in these famous events.”

– Adrian Goldsworthy, author of Augustus: First Emperor of Rome

“The superb storytelling of Barry Strauss shows that the details of history's most famous assassination are just as fascinating as why it happened. . . . The Death of Caesar provides a fresh look at a well-trodden event, with storytelling sure to inspire awe.”

– Scott Manning, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“I have never read so detailed an account of the world’s most famous assassination—how the plot was planned, the many personalities, the killing itself and the bitter aftermath. The Death of Caesar brings back all the suspense of an extraordinary story, as if we weren’t sure what was going to happen next. An unputdownable book.”

– Anthony Everitt, author of CICERO

“This history of Caesar by the American academic Barry Strauss is a romp, yes, but a glorious one, through the final months of Rome’s most famous ruler. . . . One of the most riveting hour-by-hour accounts of Caesar’s final day I have read. . . . An absolutely marvelous read.”

– Catherine Nixey, The Times (London)

"Barry Strauss, as both sleuth and classicist, guides us through the why and how of the killing of Julius Caesar. A riveting blow-by-blow account by a masterful scholar and story-teller of a human drama that changed the course of Western history."

– Victor Davis Hanson, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University and author of THE SAVIOR GENERALS and CARNAGE AND CULTURE

"This stupendous book has all the pace and action of a top-quality thriller—murder, lust, betrayal and high politics—yet it's all true, and comes from the pen of the world's senior academic expert in the field. A lifetime's study of the ancient sources has gone into Barry Strauss's utterly gripping account of the day that the course of human history radically changed. Superbly researched, wittily written, but above all driven by a truly exciting narrative that never lets up, this is history-writing at its best. Our understanding of what happened on the Ides of March and its chaotic, bloody aftermath is forever changed, and this will be the standard work for decades to come."

– Andrew Roberts, author of NAPOLEON: A Life

“I always knew the plunging of those fatal daggers was an epochal moment in Western Civ, but I never knew why – until now. Barry Strauss is our all-knowing Vergil, escorting us across the dim landscape of history, enlightening us with precious insight.”

– Steven Pressfield, bestselling author of GATES OF FIRE and THE LION'S GATE

“A classics thriller. . . . The Death of Caesar teases apart this paramilitary operation of 60 or more conspirators and, in reporting the facts, revokes much of Shakespeare’s poetic license in ‘Julius Caesar.’”

– Katharine Whittemore, The Boston Globe

“Strauss takes us deep into the psyche of ancient history in an exciting, twisted tale."

– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“This engrossing account of that pivotal event is exhaustive, yet surprisingly easy to read. . . . The Death of Caesar is brimming with memorable facts.”

– Joe Queenan, Barron's

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