Norwich on Caesar

John Julius Norwich never disappoints. Wikipedia describes his as a popular historian, which probably means academics wouldn't regard him highly. Who cares. I read his fantastic history of Byzantium, and I was hooked.

Flipping through The Middle Sea, a History of the Mediterranean, and I read this description of Caesar. I must have read this passage before, but I'd forgotten it.

The third and greatest member of this astonishing triumvirate now appears on the scene. In 62 BC Gaius Julius Caesar was thirty-eight, and married to Sulla's granddaughter Pompeia (he was to divorce her in the following year). His reputation in Rome*** was that of a cultivated intellectual and a formidable orator in the Senate, a provider of lavish entertainments who was consequently always in debt, and a sexual profligate, whose affairs - with both men and women - were legion but who had nevertheless been elected Pontifex Maximus, chief of the priesthood of the Roman state: talented, fascinating, but basically unreliable.

Reminds me of a grammar lesson.

Posted by Grosser Bruder.

***His reputation changed significantly.

After his consulship Caesar left at once for Gaul, where he he was to remain for the next eight years; by the time he returned to Rome he had conquered the entire country. Plutarch estimates that a million Gauls lost their lives, with another million enslaved; far more important to Caesar himself, he had built up a military reputationn which put even Pompey in the shade, showing himself to be one of the supreme commanders of all time. His mind worked like lightning and could adapt instantly to a changing situation; his timing was faultless.