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The Last Assassin: The Hunt for the Killers of Julius Caesar

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Many men killed Julius Caesar. Only one man was determined to kill the killers. From the spring of 44 BC through one of the most dramatic and influential periods in history, Caesar's adopted son, Octavian, the future Emperor Augustus, exacted vengeance on the assassins of the Ides of March, not only on Brutus and Cassius, immortalized by Shakespeare, but all the others too Many men killed Julius Caesar. Only one man was determined to kill the killers. From the spring of 44 BC through one of the most dramatic and influential periods in history, Caesar's adopted son, Octavian, the future Emperor Augustus, exacted vengeance on the assassins of the Ides of March, not only on Brutus and Cassius, immortalized by Shakespeare, but all the others too, each with his own individual story. The last assassin left alive was one of the lesser-known: Cassius Parmensis was a poet and sailor who chose every side in the dying Republic's civil wars except the winning one, a playwright whose work was said to have been stolen and published by the man sent to kill him. Parmensis was in the back row of the plotters, many of them Caesar's friends, who killed for reasons of the highest political principles and lowest personal piques. For fourteen years he was the most successful at evading his hunters but has been barely a historical foot note--until now. The Last Assassin dazzlingly charts an epic turn of history through the eyes of an unheralded man. It is a history of a hunt that an emperor wanted to hide, of torture and terror, politics and poetry, of ideas and their consequences, a gripping story of fear, revenge, and survival.


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Many men killed Julius Caesar. Only one man was determined to kill the killers. From the spring of 44 BC through one of the most dramatic and influential periods in history, Caesar's adopted son, Octavian, the future Emperor Augustus, exacted vengeance on the assassins of the Ides of March, not only on Brutus and Cassius, immortalized by Shakespeare, but all the others too Many men killed Julius Caesar. Only one man was determined to kill the killers. From the spring of 44 BC through one of the most dramatic and influential periods in history, Caesar's adopted son, Octavian, the future Emperor Augustus, exacted vengeance on the assassins of the Ides of March, not only on Brutus and Cassius, immortalized by Shakespeare, but all the others too, each with his own individual story. The last assassin left alive was one of the lesser-known: Cassius Parmensis was a poet and sailor who chose every side in the dying Republic's civil wars except the winning one, a playwright whose work was said to have been stolen and published by the man sent to kill him. Parmensis was in the back row of the plotters, many of them Caesar's friends, who killed for reasons of the highest political principles and lowest personal piques. For fourteen years he was the most successful at evading his hunters but has been barely a historical foot note--until now. The Last Assassin dazzlingly charts an epic turn of history through the eyes of an unheralded man. It is a history of a hunt that an emperor wanted to hide, of torture and terror, politics and poetry, of ideas and their consequences, a gripping story of fear, revenge, and survival.

30 review for The Last Assassin: The Hunt for the Killers of Julius Caesar

  1. 5 out of 5

    Pirate

    Brilliant premise taking the last man standing of the 19 known or listed assassins of Julius Caesar Cassius Parmensis -- not the lean and hungry one but another just as there were two Brutus's the Et Tu Marcus and the accomplished general Decimus who dined with JC the night before the assassination and then turned up at his house on the day to ensure he came -- and how they all perished in the wake of JC's appointed heir Octavian and Mark Anthony's lust for revenge. It is a brilliantly executed Brilliant premise taking the last man standing of the 19 known or listed assassins of Julius Caesar Cassius Parmensis -- not the lean and hungry one but another just as there were two Brutus's the Et Tu Marcus and the accomplished general Decimus who dined with JC the night before the assassination and then turned up at his house on the day to ensure he came -- and how they all perished in the wake of JC's appointed heir Octavian and Mark Anthony's lust for revenge. It is a brilliantly executed book -- adding flesh to the bones of all the conspirators not just the two most famous ones -- by a former editor of The Times. One gets rather dizzy at the swapping of sides and tales ad the toing and froing of fortunes though the assassins appear to be on the back foot from the moment JC's blood has dried. Although men of rank and distinction their indecision afterwards sews the seeds of their downfall. Parmenses miserrimos the only words of Decimus's letter to Cicero to survive aptly sums up the fates of all of them...Cicero himself who was bigger on words than actions by this stage is not spared....Anthony, the main target of Cicero's barbed writings, in gruesome fashion sometimes would eat staring at Cicero's decapitated head. Octavian may emerge the undisputed ruler and survivor but his glory is achieved not in heroic deeds -- he is a coward on the battlefield which would have drawn the ire of his dead predecessor -- but in calculating the odds better and by virtue of having the name Caesar bestowed on him by JC...soldiers were drawn to his standard solely by that. The very republic that the mix of conspirators -- some joined due to perceived slights not because of idealistic beliefs -- wished to maintain burned with them ....all meet violent ends some choose to do it themselves and whether they were in the right to act in the first place remains open to question. A marvellous read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jason Wilson

    This is the story of the killing of Julius Caesar and it’s aftermath. As Caesar put the Roman republic to death , his downfall was being plotted by men with the mixture that is so common in politics of sour grapes and genuine concern . The intellectual heartbeat was the Epicurean philosophy which, among other things, advocated government as contract rather than divinely omnipotent kings , an idea startling for its time which foreshadowed later thinkers such as Hume and Rousseau and the age of co This is the story of the killing of Julius Caesar and it’s aftermath. As Caesar put the Roman republic to death , his downfall was being plotted by men with the mixture that is so common in politics of sour grapes and genuine concern . The intellectual heartbeat was the Epicurean philosophy which, among other things, advocated government as contract rather than divinely omnipotent kings , an idea startling for its time which foreshadowed later thinkers such as Hume and Rousseau and the age of constitutional monarchies. This is a paced and balanced book with good cultural links : the last assassin in Permensis the soldier poet of Parma disgruntled at his country’s use as an army retirement plot. As Augustus Ceasar ,aka Octavian, takes the throne, Virgil’s Aaneid celebrates a new age and Horace fights against the conspirators. Oct avians hunting of his foster fathers killers is driven as much by the need to maintain control during food riots as revenge as he had hoped to be seen as a man of mercy. Interesting stuff,

  3. 5 out of 5

    Neil Lynch

    Fascinating! For years, I've taught Shakespeare's JULIUS CAESAR to high school and college students. Many of these were second language learners from countries where they could easily make comparisons between the intrigue of ancient Rome and the real life dramas played out closer to home. THE LAST ASSASSIN adds a level of suspense that I had not previously thought much about. To be sure, Shakespeare gives his readers and theater-goers an up close look at the revenge meticulously meted out by Mar Fascinating! For years, I've taught Shakespeare's JULIUS CAESAR to high school and college students. Many of these were second language learners from countries where they could easily make comparisons between the intrigue of ancient Rome and the real life dramas played out closer to home. THE LAST ASSASSIN adds a level of suspense that I had not previously thought much about. To be sure, Shakespeare gives his readers and theater-goers an up close look at the revenge meticulously meted out by Marc Anthony and Octavian in the aftermath of Ceasar's assassination, and the play ends with the death of Brutus, perhaps closest to Caesar of all the conspirators (and, therefore, something of a shock to the system - certainly to Caesar's - when he deals the final "unkindest cut"). By extension, Peter Stothard offers an intimate look at each of the conspirators and shows how, through his determination and relentlessness, Octavian finds and dispatches each, sparing nothing and no one, not even supposed allies. It's incredible suspense despite knowing the outcome. In the process, Stothard uses rich language to bring that ancient past to life. Consider: "Parmensis sailed back down the Aegean. He was running out of places and people to run to." Or this description of the ancient winter feast of Lupercalia: "...a festival of breathlessness and nightmare, sex and myth, demons kept at bay by winter flowers." I was out of breath reading it! If you're a fan of anything CAESAR, or of the bloodier side of ancient Rome, this is a revealing and fascinating read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Linda Humberstone

    I've never read anything by this author before but found this to be a really educating record not only of the fates of the assassins of Julius Caesar but also the chaos of the turbulent years following, as the Triumvirate of Anthony, Lepidus and Octavian gradually disintegrated and Sextus, the last son of Pompey, became a threat to them all. I never learnt how, 'touch and go', Octavian's ascent into overall power became during this period. He needed to oust Anthony, Lepidus and Sextus, but be ab I've never read anything by this author before but found this to be a really educating record not only of the fates of the assassins of Julius Caesar but also the chaos of the turbulent years following, as the Triumvirate of Anthony, Lepidus and Octavian gradually disintegrated and Sextus, the last son of Pompey, became a threat to them all. I never learnt how, 'touch and go', Octavian's ascent into overall power became during this period. He needed to oust Anthony, Lepidus and Sextus, but be able to control the armies and promote himself with the people, whose loyalties swayed back and forth because of the mayhem being caused by the warring factions. His relentlessness in pursuing the assassins until the very last held him in good stead because although the Senate did not, the people of Rome loved Julius Caesar and so did most of the army whose soldiers had been promised land, a very desirable reward for their services. I look forward to reading Stothard's other book called, The Senecans.

  5. 5 out of 5

    PM

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Brilliant evocation of the sense of chaos, uncertainty, fear and opportunity that likely prevailed. Reads well alongside the Cicero trilogy by Harris.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  7. 4 out of 5

    N M BURNELL

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  9. 4 out of 5

    John Grange

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paul Daly

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cathal

  12. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

  13. 4 out of 5

    Todd

  14. 4 out of 5

    Adriano Nagel

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mark Bailey

  16. 5 out of 5

    Philip Bagley

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chip Witte

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nitish

  19. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rob Pipe

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jim Kuhlman

  22. 4 out of 5

    Richard Whan

  23. 4 out of 5

    John P. Balcer

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tim Niland

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tobias Oliver Forrest

  26. 5 out of 5

    YiYang

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tom McKeon

  28. 5 out of 5

    Graham Shaw

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mr AW Downing

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brad Bruenell

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