Caesar's Women (Masters of Rome Series)

Caesar's Women - Colleen McCullough I liked this one a bit less than the earlier books in the series. This is actually the fourth book in the Master of Rome series. Earlier ones focused on key predecessors to Caesar in the late Roman Republic--Marius and Sulla. This is the first book then where Julius Caesar dominates the narrative. I don't think McCullough's books shine because of her prose. Some complain the books are ponderous, the prose pedestrian, and I think there's justice in that. She's not a strong stylist such as Robert Graves or Mary Renault. But what I did love in the Master of Rome series is how well she conjures up the late Roman Republic, from the at times alien mindset to things where it's easy to to see modern parallels such as in the Roman Senate, to the surprisingly cosmopolitan insula (tenement). My main problem in the later books is, like with Renault and Alexander the Great, McCullough obviously hero worships Caesar. It's not just his depiction alone. I have a friend who is a classicist, and her take on Caesar is that "he's awesome." As written by McCullough Caesar is extremely gifted and a charmer. I think my problem is that every other character is put through the Caesar prism. McCullough's Cicero, for instance, is far from admirable. (Although again, my classicist friend would actually agree on that.) But it seems as if everyone opposed to Caesar in this story is a tool or an envious fool. As for Caesar's women, I don't know that I feel they're all that front and central here in a way that justifies the title. Certainly Caesar's mother, Aurelia, is among the most modern in feel, the strongest female character, and the most admirable. Servilia, one of Caesar's mistresses, is abominable, but fun to read. One of those characters you almost love to hate, and when I think of this book, among the scenes I find absolutely the most memorable is her crucifixion of a slave. So, very much still worth the read, but for me Caesar is beginning to wear out his welcome.