Julius Caesar & the Grandeur That Was Rome

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“Julius Caesar & the Grandeur that was Rome,” by Victor Thaddeus, includes four black-and-white paintings by William D. White. The 321-page volume was published in 1927 by Bretano’s, New York.

For your enjoyment, the Forward reads as follows:

Ancient Rome still evokes conceptions of grandeur. The popular imagination still sees the Eternal City as eternal in the cultural sense. Was it not once the center of world-civilization? And its fall one of histories greatest tragedies?

But how great actually was Rome? Have its admirers been too inclined to view it only from the Roman viewpoint? Have they, in their veneration for the stately Roman toga, failed to penetrate very deeply into the hearts and intellects of the men who wore it? Is the word grandeur applied to Rome as misplaced as it would be applied to a huge and gaudy side-show?

We see the hundred-per cent Romans brawling drunkenly in their Forum–hurling execrations at one another in their senate-house–lying on the cushions of their litters caressing with obscene fingers their boy-favorites–gloating sadistically, in their amphitheatres and circuses, over the butchery of unhappy gladiators and starved wild animals. they are fat heavy-jowled men with greedy cruel eyes. To make the picture perfect, all they need is big cigars.

Now Caesar takes the stage. He is lean and bald, and amorous, and subject to fits of epilepsy. Sword in one hand, the incendiary torch of Roman civilization in the other, he strides across Gaul, his thin-lipped mouth twisted into a smile as the eagles of his legions scream false promises to the natives.

And his shadow, the shadow of brute force made more brutal by human cunning, comes streaming down the centuries. But legend has chosen to whitewash this shadow as it has chosen to whitewash the tawdry walls of Rome, so that it is Caesar, the far-seeing statesman, rather than Caesar the bandit-adventurer, who is in the habit of stepping forward immaculate to take curtain calls as one of history’s heroes and supermen.

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