Ides of March (novel)


Ides of March (novel)

"Ides of March" is an epistolary novel by Thornton Wilder. It is, in the author's words, 'a fantasia on certain events and persons of the last days of the Roman republic... Historical reconstruction is not among the primary aims of this work'. The novel deals with the characters and events leading to, and culminating in, the assassination of Julius Caesar.

The novel is divided into four books, each of which starts earlier and ends later than the previous book.Catullus' poems and the closing section by Suetonius are the only documents of the book which are not imagined, however many of the events are historical, such as Cleopatra's visit to Rome.

Though the novel describes events leading up to Caesar's assassination on 15th March 44 BC a number of earlier events are described as if they were contemporary. These include the transfer of the violation of the mysteries of the Bona Dea by Publius Clodius and the subsequent divorce of Caesar's second wife Pompeia from December 62 BC to December 45 BC. In addition many of the characters featured in the novel had died by 44 BC, including M. Porcius Cato (in 46 BC), Catullus (in ca 54 BC), Julia Marcia (in 69 BC) and Clodius (in 52 BC).

Major Characters in the Novel

Note that names, relationships, and events are described as they occurred in the novel, and are not necessarily historically accurate.

* Julius Caesar ruler of Rome
* Lucius Mamilius Turrinus, a friend of Caesar's, now living in retirement; various characters write to him but he never replies.
* Clodia Pulcher an extremely angry, intelligent and fascinating woman; the ridicule of Roman society, she lives a life of scandal.
* Publius Clodius Pulcher, her brigand brother; he plays only a minor role.
* Cicero an orator, statesman, political theorist, lawyer and philosopher
* Julia Marcia, Caesar's aunt.
* Pompeia Caesar's second wife.
* Cornelius Nepos a biographer and historian.
* Catullus a poet who was in love with Clodia. The poems of Catullus included in the novel are the actual poems.
* Cleopatra, queen of Egypt and mistress of Caesar.
* Cytheris, an actress of common birth, greatly admired by Caesar; she 'remade' Marc Anthony and was his lover for 15 years.
* Marc Anthony, initially the lover of Cytheris, he meets and falls in love with Cleopatra over the course of the novel.
* Marcus Porcius Cato, renowned Stoic of famous integrity, leader of opposition to Caesar's dictatorship
* Servilia, former mistress of Caesar, half-sister to Cato, mother of Brutus
* Brutus, the most famous of Julius Caesar's assassins, nephew of Cato
* Porcia, wife of Brutus, daughter to Cato
* Calpurnia, third wife of Caesar.
* Suetonius was a prominent Roman historian and biographer; his (historical) account of the assassination closes the novel.


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