Ides of March

“Beware of the Ides of March,”  as the soothsayer warned Julius Caesar of his doom planned for the 15th of March.

History, of course, is the agreed-upon myth circulated by the winners of today’s politics. We’ve long been told that Julius Caesar sought to overturn the Roman Republic to claim a kingship of sorts. The historians who have told us that however were the Conservatives of classical Rome and they have been endorsed by the Conservatives of following centuries.

Michael Parenti has offered an alternative to contemporary readers and history buffs. His The Assassination of Julius Caesar published in 2004 recounts a Caesar who was more Bobby Kennedy than Dick Nixon, a leader of the populist party who sought a redistribution of wealth and an inclusion of the People in the government. A marvelous, intriguing reworking of Roman history, Parenti provides a reasonable case for a progressive myth of Rome wherein the reactionary forces conspired to kill the People’s champion.

It prompts us to wonder indeed with the death of Hugo Chavez, the well-paid mainstream media will inevitably harp on the “dictator” image to distort Chavez’s legacy, and they will be followed by the court historians (jesters?) who will erect a foundation on current lies. Thus is history made.

Michael Parenti, The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People’s History of Ancient Rome. New Press, 2004.

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