Fiction yet not, fact but fun, and fantasy, all in one, the absorbing “Ides of March” by Thornton Wilder is the book by Mat Drogemuller’s bed.


Ides of March

Thornton Wilder


Every story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, and unless you’re Quentin Tarantino, those elements should appear in that order.

Ides Of March, however, has four beginnings, four middles and four ends, and it starts in the middle.

So called because it (sporadically) covers the period leading up to Caesar’s assassination in March of 44BC, Wilder’s imaginative recreation of history is nowhere near as confusing as it sounds.

The first book covers the September of 45BC the year before the assassination, and introduces the main characters, including the Statesman himself; his simple wife Pompeia; the scandalous Clodia Pulcher; and her lover, the famous poet Catullus, whose historic poems are included in snatches throughout.

The second book covers a wider scope of time and imagines a Caesar pondering the mysteries of love. He reflects on his awe of Cleopatra, and critically analyses the Pulcher-Catullus dynamic. The third book is wider again and deals with religion and includes Caesar’s musings on his own atheism, and the fourth book catalogues the surmounting conspiracy. Caesar’s lucid thoughts are shown directly through his letters to a wise, invented confidant named Turrinus.

Some might complain that certain events have been shuffled, a few characters invented, and some facts skewed, and for that reason this novel should be denied the label “historical fiction.”

Still, the characters on the pages of the Ides of March can’t escape their reputations. You can’t read Caesar’s gushing letters to Cleopatra without wondering if they really did, you know, all those years ago. You can’t read Cicero’s verbose epistles without appreciating his wit and eloquence. And you can’t help but apprehend the oncoming blow, as the months unfold.

In Ides Of March Thornton Wilder created a book with vivid characters and a diverse but succinct plot to showcase their interactions.

Amusing, absorbing and wonderfully constructed, Ides of March is fiction yet not, fact but fun, and fantasy, all in one.

It’s unlike any book you’ve read before.


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