Magazine May 3, 2021, Issue

The Bloody Fate of Julius Caesar’s Killers

Members of Gruppo Storico Romano, a Roman historical society, take part in a reenactment of the ‘Ides of March,’ the date on which Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 B.C., Rome, Italy, March 15, 2013. (Tony Gentile/Reuters)
The Last Assassin: The Hunt for the Killers of Julius Caesar, by Peter Stothard (Oxford University Press, 288 pp., $27.95)

Vengeance, the Italians say, is a dish best served cold. The recipe, surely, was handed down from the Romans, who combined a strong taste for vengeance with the patience to allow it to cool and be served up well below room temperature. The Last Assassin, Peter Stothard’s account of Gaius Octavian Caesar’s rounding up of the men who assassinated Julius Caesar (who in his will adopted Octavian as his son), to the last of whom he dispensed vengeance fully 13 years after the event, is a richly complicated case in point.

The first complication has to do with our not really

This article appears as “A Dish Best Served Cold” in the May 3, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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Joseph Epstein — Mr. Epstein is the author, most recently, of Gallimaufry, a Collection of Essays, Reviews, Bits.

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