Unelucidating

The dramatic trajectory of his life, with its bloody denouement, well suits Goldworthy's vigorous and un-self-conscious style.The result is an authoritative and exciting portrait not only of Caesar but of the complex society in which he lived.The death of his nephew Marcellus (memorably and piteously mourned by Virgil in the ''Aeneid''), and then of his grandsons Gaius and Lucius Caesar, cheated Augustus' forlorn hopes for a successor of his own blood.The exile and disgrace of his daughter and granddaughter, both charged with gross immorality, remain mysterious.His wife, Livia, an indispensable member of the regime, was suspected of scheming -- and much worse -- on behalf of her sons by a previous marriage.We report an intriguing case of signet-ring cell carcinoma of the prostate, ie, a rare histopathologic pattern of prostatic carcinoma.Morgan Freeman and Stellan Skarsgrd wander through the picture as abolitionists, but they never take on any distinct personality or crucial force within the plot.

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In the end, senatorial resentment at Caesar's autocratic power, and his flirtations with the abhorrent trappings of both royalty and divinity, led to his murder at age 55.

Anthony Everitt is at some disadvantage in writing about Augustus, a more shadowy figure whose career followed an unwieldy outline for drama. C., when his connection to Caesar boosted him onto the political scene, he was a deceptively malleable-seeming 18-year-old.

''He is wholly devoted to me,'' Cicero boasted, not long before the youth cut a deal to have him murdered.

''I have long had my fill of power and glory; but should anything happen to me, Rome will enjoy no peace.

C., they imagined that their daggers had saved the obsolete but tenacious oligarchy known as the Republic. ''It is more important for the state than for myself that I should survive,'' he had told friends.

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