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Updated on September 13, 2014
Caesar crossing the Rubicon
Caesar crossing the Rubicon | Source

A Momentous Time in History

The last years of the Roman Republic are more relevant to us today than the eventual decline of the Empire.

It was a society that seems strangely familiar to us in the 21st Century, a society powered by ambition and avarice. Of smooth-talking career politicians who easily manipulated the gullible electorate, an expanding, self-corrupting bureaucracy, bribery, an ever increasing chasm between rich and poor, and the mind-boggling wealth that a handful of men reaped from military conquests and the new imperial possessions.

Above all, the concentration of wealth and of military might in the hands of a few powerful families. Familiar, yes. Absolute power was too great to resist.

A Cast of Crazed and Crazy Characters

From Cato to Caesar

The Roman Republic was the most remarkable state in history. What began as a small community of peasants camped among marshes and hills ended up ruling the known world. Rubicon paints a vivid portrait of the Republic at the climax of its greatness - the same greatness which would herald the catastrophe of its fall.

It is a story of incomparable drama. This was the century of Julius Caesar, the gambler whose addiction to glory led him to the banks of the Rubicon, and beyond; of Cicero, whose defence of freedom would make him a byword for eloquence; of Spartacus, the slave who dared to challenge a superpower; of Cleopatra, the queen who did the same

Rubicon spans the climactic last forty years of the Republic, and the rise of Caesar and Octavian are covered in this engrossing, detailed and highly readable narrative history.

You will meet Sulla, Pompey, Cicero, Cato, grasp their importance, and along the way come across crazy characters such as the patrician beauty, Clodia Metteli.

It was an article of faith to the Romans that they were the most morally upright people in the world

Rubicon, the Novel


Holland captures it all. The people, the issues and the politics are all put in context.

It's a delightful commentary on history populated with people we can understand very well. Very well indeed.

Rubicon is a delightful and easy read, truly enjoyable and an excellent, non-academic introduction to the fall of the Roman Republic.

I wish I could have read this book in school instead of struggling through the onerous (and mainly boring) texts provided. With the novel, Rubicon, I would have truly appreciated these, the last days of the Republic.


For Australian Readers

Tom Holland

Tom Holland is an engaging author and popular historian.

His novels, most of which have a strong supernatural element, are set in various periods of history, ranging from ancient Egypt to 1880s London.

His three works of history are highly praised. Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic, won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize.

His second book was on the Graeco-Persian wars,. Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West, won the Anglo-Hellenic League's Runciman Award in 2006.

His third book, Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom, was published to great critical acclaim in 2008.

Mayhem, Magnificence and Murder

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    • JohnMichael2 profile image


      6 years ago

      interesting presentation

    • jmsp206 profile image

      Julia M S Pearce 

      7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Will have to get my hands on a copy of this.Sounds like a most exciting Roman history read.

    • SusannaDuffy profile imageAUTHOR

      Susanna Duffy 

      8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      @LabKittyDesign: Yes, it's a wonderful programme I have both series on disc

    • LabKittyDesign profile image


      8 years ago

      You might find this heresy, but these events in Roman history are gorgeously portrayed in the HBO series. Well worth watching, even to book nerdz like us.


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