Chapter Thirty. A Twenty-First-Century Caesar

  1. Miriam Griffin Emeritus Fellow
  1. Maria Wyke Chair gender

Published Online: 5 MAY 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444308440.ch30

A Companion to Julius Caesar

A Companion to Julius Caesar

How to Cite

Wyke, M. (2009) A Twenty-First-Century Caesar, in A Companion to Julius Caesar (ed M. Griffin), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444308440.ch30

Editor Information

  1. Somerville College, Oxford, UK

Author Information

  1. University College London, UK

  1. This chapter was first published as the Afterword in M. Wyke (ed.), Julius Caesar in Western Culture (Malden, MA, Oxford, and Carlton, Victoria: Blackwell, 2006). It is reprinted here with a few minor changes.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 MAY 2009
  2. Published Print: 10 APR 2009

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405149235

Online ISBN: 9781444308440



  • twenty-first-century Caesar;
  • classicists - questioning the validity of comparing United States with ancient Rome and its president with Julius Caesar;
  • after the invasion of Iraq – carrying the slogan “Is the President of the United States of America the Caesar of the twenty-first century?”;
  • classical historians may well flinch at such attempts to make past events speak directly to the present - to make Rome and Caesar the prism through which to perceive contemporary global politics;
  • parallel has touched on exercise of presidential authority, and been pressed to shape the Bush administration as a form of Caesarian government;
  • The Coming Caesars - claims that the United States of America is becoming an empire and its president a Caesar have long been intertwined;
  • in praise of imperialism - the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 - turning point for the United States with regard to its stature in the world;
  • twenty-first-century Caesar - or by a return to the earlier twentieth-century critiques of American empire as leading to Caesarism and to apocalypse;
  • “analogico-historical method” Caesarian analogy generates, legitimates, and renders more plausible - especially vivid representation of American politics;
  • as foil for western traditions of republicanism - Julius Caesar symbolizes the moment of greatest danger to the Roman Republic


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • The Coming Caesars

  • In Praise of Imperialism

  • Twenty-First-Century Caesar

  • Across the Rubicon

  • Further Reading