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Mary Beard - Julius Caesar and family

Features | By Mary Beard

The Death of Caesar, Jean-Léon Jérôme, 1867

For 2,000 years, Julius Caesar and his family have popped up everywhere – from Renaissance portraits to chocolate coins. By Mary Beard

We are still surrounded by Roman emperors. It is almost two millennia since the ancient city of Rome ceased to be capital of an empire. But even now – in the West, at least – almost everyone recognises the name, and sometimes even the look, of Julius Caesar or Nero. Their faces not only stare at us from museum shelves or gallery walls. They feature in films, advertisements and newspaper cartoons. It takes very little (a laurel wreath, toga, lyre and some background flames) for a satirist to turn a modern politician into a ‘Nero fiddling while Rome burns’, and most of us get the point. ...

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