Saturday 31 March 2012

March competition

In honour of the very successful visit from Kevin Crossley-Holland we have five copies to give away (in the UK only) of his novel, A Bracelet of Bones.

Just provide an interesting answer to the following question:

Tell us about your favourite Norse deity or story from Norse mythology.

Because of Easter you have till 10th April to leave a comment here.

Good luck!

Friday 30 March 2012

I Just Don't Get ... Julius Caesar by Eleanor Updale

Julius Caesar
Silly old geezer.
Caught his head in a lemon squeezer.

For a long time that was the sum-total of my knowledge of the man. Somewhere along the line I learned a little more: Veni Vidi Vici / The Ides of March / Et tu Brute, etc. In childhood, my mental picture was of a man who lived amongst ruins, shared his bathwater, ate lying down, and dressed in a sheet. He was one of the reasons Latin homework was such a trial: all those translations about soldiers 'making a sally' (whatever that was) from a book called Caesar's Gallic Wars. In those days there were no Horrible Histories or Caroline Lawrence books to bring the Roman world to life. I have no recollection of anyone telling us what 'Gallic' meant (I dare say they did, but I can't have been listening, and probably assumed it was Latin for 'boring'). I certainly showed no initiative about trying to find out more. All I learned from those 'unseens' was that Caesar spent a lot of time crossing rivers and gathering corn. Big deal.

By the time we were reading Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar' in English lessons, it seemed to me utterly understandable that the Bard chose to dispose of JC himself near the beginning of the play. From that day to this, I have heard nothing to raise my level of interest in the man, not even when, three times in three years, I underwent the medical procedure which (mistakenly, I'm told) bears his name. And it seems I am not alone: a quick Internet tour suggests that no one else is particularly excited about him either. His online presence is a mighty virtual yawn.

He's like his salad: A classic, but hardly likely to become the focus of an obsessive craving.

So here I am, asking for directions. It's shameful that I can't even muster the energy to make a case against JC. I know that my lack of interest is founded on ignorance and prejudice. I'm sure that a man who dominated Europe, crushed Republicanism in Rome, and slept with Cleopatra ought to be fascinating. I'm ready to be converted. If there's a Caesar fan out there, please tell me what I have been missing, and point me in the direction of the book or website that will light my fire.

This is one of a series of occasional posts in which a History Girl chooses to write about a character in history that she just "doesn't get."  We expect these views to be challenged by our readers, even other HGs - Caroline?