Caught on the cusp of epochal change, Caesar is deeply implicated in it. Caesar’s story has possessed lasting appeal because his image has not been fixed. Whether as founder or destroyer, Caesar’s life has become a point of reference from which to explore concerns about revolution, dictatorship, liberty, and tyranny. Used as a model or anti-model for statecraft, Caesar has been invoked to explore issues about personal feelings, such as ambition. The paper will examine how Plutarch and Montaigne treated Caesar, concentrating on his ambition. The comparison between how they treated this theme will be examined against the light of their respective ages. The extent to which their age influenced their account will then be analysed. Finally, these strands will be tied together in the issue of interpretation in historiography. The paper will attempt to explore how objective historiography is and, whether the objective conditions of a given time influences an historian to a degree which cannot be minimised.

Though Caesar is one man who existed at a certain time, he has become infused with a range of different meanings. This can only be due to the influence of the particular time which histories of him were written. Plutarch, it will be argued, presented his history of Caesar as a tragedy; he wrote it so that it intentionally appeared to rely on timeless themes. Though this is a comment on his age; he believed that history had reached its end. This is compared to Montaigne who distrusted Caesar due to his ambition; this reaction was partly conditioned by the discord of his age, and partly by his development of the humanist movement. Underlying this paper is the issue of interpretation in historiography. It is put that all historiography is subjective and the present influences history in a way that cannot be minimised. Indeed modern obsession with objective historiography is itself a comment on our age and does not mean that it is not subjective.

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