Caesar in Gaul and Rome

Caesar in Gaul and Rome

Andrew M. Riggsby
Copyright Date: 2006
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/713031
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    Caesar in Gaul and Rome
    Book Description:

    Anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with Latin knows "Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres" ("All Gaul is divided into three parts"), the opening line ofDe Bello Gallico, Julius Caesar's famous commentary on his campaigns against the Gauls in the 50s BC. But what did Caesar intend to accomplish by writing and publishing his commentaries, how did he go about it, and what potentially unforeseen consequences did his writing have? These are the questions that Andrew Riggsby pursues in this fresh interpretation of one of the masterworks of Latin prose.

    Riggsby uses contemporary literary methods to examine the historical impact that the commentaries had on the Roman reading public. In the first part of his study, Riggsby considers how Caesar defined Roman identity and its relationship to non-Roman others. He shows how Caesar opens up a possible vision of the political future in which the distinction between Roman and non-Roman becomes less important because of their joint submission to a Caesar-like leader. In the second part, Riggsby analyzes Caesar's political self-fashioning and the potential effects of his writing and publishing theGallic War. He reveals how Caesar presents himself as a subtly new kind of Roman general who deserves credit not only for his own virtues, but for those of his soldiers as well. Riggsby uses case studies of key topics (spatial representation, ethnography,virtusand technology, genre, and the just war), augmented by more synthetic discussions that bring in evidence from other Roman and Greek texts, to offer a broad picture of the themes of national identity and Caesar's self-presentation.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79579-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. IX-XII)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    This book is a study of what is—in many senses—an already well-known historical event: Julius CaesarʹsDe Bello Gallico, orGallic War.¹ To think of texts as events is certainly in line with various historicist tendencies in the field of Classics in general, but it is also an approach that has come to be seen as particularly appropriate to this work.² For one thing, the direct evidence forDe Bello Gallicois incomparably better than that for the Gallic War fought in the 50ʹs b.c.³ We have the former actually before us (though not its prior composition nor...

  5. 1. Where Was the Gallic War?
    (pp. 21-46)

    In 56 b.c., the orator Cicero gave a speech,On the Consular Provinces, that, among other things, favorably contrasted Caesarʹs conduct of the Gallic War with the work of other provincial governors.¹ In the speech, Cicero took a strong position on how to resolve the proximity of hostile Gauls on Romeʹs northern frontier. His solution to the problem was not to establish a buffer zone, nor even to annihilate the Gauls, but to absorb them. He assumed that if the Gauls were reduced to a position of legal subordination (in nostram dicionem, 32), the problem would be solved. As it...

  6. 2. The ʺOtherʺ and the Other ʺOtherʺ
    (pp. 47-72)

    We have small traces of Roman (or Roman-directed) views of Gauls (in this case, living in northern Italy) from about a century before Caesar: a few fragments from a historical work by Cato the Elder, and half of a section in the narrative history of the Greek Polybius.¹ Though Williams has been able to trace and explain differences in the perspectives (and so versions) of the authors, the surviving elements seem typical of the later tradition.² Because of this overlap with later accounts, and because those later accounts deal with roughly the same territory as Caesar, I concentrate in this...

  7. 3. Technology, Virtue, Victory
    (pp. 73-106)

    De Bello Gallicois above all about war, and this chapter considers the central elements of military success.¹ The Romans start with a marked advantage in the use of siegecraft, which decreases to nearly zero at the end. Yet it may not ultimately matter, because the Romans often use technology just to level the playing field and win in a pitched battle. Success in those battles is typically described as being a matter ofvirtus(conventionally translated ʺvirtue,ʺ ʺcourage,ʺ or ʺmanlinessʺ). In Caesarʹs work, as in Latin more generally, this word has a number of different resonances. While exploiting conventional...

  8. 4. Alien Nation
    (pp. 107-132)

    In examining the general question of ethnic identity inDe Bello Gallico, I concentrate not on the representation of otherness (and its instrumental value for Caesar), but on how Roman identity comes to be defined in the presence of its various others and how that identity is entangled in other political questions. The speech of Critognatus during the siege of Alesia is important to this examination. The character of Critognatus draws a sharp line between Roman and Gaul, whereas Caesarʹs composition and incorporation of the speech complicates the opposition and indeed suggests that there is no fundamental opposition at all....

  9. 5. Formal Questions
    (pp. 133-156)

    The genre ofDe Bello Gallico—called in antiquity thecommentarius—has been the object of considerable scholarly scrutiny, albeit with unsatisfactory results.¹ The foremost problem is that precious few classicalcommentarii(at least explicitly so described) have survived, and only one is roughly contemporaneous withDe Bello Gallico. These are theCommentariolum petitionis(ʺlittlecommentariuson electioneeringʺ), apparently written by Ciceroʹs brother Quintus in 64;² a large fragment of Asconiusʹ commentary on Ciceroʹs speeches dating to perhaps a hundred years after Caesar was writing; and four late first- and second-century a.d. works: Frontinusʹ catalog of military stratagems and his...

  10. 6. Empire and the ʺJust Warʺ
    (pp. 157-190)

    One of the most famous passages in theAeneidis Anchisesʹ speech to Aeneas prophesying the destiny of their descendants. After a long description of notable individuals from Roman history comes a brief prescription in explicitly national terms. Other peoples will sculpt or give speeches or measure the stars, but ʺYou, Roman, remember to govern the peoples under your empire (these will be your arts), and impose the habit of peace, spare the conquered, and beat down the proudʺ (Aen.6.851–853).¹ On the one hand, it goes without saying that the Romans will be defined by war. Anchises assumes...

  11. 7. New and Improved, Sort Of
    (pp. 191-214)

    Although Caesar fought far from Rome, we know that foreign wars can have a dramatic impact on domestic politics, all the more so for the dissemination ofDe Bello Gallicoʺback home.ʺ Previous chapters have made topical suggestions about the political content ofDe Bello Gallico; this chapter continues that inquiry, but also considers the question of how documents like this were used in and were an influence on the broader political scene.

    In an excellent article on battle narratives in Caesarʹscommentarii, J. E. Lendon notes Caesarʹs inclusion of a variety of material that might be considered tangential, such...

  12. Appendix A: Wars against ʺBarbariansʺ
    (pp. 215-216)
  13. Appendix B: Generalsʹ Inscriptions
    (pp. 217-222)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 223-252)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 253-268)
  16. Index
    (pp. 269-272)