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Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War (LibriVox Audiobook)

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This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most impor This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work. This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work. As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.

30 review for Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War (LibriVox Audiobook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    This is what I was brought to by a childhood of reading Asterix. Unlike Asterix the injuries aren't restricted to black eyes and broken bones, nor is there a big feast at the end. The warfare is savage, and at the end Caesar tumbles into The Civil War that ends the Roman republic. The fighting is savage on both sides. One of the Gaulish leaders, Vercingetorix, has the ears cut off or an eye gouged out of his own soldiers "even for a minor fault" (p157), Roman civilians are massacred on occasion wh This is what I was brought to by a childhood of reading Asterix. Unlike Asterix the injuries aren't restricted to black eyes and broken bones, nor is there a big feast at the end. The warfare is savage, and at the end Caesar tumbles into The Civil War that ends the Roman republic. The fighting is savage on both sides. One of the Gaulish leaders, Vercingetorix, has the ears cut off or an eye gouged out of his own soldiers "even for a minor fault" (p157), Roman civilians are massacred on occasion while Caesar in his own account records the extermination of substantial proportions of entire peoples, sells the populations of captured towns in to slavery and in a moment of mercy has a hand of every man captured in one of his last campaigns chopped off to serve as a visual aid to clarify the folly of resisting Rome to the unenlightened. Though of course he could have been exaggerating to impress the people back home. Part of the reason for the savagery is logistics. Tens of thousands of men roaming round Gaul needed food and fodder. It seems that an ad hoc supply network was created (p.174 and p.183) to meet Roman needs but in addition the soldiers regularly gathered in crops whenever they could and occasionally cattle. Vercingetorix, who led the big campaign against Caesar that involved most of the peoples of Gaul, is reported as realising this and advised that they should carry out a scorched earth defence, abandoning all towns that couldn't be defended against the Romans as well as starting fighting in winter. What is striking about the Romans is their sheer bloodymindedness. In the face of overwhelming opposition they fight on. Soldiers ford the Thames and the Loire with water to their shoulders expecting to have to fight on the far bank (view spoiler)[ the Thames in the past was far wider and shallower than it is today (hide spoiler)] . They dig massive siege works - a ten mile ditch and rampart round Alesia and a fourteen mile ditch and rampart round that to defend themselves against any relieving force (view spoiler)[ this was apparently confirmed by excavations carried out in the reign of Napoleon III, although there has been some controversy if it was the right site or just another Gallic town surrounded by massive Roman siege works - this is also referred in Asterix (hide spoiler)] . Build bridges over the Rhine. Construct and repair ships. In short, join the army, it'll make a master builder of you. Suetonius, admittedly writing The Twelve Caesars a good hundred and fifty years after the events wrote that Caesar lost no opportunity of picking quarrels - however flimsy the pretext - with allies as well as hostile and barbarous tribes, and marching against them; the danger of this policy never occurred to him. Understandably, Caesar's own account makes it all sound a little more reasonable than that, there is a fair attempt made to make it sound like an accidental bit of empire building. You know how it is, one day you are just marching against the Helvetii, the next thing you know ten years have passed and you seem to have inadvertently conquered all of Gaul, invaded Britain and Germany twice and written a set of memoirs putting the best light on your activities and lucky escapes from disaster. From early on Gallic leaders seems suspicious of the extent of Caesar's ambitions, Ariovistus' (a warlord from beyond the Rhine) defence (pp.52-3) of his own role in northern Gaul seems to mirror Caesar's activities: I'm not the aggressor, I was called in by the locals to defend them, this big army I've got with me is purely for my own protection and not to threaten anyone...Gaul, however, was not big enough for the two of them. Caesar starts out with little campaigns but is drawn in his own words further away from the Roman Province in southern France into greater offensive measures which provoke bigger resistance down to the massive effort of Vercingetorix and his confederates culminating with the defeat of said champion at the town of Alesia. There, besieged by the Romans he runs out of food, expels the town's population who are then trapped between Vercingetorix's and Caesar's lines with nothing to eat, only to see the relieving army defeated. After this there was another year or so of smaller scale campaigns before all Gaul was conquered. And everybody not dead presumably traumatised and in shock. We get a picture of Gaul on the eve of conquest. A marked division between rich and poor. Larger states with annually elected officials and leaders in the south. Politics governed by clashes within and between important families for political power. It all sounds rather like the Rome of Caesar's own time but with a Gallic flavour. There are some ethnographic snippets, a couple of pages on the Druids (possibly the most surviving about them that was written in antiquity), the use of hedges in warfare among the Belgians, that the Germans live off meat and milk (despite which when the Romans cross the Rhine they set about gathering in the crops that the Germans grow), that the ancient Britons paint themselves blue shave their bodies apart from their upper lip (perhaps this is why there was no British equivalent of Cleopatra) and had marriages between many men and one woman. Since Caesar presumably was too busy conquering to spend time skulking about the huts of natives observing their marital customs I have to wonder if his leg was being pulled here by his informants as it was about the elk, which he tells us is a beast with no knees that can only sleep by leaning against trees and is completely helpless should it fall over. There's some interesting body language - while the Romans are trying to capture Gergovia the townswomen bare their breasts when appealing to the Romans for mercy but appear with loosened hair when encouraging their menfolk to fight more fiercely. Presumably they would have lost heart completely and instantly surrendered if their wives had their hair in buns or pinned up in elaborate hairstyles. Something which comes to mind is that there are two contrasting narratives going on - one is familiar, the Britons and the Germans are 'other' they have weird clothes and habits, they are not like us, they are frightening enemies therefore Caesar's 'success' in over-coming them is all the greater, however in Gaul the narrative is different - they are like us, (well like the Romans) and not 'other' they have elected consuls, they have military discipline, they have engineering skills, in short Caesar portrays them as Romanised, however the two narratives converge - both groups are subject to Roman rule and can be subdued by Roman military and political talent. Rome recognises no limits to its rule, neither the Rhine nor the Ocean shall hold the Roman back.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “In the end, it is impossible not to become what others believe you are.” ― Julius Caesar I kept jumping back and forth between my Loeb Classics version of The Gallic War and my Penguin Classics version of The Conquest of Gaul. Reading Caesar makes me want to go back and learn Latin (the Loeb Classics keep seductively singing to me of the benefits of a Latin education). Anyway, I only meant to start the The Conquest of Gaul today, but the compelling narrative of Caesar's Gallic War (the record of “In the end, it is impossible not to become what others believe you are.” ― Julius Caesar I kept jumping back and forth between my Loeb Classics version of The Gallic War and my Penguin Classics version of The Conquest of Gaul. Reading Caesar makes me want to go back and learn Latin (the Loeb Classics keep seductively singing to me of the benefits of a Latin education). Anyway, I only meant to start the The Conquest of Gaul today, but the compelling narrative of Caesar's Gallic War (the record of his battles against Vercingetorix and the other chieftains) was just too damn compelling. It is hard to underestimate the importance of JC (no not THAT JC) in terms of military strategy, political acumen, propagandistic spin, and his shrewd combination of prudent warfare and bold action. There are certain men who get caught up in history and certain men who make history and Caesar, even without his spin, sits pretty near the top of the heap with those other Übermensch who make history.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Caroline-not-getting-updates

    Addition: The library just purchased the newly published Landmark edition, so I requested it to verify that it is as outstanding as the other volumes in the Landmark series. Definitely yes. In short, do not accept any substitutes. This volume includes Caesar’s Gallic War and Civil War, as well as all or parts of three relevant works by unknown authors: the Alexandrian War, the African War, and the Spanish War. Also an excellent and substantial introduction that provides: a solid biography, the h Addition: The library just purchased the newly published Landmark edition, so I requested it to verify that it is as outstanding as the other volumes in the Landmark series. Definitely yes. In short, do not accept any substitutes. This volume includes Caesar’s Gallic War and Civil War, as well as all or parts of three relevant works by unknown authors: the Alexandrian War, the African War, and the Spanish War. Also an excellent and substantial introduction that provides: a solid biography, the historical and political context of each work, a critical analysis of its literary purpose and value, and an assessment of reliability. In addition there are the Landmark signature features: a massive number of notes (often half or more of a page), a one line summary of the content of every book and chapter up front, running marginal and page top guides, maps, illustrations, a 25 page biographical Who’s Who in Caesar, a section of thumbnail biographies of ancient authors, a glossary, an 80 page index, a gazetteer for the maps, and two brief appendices on Roman calendars/dates/time and on the military. I plan on saving up for this because I listened originally. Still, I think listening is also a good way to approach the work because it gives you a sense of the literary accomplishment and of the energy and propulsion the man had. Listening is as if a cultured veteran officer, back from the wars, were telling you how it went. Original review: A classic for many reasons. Caesar is, first of all, a masterful writer. As so many other reviewers have said, the pace is cracking. He offers an adept mix of strategy and tactics discussions, actual battle scenes, politics within his own command, and both military and ethnographic descriptions of the Gauls. His timing in switching from one to the other is perfect. Caesar is unbelievably visual in the battle scenes. Just the words paint an easily understood picture of the terrain and the distribution of the troops. But the part I found most interesting in both this book and The Civil War is the multi-tasking, range of skills, and sheer physical work required of the Roman soldier. One knows they had to march double time with heavy packs (no high-tech materials back then) and then wield very heavy weapons in battle. But they also spent countless days--months sometimes-- building fortifications and siege machines out of massive beams. They constructed hundreds of ships--twice--to attack Britain. They would march all day then build miles of earthen barriers with simple tools before they went to bed, or come up with something to block the enemy’s options. I’m sure there were craftsmen who traveled as part of the army to do at least some of this work, but it seems as if the soldiers were kept busy at all times. Which brings us to the quantities of soldiers on both sides. I do find the numbers unbelievable. Can it be possible that both sides regularly mustered armies in the hundreds of thousands? Probably much of this is Caesar’s grandstanding. The peasants, of course, had to supply the provisions, sometimes paid and often not. The role that provisions and water play in strategy and battle plans is omnipresent. Also, the different mobility of different parts of the army: cavalry, infantry, supplies. This looks to be one of those books that requires me to read another book to understand more about it; in this case, a history of the Roman military. This is also an excellent read on leadership. Granted this is Caesar’s version of things, written for a very specific political purpose. But even allowing for a great deal of fiction, the rhetoric of the speeches is very effective and great reading. Suggestion: you need a good historical atlas and a glossary of military terms if you are going to listen to this, or if your hard copy doesn’t have good resources. With regard to the brutality and the massive scale of destruction that apparently leads other reviewers to downgrade the rating for this book. The rating is for the writing, not the person. Over the past few years I’ve read Herodotus, histories ofAlexander the Great, Ghengis Khan, central Asia, and the Byzantine Empire, and novels about the Spanish inquisition, World War I, World War II, and the Spanish Civil War. Next up: The Thirty Years War. Men are frequently mass murderers. They probably always will be. Yes, Caesar ordered his soldiers to kill hundreds of thousands of people. At least tens of thousands of his soldiers were killed. But if he hadn’t someone else would have. We just don’t read very many memoirs of people who admit it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Aurelia

    Between 58 and 50 BCE, Julius Caesar, then proconsul of Cisalpine Gaulle, the roman province situated in modern North of Italy, led a long military campaign in Gaulle, known to us today as modern France, Switzerland, Belgium and reached Germania, the territory beyond the Rhine River. Furthermore, he invaded Britain on two separate occasions. This is his account of those events which was dispatched to Rome, a sort of political propaganda to justify his motives to have gone this far. Those motives Between 58 and 50 BCE, Julius Caesar, then proconsul of Cisalpine Gaulle, the roman province situated in modern North of Italy, led a long military campaign in Gaulle, known to us today as modern France, Switzerland, Belgium and reached Germania, the territory beyond the Rhine River. Furthermore, he invaded Britain on two separate occasions. This is his account of those events which was dispatched to Rome, a sort of political propaganda to justify his motives to have gone this far. Those motives are a combination of defending Roman frontiers, subjugating barbarian peoples to Roman hegemony, amassing wealth by plunder and finally personal political ambition and military prestige. The text offers a precious description of the peoples on those parts of the world at that time. Although they all lived in tribes, they had different political constitutions, costumes and religions. The development of agriculture and commerce varied from quit advanced in Gaulle, because of exchange with the neighboring Roman provinces; to nonexistent such as it is the case with the Germans. One thing they all shared was their warlike nature. By the first century BCE they already had a long history of hostility with the Romans. Even among each other, Peace seeking was not their greatest virtue. The presence and growing influence of Rome further complicated the matter, as many Gallic tribes were already in alliance with Rome and counted on its help to advance their power over fellow tribes. Although considered as barbarians by the Romans, they had a developed conscience of national unity and a sense of liberty from any foreign subjugation. They put up a fierce resistance with massive rebellions. Julius Caesar had all this political game to play with the tribal chieftains, an endless my enemy’s enemy is my friend, and with what tribe should I ally myself to advance my agenda. On many occasions, even exchanging hostages and having Roman forces garrisoned in their territories was not enough to deter them from plotting an uprising. Another very fascinating part of this text is the details on one of the most efficient and advanced war machines that ever existed: the Roman Army. In this situation, the Romans are usually outnumbered, fighting in dense forests which were very alien to them, facing ambushes by the natives and constantly preoccupied with logistical challenges of supplies without which they will be starved to death. But they had the advantage of ingenuity and hard work to their side. They had far more advanced technology and experience in siege craft like towers and terraces, trenches several miles long, not mentioning bridge construction twice to cross the Rhine, and Shipbuilding twice to cross the Channel. Discipline is also important, movements were organized, decision making was brilliant, and orders were carefully executed. A great sense of cohesion unites the army; Caesar seems to be very attentive to the state of his troops, and stops here and there to praise their bravery and sense of duty, not only officers or military tribunes, but even centurions and ordinary soldiers. The Gallic wars are written in a very simple language, but unexpected gems keep coming out of them. Contrary to this image we hold of Caesar being in total control of the situation, he takes his time to talk about how luck is crucial in warfare. And when we think of Romans soldiers being these fearless people who willingly choose a life of extreme violence, he suddenly starts to describe how they may get panic stricken and superstitious, easily driven by hopes of victory and demoralized by the most trivial setback. It makes Caesar and his army more human to us.

  5. 5 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    Nothing better represents Caesar's understanding of how to play upon the hopes and joys of man than the fact that he was able to turn a few hundred pages of troop movements into a thoughtful, engrossing narrative. We read not only Caesar's thoughts and intentions in the work, but also gain an invaluable view of Roman politics. In his own words, Caesar sets the scene for the events which soon overtook the empire and captured the imagination of western literature for thousands of years to come. If Nothing better represents Caesar's understanding of how to play upon the hopes and joys of man than the fact that he was able to turn a few hundred pages of troop movements into a thoughtful, engrossing narrative. We read not only Caesar's thoughts and intentions in the work, but also gain an invaluable view of Roman politics. In his own words, Caesar sets the scene for the events which soon overtook the empire and captured the imagination of western literature for thousands of years to come. If the secret to enjoying Tolkien is skipping all the poetry and troop movements, I never thought this reflected poorly on poetry as an art, but I must admit I never realized that there was an art to the military memoir to reflect poorly on. I shall have to do my best to remedy this, though whether there are accounts which equal Caesar's in elegance and focus, I remain in doubt.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Meike

    Nope, the title doesn't mean "beautiful Gaul", you barbari! :-) For all the nerds out there who are into Latin, classical rhetoric, language as a political tool and European history, Caeasar's account of the Gallic war is of course crack. Consisting of eight books (the last one written by Aulus Hirtius, Caesar's secretary), we get the Roman Emperor's viewpoint and interpretation, presented in pristine, crystal-clear sentences - this text doesn't bother with atmosphere and veils its opinions in a Nope, the title doesn't mean "beautiful Gaul", you barbari! :-) For all the nerds out there who are into Latin, classical rhetoric, language as a political tool and European history, Caeasar's account of the Gallic war is of course crack. Consisting of eight books (the last one written by Aulus Hirtius, Caesar's secretary), we get the Roman Emperor's viewpoint and interpretation, presented in pristine, crystal-clear sentences - this text doesn't bother with atmosphere and veils its opinions in an objective tone, an impression that is heightened by the use of the third person throughout the account. Caesar is not a historian, he's a politician who uses the annalis and commentarii form to convey his convictions. And there's one more application for this text: It de facto divides people nolens volens into two groups depending on their reaction to this corpus delicti: „Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Belgae, aliam Aquitani, tertiam, qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli appellantur.“ If your reaction is simply "???", it means you missed out because you didn't learn Latin - every student of the language knows those lines. But errare human est, so you should now carpe each diem and ora et labora - learn Latin, prudentia potentia est! :-)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    In his excellent intro to his translation of this text, Handford gives the reader a good glimpse of just how exceptional a person Julius Caesar was. Incomparable field general, adept politician, accomplished statesman, a very real care for the advancement of Roman civilization / improvements for its citizens - AND the dude can write? "No other great general of antiquity has left us his own accounts of his campaigns," Handford writes, "and it is doubtful if any other great general, of any age or In his excellent intro to his translation of this text, Handford gives the reader a good glimpse of just how exceptional a person Julius Caesar was. Incomparable field general, adept politician, accomplished statesman, a very real care for the advancement of Roman civilization / improvements for its citizens - AND the dude can write? "No other great general of antiquity has left us his own accounts of his campaigns," Handford writes, "and it is doubtful if any other great general, of any age or country, has possessed Caesar's literary talent." History is certainly written by the victors, but at least Julius knows how to keep the reader engaged. Military histories aren't for everyone, but if you have even a passing interest in the how (and why) Caesar subdued the middle of the continent, this is worth a read. Although it doesn't take a lot of imagination to see where Caesar is weaving Roman propoganda 2000+ years in the future it doesn't ache to read as it might perusing the current day headlines of a more relatable empire. Nothing new under the sun. Vollmann refers many times to this and "The Civil Wars" in his RUaRD opus - reading this provided me some helpful bedrock for continuing my education through those books.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Julius Caesar, the Roman geezer, lays omnis Gallia waste with his customary clemency, celerity, and efficiency. The Gallic War is a startling read, no less for its cracking pace and clear style, than for its shameless brutality and its unblushing depiction of greed and violence on an international scale: entire governments executed, civilian populations enslaved en masse, mass mutilations. You get the feeling sometimes that that you're reading the diaries Hitler would have written, if he had won Julius Caesar, the Roman geezer, lays omnis Gallia waste with his customary clemency, celerity, and efficiency. The Gallic War is a startling read, no less for its cracking pace and clear style, than for its shameless brutality and its unblushing depiction of greed and violence on an international scale: entire governments executed, civilian populations enslaved en masse, mass mutilations. You get the feeling sometimes that that you're reading the diaries Hitler would have written, if he had won the war. I started reading this account of his conquests some 25 years ago, when I was an undergrad studying Latin. At that time, Caesar was simply a beginner's intro to Latin prose. After reading the first book or so, students were shuffled into more complex and presumably more rewarding books and authors. So De Bello Gallico sat on the bookshelf for a quarter century until the other day, I blew off the cobwebs, wiped away the mold, and cracked it open. I was astonished to discover I could still read Latin, and even more astounded to find that I actually enjoyed the history, in a "fascination with the abomination" sort of way. Next to Cicero, Caesar was considered by his contemporaries to be the greatest stylist and most effective orator. He certainly has the skill to cast his side of the story in the best light. His narrative of his personal conquest of Gaul is riveting reading, well illustrated with accounts of skirmishes, sieges, ambushes, political intrigues, and brief character sketches. There were times when I even felt bad for the invading Romans who had managed to do what the Gauls themselves had never accomplished on their own: unite some two dozen warring tribes into a combined and coordinated army. De Bello Gallico is a fascinating read, as much for its compelling story as for the insights it offers into the thoughts and methods of a dictator.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Sublimely lucid and rich in detail without going off on tangents.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Szplug

    Not only was Caesar a master self-promoter and consummate politician, but he could wield the pen with a stylistic flourish: The Gallic Wars hums along in double time, marching the reader through the entire lengthy invasion and pacification campaign of non-Narbonensis Gaul. Really, Caesar offers it all—a foretaste of the Caesarian Cycle in the story of the migratory horde of the Helvetii and their fiercely contested clash with the Roman will, resulting in a thorough Julian chastisement; then a pe Not only was Caesar a master self-promoter and consummate politician, but he could wield the pen with a stylistic flourish: The Gallic Wars hums along in double time, marching the reader through the entire lengthy invasion and pacification campaign of non-Narbonensis Gaul. Really, Caesar offers it all—a foretaste of the Caesarian Cycle in the story of the migratory horde of the Helvetii and their fiercely contested clash with the Roman will, resulting in a thorough Julian chastisement; then a perfect antagonist in the Teutonic, forest-limned arrogance of the Suebi chieftain Ariovistus and his sanguinary Germanic warriors ; the can't-be-improved-upon anecdote of Caesar's masterful pre-battle speech lauding the mighty Tenth Legion; and then rip-roaring carnage and slaughter, with the inevitable (save once only) climax of Caesar emerging victorious over a humbled, devastated enemy. As the ambitious Roman proconsul mows down the Gallic opposition—subduing the ferocious and bellicose Belgae, invading Britain, quashing seasonal rebellions and uprisings, sampling Gallic feminine (and masculine?) charms—the Romanization of the long-haired Celts proceeds. The Gallic subjugation reaches its apogee in the tense, fascinating details of the mass rebellion of the Gauls under the leadership of Vercingetorix and the infamous double-ringed siege of Alesia. The Gauls—fortified inside the aforementioned stronghold and aided by a huge relief force from the hinterlands—came this close to giving Caesar a spanking; alas, for the Big Hair Gauls it wasn't to be. To the accompaniment of mournful power ballads, the mighty Roman general crushed his opponents, packaged Vercingetorix off to Rome in chains, and departed anon, leaving the remaining mopping up to various loyal military tribunes. Now, did Caesar polish his image in this third-person conceit of historic revisionism? Of course he did—it still doesn't take away from his masterful ability to describe such a wide ranging undertaking in succinct and entertaining prose. Of particular interest to me were the sparse details of his lieutenant, the enigmatic-but-talented Titus Labienus, who faithfully served as the proconsul's right-hand man throughout the Gallic campaigns—overseeing winter quarters and conducting several punitive expeditions against tribal revolts—only to flee (and eventually lose both battles and his life) to the camp of Pompey the Great in the upcoming Civil War. Under Caesar, he could do no wrong; when set against him, everything fell apart and Labienus' undoubted skill and ability diminished itself right up until he perished in Spain. The bottom line is that ancient history written from the perspective (however self-serving) of one who was there just doesn't get any better than this.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Smiley

    I think this book is worth reading and pondering since it's written by one of the famous Roman generals and statesmen in Latin. Long time ago I first read his decisive quote, "I came, I saw, I conquered!" [Veni, vidi, vici!] somewhere with awe and wondered who said this and why. We can still read about him in innumerable biographies nowadays even though he lived 2,000 years ago. From this book, I think Julius Caesar was a leader of genius due to his wit, character and leadership. Some excerpts: N I think this book is worth reading and pondering since it's written by one of the famous Roman generals and statesmen in Latin. Long time ago I first read his decisive quote, "I came, I saw, I conquered!" [Veni, vidi, vici!] somewhere with awe and wondered who said this and why. We can still read about him in innumerable biographies nowadays even though he lived 2,000 years ago. From this book, I think Julius Caesar was a leader of genius due to his wit, character and leadership. Some excerpts: Nevertheless, Caesar made active preparations for an expedition to Britain, because he knew that in almost all the Gallic campaigns the Gauls had received reinforcements from the Britons. Even if there was not time for a campaign that season, he thought it would be of great advantage to him merely to visit the island, to see what its inhabitants were like, and to make himself acquainted with the lie of the land, the harbours, and the landing-places. (p. 119) He saw with astonishment the towers, sappers' huts, and earthworks constructed by the Gauls, and, when Cicero's legion was paraded, found that not one man in ten remained unwounded. He was thus able to realize how grave the peril had been, and with what resolution had been conducted. He gave Cicero the high praise he deserved, congratulated the whole legion, and spoke individually to the centurions and military tribunes who were mentioned by Cicero as having specially distinguished themselves. (p. 157) 'Much as I admire the heroism that you showed,' he went on, 'in refusing to be daunted by a fortified camp, a high mountain, and a walled fortress, I cannot too strongly condemn your bad discipline and your presumption in thinking that you know better than your commander-in-chief how to win a victory or to foresee the results of an action. I want obedience and self-restraint from my soldiers, just as much as courage in the face of danger.' (p. 210) I'm quite sure there are still some new "The Conquest of Gaul" translations published for interested readers to read but this one finely translated by S. A. Handford is understandable because of his "idiomatic translation allows modern readers to grasp the full sense of Caesar's exciting account." (back cover) Therefore, I think this is enough for those who can't read Latin. In a word, we can learn from him more when we read 'his account' rather than his biographies.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Evan Leach

    The Conquest of Gaul is Julius Caesar’s firsthand account of the Gallic Wars, fought between 58 and 50 b.c. Part history and part political propaganda, the book follows Caesar and his legions as they fight their merry way through Belgium, France, Switzerland, and even England. Incidentally, this book used to be much more famous back in the day when everybody had to learn Latin: apparently, Caesar’s no nonsense writing is ideal for learning the language. It is less well known now, and frankly tha The Conquest of Gaul is Julius Caesar’s firsthand account of the Gallic Wars, fought between 58 and 50 b.c. Part history and part political propaganda, the book follows Caesar and his legions as they fight their merry way through Belgium, France, Switzerland, and even England. Incidentally, this book used to be much more famous back in the day when everybody had to learn Latin: apparently, Caesar’s no nonsense writing is ideal for learning the language. It is less well known now, and frankly that’s OK. This book is really a “classic” in the sense that (1) it is very old, and (2) it was written by somebody very famous. Virgil or Ovid this is not. It also doesn’t feature the most sympathetic protagonist in the whole world. I once read an analogy comparing ancient Rome to a gang of muggers that would beat you up, take all your money, and then invite you to join the gang. This was kind of what it was like to (forcibly) join the republic/empire. Despite the fact that the narrative is from Caesar’s point of view, at some point one starts to feel kind of sorry for the Gauls. No doubt some of these tribes had been harassing the Roman border and were “asking for it.” But certainly not all of them (nobody from England was paddling down to Italy for a bit of pillaging in 50 b.c.). It is pretty easy to understand why these tribes would resist the Romans and the “advantages” of empire when ol’ Julius was busy rampaging through Europe sacking their cities and taking all their goods. By the end I was rooting for poor Vercingetorix even though I knew his cause was doomed. That said, I did like the book for three reasons. First, I am a bit of a history buff and I enjoyed reading a firsthand account of the roman legions in action (you are going to be reading a lot about legions in this book, as the title would suggest). Particularly interesting are the two invasions of Britain, the first of which was a complete disaster. Second, while the writing isn’t dazzling or anything, it is clear, brisk, and very pleasant to read. Finally, it is pretty cool to read something written by Mr. Julius Caesar himself. All in all I enjoyed the book. For somebody looking to tackle the roman classics, this is probably one that can be skipped. However, readers interested in roman history (particularly military history) will likely enjoy this book. 3 stars.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    Classic historical document, but with also some literary value. Enervating is of course the way in which Caesar emphasizes his own benefits, "objectifying" them. I remember reading them in Latin, in college: they still appeal, though. (rating 2.5 stars) Classic historical document, but with also some literary value. Enervating is of course the way in which Caesar emphasizes his own benefits, "objectifying" them. I remember reading them in Latin, in college: they still appeal, though. (rating 2.5 stars)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Erlalons

    don't fuck with Cesar 🥶🥶🥶 don't fuck with Cesar 🥶🥶🥶

  15. 5 out of 5

    A.J. Campbell

    There's nothing like a semi-truthful book by one of history's greatest sleaze-bags, old Julius himself. No doubt he dictated this to his secretary (Strabo?) while on campaign, the style of war that amassed 340,000 dead Germans in one afternoon. Not bad going. If he had a week at his leisure, he could have wiped out the entire race. Then where would we be? No schnaaps! No English language! (quiz: which is more important?) This is a fun read. You can count the dead as you go along; and the methods There's nothing like a semi-truthful book by one of history's greatest sleaze-bags, old Julius himself. No doubt he dictated this to his secretary (Strabo?) while on campaign, the style of war that amassed 340,000 dead Germans in one afternoon. Not bad going. If he had a week at his leisure, he could have wiped out the entire race. Then where would we be? No schnaaps! No English language! (quiz: which is more important?) This is a fun read. You can count the dead as you go along; and the methods are entertaining-- beheadings in Armorica, hand-choppings at Uxellodunum... just a little blood here, and over there, as Juli-baby traips across Gaul in front of his stalwart men. Of course, Julius ended up in Hell for it, but even there he entertains us. I relegated him to Hell's Third Level in The Demon's Door Bolt, a novel that also features Attila the Hun as Second Level Praefect. This archaic volume gets four stars for gratuitous blood and well-written propaganda. Oh! And it's more or less "real history" in the Roman view; and let's face it, most Greek and Roman histories died of unnatural causes... like burning to ash in the Great Alexandria Library, torched by Caesar's ambitions.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    Not sure whether I should classify this as nonfiction. A well-written piece of propaganda I read for my AP Latin class - Caesar sure knows how to entertain with his descriptions of battle and debauchery. And by debauchery, I mean bloodshed and weird ritual sacrifices. Fans of Roman and military history will eat this up.

  17. 5 out of 5

    sologdin

    magnanimous caesar liberates gallia from evil gauls.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Linton

    Offers great insight into the Roman republic through Caesar's conquests. While the prose was straightforward, it was a little dull. Offers great insight into the Roman republic through Caesar's conquests. While the prose was straightforward, it was a little dull.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Al

    This is a complete Latin edition of Commentarii de Bello Gallico, with no English translation. It contains all seven books, and the eighth book written by Aulus Hirtius, possibly to link the narrative to the De Bello Civilis. Much has been written on why Caesar composed this work. The word “commentarius” gives a reason, as it indicates a type of writing which is between raw data, such as reports, notes or letters and a more artistic type of composition, such as a history. In some of the secondary This is a complete Latin edition of Commentarii de Bello Gallico, with no English translation. It contains all seven books, and the eighth book written by Aulus Hirtius, possibly to link the narrative to the De Bello Civilis. Much has been written on why Caesar composed this work. The word “commentarius” gives a reason, as it indicates a type of writing which is between raw data, such as reports, notes or letters and a more artistic type of composition, such as a history. In some of the secondary analyses that I have read, Caesar placed himself in this genre. Also, Cicero, in “Brutus”, and A. Hirtius write that this work was written to offer historians material for their more formal and stylistic works. Caesar clearly dramatized certain episodes and used direct speeches as a way of approaching a history, or “historia”, but he avoids many of the stylistic and rhetorical effects which characterize that genre. A comparative reading of Tacitus or Suetonius will make this clear. Caesar’s style makes this work appear objective and restrained, but there are clearly distortions of events and certain creative interpretations which Caesar intended as political propaganda. Another device Caesar uses to effect is insinuation and selectively arranging certain topics, again, with an eye for the audience. Caesar emphasizes the defensive nature of the Gallic War, which is intended for both the Gallic and Roman aristocracies, as an assurance that his actions are within the law, and that he himself is a political moderate. Another interesting aspect of this work is that Caesar places significant emphasis on luck, as it explains sudden changes that help both Caesar and the Gauls. Caesar sees events as having a human or a natural cause, and has little use for divine intervention. A note of cynicism may be detected in passages referring to religion or the divine.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Barnaby Thieme

    In this captivating and eloquent masterpiece, Julius Caeser gives a year-by-year account of his seven years in Gaul, keeping the Celts in line, advancing unsuccessfully across the English channel and the Rhine, and putting down a major rebellion organized by the Arverni king Vercingetorix. One can see why Roman letters set the high standard of eloquence that European scholars would look to for over a thousand years. The clarity and precision of Caeser's writing are extremely admirable, and have In this captivating and eloquent masterpiece, Julius Caeser gives a year-by-year account of his seven years in Gaul, keeping the Celts in line, advancing unsuccessfully across the English channel and the Rhine, and putting down a major rebellion organized by the Arverni king Vercingetorix. One can see why Roman letters set the high standard of eloquence that European scholars would look to for over a thousand years. The clarity and precision of Caeser's writing are extremely admirable, and have been rendered by our translator into elegant and clear English. Despite being a novice to martial exploits as well as Roman history, I was easily able to follow the events and was captivated by the Roman army's strategic powers and the modern sense I got from Caeser's cold realpolitik view of how to treat the Gallic Celts. It's intriguing to read him faithfully record the objections of a rebel who protests to Rome's belligerent expansionism, and makes no bones about conquoring what nations they can for no greater reason than because they can. It's interesting to see national ideology displace mythology as the justification for conquest, and while the results are the same for the conquered nation, at least it doesn't seem crazy as the wild-eyed zealotry of self-styled chosen peoples. Caeser's humanity comes through alongside his ruthlessness, too, and he often treats his vanquished foes with a surprising degree of forbearance, even in the face of startling betrayals. Simply an outstanding read. I look forward to reading his account of the Civil War next.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Diem

    Regarding my earlier notes: I don't think I read this book. I think my husband read this book. I think the notes are his. That's the only thing that makes any sense. This was a great little book. Caesar isn't one to get wordy. He just tells you what happened and why. He refrains from too much cataloging of arms and armament (unlike Churchill, omg). His observations about the Gauls and the Germans are interesting and devoid of the annoying veil of political correctness. He isn't obscenely bombasti Regarding my earlier notes: I don't think I read this book. I think my husband read this book. I think the notes are his. That's the only thing that makes any sense. This was a great little book. Caesar isn't one to get wordy. He just tells you what happened and why. He refrains from too much cataloging of arms and armament (unlike Churchill, omg). His observations about the Gauls and the Germans are interesting and devoid of the annoying veil of political correctness. He isn't obscenely bombastic but he isn't lacking any confidence. Ultimately, he really did conquer Gaul so one can make the argument that he exaggerates his military capabilities but it is hard to argue with the results. His writing style is perfectly acceptable and very readable. No poetry in it but I'm moving on to Lucretius now so I'm good with the poetry. The question that remains unanswered for me is what the hell happened to the Belgians? ***Initial Reaction*** Apparently, I've read this book. There are notes in it and everything. I don't remember doing that. I'm about to get up and clean the kitchen and do the laundry. I'd love to discover that I've actually already done it and just have absolutely no recollection of having done it. I will be reading this again, obviously. It's one thing to read a book and forget a lot of what you've read. It is another thing to forget you've read it at all.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Reads like an episode from Lord of the Rings. The Roman army was the most gallant, courageous, strong, honorable group of heroes ever. As long as you keep in mind the assumed unreliable nature of the narrator and his ulterior motives for writing this piece, the history of the Gallic people is fascinating. There are detailed tidbits like how some tribes would build their ships, how they would lay a siege, or flank a cohort. Being in charge of the army of the largest empire in the world must have Reads like an episode from Lord of the Rings. The Roman army was the most gallant, courageous, strong, honorable group of heroes ever. As long as you keep in mind the assumed unreliable nature of the narrator and his ulterior motives for writing this piece, the history of the Gallic people is fascinating. There are detailed tidbits like how some tribes would build their ships, how they would lay a siege, or flank a cohort. Being in charge of the army of the largest empire in the world must have been exhausting. Caesar even goes as far as Britain a couple times. Very exciting.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Markus

    A must read if you like history.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Totadigi

    CAESAR THE GALLIC WAR WITH AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION BY H.J. EDWARDS, C.B. This may be the eighth time I have read this book during my life it was sent to me falling apart stamped to be discarded rescued by my daughter who I no doubt talked to about it. More or less translated from the campaign journals of C. JULIUS CEASAR 58 through 51 B.C., it covers nine years of bloody Roman conquest in the land of ancient Gaul (modern day France), Germany and Britain. For Caesar the only path to power lay through CAESAR THE GALLIC WAR WITH AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION BY H.J. EDWARDS, C.B. This may be the eighth time I have read this book during my life it was sent to me falling apart stamped to be discarded rescued by my daughter who I no doubt talked to about it. More or less translated from the campaign journals of C. JULIUS CEASAR 58 through 51 B.C., it covers nine years of bloody Roman conquest in the land of ancient Gaul (modern day France), Germany and Britain. For Caesar the only path to power lay through the conquest, enslavement, and total domination that enlarged the empire and opened up fresh fields for merciless Roman enterprises. He was fearless, a brilliant military tactician, a luminous administrator and he led his army in the genocidal subjugation of one nation after another. Caesar would later return to Rome at the head of his army and declare himself supreme dictator. He was responsible for dissolving the republic and proclaiming the empire. The impact of which can be felt throughout the modern European influenced world of today. The strength of the book is it affords the reader a candid view on a world that without the collaboration of other scholars would seem like fiction. Caesar’s words give an unvarnished look inside the mind of a pathological mass murderer. He is devoid of human compassion and cannot understand why the savages won’t submit or die. It is important to realize he is not an exception but rather embodies the moral foundation of the culture he represents. In that way Caesar opens a window on his mind as chilling as the one offered by American author Truman Capote in his 1966 book “In Cold Blood.” Inadvertently at times you can see beyond Caesar and glimpse the lives of his victims and the effects of conquest on their nations. If you focus you can see through to today the legacy of Roman conquest. It is a powerful chronicle if there is a weakness in the book it is its totally one sided perspective. Caesar just can’t understand why the savages just keep coming. He ruthlessly indiscriminately kills thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children; and transports more thousands upon thousands to Rome to be sold into slavery. He makes him one of the richest most powerful men of the empire and fuels his rise to supreme dictator. Everything but the last part of the book is Caesar’s firsthand accounts of his conquest and expansion of the northern frontiers; the last part written by others under his command. Almost as an epilogue at the end there is a brief explanation of what transpired as he returned to Rome at the head of an occupying domestic army. This led to a civil war from which he emerged victorious, abolished the republic, and proclaimed himself the sole master of the empire. He would rule with an iron hand for another four years before being assassinated in the Roman Senate in 44 B.C. The Ancient Roman Empire cruelly changed the course of history setting in motion events that directly impact the way we live today. Caesar’s book progresses chronologically focusing solely on his campaigns, in reality it is not a comprehensive lesson on waging war; nothing like “The Art of War” a Chinese military treatise written by Sun Tzu the 6th century BC. Sun Tzu, in comparison to Caesar was a true military genius who documented every aspect of warfare, compiling a definitive work on military strategies and tactics, still one of the basic texts of military leadership taught worldwide. Caesar’s point of view is always that of conqueror and master this forms the basis for of all his opinions. He is void of moral and human compassion. It makes it impossible to be objective as demonstrated by his anger and vengeance direct at those who struggle to be free and make war against him. Because everything is either written by or from his perspective there is no counterpoint or balance to his views. Even when Caesar causes the murder of a local noble who dies exclaiming “I am a free man of a free people,” he is oblivious to the human desire to not be enslaved and exploited. It is a revealing look at the origins of world conquest. This book delivers a stark and a realistic view of ancient warfare battlefield tactics the combatants often fought hand-to-hand eye-to-eye and fought to the death. Reading the same book more than once enables you to begin to think about the things that are not said by the author. For instance the scale of slaughter and human suffering can boggle the mind at first read eventually you will ask yourself what it must have been like to have been on the receiving end of all that violence and destruction. Now you have pierced Caesar’s bubble. There is also the chilling experience of having a one on one extended conversation with a person that you come to realize over time is a mass murderer. Eventually you may begin to understand Roman society was completely enveloped in a culture of murder and debauchery. Caesar was not an anomaly he was the shining example. It was the genesis of Fascism, Caesar the prototype for Hitler, the Roman Empire the model for Nazi Germany. Understanding this book strangely, can contribute to the argument that war should be made no more and provide deep insight into why we must beat our swords into plows.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Vic

    Excellent. Had a hard time with "Names". Excellent. Had a hard time with "Names".

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rytis Ryčiauskas

    The diary of a raving warmonger. Though make no mistake, I appreciate this book for the insights it gives putting things into perspective. Caesar throughout the book fashions himself in an overly positive light and showers himself with never ending victories and an over-eager army to suffer hardship for him, but makes excuses for the few military failures in between or writing off the blame to his officers, but never his men (who do the fighting). Such a thing pointed out in explanatory notes, wa The diary of a raving warmonger. Though make no mistake, I appreciate this book for the insights it gives putting things into perspective. Caesar throughout the book fashions himself in an overly positive light and showers himself with never ending victories and an over-eager army to suffer hardship for him, but makes excuses for the few military failures in between or writing off the blame to his officers, but never his men (who do the fighting). Such a thing pointed out in explanatory notes, was common during antiquity, at least among the Romans to be lacking in self-criticism.. Otherwise it simply spelled failure and loss of gravitas, prestige in the public eye. Which brings the issue with how these flights of fancy made Caesar commit the worst of atrocities, such as enslaving whole towns, or slaughtering towns without sparing women or child, it is mentioned in select places albeit bluntly and shortly, which gives us a hint into what kind of war took place. Just by a quick read on wiki we can see the number estimates of historians on the war casualties;"As many as a million people (probably 1 in 5 of the Gauls) died, another million were enslaved,[22] 300 clans were subjugated and 800 cities were destroyed during the Gallic Wars.[23] The entire population of the city of Avaricum (Bourges) (40,000 in all) were slaughtered.[24] Before Julius Caesar's campaign against the Helvetii (present-day Switzerland), the Helvetians had numbered 263,000, but afterwards only 100,000 remained, most of whom Caesar took as slaves.[25]" By ancient standards these are large numbers. As a consequence of Caesar's gallivant Gaul was depopulated and colonized by Romans for Romanization, all the while millions of Celts (Gauls) were imported to Rome and beyond to work in farms, brothels and other unpleasant manual labors, due to how Romans considered barbarians uneducated and uncouth, the Greeks had it easy. Of course all this had made Caesar incredibly rich, rich enough to wage civil wars in his own name and bribe the masses, the elite and his army at the same time. Throughout the books Caesar focuses on his clemency towards the Gauls by not putting every tribe or town that surrenders to the sword or slavery, though most often by necessity than actual leniency. Those that resisted such as Atuatuci the entire town was enslaved after siege due to feign of surrender by them. The Eburones who hid in the marshes and woods, were enslaved and slaughtered when Caesar called for a "hunt" all Gauls and Germans for easy booty, thus preserving the safety of his Romans. In his campaign to subdue the nearby German migratory tribes he resorted to treachery, captured the envoys/diplomats broke the truce with them and hunted down the men, women and children in their camps, many were slaughtered while Caesar's troops were left unscathed as per usual. When Romans did sustain a few casualties or a pro-longed siege, they would put the entire town to sword not caring for profit or booty only vengeance as was the case with the destruction of Avaricum where 40,000 civilians were killed. On the siege of Alessia, when the Mandubii were expelled from their own town by Vercigentorix army due to lack of food, they flocked to Caesar for shelter or passage, however Caesar gives no mention to their fate. Cassius Dio tells us that Caesar forcefully sent them back to increase pressure on the town, but instead the Mandubii died wretchedly of starvation and thirst before the town gates. Many towns and villages were burnt down due to Gauls such as Vercingetorix pursuing the scorched earth policy, but how much of this is propaganda I am uncertain as Romans did the same to Gauls whom they could not defeat in pitched battles. Some interesting historical perspective is put into the final commentary on Vercigentorix and the Great revolt. In many critical moments of the battle, Caesar heavily relied on Germanic cavalry to rout the much more numerous Gauls. This perhaps put much emphasis on why later Roman Emperors relied on Germanic bodyguards, not only for their impartiality on Roman politics but fierceness and bravery. In the final, eight book by Aulus Hirtius, we get a short, but a bit less embellished picture of Caesar and the Gallic war. For example after the Uxellodunum town surrendered, he fearing that his clemency be taken for granted, cut off the hands of the entire people who had taken arms against him. Caesar was undoubtedly a talented military commander, orator, and a propagandist. This book is invaluable for those wanting to witness Roman military operations up close.

  27. 4 out of 5

    8314

    A very rich text! There are some aspects that caught my eyes but I feel that I'm incapable of elaborating on any of them, so I'll just pose a few question marks in my review. 1. The control of passion. I kept hearing Carl von Clausewitz's voiceover throughout the book: "Gentlemen, feels are important!" There are many battles in the book justifying this teaching. There was one time when the Gallic people, under attack and basically overwhelmed by Roman army, tried to perform a "tactical retreat". Bu A very rich text! There are some aspects that caught my eyes but I feel that I'm incapable of elaborating on any of them, so I'll just pose a few question marks in my review. 1. The control of passion. I kept hearing Carl von Clausewitz's voiceover throughout the book: "Gentlemen, feels are important!" There are many battles in the book justifying this teaching. There was one time when the Gallic people, under attack and basically overwhelmed by Roman army, tried to perform a "tactical retreat". But they organized the "retreat" very poorly; there was no discipline or order during the process, so the whole sight just summoned fear and panic in the Gallic troops. Eventually everybody fled away, with the Roman armies chasing them down like a bunch of rabbits, slaughtering without meeting any resistance. It would be unfair to say that the Romans are totally immune to this pitfall, although often times they do appears to be so. Julius Caesar is a master when it comes to manipulating people's passion: he held the legions back and let them see how the Gallic insulted them, until the tension hit the explosion point, and he then let the wolf pack out. One gets to see this trick every 10 pages or so. It's effective, it's cliche but it worked like wonder, at least, back in the days. This really led me into wondering how effective the ancients can govern their passion. According to Julius Caesar, the Gallic people are temperamental, impetuous and love to see things go wrong -- sounds very, very French -- and they would believe rumors from anyone (Book 4 paragraph 5). I was seriously worrying about how their reality principle worked (or, do they even have a "reality principle" at all). But by the end of the book, one could see those people were learning their lessons. Eventually, through the bloodshed and the slavery and the sabotage, they began to learn to analyze their situation and list out the possibilities of their enemy. A huge step forward, but it came too late. Who is to say that wars does not bring advancement to people's intellect? 2. Political subtexts This should be an interesting topic for the Straussians. This text cried for a Straussian close reading, "notice what should be there but was not actually there", for it was originally written for a political purpose. Caesar was not a writer who lived by his pen. He bothered himself with all these writings because the Senate and Pompey were growing suspicious, and feared, about Caesar's power. The legions raised by Caesar were taught to adore Caesar instead of the Roman Republic, and this should be fearsome because it granted Caesar power to destroy the political balance of Roman Republic. Of course, eventually Caesar did. "Alea jacta est". Still, back then, this book managed to persuade people and let the guard down. For example, the conquest of Britain is no doubt a crime according to the Roman Law. But Caesar got away with it by stating that enemies at that time all came from British island. Another interesting figure is the second-in-command of his legion, Titus Labienus, who showed up frequently in the battle and was portrayed, at least in my eyes, a trust-worthy friend of Caesar. I had no idea beyond this impression until the translator noted in the footnote that Labienus eventually turned to Pompey and abandoned Caesar. Now that's some hidden accusation. Also, Caesar didn't quite give a darn to gods and goddesses in the text. This might be a social problem back then, but comparing to the critical role of gods in Anabasis, it does make people wonder. I do hope to find some political commentaries on this book. There should be some. 3. The choice of tactics. Military theory is really beyond my ken. So I'll just ask: "Did Caesar chose his tactics deliberately so that he could have excuses for recruiting legions?" 4. Bromance Of course I came for Rome! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBCqA... It's surprising that Caesar wrote it better in Book 5 paragraph 44.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sophie Zaur

    I really enjoyed this book! It was full of fascinating insights, including which terrors Caesar considered the worst and the importance of memorization. He added interesting details about the Gauls and Germans as he explained his battles with them, commenting on the food they ate, their unique and barbaric customs, and the various fantastic beast they hunted. In everything he writes, the pride Caesar takes in his achievements is obvious. The fact that he chooses to write in 3rd person says it all I really enjoyed this book! It was full of fascinating insights, including which terrors Caesar considered the worst and the importance of memorization. He added interesting details about the Gauls and Germans as he explained his battles with them, commenting on the food they ate, their unique and barbaric customs, and the various fantastic beast they hunted. In everything he writes, the pride Caesar takes in his achievements is obvious. The fact that he chooses to write in 3rd person says it all :) Some of the battle he describes are also a little hard to get through, but overall, the book was super fun to read!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    Since we no longer are required to take Latin in school, Caesar doesn’t get read like he used to. If you take a course in the Ancient World or The Classical World or, even more specifically, Roman History, you are much more likely to be assigned Suetonius or Tacitus, even Robert Graves, than Caesar. It’s a shame because Juilius could write quite nicely. What’s more he had a soldier’s respect for his opponents, be they Gauls, Britains, or Germans—all of whom fight stubbornly to resist the charms Since we no longer are required to take Latin in school, Caesar doesn’t get read like he used to. If you take a course in the Ancient World or The Classical World or, even more specifically, Roman History, you are much more likely to be assigned Suetonius or Tacitus, even Robert Graves, than Caesar. It’s a shame because Juilius could write quite nicely. What’s more he had a soldier’s respect for his opponents, be they Gauls, Britains, or Germans—all of whom fight stubbornly to resist the charms of Roman civilization. His plain-spoken style doesn’t waste time in propaganda or (alas) gossip, like some of the aforementioned. As a writer, Caesar deals with the campaigns and the consequences of actions. He understands that the tribes of Gaul, Britain and Germany would not want to surrender their freedom, not for order or favor. It was always about might (empire), not about right, and even among allies hostages were taken to ensure compliance—Gauls gave hostages to the Romans, to each other when they joined together to resist Rome, to the Germans when they enlisted their support. (Hey, if you can't trust the guy keeping your cousin and your neighbor alive, who can you trust?) Caesar judges their tactics, not their morality, except for one tribal leader under siege who harkens back to days of yore when a generation of earlier warriors would have fed on the weak and unnecessary rather than surrender because of the threat of starvation. This was a little much for contemporary warrior sensibility. The fighting is brutal (though not very graphically described) and all are at risk in the making of war, generals to officers to infantry in the line to archers to those who manage the baggage. Loyalty was to the successful and Caesar’s men were very loyal to him because he was a brilliant risk-taker, not a reckless one. He was decisive and he could move troops quicker than expected by the enemy. One more thing, as a fan of the HBO series “Rome,” I was pleased to come across an anecdote about two centurions, Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus (pages 291-292 of the Loeb edition; Book V, Chapter 44, if you’re browsing another edition), who are clearly the inspiration for the fictional characters of those names. An entertaining chronicle of conflict and courage.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Falk

    There’s much to value in Julius Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War; it is lucidly and elegantly written, and Caesar’s august style makes it a rare reading experience. Being (at least in part) intended as source material for others, the narrative is straightforward and transparent, and there’s not a word too many. This is easily the best account of a military campaign I have ever read. The detailed descriptions of battle tactics, siegeworks, troop movements (on both sides), logistics, etc, g There’s much to value in Julius Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War; it is lucidly and elegantly written, and Caesar’s august style makes it a rare reading experience. Being (at least in part) intended as source material for others, the narrative is straightforward and transparent, and there’s not a word too many. This is easily the best account of a military campaign I have ever read. The detailed descriptions of battle tactics, siegeworks, troop movements (on both sides), logistics, etc, gives an unique view of the different battles as well as the practical (and psychological) mechanisms of ancient warfare. Except for the occasional depreciating remark about Gauls in general, I was little bothered about the purported propaganda aspect of this work, also because it clearly shows what a formidable foe the combined forces of the Gallic tribes actually were. At the outset, I didn't expect to like it as much as I actually did, but I come out of this with a newfound respect for both the military commander and the author, as well as the man, Gaius Julius Caesar. I read the excellent translation by S. A. Handford, revised and with a new introduction by J. F. Gardner; much of the introduction is however rather jumbled and stands in stark contrast to Caesar’s own clear and well-organized account. The maps are good and invaluable for being able to follow the troop movements throughout Gaul. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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