Caesar in Gaul and Rome
War in Words
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: University of Texas Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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Thank you to the several people who read the entire manuscript at some stage: Cynthia Damon, Erik Gunderson (who revealed himself as an excellent Press reader), Chris Kraus (twice!), Gwyn Morgan, Matt Roller, and the University of Texas Press’s other, extremely professional, anonymous reader...
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This book is a study of what is—in many senses—an already well-known historical event: Julius Caesar’s De Bello Gallico, or Gallic 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 for...
1. Where Was the Gallic War?
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In 56 B.C., the orator Cicero gave a speech, On the Consular Provinces, that, among other things, favorably contrasted Caesar’s 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 Rome’s northern frontier. His solution to the problem was not to...
2. The “Other” and the Other “Other”
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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...
3. Technology, Virtue, Victory
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De Bello Gallico is 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...
4. Alien Nation
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In examining the general question of ethnic identity in De 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...
5. Formal Questions
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The genre of De Bello Gallico—called in antiquity the commentarius— has been the object of considerable scholarly scrutiny, albeit with unsatisfactory results.1 The foremost problem is that precious few classical commentarii (at least explicitly so described) have survived, and only one is roughly contemporaneous with De Bello Gallico. These are the Commentariolum petitionis...
6. Empire and the “Just War”
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One of the most famous passages in the Aeneid is Anchises’ 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 “You, Roman, remember to govern the peoples under your empire (these will be your arts)...
7. New and Improved, Sort Of
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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 of De Bello Gallico “back home.” Previous chapters have made topical suggestions about the political content of De Bello Gallico; this chapter continues that inquiry, but also considers the question of how documents like...
Appendix A: Wars against “Barbarians”
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Appendix B: Generals’ Inscriptions
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Page Count: 286
Illustrations: 8 halftones, 1 map, 2 figures, 4 tables
Publication Year: 2006