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The Conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar

The Conquest of Gaul

by Julius Caesar

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,082341,840 (3.9)78
  1. 04
    Asterix and the Banquet by René Goscinny (Artymedon)
    Artymedon: The description of Gaul by this contemporary of Asterix will enlight the reader as to where Asterix' banquet takes place.

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» See also 78 mentions

English (27)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  All (34)
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)

Translation by Anne and Peter Wiseman (the latter lectured J.K. Rowling in classics and is rumoured to have been a model for Dumbledore) with lots of maps and photographs of archaeological remains. Reading the introduction, I was startled by the Wisemans' description of the Gauls as "primitive" and the Britons and Germans as even more so. The book was published in 1980 which seems rather late in the day for such strong colonialist language. Caesar himself is much clearer about the strengths of his opponents - the Helvetii had a Greek-language census, the Veneti have excellent seafaring skills (though the Romans of course still win) and Ambiorix and Vercingetorix come close to beating him. Granted, of course, this is propaganda to make the writer look good by defeating sophisticated foes, but the editors frame the narrative more strongly in terms of civilised Romans vs barbarians than Caesar does. Certainly he seems to have killed a lot more non-combatants, or at least bragged about doing so, which is hardly a mark of civilisation.

Anyway, it's a straightforward military narrative written by a key figure, and refreshingly clear even two millennia later. Worth the reread. ( )
  nwhyte | Dec 31, 2015 |
A shocking account of genocide by the man who committed it. ( )
  Lukerik | Oct 8, 2015 |
It's not actually written by Caesar. It more of a third person account of the campaigns throughout Gaul. Although there a quotes credited to Caesar I was disappointed at not actually having his own written words appear the page. It was still good and very informative on how politics and war are so connected. It will serve as an example of early semi-biographical narration but should not be credited as written by Caesar himself. ( )
  Kurt.Rocourt | May 22, 2015 |
In many ways, one of the most important ancient works ever written. Caesar proves he is not only a great statesman and general, but also author. His work withstands the ages with its clarity and conciseness. One only has to read works written several hundred years ago to understand how writing styles have changed over time, yet Caesar's work still seems remarkably "modern." More importantly, The Gallic Wars is the primary source for Caesar's epic campaign and a fundamental source for much of our knowledge of the Gallic people. ( )
  la2bkk | May 7, 2015 |
I can't read this without hearing the voice of Ciaran Hinds (who played Caesar on the tv series Rome) narrating this.....

Although undoubtedly Caesar was writing for both then-current political consumption as well as perhaps for posterity, this is a surprisingly frank and detailed account of the 10 years it took Caesar to conquer Gaul (France, Belgium and parts of Germany, Switzerland and Italy). He details both the valor of the Gauls (his enemy) and well as periodic stupidity or cowardice of certain Romans, as well as the to-be-expected accounts of heroism on the part of Romans. His language is strikingly modest and he is constantly naming soldiers of the line and giving credit to others. While again this is partly undoubtedly to encourage political support and loyalty, one can't but believe that Caesar had internalized a leadership style that gave credit to others (whilst undoubtedly seeing the benefit to himself thereby). His account of the cultural practices of the Druids is quite interesting and it's clear that Caesar was a student of the people he hoped to conquer. It's interesting to read quotes such as this - "Next to him (Mars the god) come Apollo, Jupiter, and Minerva, and about them their ideas correspond fairly closely with those current among the rest of mankind, viz. that Apollo expels diseases, that Minerva teaches ...." and speculate on Caesar's own perspective on the gods their potential uses for political purposes.

A common practice of the time to encourage compliance after a victory was the taking of hostages. One can't go more than a few pages without more hostages being taken, often in the hundreds. Indeed later in the book we find that there is almost an entire city dedicating to housing the hostages taken in the war.

We see in the text that Caesar was always mindful of appearance and ceremony. For example, "Caesar was nevertheless strongly of the opinion that to do so by means of boats would neither be unattended by risk, nor worth of his own or his country's dignity." And surprisingly matter-of-fact about the business of war: "It remained, therefore, only to do the work of devastation, and for this a few days were spent in burning the farms and villages and in rooting up the crops". (It is striking how much of the conquest is dictated by weather and seasons - Caesar often retires to Rome for the winter, for example). There is surprising amount of engineering in warfare here - there are many accounts of interesting bridge-building techniques and challenges.

The Conquest of Gaul culminates in the battle of Alesia where the Gaul King Vercingetorix surrenders to Caesar after a prolonged siege and battle. (The description of the innovations Caesar and his army made in fortifications are quite interesting.). Interestingly enough there is little description of Vercingetorix's fate in the book (nor much celebration of what would prove the final victory for Caesar), but he would be sent to Rome, kept a prisoner for 5 years, and executed during Caesar's triumph, but that time period is not covered by the book. ( )
  viking2917 | Sep 11, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (111 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Caesar, Juliusprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barabino, AndreaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cunliffe, Barry W.Contributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edwards, H. J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hammond, CarolynTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Handfors, S. A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hirtius, Aulussecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Huibregtse, P.K.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunink, VincentTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Katwijk-Knapp, F. H. vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lukstiņš, GustavsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pearl, JosephTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rieu, E. V.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tadema, A.A.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wiseman, AnneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wiseman, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Belgae, aliam Aquitani, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostrae Galli appellantur.
Gaul is a whole divided into three parts, one of which is inhabited by the Belgae, another by the Aquitani, and a third by a people called in their own tongue Celtae, in the Latin Galli.
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Book description
Best war memoir ever written by the greatest general who ever lived.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140444335, Paperback)

Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres... It is, perhaps, the most famous opening line of any memoir in Western civilization. What Caesar and the Romans called "Gaul," although we usually think of it as France, also comprised Belgium, the German lands west of the Rhine, southern Holland, and much of Switzerland. This is the only military campaign of the ancient world for which we have a chronicle written by the general who conducted it, and Julius Caesar is an insightful historian, with a keen eye for detail, as in this scene from the repulsion of the forces of the German king Ariovistus:
Caesar placed each of his five generals ahead of a legion and detailed his quaestor to command the remaining legion, so that every soldier might know that there was a high officer in a position to observe the courage with which he conducted himself, and then led the right wing first into action, because he had noticed that the enemy's line was weakest on that side.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:32 -0400)

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The only chronicle by an ancient general of his own campaigns, this historical treasure is also a work of profound literary merit. Julius Caesar's fascinating account of his conquests offers a trove of priceless details about the cultures of Gaul, Germany, and Britain during the First century B.C.-and of the great man himself. Despite his extensive background in politics, Caesar expresses himself without hiding behind rhetoric, in an uncluttered, factual style. Vigorous, direct, and eloquent, his accounts resemble memoirs or historical outlines rather than a formal histories. His notes on cultural matters, although secondary to his attention to military affairs, offer the era's most complete picture of the settings and personalities among Celtic and German tribes. This excellent translation offers several helpful features.… (more)

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