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Julius the annoying

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Julius the annoying
    Posted: 20-May-2005 at 15:22

Have been reading Caesar's Gallic War commentaries and though they are a great way to learn about ancient ways, tactics, and peoples, as well as a fairly good way to learn Latin (it seems Caesar tends to be consistent in word choice and sentence structure) the tone is just damn annoying. Caesar and his Romans almost always win, and if they ever lose it is because of the weather. All the Gallic leaders are either stupid fanatics or craven a** lickers seeking Roman protection like the Aedui tribe. Even Vercingetorix is portrayed, at best, as a shrewd politician and skillful liar who convinces his Gauls to fight through tricks and promises.

Are all Latin writers like this? So narcissistic? Are Greek authors more impartial and less self-serving in their writing? I hope I don't have to learn a new alphabet to get a more pleasant reading primary source.

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  Quote TheodoreFelix Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2005 at 15:53
The whole book seems to be a big propaganda campaign. I mean when Caesar fights the Gaul they are brave and strong warriors made of stone. But when they get attacked by something they all run to his feet.  His chapter "operations on the rhine" is so short that he fills the rest of the space discussing the customs of the Germans and Gaul.he never seems to put any blame on himself either. His defeat at Gergovia was mostly the fault of his soldiers but blame has to be put on him for not having enough control over his men.

Anyway, most ancient sources are similar to this. Almost all have obvious favorites, they are prone to inflate or deflate army numbers etc etc.


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  Quote cattus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2005 at 22:57
It can be annoying but if you understand the way it is and his situation before going into it, one can get through it. I will stop short of calling it propaganda but it is biased, yet there is valuable information in it. It wasnt meant to be read by the Helvetii.
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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-May-2005 at 21:55
It is fair to say it was propaganda. Back in Rome the mob wanted to hear of his successes, he wanted their popular support. In the environment of the Triumvirate all three men, two after Carrhae, competed with eachother to be the best in everything. Caesar's writings are a valuable source of information but everything he says must be viewed as sceptically as any other historical writing. A nice comparison I identified which shows how clearly he is motivated by political considerations is how he refers to his lieutenant Labienus. In De Bello Gallicae Labienus is a brave, capable, honest, trustworthy, reliable leader of men. In his later writings during the campaigns of the Civil War between Caesar and Pompey (when Labienus had defected to Pompey), Caesar refers to Labienus as a cowardly, deceitful, despicable sort of fellow. Come to think of it, perhaps we may even detect an element of childishness in some of Caesar's writings, not an unusual trait for most brilliant people utterly convinced of their own importance.
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  Quote J.Caesar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Apr-2006 at 22:32
Give him credit for his bravery at least. He fought against amazing numbers and alwys came out on top. Crossed the Rhine and marhed around foe wto weeks looking for battly: why? Because he could. Plus he new of Marius`s victories and he really felt that the barbarians(Celts,Germans) were quite inferior as fighters. That is the real reason for his confidence. He knew.
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  Quote YusakuJon3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Apr-2006 at 20:26
Brave he might've been, but Caesar was still presenting this as propaganda to justify his own preeminence before the Senate back at Rome.  His domain as part of the Triumvirate was to be western Europe from the German frontier to the Atlantic coast.  When Crassus fell at Carrhae, it was his conquest of Gaul which gave him some of the manpower he needed to begin his campaign to oust Pompey and take over as sole dictator.  When a loyal captain like Labienus switched sides on him, he wasted no time on changing his account of the man.

As was the wont of any large empire or dominant nation of history, the Romans were no different when it came to propaganda.  When you read Virgil's Aeneid, you see a literal account of how the Romans had come to think of themselves as direct descendants of the survivors of the Fall of Troy.  Coupled with how they expanded to take out Carthage and prevent the Gauls (and any German tribe which invaded Gaul) from entering Italy again, you can see how they might've wanted their people to feel justified in supporting such a militaristic policy.
"There you go again!"

-- President Ronald W. Reagan (directed towards reporters at a White House press conference, mid-1980s)
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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Apr-2006 at 03:58
In terms of personal bravery, Caesar only fought personally when he absolutely had to. In battles where he was massively outnumbered or he was surprised and had no time to prepare, he did fight in person. But otherwise he tended to do the prudent thing and keep himself out of danger, which is just what a responsible commander is meant to do.

However, he was capable of personal bravery and we have clear evidence of that. In his early years he received a decoration for saving the life of a fellow soldier when the Romans stormed Mytiline. He was brave when he needed to be, not brave simply for the sake of vainglory.
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