Caesar's 'The Conquest of Gaul'

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Micawber, Oct 4, 2012.

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  1. After reading a couple of biographies about Caesar I've started reading his 'Conquest' and I'm wondering how it has survived.

    Is there an original copy of the seperate books/manuscripts somewhere in whatever form, or was it transcribed or translated by someone in later years and this is how we come to it?

    I must say it is remarkable to be reading something he wrote, if that is really what it is.
  2. I've never read 'Conquest of Gaul', but it's been on my reading list for a while. I was always rather taken with the story behind his campaign against the pirates who'd held him hostage - I may have to bump it a little higher up the list.
  3. Sixty

    Sixty LE Moderator Book Reviewer
    1. ARRSE Cyclists and Triathletes

    Read for free by clicky linky doing:

    Micawber, there's no extant copy as far as I'm aware. Even the 'original' versions of the speeches of Cicero and the like that we have are mediaeval copies.
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  4. The original manuscript is long gone, but it was indeed written by him. He was the consummate politician, and his "Conquest of Gaul" is a compilation of his dispatches home, shameless self-promotion to endear him to the Senate and to the mob of Rome. They are doubtless his words, either penned himself or dictated to a cohort admin pogue, as he wouldn't trust this job of self-aggrandizing to anyone else.

    For a comparable modern work, see "Infanterie Greift An" by Rommel. Also a ripping good read, so long as you remember who wrote it, and to what end.
  5. I'm enjoying it. It's fairly short by the standards of most 'history' books and you'll romp through it. It is very concise, but gives real flavour and interesting detail of the day-to-day routines and life on campaign in those times.

    Little things like the much taller Gauls taking the piss out of the average Roman soldier's lack of stature make for a vivid read.
  6. Sixty

    Sixty LE Moderator Book Reviewer
    1. ARRSE Cyclists and Triathletes

    If you haven't read it already then it's also worth reading Xenophon's Anabasis ​(link above) too.
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  7. If you are interested in Caesers Commentaries there is an ebook on Amazon called 'Marching with Caeser'. It's by RW Peake, costs £2.60 or similar and is an excellent first person narrative based on the Great man's commentaries through the eyes of a Legionnaire.
  8. Late to the party but great subject. De bello Gallico? Caesar's Gallic Wars of the period around 58 BC to 51 BC and the eight years of warfare and battles. They give a picture of how the Roman legions operate and how their different enemies waged war against them. I believe Caesar wrote a work for every year of the campaign in the "De bello Gallico", books i–vii) . Book viii, covering events of 51 bc, was written after Caesar’s death by Aulus Hirtius), edited by T. Rice Holmes, 7 vol. (1914, reprinted in 1 vol., 1979). At a guess the original work was a series of diaries or notes and as has been said, they're long gone. . There's a page and some reviews on the subject at The Conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar - Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists .

    Excellent overview here: Overview of Julius Caesar's Conquest of Gaul - Yahoo! Voices -

    Extract from Britannica Academic online: "Two works by Caesar himself are (1)De bello Gallico, books i–vii (book viii, covering events of 51 bc, was written after Caesar’s death by Aulus Hirtius), ed. by T. Rice Holmes, 7 vol. (1914, reprinted in 1 vol., 1979); and (2) De bello civili, books i–iii. The Bellum Alexandrinium, on the wars of 47 bc, De bello Africo, and De bello Hispaniensi are all anonymous but contemporary with Caesar and are included with his works. Other ancient sources include those by Cicero, letters and speeches; Sallust, Epistulae ad Caesarem (although the authenticity of these two memoranda addressed to Caesar has been questioned); Appian, Civil Wars, book ii; Dio Cassius, books xxxvii–xliv; Plutarch, Lives of Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus; Suetonius, Divus Julius; and Velleius Paterculus, book ii, 41–56."
  9. And for all the smut that was worth printing on the early emperors, you'll want to read Suetonius. ;)
  10. It's a real pity that most of the source material is long gone. I should have liked a peek at some naughty bedtime stories from the time of Emperor Caligula. ;-) :p