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Lecture 8

HIST 3131 Lecture 8.docx

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Department
History
Course
HIST 3131
Professor
Ben Kelly
Semester
Fall

Description
Lecture 8 November-05-12 2:19 PM Caesar's Gallic Wars - Fact or Fiction? Composition  Caesar composed 7 books, close supported, Hirtius, wrote book 8  Debate over when Caesar wrote the books, o Were they composed at a single time? Ca. 51-52 BC o Stages? As he went along o Purhaps a book written at the end of each campaign season  Only in book 4 speeches are attributed to characters  Starting to be seen as a historical composition  Book 2, Caesar reports the tribe of the Noii were completely wiped out. But the facts are inorrect, o In book 5, there is a different story, about fighting the Gauls and others on the territory  None of the contradictions however, are conclusive to Caesar  What genre of writing is this work? o It really only narrates Caesar's military activities as proconsul in Gaul o Style is very brief and clipped, almost bullet points o Not a rhetorical style o Little analysis, as opposed to Polybius o Speeches, fairly atypical, not designed to narrate history, but just climaxes to key episodes in the work o Seen as a commentary work, rather than a historical work  Commentary: writing in some sense less formal than a professional work o Used to refer to works of all different types of works of subject matters, treaties, lecture notes, o Accounts of activities that magistrates took in the course of their office  What was the purpose of writing the Gallic Wars o Aiming to provide material a later historian could use to write about the wars o Caesar did such a good job, no one dared to rewrite a history of the wars o Perhaps a work of propaganda for him and his supporters o How did he portray himself to the literate population?  Some say he made of falsehoods that made himself look better than he really was  These cannot really be confirmed, but are often used to contradict Caesar  Look at the ideological light of the war, generally about what we know about the generality of Roman war and community Justifications of War  Caesar used a number of the standard justifications for war conventional in Roman culture  The Helvetii wars (1.10-11), against Arivistus and the Germans (1.33-34, cf.43), wars against the Veneti (3.9)  Self defence, defence of the allies, revenge, infringements of the good faith  Examples of this: Cicero's republica (revenge)  Justifications linked to the general Roman thought concerning war and foreign contact Caesar and the Enemy  The Gauls protrayed as a block that must be ENTIRELY defeated if Rome and her allies are to be safe  Gauls are said to have dangerous and unpleasant characteristics: they are warlike, deceptive, and dishonest, prone to cannibalism, etc.  They are also said to be in a permanently servile state - enslaved by own people or by Germans o They have no freedom to lose to the Romans  The attributes given to the enemy leads to the further justification of the wars  Book 6, provides ethnographic details Caesar the General  Portrayal of himself o Inscriptions honouring his conduct, also literary accounts present o Romans liked offensive generals o Attacks quickly and doesn’t hold back o Always on the offence o Thinks about logistical matters, supplies, etc. o Encouraged to be present in the thick of battle, to boost morale o Show personal courage, impressed if wounded or killed in single combat with the enemy leader o He goes beyond the portrait of the good general o Moral qualities, showing justice and restraint o Not deceptive o Acts in good faith o Refers to Roaman expectations on how to live life o Interesting in winning battles, but in an ethical way o Emphasize the virtus, the courage the soldiers, steadfastness in the line of battle o Most literate records on other generals soley focus on the generals, with no one else present, general the shorthand for the entire army o Not the case with Caesar, he wrote of his army o Champion the interests of the common people o Praising common soldiers o Keeping the friendliness of the lower peoples o His men's virtue reflect well on himself  Difficult to find crude factual misrepresentations in the text  Some things are agreeable within the Roman social nature  Justification of the battles  Roman dominion of foreign peoples, they were slaves already, we are not taking anything away from them Modern Explanations for Roman Imperial Expansion - Economics and Bellicosity  Primarily economic reasons for gain  Warlike nature of Roman nature that drove expansion  Economic o Mercantile
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