Friday, March 25, 2022

Julius Caesar

JULIUS CAESAR (Roman, 100-44 BCE)

There's much to say about Julius Caesar, but let's focus here on his "Great Books." His position as a Roman ruler was based on his skills as a general, which we learn about in his two books:

  • The Gallic Wars was composed in seven books, each covering one year of his campaigns in the 50s BCE. (An eighth book was added by Aulus Hirtius.) He wrote it in the third person, in a style which even Cicero praised: its Latin is so good that it is still used in first- and second-year Latin classes. "Gaul" was the non-Roman portions of modern France, as well as Belgium and parts of Germany and Switzerland. It begins with a sentence known to generations of students: "Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres," or "All Gaul is divided into three parts." Long accepted as a truthful account, some scholars now see it as pro-Caesar promotional literature.
  • The Civil War's three books cover the events of 49-48 BCE, when Caesar invaded Italy in defiance of the Senate. Written from Caesar's perspective, it ends with the death of his opponent Pompey.
  • Other works by Julius Caesar are quoted by other authors, and poems are mentioned, but none are known to exist. Three other "histories" are attributed to him, but they are now considered to be the work of other authors.


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