The Book Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Calico

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One may call war a side effect of human civilization. Nevertheless, it is in a war that people show their best virtues: courage, loyalty, strength, perseverance, and honesty. Nothing is surprising in the fact that texts on this subject have existed since the writing appeared. Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Calico (Gallic War in English) relates to the historical genre because they are subordinate to a specific artistic design and have a clear historical concept. It consists of seven books, and one narrates one year from the period of the Gallic war between the Romans and the Gauls. The form and content of the work are the opposite of the historiographic literature that was very widespread in Rome at that time and did not prioritize credibility, but persuasiveness, not a documentary, but believability.

This book is interesting as a slice of history: telling about the tribes that lived in Europe, their relationship with each other, beliefs, and traditions. The main goal of the work: fixing historical events, the course of hostilities, tactics, and strategies of both the Roman and Gallic armies. The Gallic War is not only a book about war, but for the most part, it is about politics. Historians still argue what the purpose of these works was. On the one hand, there is a direct instruction from slave Hirtius, Caesar's secretary, that these notes are only material for the story that Caesar was going to write 'procul negotiis' (retiring). On the other hand, the Commentarii de Bello Calico distinguished by a density of the material and compositional harmony that involuntarily gives rise to the idea of completeness and even with the refinement of the literary work.

Having got involved in the war with the aim of enriching, seizing territories, and realizing his ambitions, Julius Caesar earned himself the name of a great military leader. At that time, only three occupations were worthy for a Roman citizen: politics, war, or agriculture. Caesar describes a combination of two of these activities. In his brevity is a desire to seem objective, since he talks about what the soldiers managed to do and about what they lost. All Roman culture is built on the cult of the god of war and the worship of military valor. The author tells of a melee war, when people were cut to death with swords, a description of such skirmishes leads the modern reader to a little shock. 

Despite the use of catapults, archers, protection by digging ditches with water, sharp stakes, or with burnt smooth tree trunks. In addition to describing various tactics, he delineates all kinds of types of military operations: sieges, marching throws, landing operations, reconnaissance techniques, and camp strengthening. Besides, the text depicts a strategy that allowed maneuvering, defeating an army that outnumbers Caesar's army and controlling a vast territory by manipulating essential points in the form of structures.

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The image of Vercingetorix in Caesar's book is dualistic. From one aspect, he acts as the instigator of confrontations and does not want to give his lands to the Romans. From a different angle, the author depicts a man as a brave warrior who fights for his native land. It combines patriotism, courage, it manifests itself in the finale, where the Romans defeat the Gauls, and Vercingetorix invites his army to either be killed or surrender to the enemy alive. In a story with a lack of provisions, after a victorious battle, the Galician leader gives each soldier a captive slave, as well as a small piece of bread. That is, he is generous, and at the same time, does not care about the fullness of the army. Moreover, in the description of Caesar's adversary, a comparison is made between civilized Romans and Gaul barbarians.

Since Caesar's journalism claims to be objective, the author prefers to narrate from a third party and avoids direct speeches. I believe that there are several probable reasons why Caesar wrote the book in the third person. The first and most basic is the tradition of Illeism, which appeared back in ancient Greece. For example, Homer, in his works, wrote about himself in the third person. The use of such a technique in ancient literature may indicate Caesar's desire to sound more believable in describing his successes. When the reader notices the details of the war, he realizes that most likely, the narrator is a warrior from Caesar's legion. 

Thus, the constant mention of the proconsul does not seem selfish but instead shows his tactical skills. The second motive may be as follows: he is smart enough never to praise his merits directly, so I decided to use such a literary device. According to the third inference, in the Roman Senate, there was a protest against the actions of Caesar. He was charged with using his position in Gaul for personal purposes. That is why, allegedly, in an attempt to make excuses, the commander publishes his travel notes. Thus, Caesar wants to prove that the interests of the state-guided him, was fair, courageous, wise, and generous. Based on such assumptions, he writes about himself in the third person and strives for the most objective tone of presentation.

Caesar, the author, is struggling to preserve in his political image the features that he endowed Caesar - the proconsul of Gaul, the hero of Gallic War, but he succeeds only in rare cases, for example, when creating the appearance Caesar commander, winner of a battle. In this book, the images of the discredited opponents of Caesar, the oligarchs parasitizing at the helm of power and mired in various vices, look much more convincing. Caesar's opponents act illegally, threatening troops with senators when voting, they destroy ancient traditions and rituals, encroach on temple shrines to recruit soldiers against Caesar for stolen values, they boil with a personal hatred for Caesar and envy of his glory.

Caesar's literary work played a significant role in his political career. Through atticism, he did not appeal to the feelings of the listeners, but their minds, instead of completeness and power, he sought simplicity and brevity. When studying the Gallic war, one reveals Caesar not only as a publicist and writer but also as a subtle observer and strategist. The author varnishes the events of the Gallic war, emphasizing his successes and diminishing failures. The comments are in line with Caesar's main political goal - defending adversaries who charged him with starting a civil war in Italy. The author's task was to show that the civil war was forced and was defensive. The persistence with which the author speaks about the provocation of the Helvetian and other Gallic and Germanic tribes against Rome and its allies is understandable.

The book addressed to the contemporaries of Caesar: because of the extreme importance of the events described and the exceptional role of Caesar himself in them, it seems that this is a genuinely historical narrative, which is greatly facilitated by the author's manner of telling himself in the third person. Caesar went beyond the boundaries of the genre of strictly official business reports and introduced geographic and ethnographic excursions characteristic of artistic historiography into his narrative. 

The dryness and simplicity of Caesar's style are expressive in the descriptions of tactics of military operations, for example, the battle of Alesia in the 7th book of the Gallic War. In conclusion, the reader does not just follow the thread of events; he is given or even imposed such an interpretation of the facts presented that would correspond to the conceptual tasks of the writer. 

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