Caesar As Author Bust of Julius Caesar
Caesar as Author - Surviving Works Commentarii de Bello Gallico– 7 books (+ an 8th book composed after his death by his legatus, AulusHirtius). Many scholars believe all 7 books were written in the winter of 52-51. Others prefer a year-by-year composition during the winters. Commentarii de Bello Civili - 3 books a verse epigram on Terence, the comic playwright
Caesar as Author – Lost Works Lost Works: Many speeches, including the funeral elogium over his aunt Julia in which he asserted the divine descent of the gens Iulia from Ascanius-Aeneas-Venus De Analogia, a treatise on language and style many verses, incl. an extended poem, LaudesHerculis a tragedy, Oedipus Iter, a poem about his expedition to Spain in 45 Anticato, a two-book pamphlet against the memory of Cato, who committed suicide at Utica. This was a response to Cicero’s elogium entitled LausCatonis
Caesar as Author – Spurious works Spurious Works (= works attributed to Caesar but written by others): The 8th book of Commentarii de Bello Gallicocomposed by his legatus, AulusHirtius, to link up the narrative of DBG to the narrative of DBC (years 51 and 50) Corpus Caesarianum– 3 Books, called the Bellum Alexandrinum, the Bellum Africum, and the Bellum Hispaniae.
Caesar as Author - Genre The term commentarius (cf. Greek hypomnema) a narrative, more polished than personal notes and reports, but a narrative short of polished historiography (historia). Commentariiwould often be presented to other professional historians to be reworked into a more literary history (with more stylistic and rhetorical embellishments. Caesar’s Commentariiwere never rewritten; thoHirtius in the preface to the 8th book (& Cicero, Brutus 262) suggested that no one would dare rewrite what Caesar wrote with incomparable simplicity.
Caesar as Author - Genre Caesar’s Commentarii close to historia: Caesar uses certain elements of historia, including direct speech, and dramatization of certain scenes (but his are never over dramatized) No ego here! ... By referring to himself in the 3rd person, Caesar placed himself in the narrative as an independent character. (and detached himself from any emotionality of the action)
Caesar as Author – DBG Summary…7 Books cover action from 58-52 Book I: deals with the campaign against (1) the Helvetii, whose migratory movements gave Caesar the pretext for going to war (as both a defensive and preventive operation), and also (2) against the German leader Ariovistus. Book II: discusses the revolt of the Gallic tribes Book III: discusses the campaign against the peoples along the Atlantic coast
Caesar as Author – DBG Summary…7 Books cover action from 58-52 Book IV: deals with campaigns and operations against invading Germanic tribes, who had crossed the Rhine; the massacre of the Usipeti and the Tencteri; and operations against the rebellious Gallic leaders, Indutiomarus and Ambiorix. Expedition into Britain. (55 BC) Book V: 2nd expedition into Britain (54 BC); more resistance by the Belgae, whom Caesar crushes and exterminates in Books 5 and 6
Caesar as Author – DBG Summary…7 Books cover action from 58-52 Book VI: Devastation and extermination of the Gallic Belgica rebels. More insurrections led by Vercingetorix, king of the Arverni. Book VII: Romans put down the general revolt led by Vercingetorix, which culminates in the storming of Alesia, where Vercingetorix is captured
Sources of Caesar’s Life The authentic and spurious works of Caesar The Life of Caesar by Suetonius The Life of Caesar by Plutarch in his Parallel Lives Speeches and letters of Cicero and Sallust Appian’sBella Civilia Cassius Dio, Books 36-44
Caesar’s Nachleben (afterlife) • Livy supplanted Caesar as historical source of his period • circa 1300, MaximusPlanudes translated DBG into Greek • Renaissance rediscovered Caesar as author/politician; Petrarch wrote a biography of JC • 15th c., Andrea Brenzio forged a speech of Caesar’s to his soldiers • 16th c., the German Nicodemus Frischlin based a school drama, Helvetiogermani, on Book I of the DBG • Caesar Kaiser, Czar, Tsar, Jersey (Nova Caesarea)
Pretext of the DBG Alleged provocations and border violations committed in the Gallic area under Caesar’s jurisdiction by tribes engaged in mass migrations Caesar presented his conquest of Gaul, which took 7 years, as a defensive and preventive operation