Volume I, The Gallic War (Loeb Classical Library)by Caesar
Pub. Date: 01/28/1917
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Caesar (C. Iulius, 10244 BCE), statesman and soldier, defied the dictator Sulla; served in the Mithridatic wars and in Spain; pushed his way in Roman politics as a 'democrat' against the senatorial government; was the real leader of the coalition with Pompey and Crassus; conquered all Gaul for Rome; attacked Britain twice; was forced into civil war; became… See more details below
Caesar (C. Iulius, 10244 BCE), statesman and soldier, defied the dictator Sulla; served in the Mithridatic wars and in Spain; pushed his way in Roman politics as a 'democrat' against the senatorial government; was the real leader of the coalition with Pompey and Crassus; conquered all Gaul for Rome; attacked Britain twice; was forced into civil war; became master of the Roman world; and achieved wide-reaching reforms until his murder. We have his books of Commentarii (notes): eight on his wars in Gaul, 5852 BC, including the two expeditions to Britain 5554, and three on the civil war of 4948. They are records of his own campaigns (with occasional digressions) in vigorous, direct, clear, unemotional style and in the third person, the account of the civil war being somewhat more impassioned. There is no rhetoric.
The Loeb Classical Library edition of Caesar is in three volumes. Volume II is his Civil Wars. The Alexandrian War, the African War, and the Spanish War, commonly ascribed to Caesar by our manuscripts but of uncertain authorship, are collected in Volume III.
Table of Contents
Analysis Of The Books
A. The Roman Army
Maps And Plans
Battle Against The Helvetii
Battle Of The Aisne
Battle Of The Sambre
Bridge Over The Rhine
Plan Of Gergovia
Plan Of Alesia
Gaul And Campaign Map
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Although there are many translations of Caesar's Gallic War, Loeb is unique in providing the reader with not only the translation, but the original Latin text on the accompanying page. Loeb also provides translations from some of the best scholars in classical studies. As for the text itself, it is a priceless insight into the life of one of the world's greatest statesmen and military leaders. Caeasar's third person account covers his campaigns in Gaul, Germania, and Britannia (modern Switzerland, France, Belgium, Germany, and England) from 58-50 B.C. Most modern scholars agree that the works were probably dictated by Caesar and written down by one or more of his subordinates. It is important to understand that Caesar's Commentaries were rhetorical and had a political agenda. Caesar often dictated the development of his campaigns to be dispatched to Rome so that it could be propagated by his political supporters. This was done because Caesar's extraordinary command in Gaul was always subject to being terminated by his opponents, whereby he could face criminal prosecution upon his return. Caesar therefore wrote his commentaries to win political favor and secure a continuation of his political appointment before he would even return to Rome; Caesar was in fact one of the first Republican politicians to seek election in absentia for those very reasons. As for his campaigns, Caesar is extremely detailed as to his tactics and strategies. He presents his information in a brief and concise way without sophistry. Caesar provides his rationale for his strategies and his evaluation of the enemy's potential. Caesar gives a detailed account of movements, sieges, river crossings, and his mastery of logistics. His best account is probably his final struggle with Vercingetorix, the fierce and charismatic Gaul chieftan who rallied all of the tribes in one final struggle against Rome. Ceasar clearly shows admiration for his fierce opponent and how he honorably surrendered himself at Alesia in 50 B.C. to save his followers from imminent starvation. The commentaries also recite his failed attempt at conquering Britain. Caesar's commentaries are also extremely valuable in understanding the Gauls or Celts in general. As time passed after Caesar's conquest, the Gauls and most Celtic cultures became completely assimilated into Roman civilization and left little of their heritage behind. Unfortunately, Celtic culture had no written tradition and much of their culture is understood through the works of their Roman invaders or through Greek writers such as Polybius. Indirect information about Celtic culture is also obtained from studying its surviving offspring in Wales and Ireland. Thus, Caesar's writing offers a unique insight into Celtic culture, politics, and religion of druidism. As a matter of fact, Caesar probably sped up the extinction of Celtic culture by systematically persecuting the druidic sects who were the Celts' spiritual force and keepers of knowledge. A similar strategy was effectively carried out by the Spanish conquistadores in the Americas 1500 years later, thereby eliminating all essential traces of indigenous identity and solidarity. His commentaries do have some exaggerations as to troop numbers and fabled stories of the still unknown Germanic tribes; in those cases much of what he recites are rather fanciful accounts similar to those of the early navigators of the 15th century. As an author, Caesar is one of only two statesmen/authors from the late Roman Republic whose works have survived (Cicero being the other.) Along with his Civil War commentaries, his work is a priceless look into the politics, culture, warfare, and personalities of that period. Few, if any, political or militray leaders in history have had an impact on humanity as great and far reaching as Caesar. His conquests and statesmanship still resonate today in both our political and social institutions. It is a work that everyone should read at least
The Loeb Edition of Julius Caesar's 'The Gallic War' is the best translation I've come across. The book includes the latin text and H. J. Edwards is extremely accurate in his translation. Maps and drawings of defense towers and bridges, etc., used by the Romans are also included. If you're looking for untainted translation, this is probably the best you will find in English.