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Caesar (C. Iulius, 102—44 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, 58—52 BC, including the two expeditions to Britain 55—54, and three on the civil war of 49—48. 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.
The Loeb Classical Library edition of Caesar is in three volumes. Volume I is his Gallic War. 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.
The Civil Wars
Posted May 18, 2004
'And the die is cast!' was the proverbial statement Caesar made as he crossed the Rubicon, thus formally declaring hostilities against the Pompeiian camp and turning the Roman Republic to its final chapter. Although there are many translations of this work available on the market, there are few publications that offer Caesar's work in its original Latin as well as with its English translation in one single text. Over the last century, Loeb publishers have been unique in providing their readers with the original text and the translated version side-by-side for every reader to view. Furthermore, these works were translated by some of the best classical scholars of the day in a fluid style that has stood the test of time. I strongly recommend Loeb's publication of Caesar's Civil War over that of other publishers: there's simply no comparison. As for Caesar's Civil War specifically, it is one of the only texts we have whose author was a political statesman from the late republic (Cicero being the other.) It is commonly agreed by most modern scholars that the works were dictated by Caesar and written by one or more of his subordinates during his campaigns. The style is therefore clear, succint, and unadorned. The work offers a detailed look at the final years of the Roman Republic: its politics, armies, culture, and the great conflict that would ultimately destroy it to make way for a future empire that would last over 500 years. Caesar is very detailed as to the preparation and execution of his military campaign against the Pompeian camp. Being the propagandist that he was, Caesar is also careful to downplay his dictatorial ambitions and errors in judgment while emphasizing those of his opponents. Caesar found every opportunity to point to his opponents flaws. When commenting on the aftermath of the battle of Pharsalus, Caesar describes how Pompey's camp was filled with luxury and excess while his own camp was frugal and disciplined. What Caesar didn't recite is that, in addition to being a rake par excellence, he was just as lavish in his expenditures and tastes for luxury as his nemesis; the only difference being that he was perhaps more careful in not displaying such appetites in front of his soldiers in times of hardship. Thus, although Caeasar was careful no to catch himself in an outright lie, he didn't hesitate to emphasize his opponents' faults while ommitting his own. Again, I cannot recommend this version enough as one of the best available today. As for the work itself, it is a direct account from one of the greatest military and political leaders in human history: a man whose fateful crossing of the Rubicon over 2000 years ago changed the face of the world like a collossus until this day; a man whose military startegies are still taught today in virtually every military academy. It is a priceless work that all should read at least once in their life.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.