umberto's Reviews > The Conquest of Gaul

The Conquest of Gaul by Gaius Julius Caesar
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Aug 20, 2009

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bookshelves: ancient-history
Read in July, 2011

I think this book is worth reading and pondering since it's written by one of the famous Roman generals and statesmen in Latin. Long time ago I first read his decisive quote, "I came, I saw, I conquered!" [Veni, vidi, vici!] somewhere with awe and wondered who said this and why. We can still read about him in innumerable biographies nowadays even though he lived 2,000 years ago. From this book, I think Julius Caesar was a leader of genius due to his wit, character and leadership. Some excerpts:

Nevertheless, Caesar made active preparations for an expedition to Britain, because he knew that in almost all the Gallic campaigns the Gauls had received reinforcements from the Britons. Even if there was not time for a campaign that season, he thought it would be of great advantage to him merely to visit the island, to see what its inhabitants were like, and to make himself acquainted with the lie of the land, the harbours, and the landing-places. (p. 119)

He saw with astonishment the towers, sappers' huts, and earthworks constructed by the Gauls, and, when Cicero's legion was paraded, found that not one man in ten remained unwounded. He was thus able to realize how grave the peril had been, and with what resolution had been conducted. He gave Cicero the high praise he deserved, congratulated the whole legion, and spoke individually to the centurions and military tribunes who were mentioned by Cicero as having specially distinguished themselves. (p. 157)

'Much as I admire the heroism that you showed,' he went on, 'in refusing to be daunted by a fortified camp, a high mountain, and a walled fortress, I cannot too strongly condemn your bad discipline and your presumption in thinking that you know better than your commander-in-chief how to win a victory or to foresee the results of an action. I want obedience and self-restraint from my soldiers, just as much as courage in the face of danger.' (p. 210)

I'm quite sure there are still some new "The Conquest of Gaul" translations published for interested readers to read but this one finely translated by S. A. Handford is understandable because of his "idiomatic translation allows modern readers to grasp the full sense of Caesar's exciting account." (back cover) Therefore, I think this is enough for those who can't read Latin. In a word, we can learn from him more when we read 'his account' rather than his biographies.
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Reading Progress

07/03/2011 page 128
47.0% "Even if there was not time for a campaign that season, he thought it would be of great advantage to him merely to visit the island, to see what its inhabitants were like, and to make himself acquainted with the lie of the land, the harbours, and the landing-places. (p. 119)"
07/05/2011 page 149
55.0% "Most of the tribes in the interior do not grow corn but live on milk and meat, and wear skins. All the Britons dye their bodies with woad, which produces a blue colour, and this gives them a more terrifying appearance in battle. (footnote, p. 136)"
07/06/2011 page 157
58.0% "His rival Vorenus ran up to rescue him in his distress, and all the Gauls immediately left Pullo, who they thought had been mortally wounded by the javelin, and turned upon Vorenus. ...It was now his turn to be surrounded, but Pullo came to his aid; both of them escaped unhurt, and after killing a number of the enemy returned to camp covered with glory. (p. 153)"
07/10/2011 page 211
78.0% "... on seeing the enemy close at hand and the situation extremely critical, borrowed arms from the nearest soldiers and posted himself in the gateway. ... Baculus was severely wounded and fainted, and the others just managed to save him by passing him back from hand to hand. This respite gave the rest of the troops time to recover courage enough to man to fortifications and make a show of defence. (p. 173)"
07/12/2011 page 220
81.0% "There was a Gaul standing before one of the gates and throwing into flames, opposite one of our towers, lumps of tallow and pitch that were passed along to him. An arrow from a catapult pierced his right side and he fell dead. Another near him stepped over his prostrate body and took over his job. When he likewise was killed by the catapult, a third took his place, and so they went on. (p. 194)"
07/15/2011 page 247
91.0% "After deciding the matter in this way, Caesar advised the Aedui to forget their disputes and quarrels and allow nothing to distract them from the war they had on hand. They might look forwatd to receiving from him the rewards they deserved when the conquest of Gaul was completed. (p. 199)"
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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umberto Thanks, Majenta, I appreciate your encouragement.


umberto Thanks, Henry, I appreciate your encouragement.


umberto Thanks, Sam, I appreciate your encouragement.


umberto Thanks, Diana, I appreciate your encouragement.


umberto Thanks, pegah, I appreciate your encouragement.


umberto Thanks, Maureen, I appreciate your encouragement.


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