Saturday, October 13, 2012

Latin IV Caesar Essay Prompt #1

In the Book I of De Bello Gallico, Caesar devotes a considerable amount of time to describing his opponents the Gauls and the series of events that brought these peoples into conflict with the Romans. Using the text we have read thus far, assess the way in which Caesar characterizes the Gauls and which of these traits (if any) traits they have in common with the Romans.

N.B.: Due to the late posting of this prompt, you will have until 11:59 pm, Monday the 15th, to post your reply.

4 comments:

Akhil Padarti said...

Caesar is the military general of Rome, and is fighting in the Gallic Wars. He is considered to be one of the most successful Romans ever. He was able to command to people. They supported him all the way to the end. One of the main reasons that they were so loyal to him was because he had convinced them of his true power. He had shown in intelligence through his book De Bello Gallico. Caesar knew that being a general and winning an important war would help his changes to achieve his ambition.
However, his first step to make the Gauls the enemy. He can’t let anyone have a soft spot for the Gauls. That is why he describes the Gauls are barbaric. When describing the Belgians, he says, “a cultu atque humanitate provinciae longissime absunt.” (ln 5-6). He is saying, in English, they are removed from the very far away, culture and nature of the province. He is saying that for so long they have not been civilized because they are far away from the Roman Provinces. He is saying that he they are barbaric, because they are not in contact with the Romans. He is alienating them, so this creates the effect of ignorance and it is human nature to think ourselves as superior to everyone, especially those that we don’t know. This cause all the people back home to hate the Belgians. Caesar also characterizes the Gauls are people that fight every day. When, he is describing the Helvetians, he say that they surpass the valor of the remaining Gauls because, “fere cotidianis proeliis cum Germanis contendunt.” (ln 10 - 11). In English, he is saying that the Helvetians strive for battle everyday with the Germans. He is not only giving factual information, but also implying that the Gauls are not docile people. These are war – hungry people looking for battle. No one has any sympathy for blood – thirsty people.
However, this trait also applies for the Romans as well. The Gauls and Romans are not very different in their foreign policy. They want to conquer more land and keep enemies of their land. It is almost like they are waiting for a reason to fight. This is the reason Caesar fought the Gallic War; he could have stopped the war anytime. Especially, after he overcame the Helvetians. There was no reason to fight the Germans and there definitely had no reason to sail the English Channel and fight the British tribes. He wants the glory of winning a war and he will wage a war for the glory.

Abel Melghem said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Abel Melghem said...

From the absolute beginning, we can see just what Caesar thinks of the Gauls and their conflict with the Romans. In the first passage, Caesar begins with his description of the landscape that he and his armies are traversing. He gives great care in the detail he uses to describe these lands, trying to make it sound very different from the lands that the Romans are used to traveling. Caesar also takes great effort to sort of undermine the way of life with the Gauls. He often times refers to them as “those people” when he is referring to women and children of the tribe. He does not spend much time telling the story of how he conquered these women and children, mostly because he is looking for the flash and show that will get the Roman Senate and ultimately the people to back him up on what he is doing. In the second lesson he refers to two of the members of the Senate to try and gain favor with the people. It sounds as if he is trying to say that despite being so far away from the home front, he is still keeping with the Roman traditions. His characterization of the tasks ahead of him almost sounds hurtful towards the Gauls. When he introduces Orgetorix as the main “bad guy” so to speak, he tries to undermine everything that he does as evil or wicked, mostly because it is opposition to what Casear himself is striving for. But from the text, one can tell that despite this, Caesar seems to have some semblance of respect for Orgetorix, calling him the “most Roman” of the Gauls. Despite this, Caesar still tries to make Orgetorix’s deeds sound wrong while trying to make his own seem glorious and flashy. When he describes Orgetorix’s death, Caesar almost makes it sound as though he knew all along that he had this coming, and that it was “right and just” that he be punished. So, even though Orgetirix is the most Roman of the barbarians, he deserves the most punishment because of it? Essentially, this is the backbone of Caesar’s argument thus far, and I am anxious to see what he has in store for us next.

RCLaVallee said...

Caesar creates an image of the Gauls that is completely foreign to Romans. He begins to depict them as wild creatures that live in the forests and fight whenever they have a chance. The ferocity and uncivilized nature of the Helvetians is where he based his description. In order to justify his tactics and pursuit of this group of people, he separates them from the normal Roman ideals and alienates them.
Caesar shows that they do have some Roman- like traits, such as the desire to gain more land. However he downplays this into a cause to destroy them. He needs to crush these people because of their similarities in aspirations to his own people. Despite the difference in basic values and culture, they are still powerful and have the desire to grow. Because he is justifying his actions, Caesar could not clearly state his reasons to the Roman people without harsh opposition. For this reason he creates a rift between them by describing their location and remote conditions. He tells how they live in “the furthest reaches of Gaul” and “across the Rhine” which all Romans know of, but still think of with an unfamiliar view. They seem so distant and unknown, that the vision of barbaric monsters is not hard to create.
Orgetorix has the most Roman Traits out of the Helvetians. He has powerful aspirations and Caesar must make his own desires surpass them in morality and size. Caesar therefore makes himself look greater through Orgetorix being a strong enemy, “among the Helvetii the most noble and rich is Orgetorix.” Romans wouldn’t want to be known as a people that pillage and conquer weak civilizations that can’t even defend themselves. Caesar knows that and thus the Helvetians become a force to be reckoned with. They are now a mighty force that does must be crushed in order for Rome to prosper as it should. “The Helvetii also surpass the valor of the remaining Gauls, because they strive for battle nearly every day.” Now that his fight is justly warranted, Caesar can continue to escalate his own success.