Book Review: The Landmark Julius Caesar: The Complete Works: Gallic War, Civil War, Alexandrian War, African War, and Spanish War

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by Kurt A. Raaflaub and Cynthia Damon, translators and editors

New York: Anchor / Penguin Random House, 2017. Pp. xcii, 804. Illus., maps, appends., gloss., biblio., index, weblinks. $30.00 paper. ISBN: 0307455440

Caesar’s Wars, In His Own Words

In addition to his military and political achievements, in his lifetime Caesar (100-44 B.C.) was a rather noted author and scholar, considered an outstanding stylist, producing works on the Latin language, poetry, law, drama, politics, and, of course, his famous war commentaries. Alas for history, little of Caesar’s work survives (see The Cambridge Companion to the Writings of Julius Caesar). What we do have, however, is important, the fourteen “books” of war commentaries; eight of The Gallic War (one not by him), three books of The Civil War, and then one each on The Alexandrian War, The African War, and The Spanish War, none of which was by Caesar.

The volume opens with a long introduction by Raaflaub and Cynthia Damon which covers Caesar's life and literary output, and addresses issues of authorship. We then get a fresh translation by Prof. Raaflaub of the fourteen books bearing Caesar’s name, with annotations and commentary. These address matters of corruption in the text, phrasing or statements likely unfamiliar to modern readers, comments about Roman customs, the dates of particular events, of which Caesar was very careless, and more to help the modern reader better understand the events being described.

The book includes appendices on persons mentioned by Caesar, Roman currency and units of measurement, the Roman calendar, and the Roman army. In addition, links are provided to over 40 additional appendices, addressing an enormous range of subjects, such as Gallic life and culture, provincial administration, strategy, chronology, and particular battles or campaigns, such as Caesar’s operations in Britain or the siege of Dyrrachium.

The Landmark Julius Caesar is an absolutely essential work for anyone interested in Caesar, Roman history, or the fall of the Republic.

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Note: The Landmark Julius Caesar is also available in e-editions.

 

StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

www.nymas.org


Reviewer: A.A. Nofi   


Buy it at Amazon.com




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