The Gallic War

The de Bello Gallico is Julius Caesar’s first-hand account of the Gallic War, written as a third-person narrative. In it, Caesar describes the battles and events that took place in the nine years he spent fighting the Celtic and Germanic tribes in Gaul that opposed Roman conquest.

The work has been a mainstay in Latin instruction because of its simple, direct prose. It begins with the frequently quoted phrase: Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres. It has been divided into eight books, with the last book being written by Aulus Hirtius, one of his legates, after Caesar’s death.

Vercingetorix Throws Down His Arms at the Feet of Julius Caesar, painting by Lionel Noel Royer, 1899.

His victories in Gaul had won Caesar great riches and glory, which alarmed his enemies in the Senate. They intended to prosecute Caesar for abuse of his authority upon his return, when he would lay down his imperium. Such prosecution would not only see Caesar stripped of his wealth and citizenship, but also negate all of the laws he enacted during his term as Consul and his dispositions as pro-consul of Gaul. To defend himself against these threats, Caesar knew he needed the support of the plebeians, particularly the Tribunes of the Plebs, on whom he chiefly relied for help in carrying out his agenda. The de Bello Gallico was an effort by Caesar to directly communicate with the plebeians – thereby circumventing the usual channels of communication that passed through the Senate – to propagandise his activities as efforts to increase the glory and influence of Rome. By winning the support of the people, Caesar sought to make himself unassailable from his enemies in the Senate.

Below a synopsis of each book will be given:

Book I

Book II

Book III

Book IV

Book V

Book VI

Book VII


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