When War Was Civil

Civil War by J. Caesar

Reading the Penguin Classic of Civil War wasn’t as trying as I thought it would be. This is actually a pretty good read. Of course, reason for reading it could have something to do with a personal interest in understanding the beginning of the end of great empires and not so much my interest in JC. What’s really fascinating is the idear that Caesar actually wrote this. Or did he? It’s hard to believe he wrote everything. If so, what was the proximity of his chronicler? Reading the short text about Caesar hearing the news of Pompey’s death is kind of a disappointment. But then again, perhaps Caesar (or chronicler) allowed himself a bit of contempt for this particular adversary. It was interesting how the book mentions Cleopatra. It’s as though she were on Caesar’s mind. Or is that just worst-writer getting ahead of himself? Nomatter. I only wish I was scholarly enough to figure out what was actually written by the man. After reading this, one question came to my mind: Where has the mystique of Caesar gone? This book certainly wakes that up in moi. Not that it matters. The book ends with a short speech by Caesar from the Chapter The Spanish War:

“At the start of my quaestorship I determined that this above all provinces should be my especial concern and I lavished on it such a good offices as were at the time in my power. Later in my exalted position as praetor I secured from the Senate remission of the taxes imposed by Metellus and freed the province from that payment. Once I had undertaken the patronage of the province I protected it, introducing many deputations into the Senate and undertaking many lawsuits, both public and private, and so incurring the enmity of many men. As consul too, although absent, I did what good I could for the province. I have found you, both in the course of this war and in earlier times, unmindful of all these benefits and ungrateful both to me and to the Roman people.

Acquainted though you are with the principles of international equity and with the laws of the Romans, like barbarians you have time and again raised your hands against the sacred magistracies of the Roman people. You impiously determined to kill Cassius in broad daylight in the middle of the forum. You have always so detested peace that at no time have the legions of the Roman people ceased to be stationed in the province. You consider kindnesses as injuries, wrongs as benefits. As a result, you have never been able to maintain either harmony in peace-time or a resolute spirit in time of war. You admitted young Gnaeus Pompeius, while a fugitive and a private citizen; you let him seize the rods of office and military power for himself. After killing many citizens he got together a force to attack the Roman people, and with your encouragement he ravaged the countryside of the province. In what conflict do you emerge as victors? Did you not ralize that, even if I were destroyed, the Roman people has legions which could not only stop you, but could even bring the skies tumbling down about you? Thanks to their courage and renown…”

(The manuscript ends.)

Here Wiki link for further reading about the manuscript.

Rant on.