Julius Caesar: The Gallic War Books V-VI. Gerrish, Jennifer (9781800856295). Hardback.

Julius Caesar: The Gallic War Books V-VI. Gerrish, Jennifer (9781800856295). Hardback.

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Books V-VI of Julius Caesar’s The Gallic War narrate Caesar’s campaigns in Britain, Gaul, and Germany in 55 and 54 BCE. His political rival Pompey was at the height of his popularity in Rome, making it all the more incumbent upon Caesar to deliver exciting news of victories. Book V should have been the tale of triumphant conquest in Britain, but Caesar’s campaign was underwhelming; Caesar the politician and general thus needed assistance from Caesar the author. In Books V and VI Caesar masterfully compensates for the lacklustre British campaign with a dramatic account of his forceful suppression of Ambiorix’s revolt and new incursions into Germany; the narrative is further enlivened with speeches and digressions on the Britons, Germans, and the wonders of the Hercynian Forest. This English translation faithfully represents the clarity and precision of Caesar’s Latin while also conveying the drama of Caesar’s narrative in a voice that modern readers will find lively and accessible. A substantial introduction orients the reader to the historical and literary context of The Gallic War as well as to the complicated political and authorial career of Julius Caesar. The commentary covers topics of historical, literary, and linguistic interest, providing support to readers of both the English and Latin texts.

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