May 29, 2003

The Struggle for Gallic Freedom and Independence Reaches a Key Point

The struggle for Gallic freedom and independence from Rome reaches a critical point:

Julius Caesar's Warblog: 10. Vercingetorix: uddenly new enemy troop movements are visible. A force about 60,000 strong has concentrated at the most awkward point in our siegeworks: a hill too large to include in our defences, so that the camp there is built at a slight incline. Simultaneously Commius' cavalry has lined itself up facing the outer wall, while his infantry has left camp in battle order. And now troops once again pour out of Alesia. I'm looking for a position from which I can view all of these developments. This could be the big one...

Posted by DeLong at May 29, 2003 11:27 AM | TrackBack


Some of the excitement is lost because we pretty much know how it all turns out. On the other hand re-reading Caesar has several joys.

One I always relish is realising how much Churchill must have modelled himself on Caesar from a very early age, copying not merely the writing style, but also the method, that of dictating to relays of young and impressed male secretaries.

Posted by: David Lloyd-Jones on May 29, 2003 01:54 PM

The last battle was a triumph of engineering. The Romans built one wall completely surrounding the city and a second wall protecting the Roman forces from possible reinforcements. There might even have been a third wall. It's like the Celts were defeated by shovels and axes rather than weapons. (Caveat: everything I know comes from one book whose author I forget).

Supposedly the Celts might have won if they'd fought a scorched-earth guerrilla war, as Vercingetorix (sp.?) supposedly proposed. But they had a few cities and wanted to save them (or else they thought they were defensible, take your pick.) According to my source,if they had been willing to remain barbarian they might have prevailed; their social-climbing aspirations defeated them.

Centuries later, the Mongols had learned siege warfare from the Chinese and were good at it. On their European campaign one of them said something like "How nice of these soldiers to shut themselves up in their castles for us, like pigs waiting to be slaughtered."

Posted by: zizka on May 29, 2003 07:05 PM

Spades, not shovels.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on May 29, 2003 08:41 PM

As Maurice Sagoff classically summed it up in "ShrinkLits":

Caesar cari dona militari orgi versus Belgae,
Helvetii, Germani, Venetii, Britanni -- iunemit.
"Romis glorius," sed Caesar, "Nomen me impunit!"
Meni tridit -- Vercingetorix, forin stans --
Caesar noctim sili fors ticinis nec aut.
Ab ludi, nervi felo, Caius Julius, iubet.

Posted by: Jeffrey Kramer on May 30, 2003 12:07 AM
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