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The Roman Jews (1). Are They the Most Ancient Romans Surviving?

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Man of Roma:

No thoughts to add. Only to remind Lichanos that Romans do not surrender (and don’t take prisoners.)

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On a side note, the one-post-a-day discipline has ended so we’ll now post once every three days.

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More time for living? For writing?

Flavia: “Sei un universo introverso”
The Old Man: “Sei un universo estroverso”

Why on earth 2 opposite universes (not to mention one being a matriarch the other a patriarch, one a man one a woman) EVER got together?

ψ

Exeunt … *quarelling*

Exeunt … *smiling*

Mario: “BASTA!”

Originally posted on Man of Roma:

An image of the Roman Ghetto. Giggetto restaurant and Augustus' Porticus Octaviae behind An image of the Roman Ghetto. The famous Giggetto restaurant on the left with Augustus’ Porticus Octaviae in the background

“Who’s more Roman than the Roman Jews? Some of us date back from the times of Emperor Titus [39-81 AD]” – Davide Limentani told me in the early 80s.

Limentani was (and perhaps still is) at the head of a big wholesale and retail glass and silver company in Rome. I had phoned him three days earlier for an interview that had to be published on the Roman daily La Repubblica.

Ditta LimentaniI remember a lovely spring day in the old alleys of the Roman Ghetto, with swallows crying over a glorious blue sky. He was sitting at his desk in the aisle of an impressively ramified, catacomb-like store in via Portico d’Ottavia 47 (look at its stripped-down sign above,) crammed with an immense variety of crystal, pottery…

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14 Places in Egypt You Must Visit in 2014

14 Places in Egypt You Must Visit in 2014

Man of Roma:

Il Cairo. From Ansa. Fair use

Il Cairo. From Ansa. Fair use

[Needs some pruning perhaps and related posts and links at the end. After this blog’s new graphical clothing is up and running. Too many WordPress pages tangled with posts: custom menus  may be the solution]

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An excellent blog about Egypt. I will hunt for others.

Mario: “Why Egypt?”

MoR: “Everybody liking Antiquity must have Egypt in his / her mind.”

Fulvia: “I thought Greece and Rome shaped what became later the ‘proud West’ that conquered the world”

Extropian: “C’mon, Fulvia, that I can’t take my eyes away from your bazookas doesn’t mean you haven’t said ‘na stronzata!”
*they all laughing & winking at her*

The Tobacconist: “Allow me, Fulvia, friends. That the Greco-Romans of any time went, for their Grand Tour, to Egypt and to other Semitic lands – and beyond, with links to Mesopotamia & India – is a historical fact.”

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A conversation actually occurring at an outdoors cafe in Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, clouds looming all over.

Campo dei Fiori a Roma. Cielo nuvoloso

Campo de’ Fiori a Roma. Cielo nuvoloso. Source. Courtesy of OtveTur.ru. Click on last link for great pictures of Rome

Clodia standing not far and overhearing our conversatioin, sits at our table in a flash.

A high-brow seductive slut of 45, Clodia. Some of us call her Lesbia, Catullus’ lascivious-refined lover).

“My dear friends – she breaks the ice – this conversation has captured my attention (and that female friend was so boring I much prefer here”
*Looking at the men furtively, her Scarlett-Johansson-like body invisibly vibrating*

“Should I remind you that in any philosophy manual for schools accurate scholars argue that philosophy and science were born in Greece? That other races, considered well not lower – on peut pas dire cela – toutefois incapable …”

ω

Everyone ignores her words, rejected in a quasi-careless way due to their absurdity, although, thing being, we are also – men and women alike – absolutely mesmerized by Clodia’s sensual magic.

It pervades the air round us since she sat down. Spring, despite the lousy weather, not helping much either.

ω

“A sensuality that could rival that of Cleopatra (had Cleopatra been less intelligent)” was the thought of a few of us.

Wrong, Clodia is refined and cultivated, but Cleopatra (Κλεοπάτρα Φιλοπάτωρ,) who seduced both Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius and (which counts much more) the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt c’mon.

Cleopatra VII in hieroglyphs

Cleopatra VII (69 BCE – 30 BCE), last Pharaoh of Egypt, in hieroglyphs. Click for source. Wikipedia

Vénus de l'Esquilin or Venus Esquilina

Esquiline Venus, found in 1874 on the Esquiline Hill in Rome (from the Horti Lamiani possibly). Capitoline Museums, Rome. To some scholar the model for this statue was Cleopatra herself

The Samnite, 30, his brand-new Sony smartphone in his left hand, saves us all:

“Let me see … yes. In A.L. Basham introduction to Oxford’s A cultural History of India one reads:

“The four main cradles of civilizations …. moving from east to west … [were] China, the Indian subcontinent, the Fertile Crescent, and the Mediterranean, especially Greece and Italy.”

Extropian: “That the Greco-Romans (and, later, proud conquering West) were considered the high races and the Semitic and other folks the lower races (incapable of real philosophy and science – you find it in almost all European manuals of the first half of the 1900, not just those by a certain type of German historians in the 1930’s.”

The Samnite: “Which means justifying colonialism with ideology and history (of philosophy, science etc.)”

MoR: “Despite the fact that history is never neutral, yes, this is the idea.”

Egyptian jewel

Egyptian jewel

 

Enjoy Egypt’s Antiquity, readers, much more ancient than the Greeks (and deeper in wisdom & philosophy, what do you think?)

Originally posted on Egyptian Streets:

Credit: Mohamed Hakem The White Desert Credit: Mohamed Hakem

While Egypt may be facing political and social turmoil, Egypt’s exotic, mysterious and historic locations continue to stand, receiving adventurers and explorers. If you are thinking of exploring Egypt in 2014, then here are 14 must-visit places in Egypt, along with others that you should already have planned to see!

(Note: Many of these photographs are thanks to Mohamed Hakem. Check out his blog heremhakem.com)

1. The White Desert

1 Credit: Mohamed Hakem

While it may look like the moon, this photograph was taken at the White Desert near Bahareya Oasis. The white surfaced desert which resembles an alien planet has been used to film Sci-Fi movies, including Vin Diesel’s Riddick. The desert is renowned for its rock formations, safari trips, and over night camping.

2. Sultan Qalawun Mosque in Old Cairo

Sultan Qalawun Mosque in Old Cairo Credit: Mohamed Hakem

8 Credit: Mohamed Hakem

While Old Cairo is filled…

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A Berber from the Monti rione makes (today) jewels. The Berber Augustine (2000 years ago) shook Antiquity & Rome. Both changed (never to change)

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Italian original

[Draft. We’ll stop posting for a few days, this blog crying badly for graphical renovation]

A Berber jeweler,
in today’s Subura

Not far from our house and from Rome’s ancient Subura there’s a little shop where a Berber Tuareg – a tall, dark-skinned man of a majestic beauty – makes splendid jewels that perpetuate a multimillenial tradition – married, inter alia, with an equally beautiful woman from Northern Italy.

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The Samnite: “An ‘acquired’ Roman, one might say.”
The Tobacconist *nodding, with a radiant smile*

A Berber metaphysician
2,000 years ago

Saint Augustine and Saint Monica by Ary Scheffer (1846)

Saint Augustine and Saint Monica, his mother. 1846 painting by French Ary Scheffer (Wikipedia, click for credits and larger image)

Another ‘acquired’ Roman – born almost 2000 years earlier (and Berber too from his mother’s side) was Augustine of Hippo.

More precisely, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis (354 – 430 CE,) his family having been legally Roman for more than a century.

Augustinus didn’t make jewels but he almost certainly wore some very similar to those made in the small shop of the Monti rione.

The African sage ruminated, instead, his vast soul tormented.

Augustine praying in his study, by Sandro Botticelli, 1480, Chiesa di Ognissanti, Florence, Italy. Credits

Augustine praying in his study, by Sandro Botticelli, 1480 (detail.) Chiesa di Ognissanti, Florence, Italy. Credits and entire painting

From such torment stemmed The Confessions and most of all The City of God – two visionary works that only a Berber-Punic Algerian could conceive.

An explosion of visions, ideas, and mysticism.

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The pagan gods were shaken (but adapted themselves).

The myth of Rome was nearly destroyed – the City of God, metaphysically celestial, going way beyond the Urbs beacon of the Orb (though Rome adapted and survived, licking her wounds.)

Tomba di S. Agostino nella Basilica di San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro a Pavia

Tomba di S. Agostino nella Basilica di San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro a Pavia, Italia. Source (bigger picture)

 

Governess of a billion souls (of nations no more), with a Pontifex Maximus, Francesco, shepherd at last and close to the poor (like Augustine), Rome the eternal looks today at the greatest intellectual of the first millennium CE (on this side of the planet.)

With deep love and profound respect.

 

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We, in our lowest pochezza, nurture the same feelings.

Without forgetting, allow us, that our roots are, and remain, pagan.

 

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

Nota. L’idea mistico terrena di Roma, cemento ideologico dell’Impero Romano, venne indebolita, e l’impero con essa, dall’esplosione creativa di Agostino.

Ma l’idea non morì (e mai morirà).

ψ

Si pensi solo che gli ultimi due imperi del continente europeo dissoltisi con la prima guerra mondiale erano guidati da uno Zar, russo, e da un Kaiser, tedesco. Sia Zar che Kaiser significano Cesare, ovvero:

Gaius Julius Caesar, Pontifex Maximus e iniziatore dell’impero romano.

[Se uno credesse ai segni … ma non ci crediamo]

 

 

 

Un berbero di Monti (oggi) fabbrica gioielli. Il berbero Agostino (due millenni fa) scuote l’antichità e Roma. Che cambiano (per non cambiare mai)

_public_media_croci tuareg

English translation

[We’ll stop posting for a few days, this blog crying badly for graphical renovation]

Gioiellere berbero,
nella Suburra, oggi

Non lontano da casa nostra e dalla Suburra c’è un negozietto dove un berbero Tuareg – uomo alto, dalla pelle scura e di maestosa bellezza – fa gioielli meravigliosi che continuano una tradizione plurimillenaria (tra l’altro essendosi unito a una donna anch’essa molto bella, del Nord Italia).

ψ

The Samnite: “Un romano ‘acquisito’, si potrebbe dire”.
The Tobacconist *annuendo, un sorriso luminoso*

Pensatore Berbero,
2000 anni fa

Saint Augustine and Saint Monica by Ary Scheffer (1846)

Saint Augustine and Saint Monica, his mother. 1846 painting by French Ary Scheffer (Wikipedia, click for credits and larger image)

‘Acquisito’ lo fu un altro romano di quasi 2000 anni fa, berbero anch’egli da parte di madre, Agostino d’Ippona.  Per la precisione, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis (354 – 430 d.C), di famiglia legalmente romana, appunto, da più di un secolo.

Augustinus non faceva gioielli (ne avrà solo indossati di simili a quelli del Tuareg di Monti).

Augustinus in verità pensava. E si travagliava.

Augustine praying in his study, by Sandro Botticelli, 1480, Chiesa di Ognissanti, Florence, Italy. Credits

Augustine praying in his study, by Sandro Botticelli, 1480 (detail.) Chiesa di Ognissanti, Florence, Italy. Credits and entire painting

Da tale travaglio nacquero Le Confessioni e soprattutto La Città di Dio, due libri geniali che solo un punico berbero algerino poteva scrivere.

Un’esplosione di visioni, idee e misticismo.

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Gli dei pagani ne furono scossi (ma si adattarono).

ll mito di Roma ne fu quasi distrutto – la Città di Dio metafisicamente celeste andava oltre l’urbe faro terreno dell’orbe (ma Roma si adattò e sopravvisse, leccandosi le ferite).

Tomba di S. Agostino nella Basilica di San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro a Pavia

Tomba di S. Agostino nella Basilica di San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro a Pavia, Italia. Source (bigger picture)

 

Governatrice di un miliardo di anime (non più di popoli), con un Pontifex Maximus, Francesco, finalmente pastore e vicino alla povera gente (come Augustinus), Roma l’eterna guarda oggi al più grande intellettuale del primo millennio d.C.

Con amore profondo, e con rispetto.

ψ

Noi, nella nostra infima pochezza, proviamo gli stessi sentimenti.

Pur non dimenticando, ci sia concesso, che le nostre radici sono e restano pagane.

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

Nota. L’idea mistico terrena di Roma, cemento ideologico dell’Impero Romano, venne indebolita, e l’impero con essa, dall’esplosione creativa di Agostino.

Ma l’idea non morì (e mai morirà).

ψ

Si pensi solo che gli ultimi due imperi del continente europeo dissoltisi con la prima guerra mondiale erano guidati da uno Zar, russo, e da un Kaiser, tedesco. Sia Zar che Kaiser significano Cesare:

Giulio Cesare, Pontifex Maximus e iniziatore dell’impero.

[Se uno credesse ai segni … ma non ci crediamo]

 

 

 

France, Italy and the Legacy of Rome

Man of Roma:

Ce poste n’est pas daté, j’espère, et en tout cas il exprime l’amour des Italiens pour les Français.

Originally posted on Man of Roma:

The Roman Empire at its peak. Rome, via dei Fori Imperiali

Rome’s legacy is greater than we think – “language, literature, legal codes, government, architecture, engineering, medicine, sports, arts, etc.” – and the Roman Empire has been a powerful myth in the course of the centuries.

After Rome’s fall in 476 CE, the Holy Roman Empire, thus called since 962 CE, started to develop in 800 CE when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne in Rome as ‘Emperor and Augustus of the Romans’.

This Empire – Frankish, Germanic and later Austrian, dissolved in 1806 only – considered itself as the heir of the “First Rome” (the Western Roman Empire,) while the Hellenized Eastern Roman Empire, Byzantium, was called the “Second Rome” and remained unconquered until 1453 CE.

When also Byzantium (Constantinople) fell, even the Islamic conqueror, the Ottoman Mehmed II, thought he was continuing the power of Rome and tried to “re-unite the Empire” although his march towards Italy was…

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Conquest Of Gaul. Debate On Julius Caesar’s Conduct, Motives, Achievements (2)

Vercingetorix surrenders to Caesar by Henri Paul Motte

Vercingetorix before Caesar (by Henri Paul Motte, 1886)

As regards Julius Caesars conquest of Gaul (and other actions of his) we will here just scratch the surface of a debate (among admirers mostly) on Caesar’s conduct, motives and achievements.

The debate among Caesar’s detractors will be the subject of the two upcoming posts (a list of all installments is at the foot of the page.)

Imperialism by ‘historical necessity’

We are dealing here with imperialism, it is clear, justified by some as ‘historical necessity’ (not the time now to get into philosophy of history.)

Luciano Canfora‘s judgement on Caesar is in truth multifaceted (Giulio Cesare, il dittatore democratico, Mondadori 2010, XV, pp. 137-8; English translation):

“Gaul was thus inserted by violence and genocide into the circuit of the Roman ‘civilization’ … Naturally, the romanization of Gaul is a phenomenon of such a historical amplitude as to impose the question of whether the accounting of the dead proposed with extreme clarity by Pliny the Elder (together with the harsh accusation that Caesar hid his figures) should not however give way, on the plane of historical assessment, to what can be considered the crucial event in the formation of medieval and later modern Europe.”

Gaul at the time of Caesar

Gaul at the time of Caesar. Click for attribution

Mere ambition
or conquest with a big vision?

As for “whether Caesar’s conquest was motivated by mere ambition” rather than by the design of opening a ‘new frontier’, Canfora observes:

“As if the two things could really be distinguished in the work of a great statesman.”

Theodor Mommsen too had argued (History of Rome, V,7. The Subjugation of the West):

“It is more than an error, it is an outrage upon the sacred spirit dominant in history, to regard Gaul solely as the parade ground on which Caesar exercised himself and his legions for the impending civil war.”

“Though the subjugation of the West was for Caesar so far a means to an end that he laid the foundations of his later height of power in the Transalpine wars, it is the especial privilege of a statesman of genius that his means themselves are ends in their turn. Caesar needed no doubt for his party aims a military power, but he did not conquer Gaul as a partisan.”

“There was a direct political necessity for Rome to meet the perpetually threatened invasion of the Germans thus early beyond the Alps, and to construct a rampart there which should secure the peace of the Roman world.”

Hermann Heights Monument erected in New Ulm, Minnesota

Hermann Monument erected in New Ulm (Minnesota), a town founded by German immigrants in 1854. Wikimedia

Were German migrations
Rome’s big problem?

According to 19th century Mommsen, one of Caesar’s main merits was that of understanding who the big enemy of Rome actually was:

“Inasmuch as [Caesar] with sure glance perceived in the German tribes the rival antagonists of the Romano-Greek world;
inasmuch as with firm hand he established the new system of aggressive defense down even to its details, and taught men to protect the frontiers of the empire by rivers or artificial ramparts, to colonize the nearest barbarian tribes along the frontier with the view of warding off the more remote, and to recruit the Roman army by enlistment from the enemy’s country;
he gained for the Hellenico-Italian culture the interval necessary to civilize the West …”

Hermann, Armin or Arminius, chieftain of the Germanic Cherusci

Hermann chieftain of the Germanic Cherusci. His victory over a Roman army in the Teutoburg forest (9 AD) made him a symbol of German patriotism

Today’s views by historians are more complex. A number of factors (not only German mass migrations, seen mostly as gradual integration) are seen as causes of Rome’s fall (see a list of theories about why Rome fell).

Furthermore, Germania at the time of Caesar (1rst cent. BC; or of Augustus and Hermann, 1rst cent. AD) was backward compared to Germania in the 4th-5th centuries AD.

As Peter Heather put it (The Fall of the Roman Empire. A new History. I,2. Pan Books 2005):

“It could hardily be clearer that 19th-century visions of an ancient German nation were way off target … the inhabitants of first century Germania [Germans, Celts and another unidentified group, according to Heather] had no capacity to formulate and put into practice a sustained and unifying political agenda (p.55.)”

It was therefore not German military prowess – Heather continues, p.58 – to scare the Romans off Germania, but its poverty [different was the case of richer Gaul, MoR.]

The issue of Parthia

The Parthian (Persian) empire soon after Caesar time

The Parthian (Persian) empire a few years after Caesar’s time. According to many historians Persia was Rome’s main antagonist. Wikipedia

Getting back to Caesar’s motives for conquering Gaul, he was surely aware of the German danger (L. Canfora). That he wrote this in the Commentarii as justification for his wars doesn’t though prove much.

Caesar’s literary work was political. Caesar’s bloody conquest had outraged many of his adversaries. The roman general needed to indicate his conquest as preemptive.

The Cimbri‘s and Teutones‘ dreadful raids in Gaul and Italy – occurred 50 years earlier – could have nonetheless brought serious problems to Rome had Gaius Marius, Caesar’s uncle, not stopped them.

Caesar was therefore aware of the danger even before facing Ariovistus. That Germani were considered by him Rome’s big problem is doubtful though. It is more likely that the Romans, in the various phases of their empire, feared more the much stronger and civilized power of the Parthians in the East [Heather, p.48 et. al.; see also Roman-Parthian wars.]

Parthian horseman. Palazzo Madama, Torino, Italy.

Parthian horseman. Palazzo Madama, Torino, Italy. Wikipedia

Some evidence shows this may have also been Caesar’s view.

Crassus, Caesar’s amicus, had been defeated in 55 BC at Carrhae by the Parthians of his time (Crassus had been killed and 7 legions annihilated). All this had happened during Caesar’s Gallic wars.

So Caesar, as Mommsen wrote, “taught men to protect the frontiers of the empire” toward Germania but did not plan any conquest of Germania beyond the Rhine. In the last period of his life he was instead preparing a military expedition against the Parthians which he could not carry out because he was murdered in 44 BC.

[the two paragraphs above reflect MoR‘s opinion]

“Reorganization of the State,
more than Gaul, was crucial”

The weakness of the declining Roman aristocracy, according to Mommsen, meant danger to Rome.

“It hardly admits of a doubt – he argued – that if the rule of the senate had prolonged its semblance of life … the Italian civilization would not have become naturalized either in Gaul, or on the Danube, or in Africa and Spain.”

Irish Ciarán Hinds as Julius Caesar in 'Rome',  an HBO BBC TV series

Irish Ciarán Hinds as Julius Caesar in ‘Rome’, a British-American-Italian historical drama TV series

The British historian Arnold Joseph Toynbee (1889 – 1975; Julius Caesar current Britannica’s entry) downplays the importance of the conquest of Gaul by Caesar. To him the reorganization of the state and the removal of an oligarchy no longer à la hauteur was more crucial. 

“Great though this achievement was, its relative importance in Caesar’s career and in Roman history has been overestimated … In Caesar’s mind his conquest of Gaul was probably carried out only as a means to his ultimate end. He was acquiring the military manpower, the plunder, and the prestige that he needed to secure a free hand for the prosecution of the task of reorganizing the Roman state and the rest of the Greco-Roman world. This final achievement of Caesar’s looms much larger than his conquest of Gaul, when it is viewed in the wider setting of world history.”

Caesar vs Shih Huang Ti

A.J. Toynbee here sings praises to Caesar’s overall achievements.

Caesar“This cool-headed man of genius with an erratic vein of sexual exuberance undoubtedly changed the course of history at the Western end of the Old World.”

“By liquidating the scandalous and bankrupt rule of the Roman nobility, he gave the Roman state —and with it the Greco-Roman civilization— a reprieve that lasted for more than 600 years in the East and for more than 400 years in the relatively backward West. […] The prolongation of the life of the Greco-Roman civilization had important historical effects.”

Qinshihuang“Caesar’s political achievement was limited. Its effects were confined to the Western end of the Old World and were comparatively short-lived by Chinese or ancient Egyptian standards. The Chinese state founded by Shih Huang Ti in the 3rd century BC still stands, and its future may be still greater than its past.

Yet, even if Caesar were to prove to have been of lesser stature than this Chinese colossus, he would still remain a giant by comparison with the common run of human beings.”

ψ

Other installments:

Julius Caesar’s Conquest Of Gaul. When North-West Europe & The Mediterranean ‘Embraced’ (1)
“Caesar was like the wind. Can we condemn the wind? And yet what scourge can it bring forth!” (3)
The ‘Black Book’ Of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Campaign (4)

See also:

France, Italy and the Legacy of Rome
Stress and Joy. Conquest and Sorrow

Julius Caesar’s Conquest Of Gaul. When North-West Europe & The Mediterranean ‘Embraced’ (1)

Statue of Vercingetorix in Burgundy

19th century statue of Vercingétorix (by Aimé Millet) near the village of Alise-Sainte-Reine, Burgundy, France. © T. Clarté. Click for credits

Italian version

What kind of world would we live in today without Julius Caesar and the “boundless home” he created in West and North Europe for Greco-Roman conquest, migration and influence?

Similarly, what kind of world would we live in today without Columbus, Cortez and Pizarro? Without the settlements of Europeans in North and South America (plus Australia, New Zealand etc.)?

Military & Cultural Conquest

What both examples have in common is military and cultural conquest.

The former regards the expansion of the Greco-Roman civilization towards West and North Europe.

The latter the expansion of the European civilization in South and North America (etc.).

Both historical events resulted in massive human cost among the conquered and in the tragic extinction of numerous cultures.

Dying Gaul. Musei Capitolini, Rome

Dying Gaul (actually a Celt from Galatia, called ‘Gaul of the East’). Capitoline Museums on Capitoline hill, Rome. Click for attribution

Controversial

With regard to Caesar, since this is a blog about Rome, the Roman general is a controversial figure without a doubt.

A butcher who regarded Gaul only “as the parade ground” on which to gain experience for the approaching civil war, an imperialist albeit with a great design in mind, a genius moved by ‘historical necessity’ (if such a thing exists) … one could write books on it (which in fact have been written.)

North & West Passage

Seen from today there is little doubt that the conquest of Gaul carried out by Julius Caesar from 58 BC to 50 BC (a vast, fertile, richly populated area, Gaul, corresponding to modern France, Belgium, the German lands west of the Rhine, South Holland and much of Switzerland) created a remarkable extension of the historical horizon of the Mediterranean.

Caesar added areas of West and North Europe to the Roman world

The extent of Roman rule in 40 BC (Wikipedia). From 58 BC to 50 BC areas of West and North Europe had been added to Rome by Caesar

Through that ‘passage’ opened up by Caesar a very large number of folks (Celtic, Germanic, from the North sea and later Baltic sea) will gradually embrace the Greco-Roman civilization up to form one body albeit with different souls, a passage or channel whose durable effect goes beyond the shifting of focal point from the Mediterranean to North Europe and elsewhere.

“The work of Caesar”

The German historian Theodor Mommsen (1817-1903), the leader of Caesar’s estimators, thus argues in his monumental History of Rome, (V,7. The Subjugation of the West) which earned him the Nobel Prize in 1902:

“What the Gothic Theodoric afterwards succeeded in [e.g. more than 5 centuries later, MoR,] came very near to being already carried out by Germanic Ariovistus,” defeated by Caesar.

[Mommsen refers to the Germanic leader of the Suevi, Ariovistus, who had entered Gaul by crossing the Rhine and had subdued many Gallic tribes in 60 BC. Caesar himself justified his conquest as preemptive action to protect Rome]

“Had it so happened, our civilization [eg Germanic, Northern, MoR] would have hardly stood in any more intimate relation to the Romano-Greek than to the Indian and Assyrian culture.”

“That there is a bridge connecting the past glory of Hellas and Rome with the prouder fabric of modern history; that Western Europe is Romanic, and Germanic Europe classic; that the names of Themistocles and Scipio have to us a very different sound from those of Ashoka and Shalmanaser; that Homer and Sophocles are not merely, like the Vedas and Kalidasa, attractive to the literary botanist, but bloom for us in our own garden—all this is the work of Caesar.”

Gaius Julius Caesar, Art History Museum, Vienna, Austria

Gaius Julius Caesar, Art History Museum, Vienna, Austria

Now, no historian is impartial, he reflecting his time, place and personal choices.

Mommsen was a 19th century German liberal, imbued with classical learning, who hated the Prussian Junkers (conservative landed nobility and backbone of the German army) and was sympathetic to Caesar’s fight against the senatorial oligarchy—which may have influenced his judgement on the Roman general.

In the next posts we will investigate a bit on Caesar’s actions, motives & consequences by listening to some of his admirers and detractors.

A Feeling Of Loss

Among the latter, Goethe spoke of repugnance for the triumphs of Caesar; Camille Jullian, the main French historian of Gaul and leader of those who lament the despoliation of Gallic culture, argued that the Gauls, before being crushed, were about to unite into something superior to the scattered tribes in competition with one another.

The feeling of loss from a Celtic civilization that could not express itself is well phrased by Olbodala, a French (or Belgian?) commentator to our blog:

“Certain(e)s d’entre nous (et je fais parti du lot) reprochent à l’Italie son passé belliqueux, et ce que leurs ancêtres Romains ont fait aux nôtres (Celtes et Germains).

Les Romains ont détruit notre culture (celtique et germanique) et civilisation, et l’on remplacé par la leur (greco-latine).

C’est un drame d’avoir une apparence physique celtique et germanique, mais d’avoir une langue et une culture incompatible avec nos origines septentrionales.”

Ceremonial Celtic Helmet from III century BC Gaul

Ceremonial Celtic Helmet from III century BC Gaul. Wikipedia

[“Some of us (I being among this number) blame Italy’s warlike past and what their Roman ancestors did to ours (Celts and Germans).

The Romans destroyed our culture (Celtic and Germanic) and civilization, and replaced it with theirs (Greek and Latin).

It is a tragedy to have a Celtic and Germanic physical appearance but to possess a language and a culture incompatible with our Northern origins.”]

ψ

Related posts:

Conquest Of Gaul. Debate On Julius Caesar’s Conduct, Motives, Achievements (2)
“Caesar was like the wind. Can we condemn the wind? And yet what scourge can it bring forth!” (3)
The ‘Black Book’ Of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Campaign (4)

France, Italy and the Legacy of Rome
Stress and Joy. Conquest and Sorrow
Caesar, Great Man (and Don Juan)

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