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Julius Caesar Was a Swell Guy (according to War Commentaries of Caesar by Julius Caesar)

June 9, 2021

I’m reading War Commentaries of Julius Caesar by Julius Caesar (translated by Rex Warner), and I’m impressed by how fairly Caesar treated everyone he dealt with. He especially treated his potential enemies fairly. At least, according to Julius Caesar he did.

In the paragraph below, Caesar writes about how he dealt with Ariovistus, the leader of a major German tribe that was threatening a Roman ally in Gaul:


When we met together I began my speech by reminding him of the kindnesses he had received from me and from the senate. He had been given by the senate the titles “King” and “Friend”; and he had also received a number of magnificent presents-a very rare privilege indeed, as I pointed out to him, and one usually reserved only for those who had done great personal service to Rome. Yet he, without any proper right even to be received by the senate and with no real reason for making any petition, had been rewarded as I had mentioned. He owed these rewards entirely to my generosity and that of the senate.


I don’t necessarily trust Caesar’s account of what happened. I’d like to read Ariovistus’s version of events, but I think he got killed. If he wrote anything, I haven’t been able to find it. That’s okay; Ariovistus probably would have been lying too.

I usually don’t read memoirs because people usually lie about themselves to make themselves look good. One of the best selling books of 2020 was a memoir of a famous political figure, and I’m not going to read it because I don’t trust his version of events.

To be fair, I won’t buy any memoirs of that politician’s opponents either.

I’m a little disheartened by this; if you can’t trust Julius Caesar, who can you trust?

  1. I suppose the book would be trustworthy if it had a postface commending the accuracy of the Ceasar’s book written by Brutus.

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