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The role of battle narrative in the Bellum Gallicum
thesisposted on 2023-05-27, 12:36 authored by Nolan, DJ
This thesis examines the role of battle narrative in the Bellum Gallicum, to show that these passages, including contextual information, are fundamentally persuasive in nature as they are integrated into Caesar¬†¬¿s various self-promotional aims. To date a comprehensive analysis has not been undertaken of battle, and where it has been examined by military historians, investigations have often relied on the idea that these passages are primarily designed to reconstruct the details of the historical event. The thesis instead uses case studies to show these passages are not merely an attempt to describe historical events, but are fundamentally influenced by the desire to influence the audience. This can be a simple matter of reception, whether through the building of tension in the narrative, or the creation of a compelling account of a particular battle. More often however battle is used in conjunction with the campaign narrative to create an impression, or support an argument regarding Caesar¬†¬¿s interpretation of the episode, as battles are part of the interpretive structure of the text, where information conveys his self-promotional objectives. Furthermore, a major objective of these accounts is to support Caesar¬†¬¿s view of the various characters portrayed, and the narrative is used to create or encourage views of the individuals and peoples involved. Unsurprisingly, the most important figure represented in battle is Caesar, and self-aggrandisement or the deflection of criticism shapes the structure and content of these narratives at a fundamental level. A detailed analysis of these passages, and their relationship to the book in which they appear shows how Caesar structures battle narrative for self-promotion in various ways. Not only does such an examination reflect on the way that battle and other military information is presented, but it enables insight into the purposes that he had while writing these passages, and the extent to which he was willing to utilise battle narrative in the pursuit of the self promotional objectives of the work.
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