The Landmark Julius Caesar
The Complete Works: Gallic War, Civil War, Alexandrian War, African War, and Spanish War(amazon)
Robert B. Strassler and Kurt A. Raaflaub (View Bio)
Hardcover: Pantheon Books, 2017.
“A magnificent new English-language rendition. A superb addition to a superb series.”
The Landmark Julius Caesar is the definitive edition of the five works that chronicle the military campaigns of Julius Caesar. Together, these five narratives present a comprehensive picture of military and political developments leading to the collapse of the Roman republic and the advent of the Roman Empire.
The Gallic War is Caesar’s own account of his two invasions of Britain and of conquering most of what is today France, Belgium, and Switzerland. The Civil War describes the conflict in the following year, which, after the death of his chief rival, Pompey, and the defeat of Pompey’s heirs and supporters, resulted in Caesar’s emergence as the sole power in Rome. Accompanying Caesar’s own commentaries are three short but essential additional works, known to us as the Alexandrian War, the African War, and the Spanish War. These were written by three unknown authors who were clearly eyewitnesses and probably Roman officers.
Caesar’s clear and direct prose provides a riveting depiction of ancient warfare and, not incidentally, a persuasive portrait for the Roman people (and for us) of Caesar himself as a brilliant, moderate, and effective leader—an image that was key to his final success.
The masterful translation by Kurt A. Raaflaub—professor emeritus of classics and history at Brown University and former co-director of the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C.—skillfully brings out the clarity and elegance of Caesar’s style. Together with such Landmark features as maps, detailed annotations, appendices, and illustrations, this new translation will provide every reader with a rewarding and enjoyable experience.
"The goal of Robert B Strassler’s "Landmark Ancient Histories" series has been twofold and fairly simple since it started a decade ago with The Landmark Thucydides: create scholarly popular editions that are not only figuratively landmarks, drawing together important contributions from classicists, but also literally landmarks, since the series’ signature feature is the extensive collection of maps in every volume. Many classical authors were travellers as well; by land and sea they saw great swathes of their world, and their books reflect that. Scarcely anywhere in the classical canon is this more true than in the case of Julius Caesar, who travelled over the Roman world in both war and peace, and who had accounts of virtually all of those travels ghostwritten in great detail. The accounts were created in order to massage public opinion in Caesar’s favour, and it’s the good fortune of posterity that they survive to give invaluable glimpses into the workings of one of the most pivotal individuals in the ancient world. Those accounts—the Gallic War, the Civil War, the Alexandrian War, the African War, and the Spanish War—comprise the glorious new entry in Strassler’s series, The Landmark Julius Caesar, an oversized 800-page volume featuring the usual panoply of illustrations, diagrams and detailed maps, and also featuring a translation and copious new notes by Brown University classics professor emeritus Kurt A Raaflaub. Despite the stellar visuals throughout the book, Raaflaub’s translation is its standout feature…. That crucial role—and the controversial career leading up to it—receive a unique chronicle in the series of books that have come down to us under Caesar’s name, and this mini-library of accounts now has a magnificent new English-language rendition. The Landmark Julius Caesar is a superb addition to a superb series." — Steve Donoghue, The National (Read the full review)
"Frustrations in teaching ancient history to disengaged students led independent scholar and businessman Robert Strassler to conceive the "Landmark Ancient Histories." Beginning with The Landmark Thucydides, published by the Free Press in 1996, Mr. Strassler showed his determination to leave no reader behind. He supplied detailed maps on nearly every third page of text and clear, full annotation that removed potential stumbling blocks. Headings kept readers oriented in time and space, as did brief summaries, running down the book’s generously wide margins, of each stage of the action. Well-curated photographs of objects and sites turned a mere encounter with the Peloponnesian War into an immersion in classical Greece. Appendix essays set new standards for readability and point. An opening chronology laid out the events of the text in sequence, and a closing index, done in unprecedented detail, provided a precise means of finding whatever item one might be looking for. Subsequent installments in the Landmark series added new features and enriched the old, as Mr. Strassler, with the help of the editors for each volume (this writer among them), tackled the major Greek historians in turn: Herodotus, Arrian and Xenophon. Now, with “The Landmark Julius Caesar, ” the series arrives for the first time at the gates of Rome and deals with a figure who is far better known—in part through his own writings—than any Greek or Macedonian. The huge volume of evidence surviving from this book’s time span, the years 58 to 45 B.C., posed a challenge for the Landmark series. Under the expert guidance of volume editor Kurt Raaflaub, with oversight from Mr. Strassler (who remains series editor), the challenge has been met with stunning success. The tireless devotion of both Mr. Strassler and Mr. Raaflaub, professor emeritus of classics at Brown University, is evident right from this book’s table of contents. Caesar’s best-known work, the “Gallic War,” would by itself have made up a full and satisfying volume, but “The Landmark Julius Caesar” also gives us four other narratives, descriptions of subsequent campaigns, to make up the whole of what scholars term the Corpus Caesarianum, the body of contemporaneous accounts of Caesar’s wars. These five works, only two of which are Caesar’s own compositions, have not appeared together, in English, since the early 18th century, even though their dovetailing time frames makes the set a continuous whole. To see them here between one set of covers is truly inspiring. Mr. Raaflaub has surpassed even the previous high standards of the Landmark series by supplying full, expert and wide-ranging notes, almost all containing his own elucidations rather than showy scholarly references. This achievement is amplified by more than 40 appendix essays, all commissioned by Mr. Raaflaub and several written by him, addressing all sorts of literary, military and biographical questions. The amplitude of these essays is such that the volume prints only four essential ones and directs the reader to a website for the others. The dimensions of the book simply could not accommodate all the knowledge it seeks to convey. It’s rare for a scholar of Mr. Raaflaub’s standing to annotate an ancient text translated for Latinless readers, and still more rare for him to translate it himself, as Mr. Raaflaub has done here. As its holiday-season debut implies, “The Landmark Julius Caesar” is his gift, and Mr. Strassler’s, to history readers everywhere and even to professional historians, who will find much original research between its covers. Among his other devoted efforts, Mr. Raaflaub, together with University of Illinois classicist John Ramsey, has made painstaking calculations of the distances and rates of travel involved in Caesar’s movements, such that the dates accompanying the narrative could be given not just by season (as in Caesar’s own reportage) but by month and, in some cases, by day. Such precision, if not something that readers would demand, adds to the steadying sense of authority and factuality that is the trademark virtue of the Landmark series. History buffs, classicists, fans of television’s “Rome”: Do not pass up this gift. Whether you revere Caesar as a military genius or despise him as a butcher and a tyrant, The Landmark Julius Caesar is an indispensable way to read his writings and understand his rise to power. Stunning success…. Mr. Raaflaub has surpassed even the previous high standards of the Landmark series…. It’s rare for a scholar of Mr. Raaflaub’s standing to annotate an ancient text translated for Latinless readers, and still more rare for him to translate it himself, as Mr. Raaflaub has done here. As its holiday-season debut implies, The Landmark Julius Caesar is his gift, and Mr. Strassler’s, to history readers everywhere and even to professional historians, who will find much original research between its covers…. History buffs, classicists, fans of television’s “Rome”: Do not pass up this gift. Whether you revere Caesar as a military genius or despise him as a butcher and a tyrant, The Landmark Julius Caesar is an indispensable way to read his writings and understand his rise to power." — James Romm, The Wall Street Journal (Read the full review)
"This big, beautiful doorstopper of a book for history fans is the definitive single-volume edition of Julius Caesar’s complete works, which means Latin lovers can read Caesar’s Gallic War and Civil War in one place, if not in one sitting. It’s all here: a new translation, detailed maps, annotations, images, beautiful endpapers, and ancillary materials from classical scholars." — Kirkus Reviews
"A lavishly annotated and illustrated new English edition of Caesar’s corpus (including two anonymous texts that focus on Caesar’s later campaigns and imitate him in style), translated by Kurt Raaflaub and published in the esteemed Landmark series, positions his prose as material for an elegant intellectual coffee-table book.... Since the mid-twentieth century, the text has also been recognized by historians as a mix of imperialist ethnography and canny political propaganda." — Caroline Wazer, Lapham's Quarterly