Page images

therefore corrected the title in his manuscript so as to read libri Gaii Caesaris belli Gallici Iuliani de narratione temporum, intending to convey the meaning, “the books of Gaius (Julius) Caesar concerned with the recountal of the events of the Gallic War waged by Julius (Caesar)'; and that the manuscript thus corrected transmitted the changed title to its descendants. Such an explanation seems less improbable than that suggested by Hauler (Wien. Stud. XVII, p. 128), which accounts for Iuliani de narratione temporum as originating in a misunderstanding of the title CRONICA IVLII CAESARIS and the opening words of a fragment of the Cosmography of Aethicus Hister thus attributed to Caesar in Cod. Paris. suppl. 685; the same fragment immediately follows the eighth book of the Gallic War in Cod. Vatic. 3864.

As the beginning of the text of the Civil War is lacking in all the manuscripts, we find preceding this work a title of the simplest character, as INCIPIT LIBER PRIMVS BELLI CIVILIS. In the Ashburnham Codex appears DE BELLO CIVILI. INCIPIT LIBER NONVS (Philologus, XLV, p. 214); the first book of the Civil War (including Books i and ii of the current editions), immediately following the eighth of the Gallic War, is here reckoned as the ninth of the Corpus Caesarianum. In a manuscript in the British Museum (Addit. 10084, identified by Holder with Lovaniensis) the subscription of Book viii of the Gallic War and the title of the first book of the Civil War read as follows (cf. Châtelain, op. cit. p. 30): C. Cesaris pontificis maximi ephemeris rerum gestarum belli gallici lib. VIII. erpl. feliciter. Iulius Celsus Constantinus v.c. ligi tantum. Incipit liber nonus. Little help may be expected from this source for the solution of our problem.

Nor do the subscriptions of the other books yield much of value. The word liber constantly appears, but commentarius, so far as I am aware, only at the end of Book vii of the Gallic War, in certain manuscripts of the a class, as B: Iulius Celsus Constantinus v. c. legi commentarius Caesaris liber septimus explicit. The references to the revision of Julius Celsus Constantinus and of Flavius Licerius Firminus Lupicinus (at the end of Book ii) raise interesting questions, but contribute no evidence bearing upon the authenticity of any part of the title. A detailed analysis of the subscriptions would be a waste of labor.

Whether the title libri Gaii Julii Caesaris belli Gallici de narratione temporum descended from the archetype (X) into the a as well as the ß manuscripts and in some codex in the line of descent to the x group of the former class was replaced by a title attributing the Gallic War to Suetonius; or whether the first title was confined to the ß class and was thence carried over, in a corrected form, to some codex in the line of descent to B and the other manuscripts of the group, there replacing a title, previously common to the a class, in which Suetonius was named as author; or whether, finally, the confusion in the forms of the title as they appear in the manuscripts is to be explained in some other way, - it is not necessary, so far as our present problem is concerned, to inquire. It will be sufficient to observe that a title so un-Caesarian in both choice of words and manner of expression cannot possibly have come from the hand of the author. We are therefore justified in adopting another line of approach in order to ascertain, first, whether there is any evidence tending to show that Caesar published his Gallic War anonymously; and in the second place, whether, in case the evidence seems to indicate that it was provided with a title from the beginning, we are able to determine, with any degree of probability, what that title was.

If, as has frequently been assumed, Caesar wrote the Gallic War primarily in order to justify his career of conquest before his fellow countrymen, he might well have thought that something was to be gained by anonymous publication ; for if a document containing a favorable view of one side of a controversy can be circulated without a knowledge of its source, it is more apt to be received without prejudice and so to carry greater weight than if it is known to have emanated from a conspicuous partisan. Furthermore, on the supposition that the work was intended to be circulated without the name of the author, we have an adequate explanation of the studied self-repression of Caesar the writer in always using the third person when referring to Caesar the commander, a circumstance which in later times facilitated the circulation of the work under the name of Suetonius. On the other hand, though by the middle of the first century B.c. the book trade in Rome had begun to be well organized, — the references in Cicero's letters are sufficient proof, - if an author not wishing to avail himself of the services of professional copyists and booksellers had prepared a work for private distribution he would, as Dziatzko suggests (Ausgewählte Kapitel des antiken Buchwesens, p. 158), probably have sent the transcripts with a personal note or greeting to the recipients and would not have provided such gift copies with a formal title even though he had had no intention of concealing the authorship. The existence of early manuscripts of the Gallic War without a full title is conceivable, then, upon either of two hypotheses: that of anonymous publication, and that of private distribution ; in the latter case, as there was nothing corresponding with our copyright laws, copies might begin to be multiplied and offered for sale as soon as a bookseller should be able to get permission to transcribe one of the gift copies.

We know nothing of the circumstances and manner of composition of the Gallic War except what may be gleaned from internal evidence and from the statement of Hirtius in the preface to Book viii, that Caesar wrote his 'commentaries ' with great ease and rapidity. According to the current view the work was composed in the winter of 52-51 B.C., and began to be circulated within a few months thereafter; the place of writing was Bibracte, where, as we learn from the closing chapter of Book vii, Caesar had resolved to spend the winter after the fall of Alesia. At Bibracte, his headquarters, the military records would be available in case he should wish to refresh his memory in regard to details; and though he heard cases there (viii, 4, 2), it might be presumed that he would be better able to command leisure for writing than when in the field or even when sojourning in Cisalpine Gaul. Nevertheless his winter in Bibracte was not unbroken. He could have been at most only a few weeks in camp when he again took the field, on the last day of December, 52 (viii, 2, 1); since the date as given is according to the unreformed calendar, the real date must have been considerably earlier, probably in the first week of December according to our reckoning. Having chastised the Bituriges into complete submission, 'on the fortieth day' he was back in Bibracte. But after a sojourn of only eighteen days in camp (viii, 4, 3) he started out again, probably in the first half of February, 51, by our reckoning, and became involved in a series of operations which kept him occupied in various parts of Gaul till the end of the summer of 51.

In the winter of 51-50 B.C. Caesar established himself in Nemetocenna in Belgium, where, as we may understand from the narrative of Hirtius (viii, 49), not being disturbed by the necessity of campaigning, he was free to devote himself to the problems of civil organization and administration in anticipation of his departure from the country in the not remote future.

That the Gallic War left Caesar's hands before he went into winter quarters in the fall of 51 seems clear, not merely by reason of the oft-quoted favorable reference to Pompey in the seventh book (chap. 6), but also because he did not include the military operations of that year. While the fall of Alesia formed a literary as well as a military climax, the operations of the year 5 1 were nevertheless important enough to deserve treatment in any account of the campaigns in Gaul that was intended to be authoritative and complete. It would be easier for us to find time for Caesar to do the writing in the winter of 51-50 than in that of 52-51, and at least Holmes is of the opinion (Conquest of Gaul, p. 172) that, in view of Caesar's attitude of conciliation and politic forbearance toward Pompey, the sixth chapter of the seventh book might have been penned as late as the year 50. But for a man of Caesar's energy, literary training, and power of concentration, the composition of the Gallic War could have been no great task.. The events narrated fall within the comparatively short period of seven years. They had been a part of his life -- he had analyzed situations, formed plans, directed movements,

secured results; in a word, he had that perfect understanding of his subject which no one else had or could ever attain. The work contains some forty-five thousand words, which would about equal the amount that a good newspaper writer, collecting his material from various sources and averaging fifteen hundred words a day, would hand in as "copy" in thirty days.

The more frequently the seven books of the Gallic War are read through in succession, the more irresistible will become the conviction that they were written under one impulse, that they could not have been composed at considerable intervals and put forth separately. Had they been written at the end of the year 51 or in 50, it is difficult to understand why Caesar should not have planned to add another book; and had he included in his design a book devoted to the events of the year 51, it is still more difficult to understand why he should not have been able to take three or four days to finish the task which he had so nearly completed. The explanation of Nipperdey (edition, p. 4) that he stopped at the end of Book vii because he was interrupted in the midst of writing by the beginning of the civil war, seems far-fetched. From the statement of Suetonius about the composition of the de Analogia, Anticatones, and Iter (Div. Iul. 56; quoted p. 227) as well as the reference in Cicero's Brutus (253) to the preparation of the former work in maximis occupationibus, it is evident that Caesar wrote when the spirit moved him and did not wait for a favorable opportunity, for leisure and quiet, to finish what he had begun.

More probable is the supposition that, elated over the capture of Alesia, which he considered the decisive blow of the long struggle, appreciating better than his contemporaries the strategic value of his military operations, and understanding also what effect a better knowledge of them would produce at Rome, Caesar felt moved to write, and commenced the composition of the Gallic War in Bibracte shortly after he had gone into winter quarters there in the fall of 52; that, composing rapidly, he had completed a good part of the writing when he left camp, in December, to ravage the country

« PreviousContinue »