Celeritas Caesariana : reputation, representation and reality

Danon, Bart (2017-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Julius Caesar had a demonstrable reputation for celeritas, to the extent that Cicero in one of his letters added the epithet Caesariana to celeritas when describing another general’s swiftness. This reputation can be further traced in various other ancient sources, such as Suetonius’ biography on Caesar and Velleius Paterculus’ history of Rome. Two potential bases for a Roman general’s reputation to possess a particular virtue can be identified, i.e. representation and reality. In this study, these two bases are examined in detail for Caesar’s reputation for celeritas. The first part of this study focusses on the representation aspect and constitutes a statistical frequency study of words that explicitly indicate swiftness of military movements. For the second part, in which the reality component is assessed, legionary marching speeds are reconstructed (using Monte Carlo calculations) based on information supplied in the ancient sources. The results are assessed both intratextually (comparing Romans and their enemies within texts) and intertextually (comparing various Roman generals described in different texts). For data on Caesar the focus is on the first seven books of the De Bello Gallico, while for the data on the other Roman generals Sallustius’ Iugurtha and a corpus of Cicero’s letters on his Cilician campaign are included. The representation study shows that Caesar in the De Bello Gallico significantly more frequently refers to his own celeritas, both as compared to his enemies and as compared to the generals described by the other authors. Moreover, from a methodological point of view, it is concluded that a statistical frequency study should be based on the contextual meanings of words and not just on word forms. The results of the reality study point less unequivocally to Caesar being demonstrably more swift as compared to the other generals; the reconstructed marching speeds for all generals cover more or less similar ranges. However, the estimated probabilities for the marching speeds suggest that their values are considerably lower as compared to the widely applied values Vegetius mentions in his Epitoma de rei militari. Considering the results of the two parts together, the hypothesis that Caesar’s reputation for celeritas was for a considerable part based on the emphasis on his own celeritas in the De Bello Gallico, can thus be validated.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Julius Caesar het ’n bewysbare reputasie vir celeritas gehad, tot so ’n mate dat Cicero in een van sy briewe die epiteton Caesariana by celeritas gevoeg het om ’n ander generaal se snelheid te beskryf. Hierdie reputasie kan verder in verskeie ander antieke bronne nagespeur word, soos in Suetonius se biografie oor Caesar en Velleius Paterculus se geskiedenis van Rome. Daar kan twee potensiële grondslae geïdentifiseer word vir ’n Romeinse generaal se reputasie dat hy ’n sekere deug besit, naamlik uitbeelding en realiteit. Die twee grondslae word in hierdie studie volledig ondersoek met die oog op Caesar se reputasie vir celeritas. ’n Eerste onderafdeling van die studie fokus op die uitbeelding-aspek en berus op ’n statistiese frekwensiestudie van woorde wat eksplisiet die snelheid van militêre bewegings aandui. In ’n tweede onderafdeling, wat die realiteit-komponent evalueer, word die marsjeersnelheid van die legioene gerekonstrueer (deur middel van Monte Carlo-berekeninge) gebaseer op inligting uit die antieke bronne. Die resultate word sowel intratekstueel (deur die Romeine en hulle vyande binne dieselfde tekste te vergelyk) as intertekstueel (deur verskeie Romeinse generaals wat in verskillende tekste beskryf word, te vergelyk) ontleed. Vir data oor Caesar is die fokus op die eerste sewe boeke van die De Bello Gallico, terwyl data oor die ander Romeinse generaals uit Sallustius se Iugurtha en ’n korpus van Cicero se briewe oor sy Silisiese veldtog verkry word. Die uitbeeldingstudie wys dat Caesar in die De Bello Gallico beduidend meer gereeld verwys na sy eie celeritas, sowel in vergelyking met sy vyande as in vergelyking met die ander generaals soos beskryf deur ander skrywers. Verder kan daar vanuit ’n metodologiese oogpunt afgelei word dat ’n statistiese frekwensiestudie gebaseer moet word op die kontekstuele betekenis van woorde en nie net op woordvorme nie. Die resultate van die realiteitstudie dui minder onmiskenbaar daarop dat Caesar bewysbaar vinniger as die ander generaals is; die gerekonstrueerde marsjeersnelhede van die onderskeie generaals het min of meer dieselfde omvang. Die geskatte waarskynlikhede vir die marsjeersnelhede dui daarop dat hulle waardes aansienlik laer is as die wyd toegepaste waardes wat Vegetius in sy Epitoma de rei militari noem. As die resultate van die twee onderafdelings saam oorweeg word, kan die hipotese bevestig word dat Caesar se reputasie vir celeritas tot ’n groot mate gebaseer is op die beklemtoning van sy eie celeritas in die De Bello Gallico.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/101334
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