Ethnography Encountered: The Troubled Ethnographic Framework of Caesar's Gallic War

Creer, Tyler, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Lendon, Jon, Department of History, University of Virginia
Meyer, Elizabeth, Department of History, University of Virginia

The ethnographic sections of Julius Caesar's Gallic War have long been a source of controversy and debate. This thesis, examining Caesar's ethnographies of the Gauls, Belgae, Germans, and Britons along with the various topoi of the Greek ethnographers who preceded Caesar, posits the existence of an ethnographic framework within the narrative of the Gallic War that allowed Caesar to portray these barbarian tribes in varying degrees of fierceness and savagery. This framework is readily detectable throughout Books 1-6, but a sudden shift in its portrayal of the Gauls in Book 7, coupled with various intriguing inconsistencies earlier in the work, hints that there was a clear chronological sequence in which the Gallic War was written and published and that it was thus composed serially, beginning in 56 BC.

MA (Master of Arts)
ethnography, Roman historiography, Julius Caesar, Gallic War
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