View Full Version : The Empire Builder's Handbook...

Andrew Craig-Bennett
04-14-2011, 06:39 AM
Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Belgae, aliam Aquitani, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli appellantur.

The whole of Gaul is divided into three parts, of which one is inhabited by the Belgae, another by the Aquitani; the third by those who in their own language are called Celts, and in ours Gauls.

Hi omnes lingua, institutis, legibus inter se differunt.

They each have different languages, customs and laws.

Gallos ab Aquitanis Garumna flumen, a Belgis Matrona et Sequana dividit.

The river Garonne divides the Gauls from the Aquitani; the Marne and the Seine separate them from the Belgae.

Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae, propterea quod a cultu atque humanitate provinciae longissime absunt, minimeque ad eos mercatores saepe commeant atque ea quae ad effeminandos animos pertinent important, proximique sunt Germanis, qui trans Rhenum incolunt, quibuscum continenter bellum gerunt.

Of all these, the bravest are the Belgae, because they are the furthest from the civilisation and refinement of (the Roman) province; merchants, importing those things that tend to effeminate the mind, visit them less frequently, (and) they are nearest to the Germans, who live beyond the Rhine, with whom they are constantly waging war.

You get the drift.

It just struck me that every European boy who was ever sent off, as an adult, to a foreign land, in charge of soldiers, from Cortes to Clive, from Pizarro to Badoglio, would have had this book beaten into him, because it is a beautiful example of how to write perfect, pure, Latin.

As a textbook on "how to conquer and rule a large territory ocupied by diverse nations", Julius Caesar's Commentaries on the War in Gaul are pretty good; as a guide to how to behave ethically they are dire, because Caesar had no authority from the Senate to wage aggressive war, so the whole thing is an exercise in self justification.

But no schoolboy would have known that.

Presuming Ed
04-14-2011, 07:28 AM
Three? ITYM four - you've forgotten the small village of indomitable Gauls who still held out against the Roman invaders....

(I'll get my coat)

S.V. Airlie
04-14-2011, 07:36 AM
I was thinking more in line with the Celts...:) Hadrian's Wall.

04-14-2011, 07:52 AM
Ed - Are you speaking of Alesia and the Gaul, Vercingetorix?

Presuming Ed
04-14-2011, 08:01 AM
Not quite....


Sorry, bit of a joke. I can't hear "Gaul was divided into three parts" without thinking of Asterix. IIRC, all the books had on the introduction page "Gaul was divided into three parts. No, four parts - for one small village of indomitable Gauls still held out against the Roman invaders."

S.V. Airlie
04-14-2011, 08:08 AM
Caesar lied? :( Glad that Fox News didn't make/draw the map...

Andrew Craig-Bennett
04-14-2011, 09:02 AM
Thank you for the correction, which caused me to have recourse to Wikipedia, which includes this passage:

Hernán Cortés is described as a pale, sickly child by his biographer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biographer), chaplain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaplain), and friend Francisco López de Gómara (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_L%C3%B3pez_de_G%C3%B3mara). At the age of 14, Cortés was sent to study at the University of Salamanca (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Salamanca) in west-central Spain. This was Spain's great center of learning, and while accounts vary as to the nature of Cortés's studies, his later writings and actions suggest he studied Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law) and probably Latin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_language).

After two years, Cortés, tired of schooling, returned home to Medellín, much to the irritation of his parents, who had hoped to see him equipped for a profitable legal career. However, those two years at Salamanca (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salamanca), plus his long period of training and experience as a notary, first in Seville and later in Hispaniola (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hispaniola), would give him a close acquaintance with the legal codes of Castile that helped him to justify his unauthorized conquest of Mexico.

If he did study Latin, it is likely that Caesar's Commentaries came his way.

04-14-2011, 07:38 PM
I remember studying 3 of the commentaries but that was a long time ago.

There was some doggerel around that his troops recited;

"Home we bring our bold whoremonger
Home we bring him, home to stay.
All the bags of gold you lent him
Went his Gallic whores to pay."