chapter  4
8 Pages

Omissions and Manipulations in Bellum Civile I

Caesar takes several literary liberties in BC I to make the events complement his ideas and self-presentation in the early stages of the conict. In places the chronology or the settings of certain events are changed; other events are omitted entirely. Caesar chooses literary impact over factual truth: when he can not change the real world he simply gives it a new interpretation and setting in his narrative. He thus takes a calculated risk: by falsifying well-known events his account may lose its credibility with its contemporary readership. However, regarding future readership, Caesar might have reasoned these falsications would endure while any adverse contemporary testimony would not. Furthermore, these manipulations are executed with great care so as not to harm the ow of the narrative. On the contrary, they convey the smoothest and most natural progression of events, according to Caesar’s literary plan. ese are not slips of the pen: Caesar clearly is at great pains to compose his commentaries according to the specic ideal he had in mind. He plays with the facts, to adapt them to his own needs, but he does not lie.1 It is hard to say if he himself believed his own narrative. He was a realist and knew what was needed to create a good chronicle. It is interesting to see what he chose to conceal, what he was afraid of, maybe even ashamed of. Unravelling these falsications reveals the core of the Bellum Civile itself: its author.