Caesar Cesars Work “The Gallic

One aspect at which Cesars work excels in the interrelation between the descriptive geography and the characterization of the Germans is the political geography approach. In fact, much of Cesars work is relevant exactly because it is a very scientific description of the way the tribes lived together in tribal formations during that time and how they came in contact with one another. Cesar is always very descriptive in his approach and clearly marks the areas in which these tribes lived, including the Germans, but also many of the neighboring tribes (his focus is certainly on the Gauls).

The Rhine is obviously central to the existence of the Germans and Cesar mentions it several times in his work, although most of the time only so as to limit the theatre if his own operations in Gaul. As such, his approach is that the Rhine marks the delimitation and border between Gaul and Germans, as well as between the Celtic tribes and the Germans. However, geography is used here more in a symbolical manner rather than in a wholly scientific one: Celtic tribes often went beyond this border and extended eastwards, as traits of similar languages in that region can show.

It is thus interesting to see how the otherwise very scientific approach that Cesar uses sometimes leaves place for a more literary perspective, which is less accurate. The justification is also political, as the result of his campaign needed to be a traceable territory he could present on his return to Rome rather than a somewhat less clearly geographical territory.

This in turns affects the geographical delimitation of the German territory as well.

The geographic description of Germany is less extensive than in the case of Gaul because, obviously this is not the focus of either Caesars war or his literary work. As previously mentioned, the geographical element in his work had a political background and motivation, but, on the other hand, there was no such motivation in Germanys case, land that Caesar did not aim to conquer and against which he solely wanted to protect the territories already conquered by Rome. As such, the geographical description of Germany is much more limited than in the case of Gaul and, generally, circumscribed to the main focus of his books.

Nevertheless, geography is, in this case, used as an instrument to help in the characterization of the German people, being understood as a people whose development and existence is determined by the land they live in and by the frontiers that exist between them and some of the more civilized neighbors around them. Because of that, the geographical description in fact explains the delimitations that exist between the Germans and the neighboring tribes, beyond explaining the conditionality of their existence.


1. Caesar, Julius. De Bello Gallico. Translation by Emanuel Hoffman. Oxford — Clarendon Press. 1898

Caesar, Julius. De Bello Gallico. Translation by Emanuel Hoffman..

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