Monday, June 13, 2011

Battles BC

Last night, before Game of Thrones, FLG caught the tail end of the "Caesar: Super Siege" episode of Battles BC, which you probably guessed was about the Battle of Alesia. Overall, it was pretty good, but the 300-esque graphic novel atheistic is jarring in the context of interviewing classics professors.


Andrew Stevens said...

I started to watch that. Richard A. Gabriel (the first talking head) started with how the Gauls had sacked Rome in the 3rd century B.C. Well, it was the fourth century B.C. (387), but whatever anybody can make a mistake like that. Then he said that Caesar was given the proconsulship of Gaul despite having no military experience and never having seen combat or command at all. This is an error so amazingly huge that one is forced to question his entire grasp of the subject matter.

FLG said...

If I remember correctly, that's the Canadian War college guy. He bugged me. But I didn't catch any errors that big when it came to how the battle played out. Then again, I don't know the Battle of Alesia as well as, say the date of the Gauls sacking Rome.

Andrew Stevens said...

That's the guy. I stopped watching, but I'm sure I couldn't intelligently critique details about the Battle of Alesia without a reference work in hand. But anyone with a passing familiarity with Caesar's career knows that he had a very successful military career (including the Civic Crown and an awarded, though not celebrated, triumph) before he became proconsul of Gaul. I just want to know where the History Channel's fact checkers were because that was one egregious mistake.

The guy's comments about Caesar's PR were fair enough. Caesar, like many Romans of the time, was a relentless self-promoter, fabulously good at PR, and he never stopped telling everyone what a brilliant general he was. Mr. Gabriel, however, apparently jumped from that to the conclusion that Caesar wasn't that great a general, but in fact he was. This is a common modern error - to assume that anyone who tells you how great he is can't be that great. But, while I'm no admirer of Caesar's politics and no admirer of his character, you have to give the devil his due. Caesar really was brilliant and capable, nearly as brilliant and capable as he said he was.

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