Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient and Modern: Julius Caesar vs Isis

Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient and Modern: Julius Caesar vs Isis

Article excerpt

Isis disseminates videos of beheaded captives to spread simple terror. Julius Caesar knew all about it.

In his diaries of his conquest of Gaul (58-51 bc), he constantly acknowledges the power terror wielded. When it became clear, for example, that in 58 bc he would have to take on the powerful German king Ariovistus who had crossed the Rhine into Gaul, his 'whole army was suddenly gripped by such a panic that their judgement and nerve was seriously undermined'. Caesar, naturally, rallied the troops and in the ensuing engagement drove Ariovistus' army back across the Rhine with massive losses.

Ariovistus had been a 'friend of Rome'. That is what Caesar did to 'friends' who threatened him.

In 55 bc, two other German tribes crossed the Rhine. Caesar, finding the Gauls encouraging them to roam further in Gallic territory, engaged them at once. The speed of his attack caused utter panic and confusion, and Caesar mowed down the lot, women and children too: 430,000 of them, he suggested. To press the point home, he then crossed the Rhine himself: 'I could see the Germans were all too keen to come into Gaul, and I wanted to give them reasons to fear for their own safety. …

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