That the Roman leader Gaius Julius Caesar is so well remembered today for his achievements as a general is largely due to his skills as a writer. In The Landmark Julius Caesar: The Complete Works
(Pantheon, 2017), the distinguished classics scholar Kurt Raaflaub
provides readers with a new translation of the collection of writings known as the Corpus Caesarianum, which he supplements with footnotes, maps, and images designed to make Caesar’s writings accessible for the modern-day reader. Raaflaub situates the books within the context of Caesar’s life, explaining how the first and most famous of them, the Gallic War, was a political tool designed to bolster Caesar’s stature back in Rome. In the aftermath of the civil wars that followed his crossing of the Rubicon in 49 BCE, Caesar wrote his follow-up Civil War, which was largely complete when he was assassinated five years later. Though Caesar died before writing the later works attributed to his authorship, Raaflaub presents them as extensions of Caesar’s labors, with the Alexandrian War written from his notes and early materials he drafted, and the African War and the Spanish War authored by men who served in both campaigns and who were firsthand witnesses to them.