Divide and Conquer: Caesar, De Bello Gallico 7
This chapter discusses the work narrative structure does in creating meaning through a case study of BG 7. It analyses how the text invites us to isolate and then pit paired elements against each other: Caesar and Vercingetorix, who structure BG 7 and the history as a whole; Avaricum and Alesia, with their internally-divisive physical structures; and various doubled plot elements at Gergovia. Close reading of the Gergovia narrative shows how the interweaving of plots and the insistent doubling of conventional battle and ethnographical elements create significant echoes that signal to a reader both the constructedness of the narrative and its affinity with ‘proper’ literary historiography. Caesar leads us to consider not only the whats and whys, but most importantly the hows, of narrative. How we divide this (or any) text affects our interpretation; and the more conscious we are of the spaces, and the topoi that structure the narrative, the better we can understand it as historiographical re-presentation.
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