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A Civilized Gaul: Caesar’s Portrait of Piso Aquitanus (De Bello Gallico 4.12.4-6)

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image of Mnemosyne

A literary analysis of the portrait of Piso Aquitanus (Gal. 4.12), a Gaul killed together with his brother in a cavalry engagement with the Usipetes and Tencteri in 55 bce. The portrait is first discussed against the literary tradition of heroic brothers in epic and in historiography. The function of the portrait is then examined in relation to the depiction of Gauls and Germans in Book Four. From this perspective, the portrayal of Piso’s courage and devotion can be seen to promote Caesar’s underlying aims of justifying, on the one hand, his harsh suppression of the barbarous Germans, and, on the other, his enlistment of “civilized” Gauls in the cause of Rome.1

Affiliations: 1: Department of Greek and Roman Studies, Vassar CollegeBox 105, Poughkeepsie, New York 12604-0105USA


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