Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Asterix and the Archeologists

There was an interesting article in Monday's newspaper about some archaeological digs going in central France. The archaeologists have found all kinds of things which suggest that the Gauls had a much more sophisticated society than is popularly imagined. I'm not sure that it's as revolutionary a discovery as the article makes out, but it's an interesting read nevertheless. Here's an extract:

Rather than the random gatherings of rudimentary thatched huts illustrated in the Asterix books, first published in 1961, archaeologists now believe the Gauls lived in elegant buildings with tiled roofs, laid out in towns with public squares.

Ironmongers' tools, coins and scales suggest they also crafted metalwork just as complex as anything produced by the Romans, even before the Roman invasion in 52BC. The findings have been made at a dig in Corent, near Lyon, where archaeologists have uncovered what they believe is the palace of Vercingetorix, a prince and the last military leader of all Gaul.

Vercingetorix was a leader of the Gauls, who fought a long war against Julius Caesar. Plutarch records a dramatic account of his surrender to Caesar:

But those who held Alesia, after giving no small trouble to themselves and to Caesar, at last surrendered; and the leader of the whole war, Vergentorix, putting on his best armour, and equipping his horse, came out through the gates, and riding round Caesar who was seated, and then leaping down from his horse, he threw off his complete armour, and seating himself at C├Žsar's feet, he remained there till he was delivered up to be kept for the triumph.

[Plutarch, Life of Caesar, XXVII]

Caesar himself gives us quite a different account in his own history of the Gallic wars:

Vercingetorix, having convened a council the following day, declared that he had undertaken that war, not on account of his own exigencies, but on account of the general freedom; and since he must yield to fortune, he offered himself to them for either purpose, whether they should wish to atone to the Romans by his death, or surrender him alive. Ambassadors are sent to Caesar on this subject. He orders their arms to be surrendered, and their chieftains delivered up. He seated himself at the head of the lines in front of the camp, the Gallic chieftains are brought before him. They surrender Vercingetorix, and lay down their arms.

[Caesar, de bello Gallico VII.89]

5 comments:

Mrs Wheelock said...

Hi Mr Jm!

So your a Latin teacher then? I would like to be a Latin teacher too! :-D One of my very jealous (of my knowledge of the coolest language alive! well actually its a tad bit dead, but lets not go there right now!)friends gave me this joke and i thought you would appreciate it! :-D

Enjoy!

"One of my favourites is the old saying that Latin teachers never die- they just decline and parse away."

Anonymous said...

Well, regardless, I severely dislike the Gauls.

Why did they have to go and invade Rome? Why did the Romans have to flee?

(and, most importantly) WHY did LIVY have to go and WRITE ABOUT IT?!

(Yes, Sir, I'm having a nervous breakdown about the Latin exam tomorrow.)

sarah s said...

Yay, it is my favourite joke!

I might not come to school tomorrow because I am sick, but if I am not there I will email you the dumb sissy Lucretia thing that I have finally typed, and also I will srsly study some Latin at home.

jm said...

sarah, is it possible that you are sick because you stayed up until 12:20am reading my blog?

Anonymous said...

hello Mojo. Have fun in Rome? well, its Bandaid again and I just
wanna say can u tell me if we can do Castra Latina Thingo for Year Book?
Tnx