Sunday 15 July 2012

The Spin Doctor

So we're starting to get a feel for what happened in 52BC. The big problem is that the only contemporary account of the year is one written by Julius Caesar himself. Imagine if all we knew about Napoleon were a few coins and a book authored by Arthur Wellesley...but that's what we're stuck with for Vercingetorix. The situation is made even worse by Caesar's understanding of spin being just as advanced as any modern politician. For example, in the Battle of Gergovia, having not slept for almost a week, Caesar makes one of the worst decisions in his life - it costs him a fifth of his fighting force in one afternoon; forces him into a full retreat; and decides for him that he must abandon Gaul entirely. Yet he manages to pass it off as 'misinterpreted orders' by his men and a minor set back (thanks to how things turned out later) - and despite tens of thousands of witnesses, he dismisses his losses as only '700' when all likelihood they were in the region of five thousand. And remember, this is a time when dispatches from central France could still reach Rome within a it wasn't as though he was pulling the wool over everyone's eyes. But he wasn't writing for those who knew the truth - he wrote "The Conquest of Gaul"  for the tabloid market, and he knew how to write for his public. It just goes show nothing much has changed - and when you're next reading a newspaper column or blog written by a sitting politician...ask this really anything new?

Find out if Calvus was a spin doctor

1 comment:

  1. Rome painted a similar picture of the Carthaginian Empire if memory serves me correctly. They called Hannibal's army a 'Barbarian Horde' but in fact Hannibal was a brilliant General and Carthage a trading, prosperous and advanced, city-state.

    The Roman's seem to have forgotten the 'peace' they bestowed on Carthage at the end of the third Punic War where they utterly layed Carthage waste and either killed or took the entire population into slavery!

    In fact I believe even today the term 'Carthaginian peace' is a term used to describe a psuedo peace imposed by a victor imposing a harsh subjugation on their defeated enemy.

    Continue the fascinating Blog Arthur. Thoroughly enjoying it!