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Caesar, De bello Gallico 6.8.7

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Caesar, De bello Gallico 6.8.7

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:11 am

Although life is short and Greek is long, I have finally decided to study some more Latin. As they say Caesar is the easiest classical writer, I'm starting with him. I have a problem with this bit.

Quos Labienus equitatu consectatus, magno numero interfecto, compluribus captis, paucis post diebus civitatem recepit. Nam Germani qui auxilio veniebant percepta Treverorum fuga sese domum receperunt.


What is percepta? Is it a an ablative absolute (percipio "seize", part sg perf pass fem abl), together with fuga? Does percepta Treverorum fuga mean "the Treveri having been taken by panic", "the Treveri having been put into flight"? Or does percipio mean "perceive", in which case I don't understand what construction this could be?
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Re: Caesar, De bello Gallico 6.8.7

Postby Qimmik » Tue Jan 28, 2014 1:30 pm

percepta Treverorum fuga is an ablative absolute: the Germans who were coming to help, the flight of the Treveri having been perceived [i.e., when they perceived that the Treveri had fled], returned home.

More idiomatic English: When the Germans who were coming to help perceived that the Treveri had fled, they returned home.
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Re: Caesar, De bello Gallico 6.8.7

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Jan 28, 2014 3:58 pm

Thanks a lot! That makes sense.
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Re: Caesar, De bello Gallico 6.8.7

Postby Qimmik » Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:14 pm

Of course, this is Labienus, not Caesar. But somehow everything always works out smoothly in Caesar, never a hitch. Does that make you a little suspicious?
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Re: Caesar, De bello Gallico 6.8.7

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:10 pm

One thing that's funny (if that's the right word) is how everything I've read about Caesar that dates from, say, before 1950, almost amounts to idolatry, and how about everything that's more recent concentrates on showing how he's using clever turns of phrase to downplay the fact he is commiting a genocide.

I've been reading Xenophon intermittently for few months now, I'm now a little past "thalatta, thalatta" and must say in some respects it's a lot more exciting than Caesar - treasons, ambuscades, hardships in the winter cold, toxic honey and whatnot. I read Caesar in translation quite a few years ago, and I remember him having a way of telling things in a way that losing a whole legion (or more) seemed just a minor setback that had no bearing on anything at all.

Another thing I remember is how different an "objective" picture Caesar gives of Labienus in the Gallic Wars compared to the Civil War, after he has swapped sides. I mean in the Gallic Wars Labienus was just Caesar's efficient, down-to-business lieutenant, and then suddenly we're almost told he drinks human blood for breakfast...
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Re: Caesar, De bello Gallico 6.8.7

Postby Qimmik » Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:57 pm

I think I wrote earlier that the Anabasis is livelier and more interesting than Caesar (the counterpart of the Anabasis for beginners) precisely because in the Anabasis the Greeks encounter real difficulties. Although Xenophon does play up his own resourcefulness, the Anabasis a real adventure, not photo-shopped political propaganda.
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Re: Caesar, De bello Gallico 6.8.7

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:32 pm

Yes, I remember you saying that... Although I'm not sure Xenophon doesn't have an agenda in Anabasis, political or other... It's actually advantageous for him to show just how much they were in trouble, because he's the one who got them out of there, not the one who got them into it (or that's how he's portraying himself).
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