A Good Old Fashioned Roman Thanksgiving

By Philip Katz, author of Imperator Copyright 2010

September, 52 BC Alesia, Gaul (Modern-day Alise-Sainte-Reine, France)
Forty thousand fit Roman veterans were a long way from home. Over the nine years of Julius Caesar¶s Governorship of Rome¶s Gallic province, in modern day southern France, he and his men had been drawn into the internal politics of the autonomous regions of Gaul, Britain and the German frontier. Caesar had first been drawn into the affairs of Further Gaul, as the vast collection of autonomous tribes that populated Western Europe was known, at the behest of the Gallic nation of the Aedui. The Aedui were ³Friend and Ally of the Roman People´ by decree by the Senate. Their nation was located on the northern border of the Roman Gallic Province in Southern France. Just as Caesar had just assumed his Governorship of The Gallic Province there was a massive migration of Further Gaul¶s most powerful nation, a peoples known as the Helvetii. Caesar was still in Rome making preparations to leave the city when he received the news. He made haste the scene to forestall the Helvetii while he assembled his troops to defend the Aedui from the ruinous migration of possibly millions of people. Their homeland was in modern day Switzerland. The Aristocracy of the Helvetii believed that they were too restricted in their homeland by the Alps and the Rhine River bordering the bellicose German nations to the east. Caesar¶s account in ³The Gallic War´ says: ³Among the Helvetii by far the most aristocratic and the richest man was Orgetorix«.his desire to become king led him to start a conspiracy among the aristocracy and he persuaded all the citizens to leave their land in full force. It would be perfectly simple, he said, to win power over the whole of Gaul, so superior were they in courage to all the rest.´ - Caesar After nine years and countless campaigns in the war to pacify Gaul, Caesar and his men were at the battle that would mean the end of the Gallic wars. Caesar¶s legions had laid siege to a hill top fortress by building a wall and ditches around Alesia to starve the leader of the Gallic army, Vercingetorix and his men into submission. Caesar then built a wall and ditches as a fortress to protect the legions from a Gallic relief army three times the size of Caesar¶s army.

Following a desperate battle in which Caesar and his small army were fighting on two fronts simultaneously, against an enemy five times their number, the legions emerged victorious. As a result, the biggest threat to peace, hostile Gallic tribes like the ones that had sacked Rome herself a mere three hundred years before, had been neutralized for centuries to come. To publicly recognize this achievement, the Senate voted that there be twenty days of ³Thanksgiving´ to commemorate Caesar¶s and his army¶s contribution to the Republic. A Roman Thanksgiving consisted of a cessation of public business for the duration of the holiday, Feasting and Games! Sound familiar?

Happy Thanksgiving!!! Check out the Imperator fan page! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Philip-Katz-Imperator-Life-of-Caesar/143874958987216

-Philip Katz

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