In literature, representations of speech and thought do not merely function as a means of communication for characters in the story world, but also as a means of communication between the narrator and his narratees. Several contributions in this study illustrate that this holds for speeches in historiography, starting from Thucydides’ famous Methodenkapitel (Feddern, Harris) and discussing the historiographical topos of paired speeches (Waddell). In this article, I focus on the pre-battle exhortations in Caesar’s Bellum Gallicum (books 1 and 7). I take a combined linguistic and narratological approach to this type of speech and investigate their role as a recurring element in the presentation of battles in historiography. The authenticity or historicality of especially pre-battle exhortations has often been discussed. Whether they reflect reality or not, I show that pre-battle exhortations not only function to encourage troops in the story world, but also function on the level of the narrator and his narratees. An analysis of their forms and narratological functions shows that they contribute to persuading the narratees that war, and battles within war, are predictable and, to a certain extent, controllable procedures. Thus, pre-battle exhortations are put to use by the Caesarian narrator as a literary tool.
Bibliographical noteProceedings title: The art of history. Literary Perspectives on Greek and Roman Historiography.
Publisher: Mouton De Gruyter
Editors: S. Farrington, V. Liotsakis