Hello and welcome to the Gallic Wars site! This project was developed as part of the Digital Humanities class at the University of Pittsburgh by myself, Alex Scott [firstname.lastname@example.org], and Bryon Becker. Our aim was to explore Caesar's famous Gallic Wars text from a chiefly military historical context, through the aid of various computational techniques, and also to furnish an aesthetically pleasing, map-assisted presentation of the text. Above are a few labels to help you understand the meaning of the signa at the top; a bit of frontloaded cryptic-ness and confusion at the start so that you might better enjoy the page in the future!
The Commentaries are broadly divided into eight books, each covering a different year from 58-51 BC. The last book is notable in that it is not writing by Caesar himself, but rather his legate (and later consul) Aulus Hirtius. These books are in turn further subdivided into roughly 30-50 chapters apiece. The chapters are generally a page or less in length. We have used the English translation available at the Perseus Project.
Elaborating further on the markup strategy employed, I’d like to discuss our methodology for filtering the text into various categories (e.g. logistics, strategy, tactics, engineering, diplomacy, and politics/propaganda) which are in turn applies to various actors demonstrating agency (e.g Caesar, Ariovistus, Vercingetorix) within the text in greater detail, for the way we approached the question of how to delineate and categorize the actions and thoughts recounted and articulated by Caesar is instrumental to understanding and interpreting this project. Attempting to develop a coherent and consistent methodology which were not very to wildly based on the person performing the markup proved quite challenging, and involved many revisions of the rng schema.
Before we go into a bit more depth on the categories and I send you off into the text and data sections, it is worth noting the degree of granularity that was employed in attributing these disciplines to the events and sentiments of Caesar’s prose. Dial it in too close, assigning them to individual words, and the data has the potential to become skewed by the style of the prose (this could of course be fascinating in its own right, however), perhaps reflecting Caesar’s turn of phrase more than the realities of the campaign. In this case we are fortunate in that this work is notable for its clarity and economy of words. Zooming out in scale, I had also considered marking the text at the sentence or paragraph level, but the further one travels along this axis, the more we introduce personal bias into the markup as a natural artifact of attempting this digest so much text and at once. Although I did not expect to eliminate inconsistencies between our individual markup styles, the ultimate methodology settled upon hopefully mitigated them to some degree.
Marking up with simple mixtures of trait flags for each actor (e.g. Caesar, "S[strategy]D[diplomacy]") allowed us to markup each sentence and attribute policies and actions to the "actors" present, achieving a hierarchical, data-based rendering of the text. Initially beginning with 5 traits, this later ballooned to 8, and if I had been beginning from scratch, it would probably sit at 11. Agency was emphasized, and we were careful not to read too far into the statement, only flagging a particular attribute as true if explicitly articulated. This approach offered a reasonable level of objectivity while mitigating the noise of the word-level markup.
The three traits which were conceived of too late to add to the markup schema were Luck; e.g. weather and "acts of God"; tribal Ethnography ,there's huge abundance of this which would have, in hindsight, been interesting to include; and Morale, as occassions were troops rally either of their own accord or in response to encouragement from officers/elites would have been very worthwhile to include. If I further develop this project in the future, these additional traits could greatly enhance its research potential.
In any event, so that you may more readily interpret the data, please familiarize yourself with the following section describing the 8 core traits. It is copied from our XML header for your convenience:
This section is intended to allow scholars or just interested individuals to explore the actual text. The map feature is intended to provide a reference point in order to better understand where the action in the text is taking place. Additionally, please look below to our definitions of the traits we used to mark up the text. Hopefully, these definitions will shed greater light on our methodology and make our analysis/readings of the Gallic Wars more accessbile. To define these terms I utilized the U.S. Department of Defense's military glossary, found here at http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/dod_dictionary/
Combat Engineering — Engineering capabilities and activities that closely support the maneuver of land combat forces consisting of three types: mobility, countermobility, and survivability; e.g. construction of siegeworks and forts.
Diplomacy (peacemaking) — The process of diplomacy, mediation, negotiation, or other forms of peaceful settlements that arranges an end to a dispute and resolves issues that led to it; e.g. references to parlay and other diplomatic interactions between Tribes and with Ceasar.
Intelligence —The product resulting from the collection, processing, integration, evaluation, analysis, and interpretation of available information concerning foreign nations, hostile or potentially hostile forces or elements, or areas of actual or potential operations. The term is also applied to the activity, which results in the product and to the organizations engaged in such activity; e.g. spying, learning about the enemy’s movements or lay of the land.
Logistics — Planning and executing the movement and support of forces. It includes those aspects of military operations that deal with: a. design and development, acquisition, storage, movement, distribution, maintenance, evacuation, and disposition of materiel; b. movement, evacuation, and hospitalization of personnel; c. acquisition or construction, maintenance, operation, and disposition of facilities; and d. acquisition or furnishing of services; e.g. anything related to acquiring troops, food, or foraging.
Propaganda — Any form of adversary communication, especially of a biased or misleading nature, designed to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes, or behavior of any group in order to benefit the sponsor, either directly or indirectly; attempts to enhance the image of Rome or Caesar’s soldiers.
Tactics — The employment and ordered arrangement of forces in relation to each other; e.g. specific battlefield maneuvers.
Strategy — A prudent idea or set of ideas for employing the instruments of national power in a synchronized and integrated fashion to achieve theater, national, and/or multinational objectives; e.g. where Caesar decides to set up Winter Camp.
Wealth— Anything related to plundering, or concerned with increasing one’s martial or political power.