Caesar's conquest of Gaul was certainly not some
grand Roman design of genocide. True, he played
up the fear of the Gauls present in the Roman
psyche from 390 B.C., and even from
the Celto-Germanic invasions of N. Italy (which
in fact was Gallic, "Gaul this side of the Alps")
of the end of the second century B.C.--and Cicero
fell (or pretended to fall) for it in his remark
"Let the Alps now fall, for we've no need of
them to protect us anymore."
BUT Caesar set about conquering Gaul to make
a military name for himself, to match the feats
of his colleagues/rivals for power. Gaul was
a) it was not too far from Rome, so Caesar could keep
well abreast of politics there
b) much of Spain had already been conquered in the
second Punic War--Gaul kind of "evened out" the empire
c) there was a handy excuse for military intervention,
with the migration of the Helvetii.
I doubt that any Roman in the mid-1st century thought
the Gauls were a real threat (the botched intrigue of some
of them in the Catilinarian conspiracy was a figure of fun).
Why was Gaul conquered? For reasons of ethnic purity?
No--it was there ready to be conquered, and an ambitious
man saw it as a venue for self-promotion.
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