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Archiv für Religionsgeschichte

Ed. by Bickel, Susanne / Frankfurter, David / Johnston, Sarah Iles / Pironti, Gabriella / Rüpke, Jörg / Scheid, John / Várhelyi, Zsuzsanna

Together with Beard, Mary / Bonnet, Corinne / Borgeaud, Philippe / Henrichs, Albert / Knysh, Alexander / Lissarrague, Francois / Malamoud, Charles / Maul, Stefan / Parker, Robert C. Y. / Shaked, Shaul / Stroumsa, Gedaliahu Guy / Tardieu, Michel / Volokhine, Youri

CiteScore 2018: 0.26

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.132
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.435

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Caesar on religio

John North
Published Online: 2014-03-26 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/arege-2013-0013


In the course of his famous account of the Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar breaks off and digresses for a few chapters (6.11−28) on the religious customs of the Gauls and the Germans. This paper argues that, while there may not be too much to be learned from the digression about its ostensible subjects, it gives us a unique opportunity to assess whether Caesar had a conception of a ‘religion’ as such, of an area of religious activities and ideas within different societies, which would have enabled him to write a comparison between Roman religious life, about which as pontifex maximus he knew a good deal, and those of these other societies about which he knew at least a little. The conclusion is that he has no such conception; that his account allows no sharp distinction between the religious and non-religious areas of Gallic, German or Roman life. Rather he reveals an evolutionary perspective in which the superiority of Rome over the Gauls, and of Gauls over Germans, provide the central message he succeeds, consciously or not, in conveying.

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Published Online: 2014-03-26

Published in Print: 2014-03-01

Citation Information: Archiv für Religionsgeschichte, Volume 15, Issue 1, Pages 187–200, ISSN (Online) 1868-8888, ISSN (Print) 1436-3038, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/arege-2013-0013.

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