Caesar's Footprints
Bijan Omrani

Caesar's  Footprints

Julius Caesar’s conquest of Gaul in 50 BC ushered in 500 years of Roman rule in northern Europe. The Romans found a land which was still in the Iron Age, and remade it after their own image. Before the Roman occupation, the Gallic tribes lived in wattle and daub huts. Their priests conducted human sacrifices in forbidding groves, and their chieftains nailed the heads of butchered adversaries to their doorposts as trophies of victory. Yet, just half a century after the Roman conquest, the land was visibly different. The Gallic chieftains wore togas, learned Latin, took Roman names, and erected statues of the Roman gods and emperor. Cities blossomed, with theatres and forums, temples, baths and aqueducts. Roads were constructed across the countryside. Elegant villas with statues and mosaics displaced the wattle and daub. The Gauls learned to love the olive and the Italian arts of winemaking.

This book is a combination of travel and history. Each chapter describes a journey based on a particular theme through the lands that Caesar conquered in Gaul and Britain. The themes include the gruesome religious rituals of the Celts and druids; the Gallic resistance to Roman occupation; Rome’s creation of sophisticated cities throughout Gaul; the persecution and then rise of the Christians; and the barbarian attacks before the collapse of the Empire. Each journey unravels the history, impact and heritage of the 500-year rule of the Roman Empire relevant to the theme. It shows how the violence of Caesar’s conquests and the work of the Roman colonists who followed him gave birth to a deeper and long-lasting civilisation at the foundation of European life today.

Book Details:

  • Author: Bijan Omrani
  • Published Year: 2017
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: Head of Zeus

Bijan Omrani

Bijan Omrani is an historian and classicist specialising in the history of Afghanistan and Central Asia. He was educated at Wellington, and then read Classics and English at Lincoln College Oxford, where he contributed to the Spectator as an undergraduate. He produced his first major publication, Afghanistan: A Companion and Guide, in collaboration with the seasoned Afghan traveller Matthew Leeming in 2005, and since then has edited and published numerous works, articles and book reviews on Afghan and Central Asian history. A special area of research has been the controversial area of the ...
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Book Reviews

  • "Caesar’s Footprints is a compelling, richly researched account of a little understood chapter of European history, packed with insightful parallels between the world of Caesar and our own.  "
    Justin Marozzi
  • "Without the conquests of Caesar there would have been no Roman Empire, and, so many of us believe, no continuing Freudian impulse for a European Union. Today, this terrific account lays bare the horror and cruelty of Caesar's campaigns, as well as the astonishing achievements of the Romans. Bursting with anecdotes and fizzing with unexpected information, Caesar's Footprints compels us to ask how much does our continent owe to one man and his naked and cynical lust for glory."
    Boris Johnson
  • "This is a wonderful evocation of how Rome civilised Gaul and through Gaul laid the foundations for European civilisation.  Omrani’s golden pen produces prose that is a pleasure to read.  He is a polymath who delights us with his learning – in literature, history and geography – but wears it lightly.  His sense of time and place and true civilisation is extraordinary."
    Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles KCMG LVO, author of Ever the Diplomat.
  • "less a travelogue of blisters and failed campfires than a sensitively written history of Gallo-Roman civilisation and learning in these ancient landscapes."
    Literary Review
  • "On this journey Omrani touches on geography, biography, topography, history and historiography, etymology, archaeology, anthropology, theology, rhetoric, but all with such lightness as to leave you feeling this is quite normal for an historical travel companion. …And yet, for all the varied and detailed cover, the whole things hangs together beautifully. You don’t feel distracted on your journey through the establishment and development of Caesar’s Gaul, accompanied by your wise, kindly and fascinating guide. "
    Classics for All
  • "A stimulating history of how the Roman transformation of Gaul laid the foundations of modern Europe. Omrani displays the facility of a poet, waxing eloquent on the beauty of sites where the Roman influence in Gaul forcefully asserted itself. This book is as much a travelogue as it is a wonderfully simplified lesson on Julius Caesar and his successors. The author effectively shows the full effects of the Roman occupation. After such a thrilling adventure, the author may leave readers wanting more. His electric excitement is consistently contagious as he glories in the unique history of France as she connects to her Roman past. A book for all lovers of ancient history, with something to learn or love on nearly every page."