Caesar’s Footprints Journeys to Roman Gaul with Bijan Omrani
Ebenezer is delighted to welcome leading classicist and historian, Bijan Omrani.
“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.
Julius Caesar is best known nowadays for his exploits in Rome – his ruthless mastery of war and politics which led to his dictatorship, assassination and the end of the Roman republic. But his most enduring legacy is often overlooked: his spur-of-the-moment decision in 58 BC to invade Gaul, the forerunner of modern-day France. After the victory, across the countryside elegant villas replaced simple Gallic farmsteads. The vine and the olive spread across the land. In this Gallo-Roman soil, the seeds of modern European civilization took root and flourished.
From Marseille to Mulhouse, from Orléans to Autun, and from Geneva to Gergovia, Bijan Omrani makes a revelatory journey across Gaul in the footsteps of its Roman conquerors. Fusing authoritative historical narrative and analysis with atmospheric evocations of place, he tells the story of Caesar’s Gallic Wars and traces the indelible imprint on modern France of the Gallo-Roman civilisation that emerged in their wake...
The impact of Caesar’s conquest is still felt today in countless ways: the French language, and many aspects of French identity, culture and landscape – not to mention the wine – are a heritage of 500 years under the Roman Empire.
This talk covers not just what brought Caesar to Gaul and how Rome changed Gaul, but many ideas which have a deep contemporary resonance: the rise of political populism; how a migration crisis in 58 BC precipitated Caesar’s invasion; how Caesar manipulated a fear of migrants to justify his conquest; and how Rome used its culture to assimilate a “barbarian” Gaul and maintain it as part of the Empire for 500 years.
Bijan Omrani (visit his website) is an historian and classicist. He was educated at Wellington, and then read Classics and English at Lincoln College Oxford, where he contributed to the Spectator as an undergraduate.
Bijan commentates on the Classics and Afghan history for BBC Radio 4, Voice of America, France 24 and Sky News and speaks at numerous venues including the British Museum, the RGS, the Royal Society for Asian Affairs, King's College London, SOAS, Asia House, the University of Miami and, of course, the Ebenezers where he spoke brilliantly about Afghanistan. He has also briefed army officers and journalists on aspects of Afghan history.
He is currently the editor of the Asian Affairs Journal and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, The Royal Geographical Society and The Royal Asiatic Society.
Reviews for Caesar's Footprints
“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, British Foreign Secretary.
“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, author of The Way of Herodotus.