March 22, 2018

Julius Caesar (Part 2)


Julius Caesar Part 2

  • HELLO and welcome to How to Take Over the World. This is Ben Wilson. This is episode 2 of the life of Julius Caesar.
  • Have you ever been in a position where you were put into a leadership role in a new organization? It’s a difficult position. Not only is your work new, with new tasks and responsibilities, but your team is new and you have to find a way to quickly get them to buy into your leadership, even as you are figuring out what you are doing yourself.
  • Well when we had left off Caesar had gotten the ultimate new job with a new company. He had just finished being consul in Rome, and now was headed off to become governor of Gaul, a territory that roughly corresponds to modern day France, Belgium, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. He was in charge of more than 20,000 men who he has never met before, the stakes are life-or-death, and he was about to embark into an exotic, new, foreign territory. And so this portion of his life is a masterclass in how to handle a new situation where you need to quickly gain the trust of people following you.
  • Now when I say that Gaul was exotic and new and foreign, you might be thinking to yourself, wait a second, I have seen France on a map, and it is right next to Italy. How foreign could it really be?
  • But Gaul inhabited a pretty unique place in the ancient world. In the modern world, we group territory by land. When we talk about geography now, we talk about continents and countries. And that works. We have a continent called Europe, and we instinctively group all those countries together. And that makes sense: Italy, France, Denmark, and England have a lot in common. They are more similar to each other than they are to say Lebanon or Tunisia.
  • But in the ancient world, places were more grouped together by water than land. That was because people traded and transported stuff more often by boat, especially over long distances. So to the Romans, the known world to them was not Europe, it was the Mediterranean. Northern Europe was a world away, to sail a ship hundreds of miles to Turkey was hard but very doable. Pulling a wagon hundreds of miles up to Germany was much more difficult and expensive, and something that no one did. So the Mediterranean was its own world, and Northern Europe was a totally different world. Rome would have had much more in common with the people of Tunisia or Lebanon than they would have with the people of Denmark or England.
  • Gaul was in a unique position because it bridged the two worlds. The parts of Gaul that were close to the Mediterranean, and close to Rome had started to become civilized and sort of Mediterranean-ized. In fact two parts of Gaul were so thoroughly in the Roman orbit that the Romans had taken them over and made them provinces of Rome. The first was what is now Northern Italy. At the time it wasn’t Northern Italy it was Southeastern Gaul. That is why today if you go to a city like Milan, which is in the far north of Italy, in some ways it has more in common with the Swiss and French than with Rome or Naples. This part of Gaul was so thoroughly in the Roman orbit that many Romans had started to move up there, and some Gauls in the area would even wear togas. This part of Gaul was called Cisalpine Gaul. Cisalpine means on this side of the alps.
  • The other province was called Transalpine Gaul, which means on the other side of the Alps, and it included a sliver of Southern France including cities like Marseille. And again, this province was thoroughly Roman at this point. It had been such an important province for so long that Romans started to just call it “the province.” The name stuck and that is why this part of Southern France is to this day known as Provence.
  • So these parts of Gaul are thoroughly Romanized, and they don’t feel very foreign.
  • But the further north you go, the stranger and more foreign it gets. By the time you go up to Normandy and Belgium, you are in the Northern European world, and it’s completely foreign. It is cold, it is full of these dense forests and impenetrable swamps, the Gauls here are considered totally savage and barbaric. They are wild, tall, fierce, super white, and scary.
  • And to be fair, the Gauls were frankly less advanced than the Romans. And this is especially true politically speaking. Their primary political unit was the tribe, they were mostly rural farmers, raiding and plundering rival tribes was still a major part of life.
  • So Caesar is assigned to govern the two Roman provinces, Cisalpine Gaul and Transalpine Gaul. But he hasn’t even reached his new territory yet when he gets some bad news that is going to force him to go further north:
  • There was a tribe of Gauls, the Helvetii, who lived in the Alps in modern day Switzerland, near Lake Geneva. On the foreign-ness scale, they are a medium. They are fairly close to, but not in, Roman territory. And they decided they have had enough of this area and they are going to move. Their main problem is their territory is small and bounded by mountains. So as their population expands, they have nowhere to go. This is especially true of a society that is agricultural and relies on raiding as a major part of life. If you are shut in by these mountains, where do you expand and who do you raid? So the Helvetii decide they are going to pull up stakes and move their entire tribe over to Southwest France.
  • They spend two years preparing. They are gathering grain and packing up their stuff and so on. And after two years they are ready to go, so they set fire to their old villages in order to discourage anyone from turning around, and head out for their new home.
  • The Romans are not pleased about this for a number of reasons. The first is the Helvetii are going to be passing through and by Transalpine Gaul. And of course, they are going to raid, that is what Gauls do, and the Romans naturally don’t want their land raided. 
  • The second reason is a disruption in power balance. Things were working pretty well for the Romans. If you have this big tribe move to Southwestern Gaul, maybe they displace a tribe, and now that tribe has to look elsewhere for land, and maybe they look in Roman Gaul and attack. The Romans were always suspicious of big disruptions to the power balance like this because the dominos a little further down the line might affect them. 
  • The third reason they didn’t like it was because it left a vacuum in Switzerland where the Helvetii had been. And the Romans’ big fear is that some Germans might move in. Gauls were foreign and different and scary, but in their minds Germans were like super-Gauls. They considered them to be truly ferocious, uncivilized barbarians and they did not want them as neighbors.
  • So when Caesar hears that the Helvetii are on the move, he takes immediate action. He raises some more troops and races to an area near the modern day city of Geneva with his men, and they block their path. The Helvetian leadership calls for a meeting with Caesar and ask him if they can pass and Caesar says “I need to think about it. Come back in three weeks.” He doesn’t really need any time to think about it, what he needs is time to prepare. So he raises even more troops and uses them to build this massive wall. They are in a narrow mountain valley in Switzerland so Caesar has his men block the whole thing off by building a wall that is 19 miles long and 18 feet high. It has a ditch in front and forts positioned at regular intervals. They build this in just three weeks. This is something the Romans were really, really good at. Their soldiers were not just good fighters, but they were like super boy scouts, and they could put up a full fort in hours, and they could build walls and bridges, and siege works and all sorts of things. They were incredible engineers.
  • The Helvetii come back after a few weeks to see if Caesar has made his mind up and they see a massive wall. They must have immediately known what his decision was.
  • Well, the Helvetii are not going to give up so easily. They send parties to try to break through the Roman wall at a few different points, but nothing works, a few of the Helvetians are killed, so they pack up again and decide, okay we will take a different route. That route is going to be longer, they have to go north and go up and around in order to avoid being anywhere near Roman territory. It’s also going to be more dangerous because they will have to take some very dangerous mountain passes, but at this point it’s their only option.
  • But now Caesar really can’t let them move. Not only does he have some of the same problems with their migration as before, but he’s killed a few of them, so now you have an angry potential enemy on the move.
  • Caesar goes back to Cisalpine Gaul to gather even more troops, and then he marches them at breakneck speed to intercept the Helvetii on their new northern route. Caesar was always known as a very fast marcher, and he lives up to his reputation here.
  • He finally catches up to the Helvetii near a river. They are crossing on a rickety raft bridge they had hastily constructed. Caesar watches and waits until the Helvetii were 3/4 across and then attacks the remaining 1/4. It starts as a battle, but it quickly turns into a slaughter, and this first attack is his first victory.
  • Caesar’s decision here to only attack a fourth of the Helvetii is interesting. Couldn’t the Romans handle at least half and score a bigger victory? Supposedly he likes moving fast and making stuff happen quickly, so why the minor engagement. Why not end the whole thing right here and have your big battle now?
  • There is an interesting counter-example to Caesar’s strategy. Do you remember Crassus? He was the guy who is part of the first Triumvirate with Caesar. He’s the super-rich property developer. Well in a few years he will get sent on a foreign assignment to Syria to go fight a people called the Parthians. And he thinks, okay, no one can stop Rome, our forces are the best, let’s go get them. So he immediately leads all his forces directly into a big battle, and they are immediately destroyed and everyone is killed, including Crassus. They were completely unprepared for the way that the Parthians fought, and they had no time to adjust.
  • Here, Caesar is avoiding that kind of risk by getting his feet wet with a minor engagement with few stakes. And that’s smart when you have a new situation. First find a small battle with low stakes and where you are pretty sure you can win to make sure you know what this new environment is all about. That’s what Caesar is doing here. Now his men know how the Gauls fight and they can make small adjustments before the big decisive battle, and as a bonus they have also leveled the odds by wiping out a fourth of their army.
  • But, this does mean he still needs to fight a decisive battle. And he doesn’t want to just charge them head on because the Helvetii hugely outnumber his troops. So he’s just stalking them, marching a few miles behind, waiting for advantageous ground where he can nullify their numerical advantage. After a few days he gets his opportunity when he finds out that the Helvetii are camped at the bottom of a hill. He comes up with a plan to send 8,000 troops out at night around the back of the hill and have them wait in secret at the top. Caesar will then lead the main body of his army with 20,000 men or so to attack the Helvetii camp. Once all the Helvetii are engaged with Caesar’s main force, then the smaller division of 8,000 is going to run down the hill and attack from the high ground and crush the Helvetii between the two divisions.
  • It starts out as planned: Caesar sends out the 8,000 men at night, they go to the top of the hill, and they wait. But when Caesar sends out a scout to see if they are in place on the hill, the scout comes back and says they’re gone and the hill is swarming with Gauls. Caesar of course figures they must have found out about his men and killed them all. This is a disaster, 8,000 men is a huge chunk of his army that Caesar could not afford to lose. Caesar figures if they just wiped out 8,000 of my men, they must be coming for the rest of us, so he gets the rest of his men ready to put up a desperate last defense. They wait, and wait, and wait for the big attack. Finally a messenger comes strolling up to Caesar and says “Guys, what’s going on. We’re still waiting up here on the hill. Why haven’t you attacked.” 
  • It was a simple mix-up. Caesar’s scout had been mistaken when he thought he saw Gauls all over the hill. But the Helvetii had moved on and Caesar lost his chance. This was a pretty disheartening turn of events for Caesar. He has this new army, he’s trying to gain their trust, and he starts out with an embarrassing and avoidable failure.
  • One reason Caesar had been seeking a decisive battle at this point was he only had two days’ worth of food left. So now he’s in a bad position. He is just a few miles from a massive body of enemies with not enough food to feed his men.
  • There is a nearby allied city with ample food supplies, but it’s in the opposite direction and he would have to break off his chase of the Helvetii. But he can’t just let his men starve, so he calls off the chase and heads for this city.
  • When word gets to the Helvetii that the Romans have turned around and are going the other way, they figure the Romans are in a really bad position. So they turn around and pursue the Romans.
  • The Helvetii catch the Romans before they reach the city. So Caesar puts his legions up on a hill and prepares for an attack. The Romans always grouped their forces by legions, which were units of about 5,000 men. Caesar puts all of his legions next to each other to form a line, except for two legions that were composed of totally new recruits who had never seen battle. He has these legions guard the baggage and doesn’t let them fight. Better to have them out of the way then have them potentially panic and run away and freak everyone else out.
  • And make no mistake, this was a very scary situation for the Roman soldiers. They are in a foreign land with no easy path home and no food. If they are defeated in this battle, they are all dead. Caesar gets off his horse and has it sent to the back of his army to give his men confidence. He’s basically saying “I’m in this with you, I have confidence in you, and I won’t be running away.” He’s showing his men that he is sharing in the danger.
  • The Helvetii get closer and closer, but Caesar doesn’t wait for them to attack, once they get close enough, he has his men rush down the hill and charge the Helvetii.
  • It turns into a slog of a fight. Eventually some Helvetian reinforcements show up on the right flank of the Romans. Getting flanked could be disastrous in ancient combat, but luckily Caesar always kept a reserve. He would always have a third of his men stay behind the front line, and not immediately engage the enemy. So he takes the reserve and sends them out to face this new threat on their right flank.
  • Keeping a reserve was something Napoleon also did to great effect. For both Caesar and Napoleon, many of their enemies would think “Okay, if I have all these soldiers, why would I not want to use them?” They figure you want to use as many of your forces at once as possible to try to overwhelm your opponent. But Caesar and Napoleon were sticklers for keeping a portion of their forces in reserve. Often they would unleash this reserve at the decisive moment of the battle and turn the tide.
  • Rule #1 of life is “Things go wrong in ways that you do not expect.” People often build very fragile systems that break down the second anything goes wrong. They have the perfect diet, but they eat one Oreo and all the sudden screw it, I guess I failed, diet over. I’m going to binge. Or think of a financial portfolio that gives great returns and then crashes during a recession which, coincidentally, is often when you need the money most. Great leaders understand that life goes wrong in ways they do not expect, and they stay prepared, they keep a reserve.
  • Even with Caesar sending his reserves to take on the flanking Helvetians, the battle turns into tough hand to hand fighting that lasts into the night. But eventually the Roman legions prevail.
  • There are massive Helvetian casualties, and those who remain have to beg Caesar for mercy. Caesar sends them all back to Switzerland to settle back into the land they had left.
  • According to Caesar, Three hundred thousand Helvetii had set out and now barely a third would be returning home.
  • Tribes from all over Gaul come to congratulate him. But there is no time to bask in his glory or gloat, because these tribes tell Caesar about a new threat. The unofficial delineation marker between Gaul and Germany was the Rhine River. Well a Germanic tribe had come over and started conquering land on the West side of the river.
  • So they say hey Caesar, could you help us out? Now Caesar was already looking for war. War was how he made money, and he was looking to win more battles to add to his reputation as a great general. And furthermore, the Germans were like the boogeymen in Rome, the Romans hated them. So a war against the Germans is like best case scenario for him.
  • The leader of this particular German tribe was a guy by the name of Ariovistus, and at first Caesar sends a message to Ariovistus and tells him to cut it out.
  • Ariovistus’s response actually makes quite a bit of sense, he says “Who do you think you are? We’re not doing anything different from what you Romans have done in the Mediterranean. You’re a hypocrite, stay out of our business.” 
  • Well Caesar doesn’t care about his logic, he needs these Germans out of Gaul, so Caesar marches toward the Rhine to attack. But Caesar has a problem. They start marching through some thick forests in Eastern Gaul. Many of his men are very inexperienced, and as they are marching through these thick forests, they start to get really freaked out. You don’t see this kind of stuff in Italy. They have never been in woods this big, deep, or dark. These are, for the most part, poor city boys who had never travelled outside of their hometown. They have never even seen pictures of a forest like this. This might as well be an alien planet. And they are going to face this enemy of savage Germanic barbarians. Here is how Caesar described what happened:
  • “A panic spread after conversations with the Gauls and the traders, who said that the Germans were a race of huge stature, incredible courage and skill with weapons – they claimed that often when they met them they had not been able to sustain even their glance and keen expressions. Then very suddenly a great panic seized the entire army, dismaying the minds and spirits of all ranks. They were unable to conceal their depression, or at times hide their tears; they cowered in their tents to bemoan their fates, or gathered with friends to lament the common danger. Throughout the entire camp men started drawing up their wills. With these voices of despair, even men with long experience of campaigning, soldiers, centurions, and cavalry officers were affected.” At one point, some men even start to say that they are not going forward.
  • Take a moment and ask yourself what you would do if you were Caesar. You’re relatively new with this army, you’ve won a single big battle, but not everyone completely trusts you. Do you ask for these soldiers’ trust? Do you plead? Do you turn around and forget about it?
  • What Caesar does is call together his centurions. Centurions are the lowest ranking officers. They were typically common soldiers who had distinguished themselves in combat. Each one commanded roughly 80 soldiers and they commanded right from the front lines. They are a key link, they have access to Caesar and the army’s top leadership, but they are also very close with the common soldiers. And Caesar takes them to task. He challenges their honor. And he makes a lot of points about why they shouldn’t be scared. The Helvetii, who they have just defeated, have beaten German soldiers dozens of times. His own uncle, Marius, had defeated an army of Germans. And regardless of all that, they were obligated to obey as soldiers of Rome. And then he finishes with a stroke of genius.
  • Caesar had a favored legion, the tenth. They were distinguished for their bravery and skill in combat. So he ends his speech to the centurions by saying “I intend to break camp in the fourth watch of this coming night, so that I may see once and for all if duty and honor prevails in your hearts over fear. Anyway, even if no one else follows, I shall set out with just the Tenth Legion, for I have no doubt of its loyalty, and it will act as if it were my own guard.”
  • He then turns to the centurions from the Tenth and asks if they are ready to march with him and what do you think they say? YEAH. They are all in. He just called them out as the best, these guys love Caesar right now. And of course, now all the centurions from the other legions are tripping over themselves to say they are coming, too, they won’t fail him, this was all just a misunderstanding etc.
  • This works, but Caesar doesn’t take any chances and he moves his army out of the forest and takes them on a longer route to get there that goes through more open fields.
  • Well finally they march up near Ariovistus and his armies. The Romans build a couple forts. Again, they were great at this, they could just pop up a fort over night with walls, gates, a moat, some towers and everything.
  • And the Germans don’t want to attack because the Romans are in these forts, and the Romans don’t want to attack because the German camps are pretty well positioned as well. They also didn’t want to fight a straight forward fight because the Germans way outnumbered them. So if it gets into a “you line up your guys, I’ll line up mine, and let’s duke it out,” then that’s likely not going to favor the Romans.
  • So everyone is staying in their camps waiting for the other side to attack. Men will venture out from time to time and skirmish with soldiers from the other side, but there are no big battles. However, eventually it gets really quiet and there aren’t even any skirmishes. So Caesar starts to wonder “Huh, what’s going on here?” and he sends some men to do some reconnaissance. What they find out is that the Germans don’t want to fight for a reason that we might find rather strange today. 
  • The Germans, like many people at the time, including the Romans, believed strongly in omens. They had diviners who would look for signs in the sky, the weather, and the movement of animals, and would declare what was blessed by the gods and what was not, what was lucky and unlucky.
  • Well the Germanic diviners had looked at the signs and declared that it would be very unlucky to fight a battle before the new moon, which was still a few days away. So these Germans are convinced that if they fight before then, they will lose. So they are avoiding battle as much as possible.
  • So what does Caesar do when he discovers this? He marches his army right up to the German camp and attacks. Remember, this is exactly the strategy he wanted to avoid, a straight on battle where the Germans were in their camp and had some defenses. And yet he fought it anyway because he understood how crucially important morale is.
  • For me that has been one of the big revelations of doing research for this podcast. Great leaders put such a large emphasis on the morale of the people they lead. Napoleon said that morale was 3/4 of the battle and physical considerations only the last fourth. That’s something we see play out here.
  • Now of course the Germans don’t just give up. When Caesar marches up to their camp, they form into units and fight. But they are tentative and scared because of the omens. It’s still a pretty tough battle, but eventually Caesar succeeds and pushes through and sends these Germanic tribes back across the Rhine. 
  • Now that’s two big victories for Caesar in less than a year. It’s quite the resume for just one year of command. And his work for the year is basically done; in Caesar’s time campaigning almost always stopped for the winter. It was cold, there wasn’t enough food, and the food you did have was difficult to transport, especially in a place like Gaul where it snowed. So Caesar goes back to his headquarters in Cisalpine Gaul so that he can be closer to Rome. 
  • Before he leaves, the tribes of Gaul come to congratulate and thank him again. They are ready to escort him and his legions back to Roman Gaul with full honors. But Caesar says, actually I think I’ll leave my troops to winter here. This is ominous for the Gallic tribes. The war with the Germans is over. All the Romans should be leaving. And so the Gallic tribes start to suspect that Caesar isn’t taking his troops back because he didn’t want to just beat back the Helvetii and the Germanic invaders. They start to suspect that he wanted to invade and conquer all of Gaul.
  • So there is trouble brewing over the winter. Back in Cisalpine Gaul, Caesar is writing letters, receiving visitors, and otherwise trying to stay active in Rome’s political scene so that he isn’t forgotten while he is off on campaign. 
  • When spring comes, a collection of Gallic tribes called the Belgae decide they didn’t sign up to have Caesar in charge of all of Gaul, and they raise an army. The Belgae were a collection of tribes centered in the area that we now call Belgium. That is where we get the word Belgium. Belgae, Belgium. But they weren’t just there, they were also in the Netherlands, and parts of Northern France. And these are the fiercest Gauls. They are the furthest from Rome, and the least civilized, according to the Romans.
  • Caesar hears about this and raises even more troops. The senate had only authorized 4 legions for Caesar and he now has twice that, and he’s paying them out of his own pocket at this point. Remember no one gives you credit for failing inexpensively, it’s always better to spend the money and give yourself an advance.
  • With these troops, Caesar rushes forward and establishes a forward fort in Belgae territory. The Belgae try to lure him out of it but he refuses, because in this case, the Romans have supplies saved up, they are ready to go. The Belgae, on the other hand, aren’t a real professional army. They are just men pulled from a bunch of different tribes. They’re poorly organized and poorly supplied, so they can’t keep their army fed for very long. Unable to overcome the Roman forts, they all decide to just go home, and they make a pact that wherever Caesar actually attacks, they will come together and defend.
  • By the way, this is what Caesar does almost every time, blitz forward, then build a fort. And why not, it utilizes two of his greatest strengths. One is his personal ability to move quickly and inspire his men to do the same, and the other is his Roman soldiers’ incredible ability to build very sophisticated fortifications very quickly. Focusing on your strengths is always a great tactic. There was a study conducted where over the course of a few months they asked some office workers to focus on improving their weaknesses. They asked another group of office workers to focus on improving their strengths, to work at getting even better at what they were already good at. And it turns out, those who focused on their strengths performed better and improved more than their counterparts who focused on improving their weaknesses. Now of course, if you have glaring flaws, sometimes those need to be addressed, but all in all, you should generally be distributing 80% of your self-development time towards further developing your strong areas and only 20% toward smoothing out the rough edges.
  • Okay well this Belgae pact doesn’t work too well. Caesar blitzes through their territory, capturing towns the whole way. Finally the Belgae decide they need to try something different, and they decide to ambush his army. Remember, Roman soldiers build a fort every night before they go to sleep. Well after one march, they get to the spot they have picked out to set up camp, and they have set down their stuff and are just starting to get to building when all these Belgians come running out of the woods, and they are on top of the Romans in no time. They don’t have time to set up proper battle lines, everyone just has to rush to the front and fight with very little preparation.
  • Caesar’s more experienced men are on his left, including his vaunted 10th legion, and they actually manage a counter-charge. They push the Belgae back. Caesar’s center manages to hold, but his right is really struggling. In fact, for a while it looks like they might get routed. This is one of those moments where history hangs in the balance. If the Belgae push through here, it’s possible that they could crush the Romans, and if they did so they would kill everyone in the Roman camp, including Caesar.
  • So things are dire, Caesar’s campaign, his career, and his life, are hanging by a thread. So Caesar personally responds. Here is how he describes what he did in his war commentaries. By the way, just so you’re not confused, he refers to himself in the third person in his commentaries: “He saw the situation was critical and that there was no other reserve available, took a shield from a man in the rear ranks, - he had come without his own – advanced into the front line and called on the centurions by name, encouraged the soldiers, and ordered the line to advance and the units to extend, so that they could employ their swords more easily. His arrival brought hope to the soldiers and refreshed their spirits, every man wanting to do his best in the sight of his general even in such a desperate situation. The enemy’s advance was delayed for a while.”
  • His personal presence manages to hold of the Belgae for long enough. The tenth legion had completely routed the Belgae on their side of the line so they turn around and attack the rest of the Belgae from behind. This causes the Belgae to panic and run. The victory is so complete that afterwards they are forced to end their rebellion.
  • With this victory, it now appeared that all of Gaul was subdued and at peace. This is a major accomplishment, everyone is impressed back in Rome, and the senate declares an astounding 15 day of celebration.
  • That winter Caesar heads back to his headquarters in Cisalpine man and things have never looked better for him. He’s popular back home and totally successful in Gaul. This is where we will take a break in the action for this episode with Caesar triumphant. Before we end , I want to talk about the way Caesar trained and led his troops. On the one hand he was very familiar with them.
  • With the centurions, who I described earlier as sort of the lowest form of officer, he made it a point to memorize all of their names. And this was not easy, there were hundreds of them in an army as large as his, but that was clearly very important to him.
  • He also addressed his men not as “soldiers” as was customary, but as “comrades”. He also often shared in their accommodations and food rather than sort of preserving a very aristocratic life even when on the campaign trail, as some generals at the time did.
  • Here is how Plutarch described it: “His soldiers were astonished that he should undergo toils beyond his body’s apparent power of endurance… because he was of a spare habit, had soft and white skin, suffered from epileptic fits. Nevertheless, he did not make his feeble health an excuse for soft living, but rather his military service a cure for his feeble health, since by wearisome journeys, simple diet, continuously sleeping in the open air, and enduring hardships he fought off his trouble and kept his body strong against its attacks.”
  • He also spoiled his men, paying them more than the going rate and often commissioning special weaponry or armor for notable acts of bravery. In the off-season, when it was not campaign season, he was very lenient and rarely punished his men for breaches of protocol or minor infractions.
  • On the other hand, Caesar could be very strict. He was exacting in his training and preparation. He drilled his men harder and more often than any other general at the time.
  • When it was campaign season, he did not tolerate disobedience. Deserters were always promptly executed, and violations of discipline were harshly punished. 
  • This sort of odd combination of demanding exactitude and familiarity was like a perfect storm for creating a bond with his men. Caesar is known as one of the greatest soldier’s general of all time. But as we have seen, that love and trust did not come immediately. Caesar had to cultivate it.
  • Okay well that’s it this week. Tune in next time to see how it all goes terribly wrong for Caesar, and how he recovers from disaster. Until then thanks for listening.

About Episode

In Gaul, Julius Caesar gives a master class on how to demonstrate leadership and cultivate trust when you are tasked with leading a new team in a new environment.

Listen to the podcast here:


Read more

Our Sponsors

Sign-up for our newsletter

Get exclusive insights, tips, and updates from our mastermind podcast – your path to global influence starts here.


No items found.

Ready to take over the world?

From world domination strategies to seizing power – ready to command your destiny?

What people are saying

Similar Episodes

No items found.