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The Commentaries | [Julius Caesar]

The Commentaries

Julius Caesar wrote his exciting Commentaries during some of the most grueling campaigns ever undertaken by a Roman army. The Gallic Wars and The Civil Wars constitute the greatest series of military dispatches ever written. As literature, they are representative of the finest expressions of Latin prose in its "golden" age, a benchmark of elegant style and masculine brevity imitated by young schoolboys for centuries.
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Publisher's Summary

Julius Caesar wrote his exciting Commentaries during some of the most grueling campaigns ever undertaken by a Roman army. The Gallic Wars and The Civil Wars constitute the greatest series of military dispatches ever written. As literature, they are representative of the finest expressions of Latin prose in its "golden" age, a benchmark of elegant style and masculine brevity imitated by young schoolboys for centuries.

One of the most daring and brilliant generals of all time, Julius Caesar combined the elements of tactical genius with the shrewdness of a master politician. He was an astute judge of men's character - their strengths and weaknesses. Whenever possible, he exercised restraint and mercy even when his worst enemies were in his power. But he also knew when and how to mete out stern punishment and his swift retaliations became a hallmark of his career. With his charismatic leadership, his powerful intellect and his magnetic personal charm, Julius Caesar became the idol of men and women everywhere. The fanatic loyalty of his troops and the adulation of the Roman public propelled him to the pinnacle of power. Historian Will Durant called him "the most complete man that antiquity produced."

Follow along in this recording as Julius Caesar in 50 B.C. undertakes the awesome enterprise of subduing savage Gaul, an area roughly the size of Texas. That task was barely completed before his enemies in Rome struck, igniting the bloody Civil War that engulfed most of the Roman Empire and afterward left Caesar in supreme power.

(P)2009 Audio Connoisseur

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  •  
    Dale Pittsburgh, PA, United States 11-11-10
    Dale Pittsburgh, PA, United States 11-11-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Great reading of an engrossing classic"

    I'm building an interest in ancient history (purely as an amateur) and downloaded this with some dread as many of the early works can have dense translations. This is a great version of the Commentaries. I found it very entertaining and, months later, still recall passages and events all the time. Mr. Griffin's voice works very well with this material and he can make the occasional dense passage understandable.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
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    David Cormier charlottetown 08-17-11
    David Cormier charlottetown 08-17-11 Member Since 2009
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    "My favourite audiobook"

    I've had this book for over a year and have probably listened to it end to end 3 times. Caesar was an incredibly lucid writer... and a crafty one. If you're paying attention you can see all the places where he's pulling a fast one. Griffin is perfect.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 01-24-14
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 01-24-14

    A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

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    "Well-behaved Romans seldom Make History"

    Commentarii de Bello Gallico:

    While listening to the Commentaries, I kept jumping back and forth between my Loeb Classics version of The Gallic War and my Penguin Classics version of The Conquest of Gaul (wishing that Landmark would publish their version). Reading/listening to Caesar makes me want to go back and learn Latin (the Loeb Classics keep seductively singing to me of the benefits of a Latin education). Anyway, I only meant to start the The Conquest of Gaul today, but the compelling narrative of Caesar's Gallic War (the record of his battles against Vercingetorix and the other chieftains) was just too damn compelling.

    It is hard to underestimate the importance of JC (no not THAT JC) in terms of military strategy, political acumen, propagandistic spin, and his shrewd combination of prudent warfare and bold action. There are certain men who get caught up in history and certain men who make history and Caesar, even without his spin, sits pretty near the top of the heap with those other Übermensch who make history.

    Commentarii de Bello Civili:

    War is hell obviously, but a civil war is a unique form of Hades (a Haidēs of many shaidēs?). The sides are more amorphous, permeable, ambiguous. There is a reluctance to kill a soldier that last year you considered a friend or a brother. While war often requires thinking beyond strategy and tactics, a civil war pushes those skills to the extreme. How do you limit the blood lust of your soldiers when they are confronting a group that might easily be conveyed into a future asset? How do you break an opponent's spirit without destroying the enemy or turning them into an enemy? How do you maintain a paid army's loyalty without pay? How do you keep your friends from deserting you after a devastating loss? Now, do all of this while still not alienating those fickle friends in Rome.

    19 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mitchell Tweedie 10-07-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Wowzors"

    Caesars Commentaries are one of the best reads, well listens, I have ever experienced.

    As usual Charlton Griffin was an amazingly interesting narrator.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 10-03-14
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 10-03-14 Member Since 2010

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

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    "Fascinating"

    This is a mainstay in the teaching of Latin in School Children as it is simple, direct prose. In discussing this book with my some members of my family, my husband said he read it in Latin when he was in elementary school in Greece. He said when he was young he could read and write Latin as well as he could Greek. My sister remembers reading it and having to translate it in her Latin class in high school. But I do not remember reading it. I only took Latin for one year then we moved and the next school did not teach Latin. (The problems of frequent moving as a military brat)

    The Commentaries is Julius Caesar’s firsthand account of the Gallic Wars. It is written as a third person narrative. Caesar describes the battle and intrigues that took place in the nine years he spent fighting local armies in Gaul. What amazes me is that I am reading something written over two thousand years ago by one of histories greatest military commanders. Needless to say I am reading a translated edition but to have a book survived this long is amazing and it is still being read today. I can just picture Caesar sitting in his tent after a day of battle writing his book.

    Gaul is what today we know as France, Belgium and part of Switzerland. The Helvetii from Switzerland were feeling constricted in their valley so they started migrating over into what was a northern Roman province. Caesar pushed them back into their traditional land. Then King Ariovistus along with some Germanic mercenaries try to move into Italy and again Caesar ventured out to meet them and so it goes for nine years.

    The book is interesting in its descriptions of Gaulish customs, religion and the comparison between the Gaul and Germanic peoples. The geography descriptions I found interesting also. Overall I enjoyed the book but even after reading it I still cannot remember if I read it in elementary or high school. Charlton Griffin did a good job narrating the book.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert 05-23-14
    Robert 05-23-14
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    "Talk about an eye wittness"
    What did you love best about The Commentaries?

    There is no history to match that of the man who was not only there but planned and lived this critical part of Roman history. It helps you understand the logistics of these wars if you have a map of Gaul and France but it is entertaining, even without, to follow this outstanding general, politician and writer as he shapes the world we now live in.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Smaha Washington DC 12-19-13
    John Smaha Washington DC 12-19-13 Member Since 2013

    kqlr36a

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    "One of the bets books out there."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I have always wanted to read this work and never had the time. I downloaded and was not disappointed. The narration is superb and Caesar comes to life 2,000 years after his death. This is a must read.


    What does Charlton Griffin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His narration is superb! Makes the book come to life.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tony Ottawa, ON, Canada 01-14-13
    Tony Ottawa, ON, Canada 01-14-13 Member Since 2012

    I listen to approximately 40 hours of audio books a month. I love audio books.

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    "My First Audio Book and still my favorite!"

    I've listened to this book twice. Actually there are some chapters I've listened to over and over again. Julius Caesar is my favorite historical person. I enjoy reading anything about Caesar so long as it's historically accurate. So reading The Commentaries just doesn't get any better for me. Caesar is a fantastic author and a brilliant general. I think he was the ultimate polymath. My favorite chapter is when Caesar and 10 hand pick troopers as he refers to them meet with Ariovistus and 10 of his body guards. Fascinating encounter and incredible collision of power. This book is my all time favorite and to think it was written over 2000 years ago and is still so relevant in this day and age. Just incredible!!

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Guilherme 07-15-12
    Guilherme 07-15-12 Member Since 2011

    You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take. —Wayne Gretzky

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    "A great epic."

    Listening to this book is better than watching the Gladiator because it really happened. On top of that allows us to know some of what happened in the life of one of the persons who shaped our modern world.

    Maybe Ceasar changed some facts to make himself appear more heroic to his peers but who wouldn't?

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    megan 05-06-14
    megan 05-06-14 Member Since 2013
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    "who doesn't love Roman Propaganda"

    This is a great book you get a great view of Gauis Julius Caesar and his campaigns in Gaul and in the Civil War. Obviously this is written by and for Caesar so it is propaganda but it is still very informative and interesting.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Steven
    VIRGINIA WATER, United Kingdom
    8/7/12
    Overall
    "Classic of mispronunciation"

    I bought this audiobook recently and am absolutely appalled at the mispronunciation of so much of the text by Charlton Griffin. I would be fascinated to know whether English is his first language or whether any audio proof reading was conducted on the recording. It is incoceivable that a professional reader could pronounce ordinary English words so badly.

    Apart from the dreadful stressing of words like "forest" which is spokes as "four-est", there are glaring and disconcerting mistakes that leave the listener trying to make sense of the text.

    Some examples are
    "dogged pursuit" as in "dog-ed" is pronounced "dog'd"
    "draught of men" as in "draft", pronounced "drout"
    Americanism such as "missile" as in "miss'ile" pronounced "mizzle" and many more
    "redoubt" pronounced "read-out"
    Pronunciation of French place names in many cases are just not capable of understanding, such as the rivers "Aisne" which comes as "eye-ne" as opposed to "ayne" or "Saone" appearing as "sain" as opposed to "sa-own"
    And dozens more of which perhaps the most amusing is the confusion of "route" and "rout", both pronounced "rout".

    I wish I had not bought it and would advise readers to look for a better narrator.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
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