Renowned author and Stanford professor Christopher Krebs led a discussion and Q&A session entitled, “The Style is the Empire: Caesar’s Writing Reevaluated,” which focused on an unorthodox view of first Roman dictator Julius Caesar’s role in the development of the Latin language.
The talk suggested that in addition to Caesar’s well-known overall intelligence and success, he also held a considerable level of linguistic talent. Krebs analyzes the ancient dictator’s potential role as a contributor to ancient language by asking the central question: “Was Caesar a wordsmith?”
Throughout the discussion, Krebs described evidence suggesting Caesar had actually coined new words and made other notable alterations to the Latin language. Krebs said he wanted to illuminate the lesser known linguistic abilities of Caesar, which he said may be as remarkable as his monumental military and political achievements.
“Caesar’s commentaries have, until most recently, not attracted the creative attention lavished onto other ancient historians,” Krebs said.
Several departments worked together to organize the event, including the Classics, History and Linguistics departments, as well as the Interdisciplinary and Humanities Departments.
Classics professor Robert Morstein-Marx said the discussion served to inspire students by presenting the fruits of advanced research.
“Krebs is an increasingly important young scholar,” Morstein-Marx said. “Students will benefit by observing how successful people at the next level of study conduct their work.”
Krebs received his Ph.D at Kiel University and is currently an Associate Professor of Classics at Stanford University. He is also author of the ancient history account, A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus’s Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich.
A version of this article appeared on page 3 of October 7, 2013’s print edition of The Daily Nexus.