Characters

This page is about the characters, both real and invented, in Chariots of Gaul. Links are to Wikipedia articles about them or related subjects.

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Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar appears twice in Chariots of Gaul, initially during the invasion of Britain and later at the Siege of Alesia. In the ten years since The Ancient Ocean Blues, he has progressed from a political on the make to the greatest general in Roman history. The picture to the left is his real portrait from more than 2000 years ago.

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Vercingetorix

Vercingetorix was a prince of the Arverni tribe who returned from exile in 52 BC to lead his tribe, the Arverni, in rebellion against Roman power in Gaul. Quickly building a pan-Gallic coalition, the charismatic Vercingetorix faced Caesar in battle twice, first at Gergovia and then at Alesia.

The portrait here is from a coin issued during his Great Revolt and gives an idealized likeness.

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Cassivellaunus

Cassivellaunus was a Gaulish king in Britannia at the time of the Roman invasion led by Julius Caesar in 54 BC. An expert warrior, famous for his chariots, he was the most powerful petty king in that part of Britain at the time, but was unable to hold out against Roman siege tactics.

The portrait here is from a pre-Roman British coin, showing a British chieftain.

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The Blues

Among other things, Chariots of Gaul imagines the start of one of the two most famous Roman racing teams, "The Blues." Regularly fielding chariot teams to races at Rome and throughout the growing Empire, the Blues (along with the Greens) are one of the two most dominant sporting dynasties in history, having lasted more than 600 years by the time they began to fade in the 7th century AD.

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Ludu

The narrator of Chariots of Gaul, Ludu is a young British chariot-driver (charioteer) who travels from Britain to Gaul to Rome in search of adventure and glory. The charioteer here is the central one from the book cover, which features a painting by the great Angus McBride.

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Šila

Sister of Vercingetorix and a princess of the powerful Arverni tribe, Šila walks a fine line between Roman power and Gaulish freedom.

Šila is very loosely modeled on Boudica, a British queen who rebelled against Rome in the 1st century AD. Like Šila, Gaulish noblewomen were often fierce, proud, and warlike, but it is not known if Vercingetorix had any sisters. Her name would today be written ‘Sheila,’ still a common Celtic name.

The portrait at left is of a Roman coin of 48 BC, showing a Gaulish woman.

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Homer

Homer has many of the characteristics of the Greeks as the Romans perceived them: he is a little too smart, a little too impractical, and always ready to bet everything on one roll of the dice. In Chariots of Gaul he has given up book publishing, turning to the patronage of Julius Caesar; but with whom do his real loyalties lie?

Homer's story in Chariots of Gaul is loosely based on the remarkable career of Commius, a Gaulish nobleman.