|Picture from here.|
The man was of course a butcher in a time of butchery, but he was not a spiteful one. He preferred to win loyalty and exercise clemency when he could. By comparison to the murderously vengeful Sulla who came before him and the callous and devious Octavion who came after, he was an honourable man.
But that's not really my point: my point is that when you read Caesar you begin to understand on both an intellectual and a visceral level the kinds of things that an ancient commander had to deal with. You see what he had to take into account before a battle, during a battle, and after the fight was over. You see what went into a successful campaign. You see what led to failure.
Anyway, whenever I get back into reading him I am always made forcibly conscious of how fortunate we are that the commentaries survived, and how much poorer our understanding of the man and the era would be if they had not.