Watch: Alumnus Bijan Omrani on what inspired him to retrace the footsteps of Julius Caesar

From Marseille to Mulhouse, and from Orléans to Autun, in his new book, Caesar’s Footsteps: Journeys through Roman Gaul,  alumnus Bijan Omrani (PGCE Classics, 2009) makes a revelatory journey across Gaul in the footsteps of its Roman conquerors. In his book, Bijan tells the story of Caesar’s Gallic Wars and traces the imprint on modern France that Roman civilisation has left to this day.

The parallels drawn with the tumultuous times we live in are striking, including how Caesar dealt with a migration crisis, and what kept the Roman Empire together for so long. Could Caesar’s conquest of Gaul can be seen as the birth of the ‘European project’?

Bijan has even received praise from Rt. Hon. Boris Johnson MP, British Foreign Secretary:

Without the conquests of Caesar there would have been no Roman Empire – and, so many of us believe, no continuing impulse for a European Union today. This terrific account lays bare the horror and cruelty of Caesar's campaigns – as well as the astonishing achievements of the Romans.’

Bijan said: 

It all started because of an argument with my students. I was reading Caesar's Gallic Wars to practise Latin language with them. They thought it was the most boring thing ever. I said that Caesar's conquest of Gaul in 58BC was one of the defining moments of European history. I didn't win them over then, so I ended up writing this book about Caesar and the impact of his conquest. Maybe they'll be persuaded now.

He remembers his time at King’s fondly: 

‘I chose the Classics PGCE course because I knew that it would be the best possible introduction to a teaching career. Many people who took the course are flourishing in the profession. A standout memory is the brilliant and patient support of Aisha Khan-Evans, the PGCE Classics course tutor, and many friendships with others on the course that year.’

And Bijan’s tips for any alumni dreaming of writing history?

‘Be persistent, and don't be afraid to write beautifully.’

Caesar’s Footprints: Journeys through Roman Gaul is available to purchase on Amazon.