Caesar, the Rubicon and Me

I remember from one of the early readings that a concept I had never truly thought about properly was proposed to me. It offered the idea that there is much more to history than simply what historians deem to be “important”. The example used was Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon in 49 BC. It highlighted that Caesar’s crossing was marked as an incredibly important event in the history of not only the Roman Republic but also the world. However, it also posed a difficult question for historians; what about the million other people who cross it the same year as Caesar?
What of these people? Who were they? Who did they love? What were their interests? Who were these people who took the same journey that Caesar took? But more importantly, what impact did these crossings, let alone these people, have on history? I would argue just as much as Caesar himself in many ways.
I guess I always knew of this concept, I just never really thought of it in an academic sense, nor on a personal level. Having done three years of academic, “dead people” history already, I found this very hard to comprehend on a formal level.
My current project working with Holy Cross College, Ryde, pertains to old boy ANZACs. Now, I’m not one to perpetuate the mythos of the formulaic nation building that current “pop-politickers” love perpetuate on both sides the argument. I find that both sides of the argument, pro-ANZAC and seemingly more anti-ANZAC, tend to homogenise all ANZAC men as one giant group or “idea” rather than the actual men themselves. My interest however, is similar to the idea of the many Romans who crossed the Rubicon. How these men lived beforehand, how their schooling shaped them, how they travelled halfway round the world never to see their Gladesville, Redfern or Ryde again.
This class has opened my eyes to all these concepts and ideas. Now it is up to us as historians to use these ideas of public, personal history to help the community to grieve, celebrate, acknowledge, love and hate people and events that may not fit the “Great History” like Caesar, but mean things to individual people. I feel as if these ideas of atomising individuals, rather than homogenising, is important when looking at the histories of the public.