I’ve noticed a lot of misconceptions surrounding Caesar’s Legion on this sub, so I’ve decided to clear some of them up here.
So, first of all, let’s look at Caesar (Edward Sallow) as he was planning his empire. Firstly, there is only one single thing Caesar desires, that being to rule the wasteland. That is it. He does not care about anything else, be it Rome, slavery, etc. He also has to fully complete this within his lifetime, so let’s say under half a century. Not an easy task to build an empire from literally nothing in that timeframe.
Now, what resources does he have at his disposal to do this? Well, to the west is the NCR, so a no-go (yet). To the east however is a wasteland in the most literal sense: dozens of primitive tribes inhabiting the ruins of one of the least populated and advanced areas of the pre-war USA.
Looking at what he has at his disposal, Caesar forms his empire in his head. It must be totalitarian, both so that he can remain in power as long as he wants (his only goal remember), and so that dozens of tribes currently warring with each other can be indoctrinated to work as one entity. It must also quickly integrate new members, be heavily militaristic, efficient, and very disciplined (more on this later). Therefore, he sees the historical empire most similar to this as Ancient Rome, and for the sake of ease bases his empire on them.
Now he must decide on the individual characteristics of his empire. He sees that he’s in an area that technologically is nowhere near as advanced as, say, California. In order to create a modern military (even as advanced as the NCR’s), reliant on technology, he would require decades to acquire enough, as well as to cultivate the know-how to maintain it. He could maybe create a tiny, very technologically advanced force á la BoS or Enclave, but that would be laughably stupid for an empire that size, and we all know how those two fared against the NCR. Therefore, in order to create a large, effective military he must generally shun technology (otherwise imagine the morale effect of going “yeah meds and guns exist and are great but here’s a machete, go run at that NCR sniper”).
The only resource Caesar’s empire has in abundance is people. Compare that to the NCR with a massive population, huge technological centres and being the only large nation in the wasteland to mass produce goods, and you have a problem. However, one of the advantages of totalitarianism is that you can indoctrinate your populace fanatically. Therefore, Caesar creates a cult of personality and even religion centred around himself to ensure that every legionary will willingly charge NCR machine guns if he orders them to. This extreme discipline and fanaticism allows a legionary, with far worse equipment, to sometimes match and outmatch educated, trained, and well-equipped (by wasteland standards) NCR troops.
In the same vein, slavery is just a temporary way to keep a primitive society based upon conquest going. Sexism keeps the birthrates up, etc. etc. etc. Caesar is the ultimate pragmatist.
Caesar’s ultimate goal is to create a real society. Once (if) he conquers the NCR, he’ll ban slavery, and every other practice that would decrease efficiency. He’d adopt more and more tech into society, and decrease its dogma and militarism. The Legion is simply a transitory state on the way to Edward Sallow’s ultimate dream.
Now a few disclaimers. I do not support the Legion or Caesar morally. I disagree with him fundamentally on every level and would side with the NCR over him in a heartbeat. However, I think these insights really highlight how brilliant Obsidian’s writing is, by turning essentially a generic raider tribe into a unique faction with nuance and an extremely capable leader. I also think it highlights the tragedy that is the amount of flavour the Legion lost due to Bethesda’s time limits. Anyway, hope you enjoyed!
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