Atlantic Historical Review

RE: Thin Man

Julie, I have included the relevant section of Dr. Thompson’s thesis. Let me know if you need anything else. Would you also please convey my concern to his family and the history department over there at Cambridge? I’m sure he’ll turn up in a few days.

All best,


Atlantic Historical Review

June 1998

Vol 22

Issue 6

“The Diffusion of Gallic Archetypes into Roman Society”

By Bernard Thompson

…One such example of these Gallic “monster” tales can be seen in a correspondence dating back to the first century B.C.E.
G. Polonius, a Roman citizen serving under Julius Caesar, writes back to his wife in Rome detailing what seems to be a reconnaissance mission gone horribly wrong. It is unclear as to what extent Polonius’ account represents truth. However, my assertion is that Polonius murdered his friend for a personal reason, and this story is Polonius’ creative way of justifying it to himself and to others. In any case, it is a perfect example of the aforementioned effect that prolonged exposure to Gaul had on Romans. Following is the extant letter in its entirety. Translation is my own.

“Gaia, I write to you under significant stress. Our friend Lucius has died in the most horrible manner. We were sent into these accursed woods to ensure against a Gallic ambush. But I swear to Jupiter—a Gallic raid would have been welcome compared to HIM.

As I was hacking away at branches, Lucius stopped in his tracks. He was staring at something. I asked him if it was a Gaul. No reply. He was transfixed. I could not get him to make eye contact with me. But then I saw it too. It was some sort of a man, very tall and skinnier than anyone I had ever seen. He was beckoning to us, and for some reason Lucius obeyed. I told him we should just kill the man and follow Caesar’s orders, but he wouldn’t listen. He didn’t hear me anymore. He was walking towards the man quite quickly, and with an unsteady gait.

Right as I was about to follow Lucius, I saw them. The man had appendages protruding from his body, like some sort of a sea creature. And something about them was dreadful enough to make me stay back. It was a good thing I did, because as soon as Lucius reached the man, he was slowly disemboweled. The man did not seem to have any emotion as he disemboweled Lucius, which frightened me even more. Then, as if the disembowelment wasn’t enough, he picked Lucius up into the air and impaled him on a tree. And then he started walking towards me. I couldn’t move.

When he finally reached me, I wanted to die. Looking at him was making every part of my brain drunk with horror. I managed to ask him why he was doing this to us. He responded in a very quiet voice “because you thought about me”. The next thing I remember is stumbling out of the forest with blood all over me. Gaia, they’re saying I killed Lucius. And Gaia, there’s something else. I know he’s been in the room while I’m asleep. I just want to die. I just want to die.”

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