Julius Caesar.

Caesar's seventh campaign in Gaul, B.C. 52; De bello gallico lib. VII; online

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The Guardian : " Mr. Compton has made an admirable effort. His
maps are excellent. . . . The general character of the notes is excellent.
After the notes are appended a few pages of * idioms,' intended to teach
the boy how to turn Latin into real English. We have seen few better
bits of educational work than these idioms."

The Classical Review: "This is in several ways a noteworthy
school-book. . . . The idea of the whole is excellent, and the success in
execution is considerable. ... It is to be hoped, and it is to be expected
that other editors will follow the example of Mr. Compton. It is im-
possible to have too much * realism ' in our teaching. . . . The ' idioms '
embody an attempt to teach boys how to translate into decent English,
and form, on the whole, an admirable piece of work."

The Spectator: "A really admirable class-book. No one ought to
find Caesar dull with these illustrations."

The Academy: "The notes are good, and the 'Idioms' at the end
very good. We are sure that Mr. Compton has made a valuable addition
to the books available for fourth and fifth form use — perhaps even for more
advanced students."

The Athenaeum: " The three great sieges of Avaricum, Gergovia and
Alesia are alone sufficient to make the book both difficult and interesting.
It is to be wished that all editors of classical books could imitate Mr.
Compton in visiting the scenes of which their authors treat. "

The National Observer: " The list of idioms is an admirable device
for helping pupils to avoid Latin-English when translating, and English-
Latin when composing. . . . Whether for school use or for private reading,
Mr. Compton has produced a complete edition of Caesar de Bello Gallico,
Lib. VII."


B.C. 52.














First published, February, 1889.

Reprinted 1891, 1896, 1899, 1901, 1906, 1907.

v ; :■ . ..
...... «. ..



/~* O again, little book, and relieve, if you may, somewhat
of the drudgery of the Latin lesson, by showing those
who use you that their book is not really uninteresting. Tell
them how the kind indulgence of your critics (and especially
of your friends at Harrow) has shown you how to mend some
of your faults. Tell them, too, that you now have a key to
explain your pictures, which before may have failed too often
to " point the moral," however much they may have "adorned
the tale."


January t 1892,



(addressed to teachers.)

THE present edition is an attempt to introduce into a
school-book an element of pictorial interest, whereby the
mind of the schoolboy may be led to find the subject of his
author attractive in itself, and may thus cease to regard his book
as a mere peg upon which to hang a certain wearisome drilling
in elementary grammar — a process which has often caused the
noblest specimens of ancient literature to " stink in the nostrils "
of boys.

The principal means whereby this end has been sought is the
introduction of a series of illustrations taken from sketches
made on the spots represented ; to which are added drawings
illustrative of the fortifications, engines of war, and weapons
used by the Romans and Gauls. These latter are taken from
the admirable collection in the Museum of Romano-Gallic
antiquities at St. Germain-en-Laye, to which the student is re-
ferred for further study.

With the same object in view the notes are especially addressed
to the elucidation of the story ; and without overlooking diffi-
culties of grammar or verbal criticism, the chief consideration
has been to omit nothing that might add to a picturesque realiza-
tion of the narrative.

In the hope that these objects, and the steps taken towards
their attainment, may commend themselves to a wider circle of


students than those who usually read Caesar, the writer wishes
to put forward a plea that his author deserves a better fate than
to be discarded as soon as the first difficulties of grammar have
been overcome.

The military student need only be reminded of the im-
portance attached to Caesar's Commentaries by the greatest
generals of modern times, and how it is said of Wellington that
he always had a copy of Caesar with him during his campaign
in India. For historical interest, for concise description of
events in which he was a principal actor, and for purity of style,
Caesar stands alone amongst Latin writers ; and it is contended
that no scholar will attain to excellence of Latinity who is not
familiar with Caesar, and that this familiarity cannot be
acquired by those who only study Caesar in the Third or
Fourth Form.

As a contribution towards familiarity with Caesar's style, a
collection has been made, as they occur, of such Latin expres-
sions as should be rendered by some corresponding idiom in
English, when a literal translation of the words can only produce
a jargon that may pass for English in the mind of a schoolboy,
but would be unintelligible to any reader not habituated to a
mixture of Latin phraseology with English vocabulary. Who,
for instance, would understand such expressions as " favourable
battles," " the corn affair," " to confirm their minds " and the
like ? And yet every teacher knows that a large proportion of
a beginner's difficulties consists in learning to render such ex-
pressions. It is therefore suggested that these idioms may with
advantage be committed to memory, as a means of acquiring a
correct vocabulary in both languages, and of accustoming the
learner to look for the real English equivalent for the author's
thought rather than a mere construe of his words.

These Idioms, which occupy the place of the vocabularies


appended to many elementary editions, are not given as a
"construe", though in many instances they may suggest one.
Experience in teaching leads an editor to avoid, as far as pos-
sible, furnishing in explanatory notes what an idle boy will grasp
at as a " construe ", when he has no idea what are the several
meanings of the author's words. For this reason, in the present
edition, translations are not given in the notes, and the primary
object of the Idioms is to suggest a Latin vocabulary as an aid
to writing Latin prose, — for which reason the English idiom is
given first, and translated into Latin from Caesar — whilst, as a
secondary matter, some hints may be furnished where there is a
difficulty as regards expression of the author's meaning in Eng-

Some explanation may be needed of the selection of the
Seventh Book of the Gallic war as a subject for an attempt to
embody the above objects. The work of some years in dealing
with the difficulties of a Fourth Form in reading this book led
the editor to make a tour through the principal places connected
with the campaign of B.C. 52, and to repeat it after an interval
of three years, in company with the artist, to whose pencil will
be mainly due any success this effort may meet with. But it
has also been remarked by no less an authority than the late
Emperor of the French, that "the campaign of 702 (a. u. c.)is
without dispute the most interesting in the double point of view
— political and military. To the historian, it presents the
affecting scene of tribes, hitherto divided, uniting in one national
thought, and arming for the purpose of reconquering their in-
dependence. To the philosopher it presents, as a result con-
soling for the progress of humanity, the triumph of civilisation
against the best combined and most heroic efforts of barbarism.
Lastly, in the eyes of the soldier, it is a magnificent example of
what may be done by energy and experience in war by a small


number contending against masses who are wanting in organi-
sation and discipline." (History of Julius Caesar, English
Translation, p. 552).

Thus it is claimed that, whilst for excellence of Latinity the
Seventh Book stands second to none of the Classics, in point
of historical interest it comes before all other portions of the
author's Commentaries ; and that it is worthy of the attention
of scholars more advanced than those to whom Caesar is usually

In revising Notes written several years ago whilst reading the
book with a Form, the editor has availed himself of such valu-
able works as the above-named " History" by Napoleon, the
notes in Kraner's edition, Judson's " Caesar's Army," and in a
final revision advantage has been taken of a few suggestions
furnished by Mr. Peskett's notes in the Cambridge University
Press Series. The maps are based upon v. Kampen's excellent

In conclusion acknowledgment is due to Mr. T. E. Powell,
a former colleague, for patient criticism of some of the notes
and idioms, and to the late Edward Thring, whose name will
ever be remembered amongst the pioneers of education, for
much encouragement in an attempt to carry out, in a small way,
a conception, the realization of which he looked forward to as
the fulfilment of a dream of his life


December t 1888.



i. Representation of a Siege.

Gallic wall (c. 23) surmounted by ' turres. ' Breach effected
by ' ram ' worked under cover of ' musculus ' and * vineae.'
Besiegers entering, some under ' testudines. ' To right, turris
ambulatoria' on wheels. In front (left) five Romans on
* agger,' one working a 'ballista' from behind a 'pluteus.'
For terms cf. Excursus, pp. 1 14- 1 16 . . . Frontispiece

2. Map of Campaign.

Caesar's march from Narbo (c. 8) to Alesia (c. 68) traced by
arrows . Facing 1

3. Sens (Agedincum).

Ancient town lay on left bank of Yonne — remains of site on
hill to left — Sens (Senones) cathedral right .... 8

4. Trigueres (Vellaunodunum).

Remains of Gallic town on height (left) .... 9

5. Gien (Cenabum).

Situated on hill above Loire — bridge probably in same
position as that mentioned by Caesar 9

6. Sancerre (Noviodunum).

Ancient site on hill — Loire in foreground . • • .10

7. Bourges (Avaricum).

Compare with map on p. 14. View taken from road S.W.
of town, looking N.E. Avaricum lay round site of modern
cathedral. Caesar's camp on rising ground (right). In front
R. Auron 11


8. Map of Avaricum and district . . . • .14

9. St. Just (Gallic camp near Avaricum).

Sketch taken from W. of bend in R. Auron, beside which a
canal. Vercingetorix' camp on hill opposite church of St.
Just (Caesar's position). Catsar declined to cross water to
attack Gauls 15

10. Gallic wall.

a. Restoration (cf. Frontispiece), b. Bird's-eye view of a single
layer of wall showing ' trabes directae ' separated on outside
1 singulis saxis,' inwardly 'multo aggere,' and bound together
'perpetuis trabibus quadragenos pedes.' c. Model (at St.
Germain) of ruined Gallic wall discovered in S. of France, cf.
Notes, p. 83 19

11. Plan and elevation of siege-works at Avaricum.

Upper half of drawing shows sectional elevation of part of
Avaricum (left) and town wall surmounted by 'turris.'
Hollow to right of this filled by Roman * agger.' Dotted
lines show corresponding details in ground plan below.
A-A l portion of ' agger ' parallel to wall between two 'turres,'
with stairs, * vineae,' and * pluteus.' Part to right tramway for
' turris ambulatoria ' with ram inside, outside ' coriis intecta '
(c. 22). Lower part of drawing (after L. Napoleon) shows
N.E. side of ground plan (S.W. side corresponding) . . 20

12. R. Allier (Elaver) near Varennes.

Bend of river near Caesar's crossing. River flows away from
foreground. Vercingetorix on left bank tried to prevent
Romans crossing — outwitted by ruse on right bank . . 28

13. Gergovia from the south.

Compare with map facing p. 30. Distant plateau site of
Gergovia (now unoccupied). South gate attacked by Romans
(c. 47) at notch near centre (sky-line over tower). Gauls on
S. slope including hillock to left ('collis nudatus'). To left
Puy de Jussat (village of Jussat at base) and heights of Risolles
behind (Notes, p. 93). In front (centre), crowned by tower,
Roche Blanche (' minora castra '), with natural escarpment on
W. and S. sides (Notes, p. 90) and village of La Roche
Blanche at its foot. Merdogne on distant slope of Gergovia


(see next sketch). Below (right) Donnezat, above which a
spur of hill behind which Aedui ascended, appearing on Roman
right (c. 50) above Merdogne (Notes, pp. 95, 96) . . 29

14. Gergovia from the west.

Taken from point marked thus * on map. In distance,
valley of Allier, Clermont extreme left. Gallic camp on
right slope of hill, and on 'collis nudatus' in front, where
fortifications in construction at moment of Caesar's attack
(c. 44). These works would be out of sight from town owing
to slight rise behind (c. 48). * Dorsum iugi ' stretches from
spectator to Gergovia (Notes, pp. 89, 93). W. gate of
Gergovia at notch above ' collis nudatus,' S. gate further to
right. Aedui appear on terrace next above Merdogne . 29

15. Plan of Gergovia.

After v. Kampen, with two alterations (Notes, pp. 93, 95) :
* Collis nudatus ' fixed nearer Gergovia, and ascent of Aedui
marked where alone it appears practicable . . facing 30

16. Nevers (Noviodunum).

Town on height above Loire, on right bank • . .42

1 7. Corbeil (' palus perpetua ').

Marsh Labienus attempted to cross occupied by modern town
and valley of Esonne, tributary of Seine. Latter seen in fore-
ground. Position taken up by Camulogenus on hill to right . 44

18. Melun (Metiosedum, cf. Index).

Gallic town on island in river. Labienus arrives from left
(south), crosses to island by boats, restores bridge, and gains
N. bank of Seine (right) . . . • • • • 45

19. Plan of the battle before Lutetia.

Lutetia on island. Labienus on right bank, Gauls on left.
Five Roman cohorts sent up stream as ruse, main body march
four miles down and cross river. Gauls divide forces to
oppose both Battle fought near Issy, decided by 7th legion
attacking Gallic rear. Gauls flee southwards past Mont-
rouge • facing 47

20. Plan of the battle of the Vingeanne.

Romans on march down valley of Vingeanne opposed by
Gallic cavalry. Battle decided by Germans taking Gauls on
left. Latter flee to Alesia. Cf. Notes, pp. 102, 103 . • 103


21. Plan of Alesia.

Gallic positions marked red. Army of relief under Commius
left. March of Vercassivellaunus red line reappearing after
circuit N. of Mt. R^a. Final struggle here. * on hill of
Flavigny marks site occupied by Caesar (c. 85) . facing 53

22. Roman lines before Alesia (restoration), looking N. N. W.

Sketched from point marked * in map facing p. 53, showing
view seen by Caesar when directing battle. To left, defences
on plain ; cavalry camps extreme left, double lines with
1 turres ' at intervals, in immediate foreground ' lilia,' etc., on a
rise (central) a * castellum. ' To right of this first Roman
ditch (c. 72), behind which Mt. Rea with hollow (right)
down which Vercassivellaunus delivered attack on Roman
rear. Walls of Alesia on hill (right). Ose and Oserain
marked by lines of trees 57

23. Details of Roman defences described cc. 72, 73.

To left 'agger' surmounted by 'turns,' 'cervus' projecting
from escarpment, double ditch, rows of ' cippi, ' ' lilia ' in
alternate lines (chess-board), three omitted where gap
occurs, then 'stimuli.' Above front view of 'agger,' etc.,
showing 'pluteus' consisting of 'lorica' (wattled parapet)
with ' pinnae ' (battlements) supported by ' valli ' (stakes).
To right, bird's-eye view of ' cippi ' and * lilia ' . . .57

24. View of the Plain of Laumes (Alesia) looking S.W.

Sketch taken from N. side of Ose, W. of Gresigny (cf. map
facing p. 53). In distance (centre) hill occupied by Commius.
Extreme left Alesia and hill of Flavigny. Trees in centre
mark R. Ose. To right Mt. Rea, in front of which final
struggle with Vercassivellaunus and the besieged forces
(cc. 84-88) 63

25. Alesia looking E., showing complete circuit of Roman

Sketched from hill occupied by Commius, looking across the
lines on the plain. In centre Mt. Auxois (Alesia) with
Napoleon's statue of Vercingetorix. Caesar's outer lines
traversed all the hills seen around Alesia . . . .63

26. View of some trenches belonging to Caesar's camp

before Avericum, to illustrate Note . . .79


27. Sketch of the battlefield by the Vingeanne, to illustrate

Note 103

28. Armour and Gallic remains from Museum at St.

A. ' pilum * of legionary ; b. ' eagle ' (standard of legion).
c. sling ; d. ' falx ' (hook for attacking fences) ; <?. • signum '
(standard of a cohort) ; /. vexillum ' (banner of cavalry or
auxiliaries) ; g. sword of legionary ; h. light armed infantry ;
j. legionaries, in marching order, with ' sarcina ' on ' furca '
(left), and * expeditus ' (ready for action) to right ; k. metal
part of ' stimulus ' from Alesia (c. 73) ; /. embossed silver cup
(height 6 ins.) found in excavating trenches at Alesia; m.
ladder-hook, probably Gallic (c. 81), from Alesia; n.
'musculus' or 'testudo fossaria' for protection of sappers ; 0.
movable ' pluteus ' or screen • • • . • ,112



13. C.

58 (a. u. c. 696). Caesar takes possession of his province and

routs the Helvetii. On behalf of the Aedui and Sequani

he makes war upon the Germans under Ariovistus, and

drives them across the Rhine.
57 (a. u. c. 697). Campaign against the Belgae and other tribes

in the north.
56 (a. u. c. 698). Caesar subdues the remaining tribes in the

north and west of Gaul.
55 (a. u. c. 699). Hurried expeditions against the Germans

across the Rhine and into Britain.
54 (a. u. c. 700). Second expedition to Britain. Caesar

crosses the Thames and defeats Cassivellaunus. Q. Cicero

besieged in Northern Gaul by Ambiorix.
53 (a. u. c. 701). General rising in Gaul. Caesar crosses the

Rhine again, and on his return completes the conquest

of Gaul by the defeat of Ambiorix.
52 (a. u. c. 702). Renewed revolt under Vercingetorix.

The Campaign of b. c. 52.

After the conclusion of the last campaign (b.c. 53) we find
Caesar spending the winter in the administration of his civil


1 ~~ ' 1—

duties at Lucca — a position at once within his province (see
Notes c. i.), and convenient for observing events at Rome:
for since the death of Crassus, in the preceding year, the
rivalry between the surviving Triumvirs was no longer dis-
guised. Here it was that Caesar received intelligence of the
appointment of Pompeius as sole consul with full power to
quell the disturbances in which the city was embroiled upon
the death of Clodius, who was at the time of his assassination
a candidate for the consulship. In the expectation that these
troubles would involve Caesar in civil discord, the Gauls,
smarting under the blow inflicted upon them by the execution
of Acco, renewed their designs for shaking off the yoke of their

As a counterpoise to the universal conscription in Italy on
the part of Pompeius, we find Caesar strengthening his position
by a levy of fresh troops in his province, an act which
was interpreted by the Gauls as an indication of a coming
struggle for mastery in Italy, and so precipitated the rising in
Gaul. The Carnutes are the first to take up arms, and are
followed by the Arverni under the lead of Vercingetorix, the
most prominent figure on the side of the Gauls in all Caesar's
wars, and indeed the greatest champion of barbarian liberty
before the days of Arminius. The first act of open hostility
was the descent of the Carnutes upon the Roman colony at
Cenabum on the Loire. Caesar hastened across the Cevennes,
which formed the frontier of the Province, separating it from
the Arverni, and having startled the Gauls by his sudden
presence among them, marched no less rapidly back to the
Province, thence to open the campaign of the year.

This campaign consists of four distinct parts into which the
text of the narrative has been subdivided in the following pages.


1. The Campaign against the Bituriges.

Anxious to defend his own special protege's, the Boii, whom
he had planted on the south side of the Loire, Caesar first
hastened from Vienna on the Rhone to the relief of Gorgobina
already besieged by Vercingetorix. At Agedincum he left his
stores and two legions, making it his base of operations, and
rapidly recovered Vellaunodunum, Cenabum, and Noviodunum.
Here he was assisted by his German cavalry, a force destined
to turn the fortunes of the day in his favour on more than one
critical occasion. The capture of Noviodunum led to a
council of war on the part of the Gauls, at which Vercingetorix,
anticipating the strategic stroke whereby Napoleon was driven
back from Moscow, recommended the destruction of the towns
and stores in all directions as a means of driving the Romans
out of the district; an exception being made in favour of
Avaricum, as the most beautiful town in Gaul, though against
the judgment of Vercingetorix.

The siege of Avaricum is the first of the three great sieges
of the year. The city stands upon a slight elevation, in the
form of a peninsula, encircled by marshes, and only connected
with the surrounding country by a narrow neck of raised
ground. Upon this neck Caesar pitched his camp in front of
the main gate of the town. Traces of the camp may still be
seen in a new road recently cut through the ground on which
it stood, and revealing on each side the V shaped foss, which
protected the camp probably on the outer side against any
invading force, which might surprise it whilst the Romans were
all at work on the opposite (N. W.) side, before the walls
of the town (see Notes c. xvii., and Illustrations, pp. 14, 79).

The attack was made by assault on the south-east side of
the town, as the marsh prevented an investment. After


various vicissitudes, recalling the siege of Plataea, during which
Caesar gives the Gauls credit for both ingenuity and valour,
the Romans surprised them during a heavy rain, and massacred
almost the entire population, as Caesar himself confesses.

The popularity of Vercingetorix appears to have gained
rather than lost by the loss of Avaricum, as the event showed
his wisdom in disapproving, at the first, of its preservation.

2. The Campaign against the Arverni.

At the end of the winter, when about to open the campaign
in earnest against Vercingetorix and his followers, Caesar was
summoned to quell a civil disturbance among the Aedui, whom
he summoned to meet him at Decetia (Denize), and after
settling the dispute, sent Labienus with four legions against
the Senones, and himself set out with the remaining six against
the Arverni, whose stronghold was Gergovia, an almost impreg-
nable position on a hill, some 1300 feet high, a few miles south
of Clermont-Ferrand. Crossing the Elaver (Allier) by a
stratagem, he reached the foot of the hill on which Gergovia
stood, and commenced operations for a siege, from which he was
hastily called off by news of the defection of a contingent of
the Aedui under Litavicus, destined to join him. By a rapid
march he disarmed the rebels, but found on his return that the
camp before Gergovia had been in extreme peril. Meantime
the defection of Litavicus became the occasion of a renewed
rising among the Aedui, checked however by the news of the
failure of Litavicus, yet sufficient to supply Caesar with at least
a pretext for giving up the attempt upon Gergovia, in which he
had sustained heavy loss. For as he availed himself of what he
believed to be an opportunity for the capture of the town by a
coup-de-main, when the garrison were occupied in strengthening


the approach on the easiest (west) side, the alarm was raised
by the inhabitants, and the Romans were driven down the hill,
with what even Caesar acknowledges to have been heavy loss,
including forty-six centurions ; and though he fixes the blame

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Online LibraryJulius CaesarCaesar's seventh campaign in Gaul, B.C. 52; De bello gallico lib. VII; → online text (page 1 of 12)