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Cæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: online

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those conditions which Caesar had imposed, held a conference,
when they perceived that cavalry, and ships, and corn were
wanting to the Romans, and discovered the small number of
our soldiers from the small extent of the camp (which, too, was
on this account more limited than ordinary, because Caesar had
conveyed over his legions without baggage), and thought that
the best plan was to renew the war, and cut off our men from
corn and provisions and protract the affair till winter ; because
they felt confident, that, if they were vanquished or cut off


from a return, no one would afterward pass over into Britain
for the purpose of making war. Therefore, again entering
into a conspiracy, they began to depart from the camp by de-
grees and secretly bring up their people from the country parts.

CHAP. XXXI. But Caesar, although he had not as yet dis-
covered their measures, yet, both from what had occurred to
his ships, and from the circumstance that they had neglected
to give the promised hostages, suspected that the thing would
come to pass which really did happen. He therefore provided
remedies against all contingencies ; for he daily conveyed corn
from the country parts into the camp, used the timber and brass
of such ships as were most seriously damaged for repairing
the rest, and ordered whatever things besides were necessary
for this object to be brought to him from the continent.
And thus, since that business was executed by the soldiers with
the greatest energy, he effected that, after the loss of twelve
ships, a voyage could be made well enough in the rest.

CHAP. XXXII. While these things are being transacted,
one legion had been sent to forage, according to custom, and
no suspicion of war had arisen as yet, and some of the people 1
remained in the country parts, others went backward and
forward to the camp, they who were on duty at the gates
of the camp reported to Caesar that a greater dust than was
usuaP was seen in that direction in which the legion had
inarched. Caesar, suspecting that which was [really the case],
that some new enterprise was undertaken by the barbarians,
ordered the two cohorts which were on duty, to march into
that quarter with him, and two other cohorts to relieve them
on duty ; the rest to be armed and follow him immediately.
When he had advanced some little way from the camp, he saw
that his men were overpowered by the enemy and scarcely able
to stand their ground, and that, the legion being crowded to-
gether, weapons were being cast on them from all sides. For
as all the corn was reaped in every part with the exception
of one, the enemy, suspecting that our men would repair to
that, had concealed themselves in the woods during the night.

1 Hominum, This refers, not to the Romans, but the Britons ; con-
trary to the probable meaning of the text and the testimony of commen-
tators; some translators, however, and among them Duncan, have
referred it to the former.

2 Lit. than custom produced.


Then attacking them suddenly, scattered as they were, and
when they had laid aside their arms, and were engaged in
reaping, they killed a small number, threw the rest into con-
fusion, and surrounded them with their cavalry and chariots.

CHAP. XXXUI. Their mode of fighting with their chariots
is this : firstly, they drive about in all directions and throw
their weapons and generally break the ranks of the enemy with
the very dread of their horses and the noise of their wheels ;
and when they have worked themselves in between the troops
of horse, leap from their chariots and engage on foot The
charioteers in the mean time withdraw some little distance from
the battle, and so place themselves with the chariots that, if
their masters are overpowered by the number of the enemy,
they may have a ready retreat to their own troops. Thus
they display in battle the speed of horse, [together with] the
firmness of infantry ; and by daily practice and exercise attain
to such expertness that they are accustomed, even on a
declining and steep place, to check their horses at full speed,
and manage and turn them in an instant and run along the
pole, and stand on the yoke, and thence betake themselves with
the greatest celerity to their chariots again. 1

CHAP. XXXTV. Under these circumstances, our men being
dismayed by the novelty of this mode of battle, Caesar most
seasonably brought assistance ; for upon his arrival the enemy
paused, and our men recovered from their fear ; upon which
thinking the time unfavorable for provoking the enemy and
coming to an action, he kept himself in his own quarter, and, a
short time having intervened, drew back the legions into the
camp. While these things are going on, and all our men en-
gaged, the rest of the Britons, who were in the fields, departed.
Storms then set in for several successive days, which both con-
fined our men to the camp and hindered the enemy from attacking
us. In the mean time the barbarians dispatched messengers to
all parts, and reported to their people the small number of our
soldiers, and how good an opportunity was given for obtaining
spoil and for liberating themselves forever, if they should only
drive the Romans from their camp. Having by these means

1 Though common among the ancient nations of the east, the mode of
fighting with chariots seems to have been confined to the Britons in Eu-
rope. This serves the early historian, Geoffry of Monmouth, as an argu-
ment in his attempt to prove that the Britons were of Trojan origin.


speedily got together a large force of infantry and of cavalry,
they came up to the camp.

CHAP. XXXV. Although Caesar anticipated that the same
thing which had happened on former occasions would then
occur that, if the enemy were routed, they would escape from
danger by their speed ; still, having got about thirty horse,
which Commius the Atrebatian, of whom mention has been
made, had brought over with him [from Gaul], he drew up the
legions in order of battle before the camp. When the action
commenced, the enemy were unable to sustain the attack of
our men long, and turned their backs; our men pursued
them as far as their speed and strength permitted, and
slew a great number of them ; then, having destroyed and
burned every thing far and wide, they retreated to their camp.

CHAP. XXXVI. The same day, embassadors sent by the
enemy came to Caesar to negotiate a peace. Caesar doubled
the number of hostages which he had before demanded ; and
ordered that they should be brought over to the continent,
because, since the time of the equinox was near, he did not
consider that, with his ships out of repair, the voyage ought to
be deferred till winter. Having met with favorable weather,
he set sail a little after midnight, and all his fleet arrived safe
at the continent, except two of the ships of burden which
could not make the same port which the other ships duTpSnd
were carried a little lower down.

CHAP. XXXVII. When our soldiers, about 300 in number,
had been drawn out of these two ships, and were marching to
the camp, the Morini, whom Caesar, when setting forth for
Britain, had left in a state of peace, excited by the hope of
spoil, at first surrounded them with a small number of men,
and ordered them to lay down their arms, if they did not
wish to be slain ; afterward however, when they, forming a
circle, stood on their defense, a shout was raised and about
6000 of the enemy soon assembled ; which being reported,
Caesar sent all the cavalry in the camp as a relief to his men.
In the mean time our soldiers sustained the attack of the
enemy, and fought most valiantly for more than four hours,
and, receiving but few wounds themselves, slew several of them.
But after our cavalry came in sight, the enemy, throwing
away their arms, turned their backs, and a great number of
them were killed.


CHAP. XXXVm. The day following Caesar sent Labie-
nus, his lieutenant, with those legions which he had brought
back from Britain, against the Morini, who had revolted ; who,
as they had no place to which they might retreat, on account
of the drying up of their marshes (which they had availed
themselves of as a place of refuge the preceding year), almost
all fell into the power of Labienus. In the mean time Caesar's
lieutenants, Q. Titurius and L. Cotta, who had led the legions
into the territories of the Menapii, having laid waste all their
lands, cut down their corn and burned their houses, returned to
Caesar because the Menapii had all concealed themselves in
their thickest woods. Caesar fixed the winter quarters of all
the legions among the Belgse. Thither only two British
states sent hostages; the rest omitted to do so. For these
successes, a thanksgiving 1 of twenty days was decreed by the
senate upon receiving Caesar's letter.

1 In addition to the note at the end of the 2d Book of these Commen-
taries, it may he here remarked, that Livy, lib. iiL, c. Ixiii., gives an in-
stance in which two victories over the Sabinea having been included in
one day'a " supplicatio," by the senate, the people, indignant at it, of
their own accord, celebrated the following day with still greater solem-
nity than they had that appointed by the state.




I. Caesar orders a large fleet of peculiarly constructed ships to be built ;
proceeds against the Pirustae ; they submit. II. Returns into Hither
Gaul ; marches against the Treviri. III. Indutiomarus and Cingetorix.
V. Caesar goes to port Itius ; his policy in taking certain Gallic chief-
tains with him to Britain. VI. Dumnorix, who was to have been in
that number, by craft and violence, escapes attending Caesar, but is
slain. VII. Caesar proceeds on his second expedition against Britain.
IX. The bold resistance of the Britons ; they are defeated. X. The
Roman fleet suffers severely in a storm. XI. Caesar gives orders to
Labienus to build more ships ; Cassivellaunus. XII.-XIV. Descrip-
tion of Britain and its inhabitants. XVII. The Britons again prepare
for war ; and receive a signal defeat. XVIII. Caesar advances into the
territories of Cassivellaunus as far as tho Thames ; an engagement with
that prince. XIX. The stratagem of Cassivellaunus. XX. The Trin-
obantes send embassadors to Caesar respecting: the conduct of Cassivel-
launus toward Mandubratius. XXII. The latter induce^ four princes
of Cantium to attack the Romans, by whom they are defeated. XXIII.
Caesar receives hostages, and leads back his army into Gaul. XXIV.
He quarters his forces, contrary to his custom, in several divisions.
XXV. Tasgetius. XXVI The revolt of Ambiorix and ' Cativolcus.
XXVII. Ambiorix defends himself in reference to his share in the
Gallic combination. XXVIII.-XXXI. Dispute between Titurius and
Cotta. XXXII. The valor and conduct of Cotta. XXXVIII.-XLII.
The quarters of Cicero attacked by the Eburones ; he sends intelligence
to Caesar. XLIV. The noble conduct of Pulfio and Varenus. XLVIIL-
LII. Caesar marches to the relief of Cicero ; defeats the Eubrones;
LIIT. Indutiomarus is thereby deterred from attacking the camp of
Labienus. LVI.-LVIII. Reinforced, Indutiomarus attacks Labienus ;
his forces are routed, and he is slain ; Gaul becomes more tranquil.

CHAP. I. Lucius Domitius and Appius Claudius being
consuls, 1 Caesar, when departing from his winter quarters into
Italy, as he had been accustomed to do yearly, commands the
lieutenants whom he appointed over the legions to take care
that during the winter as many ships as possible should be
built, and the old repaired. He plans the size and shape

1 This was 700 years after the building of Rome.


of them. For dispatch of lading, and for drawing them on
shore, 1 he makes them a little lower than those which we have
been accustomed to, use in our sea ; and that so much the more,
because he knew that, on account of the frequent changes
of the tide, less swells occurred there ; for the purpose of trans-
porting burdens and a great number of horses, 2 [he makes
them] a little broader than those which we use in other seas.
All these he orders to be constructed for lightness and expe^
dition, 3 to which, object their lowness contributes greatly. He
orders those things which are necessary for equipping ships to
be brought thither from Spain. He himself, on the assizes of
Hither Gaul being concluded, proceeds into Elyricum, because
he heard that the part of the province nearest them was being
laid waste by the incursions of the Pirustse. When he had
arrived there, he levies soldiers upon the states, and orders them
to assemble at an appointed place. Which circumstance having
been reported [to them], the Pirustae send embassadors to him
to inform him that no part of those proceedings was done by
public deliberation, and assert that they were ready to make
compensation by all means for the injuries [inflicted]. Caesar,
accepting their defense, demands hostages, and orders them to
be brought to him on a specified day, and assures them that
unless they did so he would visit their state with war. These
being brought to him on the day which he had ordered, he
appoints arbitrators between the states, who should estimate the
damages and determine the reparation.

CHAP. II. These things being finished, and the assizes
being concluded, he returns into Hither Gaul, and proceeds
thence to the army. When he had arrived there, having made a
survey of the winter quarter, he finds that, by the extraordinary
ardor of the soldiers, amid the utmost scarcity of all ma-
terials, about six hundred ships of that kind which we have
described above, and twenty-eight ships of war, had been built, 4

1 This refers to the ancient practice of drawing ships on to the sho$e
for the winter, or on other occasions.

2 " Jumentorum." Horses seem here to be especially meant. "Equi
et alia jumenta." Livy.

3 " Constructed for lightness," etc. The original, actuarias, is a distinc-
tive term for a class of ships, the character of which the above transla-
tion conveys, but for which we have no established corresponding ex-

4 "Built and were," etc. Though t'rabuilt, structas, they were not



and were not far from that state, that they might be launched
in a few days. Having commended the soldiers and those who
had presided over the work, he informs them what he wishes to
be done, and orders all the ships to assemble at port Itius, 1
from which port he had learned that the passage into Britain
was shortest, [being only] about thirty miles from the con-
tinent. He left what seemed a sufficient number of soldiers
for that design ; he himself proceeds into the territories of the
Treviri with four legions without baggage, and 800 horse,
because they neither came to the general diets [of Gaul], nor
obeyed his commands, and were moreover, said to be tamper-
ing with the Germans beyond the Rhine.

CHAP. III. This state is by far the most powerful of all
Gaul in cavalry, and has great forces of infantry, and as we
have remarked above, borders on the Rhine. In that state, two
persons, Indutiomarus" and Cingetorix, were then contending
with each other 3 for the supreme power ; one of whom, as soon
as the arrival of Caesar and his legions was known, came to
him ; assures him that he and all his party would continue
in their allegiance, and not revolt from the alliance of the
Roman people, and informs him of the things which were
going on among the Treviri. But Indutiomarus began to
collect cavalry and infantry, and make preparations for war,
having concealed those who by reason of their age could not
be under arms, in the forest Arduenna, which is of immense
size, [and] extends from the Rhine across the country of the
Treviri to the frontiers of the Remi. But after that, some of
the chief persons of the state, both influenced by their friend-
ship for Cingetorix, and alarmed at the arrival of our army,
came to Caesar and began to solicit him privately about their
own interests, since they could not provide for the safety of
the state ; Indutiomarus, dreading lest he should be aban-
doned by all, sends embassadors to Csesar, to declare that he
absented himself from his countrymen, and refrained from
coming to him* on this account, that he might the more easily

completely equipped with all necessary naval appointments, their arma
or armamenta.

1 " Port Itius," some take this to bo Wissant; others, Boulogne.

2 This is the person so named in Cicero's Oration for Fonteius.

3 Lit. " between themselves."

4 That is, he did not join those Gauls who attended on Caesar at the
provincial diets, for the reason following.


keep the state in its allegiance, lest on the departure of all the
nobility the commonalty should, in their indiscretion, revolt.
And thus the whole state was at his control ; aud that he, if
Caesar would permit, would come to the camp to him, and
would commit his own fortunes and those of the state to his
good faith.

CHAP. IV. Caesar, though he discerned from what motive
these things were said, and what circumstances deterred him
from his meditated plan, still, in order that he might not be
compelled to waste the summer among the Trevin, while all
things were prepared for the war with Britain, ordered Indu-
tiomarus to come to him with 200 hostages. When these
were brought, [and] among them his son and near relations,
whom he had demanded by name, he consoled Indutiomarus,
and enjoined him to continue in his> allegiance ; yet, neverthe-
less, summoning to him the chief men of the Treviri, he recon-
ciled them individually to Cingetorix : this he both thought
should be done by him in justice to the merits of the latter,
and also judged that it was of great importance that the influ-
ence of one whose singular attachment toward him he had fully
seen, should prevail as much as possible among his people.
Indutiomarus was very much offended at this act, [seeing that]
his influence was diminished among his countrymen ; and he,
who already before had borne a hostile mind toward us, was
much more violently inflamed against us through resentment
at this.

CHAP. V. These matters being settled, Caesar went to port
Itius with the legions. There he discovers that forty ships,
which had been built in the country of the Meldi, 1 having been
driven back by a storm, had been unable to maintain their
course, and had returned to the same port from which they
had set out ; he finds the rest ready for sailing, and furnished
with every thing. In the same place, the cavalry of the whole
of Gaul, in number 4,000, assembles, and [also] the chief
persons *of all the states ; he had determined to leave in Gaul
a very few of them, whose fidelity toward him he had clearly
discerned, and take the rest with him as hostages ; because he
feared a commotion in Gaul when he should be absent.

1 "In Meldis." Some copies have " in Bdgis ;" a reading not so prob-
able as the former


CHAP. VL There was together with the others, Dumnorix,
the ./Eduan, of whom we have made previous mention. Him,
in particular, he had resolved to have with him, because he had
discovered him to be fond of change, fond of power, possessing
great resolution, and great influence among the Gauls. To this
was added, that Dumnorix had before said in an assembly of
^Eduans, that the sovereignty of the state had been made over
to him by Caesar ; which speech the JEdui bore with impa-
tience and yet dared not send embassadors to Caesar for the
purpose of either rejecting or deprecating [that appointment].
That fact Caesar had learned from his own personal friends. 1
He at first strove to obtain by every entreaty that he should be
left in Gaul ; partly, because, being unaccustomed to sailing, he
feared the sea ; partly, because he said he was prevented by
divine admonitions. 2 Aft^r he saw that this request was firmly
refused him, all hope of success being lost, he began to tamper
with the chief persons of the Gauls, to call them apart singly
and exhort them to remain on the continent ; to agitate them
with the fear that it was not without reason that Gaul should
be stripped of all her nobility ; that it was Caesar's design, to
bring over to Britain and put to death all those whom he feared
to slay in the -sight of Gaul, to pledge his honor to the rest, to
ask for their oath that they would by common deliberation
execute what they should perceive to be necessary for Gaul.
These things were reported to Caesar by several persons.

CHAP. VII. Having learned this fact, Caesar, because he had
conferred so much honor upon the ^Eduan state, determined
that Dumnorix should be restrained and deterred by whatever
means he could; and that, because he perceived his insane
designs to be proceeding further and further, care should be
taken lest he might be able to injure him and the common-
wealth. Therefore, having stayed about twenty-five days in
that place, because the north wind, which usually blows a great
part of every season, prevented the voyage, he exerted himself
to keep Dumnorix in his allegiance [and] nevertheless learn all

1 " Ex suis hospitibus :" Those between whom and Caesar there existed
the much-reverenced bond of hospitium, already spoken of in these notes.

2 "Religionibus:" not, probably, in reference to engagement in any
religious solemnities then celebrating, or to be celebrated ; but to pre-
sentiments, omens, or auguries.


his measures : having at length met with favorable weather, he
orders the foot soldiers 1 and the horse to embark in the ships.
But, while the minds of all were occupied, Dumnorix began to
take his departure from the camp homeward with the cavalry
of the ^Edui, Caesar being ignorant of it. Caesar, on this
matter being reported to him, ceasing from his expedition and
deferring all other affairs, sends a great part of the cavalry to
pursue him, and commands that he be brought back ; he orders
that if he use violence and do not submit, that he be slain ;
considering that Dumnorix would do nothing as a rational man
while he himself was absent, since he had disregarded his com-
mand even when present. He, however, when recalled, began
to resist and defend himself with his hand, 2 and implore the
support of his people, often exclaiming that " he was free and
the subject of a free state." 3 They surround and kill the man
as they had been commanded ; but the ^Eduan horsemen all
return to Caesar.

CHAP. VIII. When these things were done [and] Labienus,
left on the continent with three legions and 2,000 horse, to
defend the harbors and provide corn, and discover what was
going on in Gaul, and take measures according to the occasion
and a according to the circumstance ; he himself, with five
legions and a number of horse, equal to that which he was
leaving on the continent, set sail at sun-set, and [though for a
time] borne forward by a gentle south-west wind, he did not
maintain his course, in consequence of the wind dying away
about midnight, and being carried on too far by the tide, when
the sun rose, espied Britain passed on his left. Then, again,
following the change of tide, he urged on with the oars that he
might make that part of the island in which he had discovered
the preceding summer, that there was the best landing-place,
and in this affair the spirit of our soldiers was very much to be
extolled; for they with the transports and heavy ships, the
labor of rowing not being [for a moment] discontinued, equaled
the speed of the ships of war. All the ships reached Britain

1 " Milites." A Roman army was composed principally of infantry.
Hence, tnilites was used to denote, by way of eminence, that larger and
more important division of their service.

2 "Manu;" with active and determined resistance.

3 The JEduan state had not been reduced into the form of province.


nearly at mid-day ; nor -was there seen a [single] enemy in that
place, but, as Caesar afterward found from some prisoners,
though large bodies of troops had assembled there, yet being
alarmed by the great number of our ships, more than eight
hundred of which, including the ships of the preceding year, 1
and those private vessels which each had built for his own con-
venience, had appeared at one time, they had quitted the
coast and concealed themselves among the higher points.

Online LibraryJulius CaesarCæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: → online text (page 11 of 59)