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

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out this incident, so favorable to Pulfio ; or that having published them
before that person's espousal of Pompey's cause, he could not retract it ;
or, that he was too noble-minded to withhold such a well deserved tribute
of praise, even from one who had become his opponent. The annotator,
however, does not favor this third supposition.

2 "In locum dejectus inferiorem concidit."



a great number, retreat into the fortifications amid the highest
applause. Fortune so dealt with both in this rivalry and con-
flict, that the one competitor was a succor and a safeguard to
the other, nor could it be determined which of the two ap-
peared worthy of being preferred to the other.

CHAP. XLV. In proportion as the attack became daily
more formidable and violent, and particularly, because, as
a great number of the soldiers were exhausted with wounds,
the matter had come to a small number of defenders, more
frequent letters and messages were sent to Caesar; a part
of which messengers were taken and tortured to death in the
sight of our soldiers. There was within our camp a certain
Nervian, by name Vertico, born in a distinguished posi-
tion, who in the beginning of the blockade had deserted to
Cicero, and had exhibited his fidelity to him. He persuades
his slave, by the hope of freedom, and by great rewards,
to convey a letter to Caesar. This he carries out bound
about his javelin ; and mixing among the Gauls without any
suspicion by being a Gaul, he reaches Cassar. From him
they received information of the imminent danger of Cicero
and the legion.

CHAP. XL VI. Caesar having received the letter about the
eleventh hour of the day, immediately sends a messenger to
the Bellovaci, to M. Crassus, questor there, whose winter-
quarters were twenty-five miles distant from him. He orders
the legion to set forward in the middle of the night, and come
to him with dispatch. Crassus sets out with the messenger.
He sends another to C. Fabius, the lieutenant, ordering him
to lead forth his legion into the territories of the Atrebates,
to which he knew his march must be made. He writes to La-
bienus to come with his legion to the frontiers of the Nervii,
if he could do so to the advantage of the commonwealth : he
does not consider that the remaining portion of the army,
because it was somewhat further distant, should be waited for ;
but assembles about 400 horse from the nearest winter-

CHAP. XLVH. Having been apprised of the arrival of
Crassus by the scouts at about the third hour, he advances
twenty miles that day. He appoints Crassus over Samaro-
briva and assigns him a legion, because he was leaving there
the baggage of the army, the hostages of the states, the public


documents, and all the corn, which he had conveyed thither
for passing the winter. Fabius, without delaying a moment,
meets him on the march with his legion, as he had been
commanded. Labienua, having learned the death of Sabinus
and the destruction of the cohorts, as all the forces of the
Treviri had come against him, beginning to fear lest, if he
made a departure from his winter-quarters, resembling a flight,
he should not be able to support the attack of the enemy, par-
ticularly since he knew them to be elated by their recent
victory, sends back a letter to Caesar, informing him with what
great hazard he would lead out his legion from winter-quarters ;
he relates at large the affairs which had taken place among the
Eburones ; he informs him that all the infantry and cavalry of
the Treviri had encamped at a distance of only three miles
from his own camp.

CHAP. XLVIII. Caesar, approving of his motives, although
he was disappointed in his expectation of three legions, and
reduced to two, yet plafted his only hopes of the common
safety in dispatch. He goes into the territories of th^
Nervii by long marches. There he learns from some prisoners
what things are going on in the camp of Cicero, and in how
great jeopardy the affair is. Then with great rewards he induces
a certain man of the Gallic horse to convey a letter to Cicerd.
This he sends written in Greek characters, 1 lest the letter being
intercepted, our measures should be discovered by the enemy.
He directs him, if he should be unable to enter, to throw his
spear with the letter fastened to the thong, inside the fortifica-

1 In the twenty-fifth chapter of the first book of these Commentaries,
Caesar is said to have found in the camp of the Helvetii (left there upon
their departure), an account of their forces, written in Greek characters.
ID the fourteenth chapter of the sixth book, we are told that the Gauls
used those characters both in their public and then* private matters.
Here we have it assigned as a reason for Caesar's using them in this let-
ter, that if it were intercepted by the Gauls, it might be unintelligible to
them. Some have attempted to reconcile these apparent discrepancies,
by supposing that, though the Gauls used the letters of the Greek alpha-
bet, they only applied them to their own language. But Caesar is not
here said to have written this letter in Greek ; he is only said to have
done so in Greek characters, which leaves this passage still seemingly
opposed to the other two. It has, therefore, been conjectured that he
wrote not only, as the original would imply, in the Greek characters,
with which he seems twice to represent that the Gauls were acquainted,
but also in the Greek language, of which they were ignorant.


tions of the camp. He writes in the letter, that he having
set out with his legions, will quickly be there : he entreats
him to maintain his ancient valor. The Gaul apprehending
danger, throws his spear as he has been directed. Is by chance
stuck in a tower, and, not being observed by our men for two days,
was seen by a certain soldier on the third day : when taken down,
it was carried to Cicero. He, after perusing it, reads it out in
an assembly of the soldiers, and fills all with the greatest joy.
Then the smoke of the fires was seen in the distance, a circum-
stance which banished all doubt of the arrival of the legions.

CHAP. XLIX. The Gauls, having discovered the matter
through their scouts, abandon the blockade, and march toward
CaBsar with all their forces ; these were about 60,000 armed
men. Cicero, an opportunity being now afforded, again begs of
that Vertico, the Gaul, whom we mentioned above, to convey
back a letter to Caesar ; he advises him to perform his journey
warily ; he writes in the letter that the enemy had departed
and had turned their entire force against him. When this
letter was brought to him about the middle of the night,
Caesar apprises his soldiers of its contents, and inspires them
with courage for fighting: the following day, at the dawn,
he moves his camp, and, having proceeded four miles, he
espies the forces of the enemy on the other side of a consider-
able valley and rivulet. It was an affair of great danger to
fight with such large forces in a disadvantageous situation.
For the present, therefore, inasmuch as he knew that Cicero
was released from the blockade, and thought that he might, on
that account, relax his speed, he halted there and fortifies a
camp in the most favorable position he can. And this,
though it was small in itself, [there being] scarcely "7,000
men, and these too without baggage, still by the narrowness
of the passages, 1 he contracts as much as he can, with this
object, that he may come into the greatest contempt with the
enemy. In the mean while scouts having been sent in all di-
rections, he examines by what most convenient path he might
cross the valley.

1 " Augustiis viarum." The spaces between the different divisions of
the Roman camp were called vice. Of these, besides several subordinate
ones, there were eight of considerable width ; five of which ran from the
Decuman tp the Praetorian side of the camp, and three from the one to
the other of the two remaining sides. These Caesar on this occasion very
' much contracted, with the design stated in the text.


CHAP. L. That day, slight skirmishes of cavalry having
taken place near the river, both armies kept in their own posi-
tions : the Gauls, because they were awaiting larger forces which
had not then arrived ; Caesar, [to see] if perchance by pretense
of fear he could allure the enemy toward his position, so that
he might engage in battle, in front of his camp, on this side
of the valley ; if he could not accomplish this, that, having in-
quired about the passes, he might cross the valley and the river
with the less hazard. At daybreak the cavalry of the enemy
approaches to the camp and joins battle with our horse. Caesar
orders the horse to give way purposely, and retreat to the
camp : at the same time he orders the camp to be fortified with
a higher rampart in all directions, the gates to be barricaded,
and in executing these things as much confusion to be shown
as possible,' and to perform them under the pretense of fear.

CHAP. LI. Induced by all these things, the enemy lead
over their forces and draw up their line in a disadvantageous
position ; and as our men also had been led down from the
ramparts, they approach nearer, and throw their weapons into
the fortification from all sides, and sending heralds round,
order it to be proclaimed that, if " any, either Gaul or Roman,
was willing to go over to them before the third hour, it was
permitted ; after that time there would not be permission ;'"
and so much did they disregard our men, that the gates having
been blocked up with single rows of turf as a mere appearance,
because they did not seem able to burst in that way, some
began to pull down the rampart with their hands, others to fill
up the trenches. Then Caesar, making a sally from all the
gates, and sending out the cavalry, soon puts the enemy to
flight, so that no one at all stood his ground with the intention
of fighting ; and he slew a great number of them, and deprived
all of their arms.

CHAP. LH.^-Caesar, fearing to pursue them very far, because
woods and morasses intervened, and also [because] he saw that
they suffered no small loss in abandoning their position, reaches
Cicero the same day with all his forces safe. He witnesses with
surprise the towers, mantelets, and [other] fortifications belong-
ing to the enemy : the legion having been- drawn out, he finds
that even every tenth soldier had not escaped without wounds.
From all these things he judges with what danger and with

1 " Non fore potestatem," lit. there would not le the power. <


what great courage matters had been conducted ; he commends
Cicero according to his desert, and likewise the legion ; he
addresses individually the centurions and the tribunes of the
soldiers, whose valor he had discovered to have been signal.
He receives information of the death of Sabinus and Cotta
from the prisoners. An assembly being held the following
day, he states the occurrence ; he consoles and encourages the
soldiers ; he suggests, that the disaster, which had been occa-
sioned by the misconduct and rashness of his lieutenant, should
be borne with a patient mind, because by the favor of the im-
mortal gods and their own valor, neither was lasting joy left to
the enemy, nor very lasting grief to them.

CHAP. LIIL In the mean while the report respecting the
victory of Caesar is conveyed to Labienus through the country
of the Remi with incredible speed, so that, though he was
about sixty miles distant from the winter-quarter of Cicero, and
Csesar had arrived there after the ninth hour, before midnight
a shout arose at the gates of the camp, by which shout an in-
dication of the victory and a congratulation on the part of the
Remi were given to Labienus. This report having been carried
to the Treviri, Indutiomarus, who had resolved to attack the
camp of Labienus the following day, flies by night and leads
back all his forces into the country of the Treviri. Caesar sends
back Fabius with his legion to his winter-quarters ; he himself
determines to winter with three legions near Samarobriva in
three different quarters, and, because such great commotions
had arisen in Gaul, he resolved to remain during the whole
winter with the army himself. For the disaster respecting the
death of Sabinus having been circulated among them, almost
all the states of Gaul were deliberating about war, sending
messengers and embassies into all quarters, inquiring what
further measure they should take, and holding councils by
night in secluded places. Nor did any period of the whole
winter pass over without fresh anxiety to Caesar, or, 1 without
his receiving some intelligence respecting the meetings and
commotions of the Gauls. Among these, he is informed by
L. Roscius, the lieutenant whom he had placed over the
thirteenth legion, that large forces of those states of the
Gauls, which are called the Armoricae, had assembled for the
purpose of attacking him and were not more than eight

l Literally, " but that he received."


miles distant ; but intelligence respecting the victory of
Caesar being carried [to them], had retreated in such a manner
that their departure appeared like a flight.

CHAP. LIV. But Caesar, having summoned to him the
principal persons of each state, in one case by alarming
them, since he declared that he knew what was going on,
and in another case by encouraging them, retained a great
part of Gaul in its allegiance. The Senones, however, which
is a state eminently powerful and one of great influence
among the Gauls, attempting by general design to slay Ca-
varinus, whom Caesar had created king among them (whose
brother, Moritasgus, had held the sovereignty at the period
of the arrival of Caesar in Gaul, and whose ancestors had
also previously held it), when he discovered their plot and
fled, pursued him even to the frontiers [of the state], and
drove him from his kingdom and his home ; and, after having
sent embassadors to Caesar for the purpose of concluding a
peace, when he ordered all their senate to come to him, did
not obey that command. So far did it operate among
those barbarian people, that there were found some to be the
first to wage war ; and so great a change of inclinations did
it produce in all, that, except the ^Edui and the Remi, whom
Caesar had always held in especial honor, the one people for
their long standing and uniform fidelity toward the Roman
people, the other for their late service in the Gallic war, there
was scarcely a state which was not suspected by us. And I do
not know whether that ought much to be wondered at, as well
for several other reasons, as particularly because they who ranked
above all nations for prowess in war, 1 most keenly regretted
that they had lost so much of that reputation as to submit to
commands from the Roman people.

CHAP. LV. But the Triviri and Indutiomarus let no
part of the entire winter pass without sending embassadors
across the Rhine, importuning the states, promising money,
and asserting that, as a large portion of our army had been cut
off, a much smaller portion remained. However, none of the
German States could be induced to cross the Rhine, since
" they had twice essayed it," they said, " in the war with Ariovis-
tus and in the passage of the Tenchtheri there ; that fortune was

1 When they thought of their national glory in deeds of arms, doubtless
they did not pass over their exploits in Italy and their sacking of Rome.


not to be tempted any more." Indutiomarus disappointed in
this expectation, ^nevertheless began to raise troops, and dis-
cipline them,*and procure horses from the neighboring people,
and allure to him by great rewards the outlaws and convicts
throughout Gaul. And such great influence had lie already
acquired for himself in Gaul by these means, that embassies
were flocking to him in all directions, and seeking, publicly and
privately, his favor and friendship.

CHAP. LVI. When he perceived that they were coming to
him voluntarily ; that on the one side the Senones and the
Carnutes were stimulated by their consciousness of guilt, on
the other side the Nervii and the Aduatuci were preparing war
against the Romans, and that forces of volunteers would not be
wanting to him if he began to advance from his own ter-
ritories, lie proclaims an armed council (this according to the
custom of the Gauls in the commencement of war) at which,
by a common law, all the youth were wont to asssemble in
arms , whoever of them comes last is killed in the sight of the
Avhole assembly after being racked with every torture. 1 In that
council he declares Cingetorix, the leader of the other faction,
his own son-in-law (whom we have above mentioned, as hav-
ing embraced the protection of Ca3sar, and never having
deserted him) an enemy and confiscates his property. When
these things were finished, he asserts in the council that he,
invited by the Senones and the Carnutes, and several other
states of Gaul, was about to march thither through the terri-
tories of the Remi, devastate their lands, and attack the camp
of Labienus : before he does that, he informs them of what he
desires to be done.

CHAP. LVII. Labienus, since he was confining himself
within a camp strongly fortified by the nature of the ground
and by art, had no apprehensions as to his own and the legion's
danger, but was devising that he might throw away no oppor-
tunity of conducting the war successfully. Accordingly, the
speech of Indutiomarus, which he had delivered in the council,
having been made known [to him] by Cingetorix and his allies,
he sends messengers to the neighboring states and summons
horse from all quarters : he appoints to them a fixed day for

1 Tacitus, then, when he tells us, in his Germania, that " even three days
out of the space appointed for their assemblies were wasted by the delay
of those who were to meet," must refer to councils of minor importanca


assembling. In the mean time, IndutiomSrus, with all his
cavalry, nearly every day used to parade close to his [Labienus']
camp ; at one time, that he might inform himself of the situ-
ation of the camp ; at another time, for the purpose of confer-
ring with or of intimidating him. Labienus confined his men
within the fortifications, and promoted the enemy's belief of
his fear by whatever methods he could.

CHAP. LVIII. Since Indutiomarus was daily advancing
up to the camp with greater defiance, all the cavalry of the
neighboring states which he [Labienus] had" taken care to
have sent for, having been admitted in one night, he confined
all his men within the camp by guards with such great strict-
ness, that that fact could by no means be reported or carried
to the Treviri. In the mean while, Indutiomarus, according to
his daily practice, advances up to the camp and spends a great
part of the day there : his horse cast their weapons, and with
very insulting language call out our men to battle. No reply
being given by our men, the enemy, when they thought proper,
depart toward evening in a disorderly and scattered manner,
Labienus unexpectedly sends out all the cavalry by two gates ;
he gives this command and prohibition, that, when the enemy
should be terrified and put to flight (which he foresaw would
happen, as it did), they should all make for Indutiomarus, and
no one Avound any man before he should have seen him slain,
because he was unwilling that he should escape, in consequence
of gaining time by the delay [occasioned by the pursuit] of
the rest. He offers great rewards for those who should kill
him : he sends up the cohorts as a relief to the horse. The
issue justifies 1 the policy of the man, and since all aimed at
one, Indutiomarus is slain, having been overtaken at the very
ford of the river, and his head is carried to the camp, the horse,
when returning, pursue and slay all whom they can. This af-
fair having been known, all the forces of the Eburones and
the Nervii which had assembled, depart ; and for a short time
after this action, Caesar* was less harassed in the government
of Gaul.

1 " Comprobat fortuna." One sense of comprobo, is, to make good.

2 Literallj, " Caesar held Gaul more tranquil"




Caesar, apprehending commotions in Gaul, levies additional forces. II. -VT.
Defeats the Nervii, Senones, Carnutes, and Menapii. VII., VIII.
Labienus defeats the Treviri. IX. Caesar again crosses the Rhine ; the
Ubii send embassadors to plead the defense of their state. XI.-XX.
The political factions of the Gallic states. The Druids, the second or-
der or knights, the third order or commonalty, and the mythology of
the Gauls. XXI.-XXVIII. The Germans : their customs ; account of
some remarkable animals found in the Hercinian forest. XXIX.-
XXXI. Caesar returns to Gaul ; Ambiorix is worsted ; death of Cati-
volcus. XXXII.-XXXIV. The territories of the Eburones arc plun-
dered. XXXV.-XLII. The Sigambri attack the Roman camp ; some
extraordinary incidents connected therewith. Caesar arrives and
restores confidence. XLIII., XLIV. Caesar holds an investigation
respecting the conspiracy of the Senones ; Acco suffers capital punish-
ment ; the appointment of winter-quarters ; Caesar departs for Italy.

CHAP. I. Caesar, expecting for many reasons 1 a greater
commotion in Gaul, resolves to hold a levy by the means of M.
Silanus C. Antistius Reginus, and T. Sextius, his lieutenants :
at the same time he requested Cn. Pompey, the proconsul,
that since he was remaining near the city invested with mili-
tary command for the interests of the commonwealth, 3 he

1 "For many reasons:" one of these may bo inferred from the close
of chap. 54, of book v.

2 When Pompey was consul (which was the year 699 A.U.C.), Spain
was decreed him, as his proconsular province, for a period of five years ;
and permission was given him to raise what forces, and in what parts,
he chose. He consequently raised one legion in Cisalpine Gaul. While,
however, upon the expiration of his consulate, he was preparing to pro-
ceed into the province which the senate had decreed him, an opposition
was successfully made to the realization of his hopes by some of the tri-
bunes of the commons, and Petreius and Afranius were sent to Spain in
his stead. Pompey remained at Rome, and sought to diminish the un-
pleasant nature of his position by giving out that he remained in the city
for the purpose of procuring corn. Caesar requested that he would send
him that legion which he had raised in Gaul. With this request Pompey


would command those men whom when consul he had levied
by the military oath in Cisalpine Gaul, to join their respective
corps, 1 and to proceed to him ; thinking it of great importance,
as far as regarded the opinion which the Gauls would entertain
for the future, that that the resources of Italy should appear so
great that if any loss should be sustained in war, not only could
it be repaired in a short time, but likewise be further supplied
by still larger forces. And when Pompey had granted this to
the interests of the commonwealth and the claims of friendship,
Caesar having quickly completed the levy by means of his lieu-
tenants, after three regiments had been both formed and brought
to him before the winter [had] expired, and the number of
those cohorts which he had lost under Q. Titurius had been
doubled, taught the Gauls, both by his dispatch and by his
forces what the discipline and the power of the Roman people
could accomplish.

CHAP. II. Indutiomarus having been slain, as we have
stated, the government was conferred upon his relatives by the
Treviri. They cease not to importune the neighboring Ger-
mans and to promise them money : when they could not obtain
[their object] from those nearest them, they try those more
remote. Having found some states willing to accede to their
wishes, they enter into a compact with them by a mutual oath,
and give hostages as a security for the money : they attach Am-
biorix to them by an alliance and confederacy. Caesar, on being
informed of their acts, since he saw that war was being pre-
pared on all sides, that the Nervii, Aduatuci, and Menapii,
with the addition of all the Germans on this side of the Rhine
were under arms, that the Senones did not assemble according

Online LibraryJulius CaesarCæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: → online text (page 14 of 59)