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

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to his command, and were concerting measures with the Car-

comolied, as an act of duty to the state and a tribute of friendship toward
Caesar. Pompey, however, afterward demanded his legion again. The
circumstances which attended its return to him performed, as Plutarch
relates, their part in the civil war.

With regard to the original of the rest of this sentence, it may bo re-
marked, first, that some copies have "quos . . . consul is," etc., and others
"quos .... consulis." Davis and Clark defend the latter reading as,
agreeably with the genius and usage of the Latin language, denoting,
after his consulate, an act performed during it Secondly, that Livy, iii.
20, gives the substance of the military oath in his time ; and, thirdly, that
Vegetius, has left it as it was used under the Christian emperors, includ-
ing these words, " per Deum et per Christum et per Spiritum Sanctum."

i Literally, " to assemble at their standards."


nutes and the neighboring states, that the Germans were im-
portuned by the Treviri in frequent embassies, thought that he
ought to take measures for the war earlier [than usual].

CHAP. III. Accordingly, while the winter was not yet
ended, having concentrated the four nearest legions, he
marched unexpectedly into the territories of the Nervii, and
before they could either assemble or retreat, after capturing a
large number of cattle and of men, and wasting their lands
and giving up that booty to the soldiers, compelled them to
enter into a surrender and give him hostages. That business
having been speedily executed, he again led his legions back
into winter-quarters. Having proclaimed a council of Gaul in
the beginning of the spring, as he had been accustomed [to do],
when the deputies from the rest, except the Senones, the Car-
nutes, and the Treviri, had come, judging this 1 to be the com-
mencement of war and revolt, that he might appear to consider
all things of less consequence [than that war], he transfers the
council to Lutetia of the Parisii. These were adjacent to the
Senones, and had united their state to them during the mem-
ory of their fathers, but were thought to have no part in the
present plot. Having proclaimed this from the tribunal, he
advances the same day toward the Senones with his legions,
and arrives among them by long marches.

CHAP. IV. Acco, who had been the author of that enter-
prise, on being informed of his arrival, orders the people to
assemble in the towns ; to them, while attempting this, and
before it could be accomplished, news is brought that the
Romans are close at hand : through necessity they give over
their design and send embassadors to Cassar for the purpose of
imploring pardon ; they make advances to him through the
JEdui, whose state was from ancient times under the protection
of Rome. Caesar readily grants them pardon, and receives their
excuse, at the request of the ^Edui, because he thought
that the summer season 2 was one for an impending war, not for
an investigation. Having imposed one hundred hostages,
he delivers these to the ^Edui to be held in charge by them.

1 Namely, the absence of the representatives of three fore-mentioned

2 " The summer season, investigation ;" i. e. it was to be employed in
the war with the Treviri and Ambiorix, and not in an examination as to
the merits of the defense set up in behalf of the Sonones.


To the same place the Carnutes send embassadors and hostages,
employing as their mediators the Remi, under whose protection
they were : they receive the same answers. Caesar concludes
the council and imposes a levy of cavalry on the states.

CHAP. V. This part of Gaul having been tranquilized, he
applies himself entirely both in mind and soul to the war
with the Treviri and Ambiorix. He orders Cavarmus to
march with him with the cavalry of the Senones, lest any com-
motion should arise either out of his hot temper, or out of
the hatred of the state which he had incurred. 1 After arranging
these things, as he considered it certain that Ambiorix would
not contend in battle, he watched his other plans attentively.
The Menapii bordered on the territories of tho Eburones, and
were protected by one continued extent of morasses and woods ;
and they alone out of Gaul had never sent embassadors to
Caesar on the subject of peace. Caesar knew that a tie of
hospitality subsisted between them and Ambiorix : he also
discovered that the latter had entered into an alliance with the
Germans by means of the Treviri. He thought that these
auxiliaries ought to be detached from him before he provoked
him to war ; lest he, despairing of safety, should either proceed
to conceal himself in the territories of the Menapii,* or
should be driven to coalesce 8 , with the Germans beyond the
Rhine. Having entered upon this resolution, he sends the
baggage of the whole army to Labienus, in the territories of
the Treviri and orders two legions to proceed to him: he
himself proceeds against the Menapii with five lightly-equipped
legions. They, having assembled no troops, as they relied on
the defense of their position, retreat into the woods and mo-
rasses, and convey thither all their property.

CHAP. VI. Caesar, having divided his forces with C. Fabius,
his lieutenant, and M. Crassus his questor, and having hastily
constructed some bridges, enters their country in three divisions,
burns their houses and villages, and gets possession of a large

1 In the original, " ex eo, quod meruerat, odio ;" mereo referring as well
to the unfavorable, as to the favorable effects of conduct, and results of
fortune. Some copies have metuerat, a reading obviously erroneous.

2 The "territories," etc., "in Menapios abderet" the proposition here
including the idea of his going to do so.

3 In the original, "congredi." The Greek paraphrast has


number of cattle and men. Constrained by these circumstances
the Menapii send embassadors to him for the purpose of suing
for peace. He, after receiving hostages, assures them that he
will consider them in the number of his enemies if they shall
receive within their territories either Ambiorix or his embassa-
dors. Having determinately settled these things, he left among
the Menapii, Commius the Atrebatian, with some cavalry as a
guard ; l he himself proceeds toward the Treviri.

CHAP. VII. While these things are being performed by
Caesar, the Treviri, having drawn together large forces of in-
fantry and cavalry, were preparing to attack Labienus and
the legion which was wintering in their territories, and were
already not further distant from him than a journey of two
days, when they learn that two legions had arrived by the
order of Ca3sar. Having pitched their camp fifteen miles
off, they resolve to await the support of the Germans. La-
bienus, having learned the design of the enemy, hoping that
through their rashness there would be some opportunity of en-
gaging, after leaving a guard of five cohorts for the baggage,
advances against the enemy with twenty-five cohorts and a
large body of cavalry, and, leaving the space of a mile between
them, fortifies his camp. There was between Labienus and
the enemy a river diflicult to cross, and with steep banks : this
neither did he himself design to cross, nor did he suppose the
enemy would cross it. Their hope of auxiliaries was daily in-
creasing. He [Labienus] openly says in a council that "'since
the Germans are said to be approaching, he would not bring into
uncertainty his own and the army's fortunes, and the next day
would move his camp at early dawn." These words are quickly
carried to the enemy, since out of so large a number of
cavalry composed of Gauls, nature compelled some to favor
the Gallic interests. Labienus, having assembled the tribunes
of the soldiers and principal centurions by night, states what
his design is, and, that he may the more easily give the
enemy a belief of his fears, he orders the camp to be moved
with greater noise and confusion than was usual with the
Roman people. 3 By these means he makes his departure

1 "Custodis loco." "Id est, observatoris, speculatoris." Holomam.
One appointed to observe and report proceedings.

2 "Quam populi Romani fert consuetude:" not than the discipline of
the Roman army allowed, but, than was customary with, or usually at-


[appear] like a retreat. These things, also, since the camps were
so near, are reported to the enemy by scouts before day-

CHAP. VIII. Scarcely had the rear advanced beyond the
fortifications when the Gauls, encouraging one another " not to
cast from their hands the anticipated booty, that it was a
tedious thing, while the Romans were panic-stricken, to be
waiting for the aid of the Germans, and that their dignity did
not suSer them to fear to attack with such great forces so small
a band, particularly when retreating and encumbered," do not
hesitate to cross the river aud give battle in a disadvantageous
position. Labienus suspecting that these things would happen,
was proceeding quietly, and using the same pretense of a
march, in order that he might entice them across the river.
Then, having sent forward the baggage some short distance and
placed it on a certain eminence, he says, " Soldiers, you have tho
opportunity you have sought : you hold the enemy in an encum-
bered and disadvantageous position : display to us, your leaders,
the same valor you have ofttimes displayed to your general :
imagine that he is present and actually sees these exploits."
At the same tune he orders the troops to face about to-
ward the enemy and form in line of battle, and, dispatching
a few troops of cavalry as a guard for the baggage, he places
the rest of the horse on the wings. Our men, raising a shout,
quickly throw their javelins at the enemy. They, when,
contrary to their expectation, they saw those whom they
believed to be retreating, advance toward them with threaten-
ing banners, were not able to sustain even the charge, and,
being put to flight at the first onslaught, sought the nearest
woods ; Labienus pursuing them with the cavalry, upon a large
number being slain, and several taken prisoners, got posses-
sion of the state a few days after ; for the Germans, who were
coming to the aid of the Treviri, having been informed of their
flight, retreated to their homes. The relations of Indutiomarus.
who had been the promoters of the revolt, accompanying them,
quitted their own state with them. The supreme power and
government were delivered to Cingetorix, whom we have stated
to have remained firm in his allegiance from the commence-

tended it. Pert consuetudo is an expression employed in this way. Thus,
book iv. ch. xxxii. we read that it was reported to Caesar "pulverem
majorem, quam consuetudo ferret videri."


CHAP. IX. Caesar, after ho came from the territories of the
Menapii into those of the Treviri, resolved for two reasons
to cross the Rhine; one of which was, because they 1 had sent
assistance to the Treviri against him ; the other, that Arn-
biorix might not have a retreat among them. Having deter-
mined on these matters, he began to build a bridge a little
above that place where he had before conveyed over his
army. The plan having been known and laid down, the work
is accomplished in a few days by the great exertion of the
soldiers. Having left a strong guard at the bridge on the
side of the Treviri, lest any commotion should suddenly arise
among them, he leads over the rest of the forces and the cavalry.
The Ubii, who before had sent hostages and come to a capitu-
lation, send embassadors to him, for the purpose of vindicat-
ing themselves, to assure him that "neither had auxiliaries
been sent to the Treviri from their state, nor had they violated
their allegiance ;" they entreat and beseech him " to spare
them, lest, in his common hatred of the Germans, the innocent
should suffer the penalty of the guilty : they promise to give
more hostages, if he desire them." Having investigated the
case, Caesar finds that the auxiliaries had been sent by the
Suevi ; he accepts the apology of the Ubii, and makes the minute
inquiries concerning the approaches and the routes to the terri-
tories of the Suevi.

CHAP. X. In the mean time he is informed by the Ubii, a
few days after, that the Suevi are drawing all their forces into
one place, and are giving orders to those nations which are
under their government to send auxiliaries of infantry and of
cavalry. Having learned these things, he provides a supply of
corn, selects a proper place for his camp, and commands the
Ubii to drive off their cattle and carry away all their posses-
sions from the country parts into the towns, hoping that they,
being a barbarous and ignorant people, when harassed by the
want of provisions, might be brought to an engagement on dis-
advantageous terms : he orders them to send numerous scouts
among the Suevi, and learn what things are going on among them.
They execute the orders^ and, a few days having intervened,
report that all the Suevi, after certain intelligence concerning
the army of the Romans had come, retreated with all their

1 The Germans.


own forces and those of their allies, which they had assembled,
to the utmost extremities of their territories : that there is a
wood there of very great extent, which is called Bace"nis ; that
this stretches a great way into the interior, and, being opposed
as a natural barrier, defends from injuries and incursions the
Cherusci against the Suevi, and the Suevi against the Chemsci :
that at the entrance of that forest the Suevi had determined to
await the coming up of the Romans.

CHAP. XI. Since we have come to the place, it does not
appear to be foreign to our subject to lay before the reader an
account of the manners of Gaul and Germany, and wherein
these nations differ from each other. In Gaul there are factions
not only in all the states, and in all the cantons and their di-
visions, but almost in each family, and of these factions those
are the leaders who are considered according to their judgment
to possess the greatest influence, upon whose will and deter-
mination the management of all affairs and measures depends.
And that seems to have been instituted in ancient times with
this view, that no one of the common people should be in want
of support against one more powerful ; for, none [of those
leaders] suffers his party to be oppressed and defrauded, and if
he do otherwise, he has no influence among his party. This same
policy exists throughout the whole of Gaul ; for all the states
are divided into two factions.

CHAP. XII. When Caesar arrived in Gaul, the JSdui were
the leaders of one faction, the Sequani of the other. Since the
latter were less powerful by themselves, inasmuch as the chief
influence was from of old among the JEdm, and their depend-
dencies were great, they had united to themselves the Germans
and Ariovistus, and had brought them over to their party by
great sacrifices and promises. And having fought several
successful battles and slain all the nobility of the ^Edui, they
had so far surpassed them in power, that they brought over,
from the ^Edui to themselves, a large portion of their depend-
ents and received from them the sons of their leading men as
hostages, and compelled them to swear in their public charac-
ter that they would enter into no design against them ; and
held a portion of the neighboring land, seized on by force, and
possessed the sovereignty of the whole of Gaul. Divitiacus
urged by this necessity, had proceeded to Rome to the senate,
for the purpose of entreating assistance, and had returned


without accomplishing his object. A change of affairs ensued
on the arrival of Caesar, the hostages were returned to the
.^Edui, their old dependencies restored, and new acquired
through Caesar (because those who had attached themselves to
their alliance saw that they enjoyed a better state and a milder
government), their other interests, their influence, their reputa-
tion were likewise increased, and in consequence, the Sequani
lost the sovereignty. The Remi succeeded to their place, and,
as it was perceived that they equaled the .^Edui in favor with
Caesar, 1 those, who on account of their old animosities could by
no means coalesce with the JEdui, consigned themselves in
clientship to the Remi. The latter carefully protected them.
Thus they possessed both a new and suddenly acquired in-
fluence. Affairs were then in that position that the ^Edui were
considered by far the leading people, and the Remi held the
second post of honor.

CHAP. XIII. Throughout all Gaul there, are two orders of
those men who are of any rank and dignity : for the common-
ality is held almost in the condition of slaves, and dares to
undertake nothing of itself, and is admitted to no deliberation.
The greater part, when they are pressed either by debt, or the
large amount of their tributes, or the oppression of the more
powerful, give themselves up in vassalage to the nobles, who
possess over them the same rights without exception as masters
over their slaves.* But of these two orders, one is that of the
Druids, the other that of the knights. The former are engaged
in things sacred, conduct the public and the private sacri-
fices, and interpret all matters of religion. To these a large
number of the young men resort for the purpose of instruction,
and they [the Druids] are in great honor among them. For
they determine respecting almost all controversies, public
and private ; .and if any crime has been perpetrated, if murder
has been committed, if there be any dispute about an inherit-
ance, if any about boundaries, these same persons decide it ;
they decree rewards and punishments ; if any one, either in a
private or public capacity, has not submitted to their decision,

1 i. e., that the Remi stood as high in Caesar's favor as did

2 As far as we can discover from remaining testimonies, the condition
of vassalage, or the state of the feudal retainer, among the ancient Gauls
was not so hard as that of a corresponding relation among some more
polished people.


they interdict him from the sacrifices. 1 This among them is
the most heavy punishment. Those who have been thus inter-
dicted are esteemed in the number of the impious and the crimi-
nal : all shun them, and avoid their society and conversation,
lest they receive some evil from their contact ; nor is justice ad-
ministered to them when seeking it, nor is any dignity bestowed
on them. Over all these Druids one presides, who possesses
supreme authority among them. Upon his death, if any indi-
vidual among the rest is pre-eminent in dignity, he succeeds ;
but, if there are many, equal, the election is made by the
suffrages of the Druids ; sometimes they even contend for the
presidency with arms. These assemble at a fixed period of the
year in a consecrated place in the territories of the Carnutes,
which is reckoned the central region of the whole of Gaul.
Hither all, who have disputes, assemble from every part, and
submit to their decrees and determinations. This institution is
supposed to have been devised in Britain, and to have been
brought over from it into Gaul ; and now those who desire to
gain a more accurate knowledge of that system generally pro-
ceed thither for the purpose of studying it. 1

CHAP. XTV. The Druids do not go to war, nor pay
tribute together with the rest ; they have an exemption
from military service and a dispensation in all matters. In-
duced by such great advantages, many embrace this pro-
fession of their own accord, and [many] are sent to it by
their parents and relations. They are said there to learn by

1 As judges not only in the most important civil causes, but, further,
invested with the administration of capital justice ; as priests among a
people given, as all allow the Gauls were in a remarkable degree, to re-
ligious rites and ceremonies ; as those who had the instructions of the
sons of the great not only in the mysteries of religion, but also in the
theories of government and the physical sciences, the Druids possessed
unbounded influence. " They," says Chrysostom, " in truth, reigned; for
kings, though sitting on thrones of gold, and dwelling in gorgeous pal-
aces, and partaking of sumptuous banquets, were subservient to them."

2 The Delphin commentator thinks this improbable. He supposes it
more likely that this institution passed into Britain from Gaul. "When it
declined in Gaul it flourished in Britain. He illustrates his position by
saying, that, though Judea was the fountain of Christianity, the faith is
nearly extinct there while it shines in those regions which derived it
thence ; and asks who would go to Jerusalem rather than to Rome or
Paris to study Christian divinity. He also observes that Csesar does not
assert it on his own authority.


heart a great number of verses; accordingly some remain
in the course of training twenty years. Nor do they regard it
lawful to commit these to writing, though in almost all
other matters, in their public and private transactions, they
use Greek characters. That practice they seem to me to have
adopted for two reasons ; because they neither desire their
doctrines to be divulged among the mass of the people, nor
those who learn, to devote themselves the less to the ef-
forts of memory, relying on writing ; since it generally occurs to
most men, that, in their dependence, on writing, they relax
their diligence in learning thoroughly, and their employ-
ment of the memory. They wish to inculcate this as one of
their leading tenets, that souls do not become extinct, 1 but pass
after death from one body to another, and they think that men
by this tenet are in a great degree excited to valor, the fear of
death being disregarded. They likewise discuss and impart to
the youth many things respecting the stars and their motion,
respecting the extent of the world and of our earth, respecting
the nature of things, respecting the power and the majesty of
the immortal gods. 3

CHAP. XV. The other order is that of the knights. 3 These,
when there is occasion and any war occurs (which before Cae-
sar's arrival was for the most part wont to happen every year,
as either they on their part were inflicting injuries or repelling
those which others inflicted on them), are all engaged in war.
And those of them most distinguished by birth and resources,
have the greatest number of vassals and dependents about them.
They acknowledge this sort of influence and power only.

1 Because Pythagoras is said by Diogenes Laertius to have visited not
only the Greek, but likewise the Barbarian schools in pursuing his study
of Sacred Mysteries, it has been thought that he derived his Metempsy-
chosis from the Druids. But, though there is in another writer the addi-
tional record that Pythagoras had heard the Druids, the conjecture above
stated will not be readily received.

Between the Druidical and the Pythagorean Metemspychosis there
was this difference, that the latter maintained the migration of the soul
into irrational animals, while the former restricted the dogma to the
passage of the soul from man to man.

2 Other ancient writers have referred to the sciences of the Druids.

3 As Caesar at the time of writing probably had in his mind the three
Roman orders, "patricii" " equites" and "plels," and " equites" there
is commonly rendered "knights," we have thought fit (though that trans-
lation is not free from objections) to call this second order among tho
Gauls by that name.


CHAP. XVI. The nation of all the Gauls is extremely
devoted to superstitious rites ; and on that account they who
are troubled with unusually severe diseases, and they who
are engaged in battles and dangers, either sacrifice men as
victims, 1 or vow that they will sacrifice them, and employ the
Druids as the performers of those sacrifices; because they
think that unless the life of a man be offered for the life of a
man, the mind of the immortal gods can not be rendered pro-
pitious, and they have sacrifices of that kind ordained for na-
tional purposes. Others have figures of vast size, the limbs of
which formed of osiers they fill with living men, which being
set on fire, the men perish enveloped in the flames. They con-

Online LibraryJulius CaesarCæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: → online text (page 15 of 59)