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

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sider that the oblation of such as have been taken in theft, or in
robbery, or any other offense, is more acceptable to the immor-
tal gods ; but when a supply of that class is wanting, they have
recourse to the oblation of even the innocent.

CHAP. XVII. They worship as their divinity, Mercury 2 in
particular, and have many images of him, and regard him as the
inventor of all arts, they consider him the guide of their jour-
neys and marches, and believe him to have great influence over
the acquisition of gain and mercantile transactions. Next to
him they worship Apollo, and Mars, and Jupiter, and Minerva ;
respecting these deities they have for the most part the same
belief as other nations : that Apollo averts diseases, that
Minerva imparts the invention of manufactures, that Jupiter
possesses the sovereignty of the heavenly powers; that Mars pre-
sides over wars. To him, when they have determined to engage
in battle, they commonly vow those things which they shall
take 3 in war. When they have conquered, they sacrifice what-
ever captured animals may have survived the conflict, 4 and col-

1 To this Cicero refers in his Oration for Fonteius as to a well-known
fact.

2 The student must not imagine that Csesar found the names Mercurius,
Apollo, etc., existing among the Gauls, as those of their deities here spoken
of. Whether the names assigned by commentators (as Woda, Mercury,
Batenus, Apollo, etc.), were, or were not, the Gallic, must remain a ques-
tion ; but it is to be understood that Csesar applied to the divinities of the
Gauls the names of those in the Roman mythology, whose attributes
generally corresponded with them severally.

3 " Ceperint" not, as some copies, ceperunt, as the vow necessarily
requires the former reading. The Greek paraphrast accordingly has T&



Athenseus remarks " that the Gauls sacrifice their captives to the gods."



150 (LESAR'S COMMENTARIES. BOOK vi.

lect the other things into one place. In many states you may
see piles of these things heaped up iu their consecrated spots ;
nor does it often happen that any one, disregarding the sanctity
of the case, 1 dares either to secrete in his house things captured,
or take away those deposited ; and the most severe punishment,
with torture, has been established for such a deed.

CHAP. XVIII. All the Gauls assert that they are descended
from the god Dis, and say that this tradition has been handed
down by the Druids. For that reason they compute the divisions
of every season, not by the number of days, but of nights ; they
keep birth-days and the beginnings of months and years in such
an order that the day follows the night. Among the other
usages of their life, they differ in this from almost all other na-
tions, that they do not permit their children to approach them
openly until they are grown up so as to be able to bear the serv-
ice of war ; and they regard it as indecorous for a son of
boyish age to stand in public in the presence of his father.

CHAP. XIX. Whatever sums of money the husbands have
received in the name of dowry from their wives, making an
estimate of it, they add the same amount out of their own
estates. An account is kept of all this money conjointly, and
the profits are laid by : whichever of them shall have survived
[the other], to that one the portion of both reverts together
with the profits of the previous time. Husband.s have power of
life and death over their wives as well as over their children :
and when the father of a family, born in a more than commonly
distinguished rank, has died, his relations assemble, and, if
the circumstances of his death are suspicious, hold an investi-
gation upon the wives in the manner adopted toward slaves ;
and, if proof be obtained, put them to severe torture, and kill
them. Their funerals, considering the state of . civilization
among the Gauls, are magnificent and costly ; and they cast
into the fire all things, including living creatures, which they
suppose to have been dear to them when alive ; and, a little
before this period, slaves and dependents, who 3 were ascer-

1 " Neglecta religione :" there are four general senses of the word religio.
1. Religion, devotion. 2. (in the plural) Religious ceremonies and mys-
teries. 3. Superstition. And, 4. The sanctity of any particular matter, or
reverential feelings entertained with regard to a certain case. This last, not
religion in its general acceptation, is the sense of the word in this passage.

2 Literally " who, it was ascertained, was beloved by them."



CHAP. xxn. CAESAR'S COMMENTARIES. 151

tained to have been beloved by them, were, 1 after the regular
funeral rites were completed, burnt together with them.

CHAP. XX. Those states which are considered to conduct
their commonwealth more judiciously, have it ordained by their
laws, that, if any person shall have heard by rumor and
report from his neighbors any thing concerning the common-
wealth, he shall convey it to the magistrate, and not impart it
to any other ; because it has been discovered that inconsiderate
and inexperienced men were often alarmed by false reports,
and driven to some rash act, or else took hasty measures in
affairs of the highest importance. The magistrates conceal
those things which require to be kept unknown ; and they
disclose to the people whatever they determine to be expedient.
It is not lawful to speak of the commonwealth, except in
council.

CHAP. XXI. The Germans differ much from these usages,
for they have neither Druids to preside over sacred offices,
nor do they pay great regard to sacrifices. They rank in the
number of the gods those alone whom they behold, and by
whose instrumentality they are obviously benefited, namely, the
sun, fire, and the moon; they have not heard of the other
deities even by report. Their whole life is occupied in hunt-
ing and in the pursuits of the military art ; from childhood
they devote themselves to fatigue and hardships. Those who
have remained chaste for the longest time, receive the greatest
commendation among their people ; they think that by this the
growth is promoted, by this the physical powers are increased
and the sinews are strengthened. And to have had knowledge
of a woman before the twentieth year they reckon among the
most disgraceful acts ; of which matter there is no concealment,
because they bathe promiscuously in the rivers and [only] use
skins or small cloaks of deers' hides, a large portion of the body
being in consequence naked.

CHAP. XXII. They do not pay much attention to agricul-
ture, and a large portion of their food consists in milk, cheese,
and flesh ; nor has any one a fixed quantity of land or his own
individual limits ; but the magistrates and the leading men
each year apportion to the tribes and families, who have united
together, as much land as, and in the place in which, they think

1 Otherwise thus, " when the funeral rites were rendered complete."



152 (LESAR'S COMMENTARIES. BOOK VI.

proper, and the year after compel them to remove elsewhere.
For this enactment 1 they advance many reasons lest seduced
by long-continued custom, they may exchange their ardor in
the -waging of war for agriculture ; lest they may be anxious to
acquire extensive estates, and the more powerful drive the
weaker from their possessions ; lest they construct their houses
with too great a desire to avoid cold and heat ; lest the desire
of wealth spring up, from which cause divisions and discords
arise ; and that they may keep the common people in a con-
tented state of mind, when each sees his own means placed on
an equality with [those of] the most powerful.

CHAP. XXIII. It is the greatest glory to the several states
to have as wide deserts as possible around them, their fron-
tiers having been laid waste. They consider this the real evi-
dence of their prowess, that their neighbors shall be driven
out of their lands and abandon them, and that no one dare
settle near them ; at the same time they think that they shall
be on that account the more secure, because they have removed
the apprehension of a sudden incursion. When a state either
repels war waged against it, or wages it against' anoth-'-r, mag-
istrates are chose a to preside over lli.it war with such authority,
that they have power of life and death. In peace there is no
common magistrate, but the chiefs of provinces and cantons
administer justice and determine controversies among their
own people. Robberies which are committed beyond the bound-
aries of each state bear no infamy, and they avow that these
are committed for the purpose of disciplining their youth and
of preventing sloth. And when any of their chiefs has said in
an assembly " that he will be their leader, let those who are
willing to follow, give in their names ;" they who approve of
both the enterprise and the man arise and promise their assist-
ance and are applauded by the people ; such of them as have
not followed him are accounted in the number of deserters and
traitors, and confidence in all matters is afterward refused them.
To injure guests they regard as impious ; they defend from
wrong those who have come to them for any purpose whatever,
and esteem them inviolable ; to them the houses of all are
open and maintenance is freely supplied. 2

1 "Ejusrei."

2 " No nation," says Tacitus, speaking of them in his G-ermania, " more
freely exercises entertainment and hospitality. To drive any one whom-
soever from their houses, they consider a crime."



CHAP. xrv. CLESAR'S COMMENTARIES. 153

CHAP. XXIV. And there was formerly a time when the
Gauls excelled the Germans in prowess, and waged war on them
offensively, and, on account of the great number of their people
and the insufficiency of their land, sent colonies over the Rhine.
Accordingly, the Volcae Teotos&ges, 1 seized on those parts of
Germany which are the most fruitful [and lie] around the Her-
cynian forest" (which, I perceive, was. known by report to Era-
tosthenes* and some other Greeks, and which they call Orcynia),
and settled there. Which nation to this time retains its po-
sition in those settlements, and has a very high character for
justice and military merit ; now also they continue in the same
scarcity, indigence, hardihood, as the Germans, and use the
same food and dress ; but their proximity to the Province and
knowledge of commodities from countries beyond the sea sup-
plies to the Gauls 4 many things tending to luxury as well as
civilization. Accustomed by degrees to be overmatched and
worsted in many engagements, they do not even compare them-
. selves to the Germans in prowess.

CHAP. XXV. The breadth of this Hercynian forest, which
has been referred to above, is 6 to a quick traveler, a journey
of nine days. For it can not be otherwise computed, nor are
they acquainted with the measures of roads. It begins at
the frontiers of the Helvetii, Nemetes, and Rauraei, and ex-
tends in a right line along the river Danube to the terri-
tories of the Daci and the Anartes ; it bends thence to the
left in a different direction from the river, and owing to its

1 The Yolcae were a large and powerful nation in the south-west of Gaul,
and were divided into two great tribes. First, the Volcae Arecomici, who
inhabited the eastern part of the Province, whose chief city was Nimausus,
Nismes. Second, the Volcae Tectosages, who inhabited the western part
of the Province, whose chief city was Narbo, Narbonne. It is highly proba-
ble that the migration to which Caesar alludes here, is the same recorded by
Livy, in the 34th chapter of the 5th book, and that theVolcse Tectosages were
the Gauls that followed Sigovesus into the wilds of the Hercynian forest.

2 The Hercynian forest is supposed to have derived its name from the
German word, hartz " resin." Traces of the name are still preserved in
the Harz and Erz mountains.

3 A famous mathematician and astronomer born in Africa. He was
intrusted by the Egyptians with the care of the famous Alexandrian
library, and was the second person who discharged that honorable office.
He died 194 B.C.

4 Gallis meaning such of the Voleae Tectosagea as had not migrated
into Germany.

s Literally, "extends."

7*



154 CAESAR'S COMMENTARIES. BOOK vi.

extent touches the confines of many nations ; nor is there any
person belonging to this part of Germany who says that he
either has gone to the extremity of that forest, though he had
advanced a journey of sixty days, or has heard in what place it
begins. It is certain that many kinds of wild beast are pro-
duced in it which have not heen seen in other parts ; of which
the following are such as differ principally from other animals,
and appear worthy of being committed to record.

CHAP. XXVI. There is an ox of the shape of a stag, between
whose ears a horn rises from the middle of the forehead, higher
and straighter than those horns which are known to us. From
the top of this, branches, like palms, stretch out a considerable
distance. The shape of the female and of the male is the same ;
the appearance and the size of the horns is the same.

CHAP. XXVII. There are also [animals] which are called
elks. The shape of these, and the varied color of their skins,
is much like roes, but in size they surpass them a little and
are destitute of horns, and have legs without joints and liga-
tures ; nor do they lie down for the purpose of rest, nor, if
they have been thrown down by any accident, can they raise
or lift themselves up. Trees serve as beds to them ; they lean
themselves against them, and thus reclining only slightly, they
take their rest ; when the huntsmen have discovered from the
footsteps of these animals whither they are accustomed to betake
themselves, they either undermine all the trees at the roots, or
cut into them so far that the upper part of the trees may appear
to be left standing. 1 AVhen they have leant upon them, accord-
ing to their habit, they knock down by their weight the unsup-
ported trees, and fall down themselves along with them.

CHAP. XXVIII. There is a third kind, consisting of those
animals which are called uri. These are a little below the
elephant in size, and of the appearance, color, and shape of a
bull. Their strength and speed are extraordinary ; they spare
neither man nor wild beast which they have espied. These the
Germans take with much pains in pits and kill them. The young
men harden themselves with this exercise, and practice them-
selves in this kind of hunting, and those who have slain the
greatest number of them, having produced the horns in public,
to serve as evidence, receive great praise. But not even when
taken very young can they be rendered familiar to men and

1 Literally, "that the appearance alone of them standing may be left."



CHAP. xxx. (LESAR'S COMMENTARIES. 155

tamed. The size, shape, and appearance of their horns differ
much from the horns of our oxen. These they anxiously eeek
after, and bind at the tips with silver, and use as cups at their
most sumptuous entertainments.

CHAP. XXIX. Caesar, after he discovered through the
Ubian scouts that the Suevi had retired into their woods, ap-
prehending a scarcity of corn, because, as we have observed
above, all the Germans pay very little attention to agriculture,
resolved not to proceed any further ; but, that he might not
altogether relieve the barbarians from the fear of his return,
and that he might delay their succors, having led back his
army, he breaks down, to the length of 200 feet, the further
end of the bridge, which joinedthe banks of the Ubii, and
at the extremity of the bridge raises towers of four stories,
and stations a guard of twelve cohorts for the purpose of de-
fending the bridge, and strengthens the- place with consider-
able fortifications. Over that fort and guard he appointed
C. Volcatius Tullus, a young man ; he himself, when the corn
began to ripen, having set forth- for the war with Ambiorix
(through the forest Arduenna, 1 which is the largest of all Gaul,
and reaches from the banks of the Rhine and the frontiers
of the Treviri to those of the Nervii, and extends over more
than 500 miles), he sends forward L. Minucius Basilus with
all the cavalry, to try if he might gain any advantage by rapid
marches and the advantage of time, he warns him to forbid
fires being made in the camp, lest any indication of his ap-
proach be given at a distance : he tells him that he will follow
immediately.

CHAP. XXX. Basilus does as he was commanded ; having
performed his march rapidly, and even surpassed 8 the expecta-
tions of all, he surprises in the fields many not expecting him ;
through their information he advances toward Ambiorix him-
self, to the place in which he was said to be with a few horse.

1 Arduenna, the largest forest in ancient GauL The name is supposed
to be derived from ar derm, "the deep" [forest]. Ar is the article, while
denn in the Kymric, don in the Bas-Breton, and domhainn in Gaelic, de-
note respectively, "deep," "thick." Thiery Histoire de Gaulois, voL ii.
p. 41. The name is still preserved in the "forest of Ardennes," on the
frontiers of France and Belgium, which is, however, but a small portion
of the noble forest that extended from the bank of the Rhine, and the
frontiers of the Treviri to those of the Nervii.

2 Literally, " contrary to."



156 CESAR'S COMMENTARIES. BOOK iv.

Fortune accomplishes much, not only in other matters, but also
in the art of war. For as it happened by a remarkable chance,
that he fell upon [Ambiorix] himself unguarded and unpre-
pared, and that his arrival was seen by the people before the
report or information of his arrival was carried thither ; so it
was an incident of extraordinary fortune that, although every
implement of war which he was accustomed to have about him
was seized, and his chariots and horses surprised, yet he him-
self escaped death. But it was effected owing to this circum-
stance, that his house being surrounded by a wood (as are
generally the dwellings of the Gauls, who, for the purpose of
avoiding heat, mostly seek the neighborhood of woods and
rivers), his attendants and friends in a narrow spot sustained for
a short time the attack of our horse. While they were fight-
ing, one of his followers mounted him on a horse ; the woods
sheltered him as he fled. Thus fortune tended much 1 both
toward his encountering and his escaping danger.

CHAP. XXXI. Whether Ambiorix did not collect his forces
from cool deliberation, because he considered he ought not to
engage in a battle, or [whether] he was debarred by time and
prevented by the sudden arrival of our horse, when he sup-
posed the rest of the army was closely following, is doubtful :
but certainly, dispatching messengers through the country, he
ordered every one to provide for himself; and a part of them fled
into the forest Arduenna, a part into the extensive morasses ;
those who were nearest the ocean concealed themselves in the
islands which the tides usually form ; many, departing from
their territories, committed themselves and all their possess-
ions to perfect strangers. Cativolcus, king of one half of the
Eburones, who had entered into the design together with Ambio-
rix, since, being now worn out by age, he was unable to endure
the fatigue either of war or flight, having cursed Ambiorix with
every imprecation, as the person who had been the contriver
of that measure, destroyed himself with the juice of the yew-
tree, of which there is a great abundance in Gaul and Germany.

CHAP. XXXII. The Segui and Condrusi, of the nation
and number of the Germans, and who are between the Ebu-
rones and the Treviri, sent embassadors to Csesar to entreat
that he would not regard them in the number of his ene-
mies, nor consider that the cause of all the Germans on

1 "Multum valuit:" had much avail.



CHAP. TTTTV. CAESAR'S COMMENTARIES. 157

this side the Rhine was one and the same ; that they had
formed no plans of war, and had sent no auxiliaries to Am-
biorix. Caesar, having ascertained this fact by an examination
of his prisoners, commanded that if any of the Eburones in
their flight had repaired to them, they should be sent back to
him ; he assures them that if they did that, he will not injure
their territories. Then, having divided his forces into three
parts, he sent the baggage of all the legions to Aduatuca.
That is the name of a fort. This is nearly in the middle of
the Eburones, where Titurius and Aurunculeius had been quar-
tered for the purpose of wintering. This place he selected as
well on other accounts as because the fortifications of the pre-
vious year remained, in order that he might relieve the labor of
the soldiers. He left the fourteenth legion as a guard for the
baggage, one of those three which he had lately raised in Italy
and brought over. Over that legion and camp he places Q. Tul-
lius Cicero and gives him 200 horse.

CHAP. XXXIII. Having divided the army, he orders T.
Labienus to proceed with three legions toward the ocean into
those parts which border on the Menapii ; he sends C. Trebo-
nius with a like number of legions to lay waste that dis-
trict which lies contiguous to the Aduatuci ; he himself de-
termines to go with the remaining three to the river Sambre, 1
which flows into the Meuse, and to the most remote parts of
Arduenna, whither he heard that Ambiorix had gone with a
few horse. When departing, he promises that he will return
before the end of the seventh day, on which day he was aware
corn was due to that legion which was being left in garrison.
He directs Labienus and Trebonius to return by the same day,
if they can do so agreeably to the interests of the republic ; so
that their measures having been mutually imparted, and the
plans of the enemy having been discovered, they might be able
to commence a different line of operations.

CHAP. XXXIV. There was, as we have above observed, 2
no regular army, nor a town, nor a garrison which could
defend itself by arms ; but the people were scattered in all

1 I have here, without the least hesitation, adopted Anthon's reading,
which is supported by the authority of the Greek paraphrase. The
common reading is Scaldis, "the Scheldt;" but the Scheldt and Meuse
do not form a junction, nor have we any reason to suppose that they did,
either in Caesar'a time, or at any other time.

8 Chapter



158 (LESAR'S COMMENTARIES BOOK vi.

directions. Where either a hidden valley, or a woody spot,
or a difficult morass furnished any hope of protection or of
security to any one, there he had fixed himself. These places
were known to those who dwelt in the neighborhood, and the
matter demanded great attention, not so much in protecting
the main body of the army (for no peril could occur to them
altogether from those alarmed and scattered troops), as in
preserving individual soldiers ; which in some measure tended
to the safety of the army. For both the desire of booty was
leading many too far, and the woods with their unknown and
hidden routes would not allow them to go in large bodies. If
he desired the business to be completed and the race of those
infamous people to be cut off, more bodies of men must be
sent in several directions and the soldiers must be detached
on all sides ; if he were disposed to keep the companies at
their standards, as the established discipline and practice
of the Roman army required, the situation itself was a safe-
guard to the barbarians, nor was there wanting to indivi-
duals the daring to lay secret ambuscades and beset scattered
soldiers. But amid difficulties of this nature as far as pre-
cautions could be taken by vigilance, such precautions were
taken ; so that some opportunities of injuring the enemy were
neglected, though the minds of all were burning to take re-
venge, rather than that injury should be effected with any
loss to our soldiers. Caesar dispatches messengers to the
neighboring states ; by the hope of booty he invites all to him,
for the purpose of plundering the Eburones, in order that the
life of the Gauls might be hazarded in the woods rather than
the legionary soldiers ; at the same time, in order that a large
force being drawn around them, the race and name of that state
may be annihilated for such a crime. A large number from all
quarters speedily assembles.

CHAP. XXXV. These things were going on in all parts
of the territories of the Eburones, and the seventh day was
drawing near, by which day Caesar had purposed to return to
the baggage and the legion. Here it might be learned how
much fortune achieves in war, and how great casualties she
produces. The enemy having been scattered and alarmed, as



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