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himself for a similar casualty on the following day. Caesar, after
receiving this information, reached the camp before sunrise
owing to the very great zeal of his soldiers.

CHAP. XLIL While these things are going on at Gergovia,
the .JEdui, on receiving the first announcements from Litavicus,
leave themselves no time to ascertain the truth of those state-
ments. Some are stimulated by avarice, others by revenge and
credulity, which is an innate propensity in that race of men to
such a degree that they consider a slight rumor as an ascertained
fact. They plunder the property of the Roman cilizens, and
either massacre them or drag them away to slavery. Convicto-
litanis increases the evil state of affairs, and goads on the people
to fury, that by the commission of some outrage they may be
ashamed to return to propriety. They entice from the town of
Cabillonus, by a promise of safety, Marcus Aristius, a military
tribune, who was on his march to his legion ; they compel those
who had settled there for the purpose of trading to do the
same. By constantly attacking them on their march they strip
them of all their baggage ; they besiege day and night those
that resisted ; when many were slain on both sides, they excite
a great number to arms.

CHAP. XLIII. In the mean time, when intelligence was
brought that all their soldiers were in Caesar's power, they run
in a body to Aristius ; they assure him that nothing had been
done by public authority ; they order an inquiry to be made
about the plundered property ; they confiscate the property of
Litavicus and his brothers ; they send embassaders to Caasar
for the purpose of clearing themselves. They do all this with
a view to recover their soldiers ; but being contaminated by
guilt, and charmed by the gains arising from the plundered
property, as that act was shared in by many, and being
tempted by the fear of punishment, they began to form plans
of war and stir up the other states by embassies. Although
Cassar was aware of this proceeding, yet he addresses the

190 (LESAR'S COMMENTARIES. uooa fii.

embassadors with as much mildness as ho can : " That he did
not think worse of the state on account of the ignorance and
fickleness of the mob, nor would diminish his regard for the
^Elui." He himself, fearing a greater commotion in Gaul, in
order to prevent his being surrounded by all the states, began to
form plans as to the manner in which ho should return from
Gergovia and again concentrate his forces, lest a departure
arising from the fear of a revolt should seem like a flight.

CHAP. XLIV. While he was considering these things an
opportunity of acting successfully seemed to offer. For, when
he had come into the smaller camp for the purpose of securing
the works, he noticed that the hill in the possession of the
enemy was stripped of men, although, on the former days, it
could scarcely be seen on account of the numbers on it. Being
astonished, ho inquires the reason of it from the deserters, a
great number of whom flocked to him daily. They all concur-
red in asserting, what Csesar himself had already "ascertained by
his scouts, that the back of that hill was almost level ; but like-
wise woody and narrow, by which there was a pass to the other
side of the town ; that they had serious apprehensions for this
place, and had no other idea, on the occupation of one hill by
the Romans, than that, if they should lose the other, they would
be almost surrounded, and cut off from all egress and foraging ;
that they were all summoned by Vercingetorix to fortify this

CHAP. XLV. Csesar, on being informed of this circum-
stance, sends several troops of horse to the place immediately
after midnight ; he orders them to range in every quarter with
more tumult than usual. At dawn he orders a large quantity
of baggage to be drawn out of the camp, and the muleteers
with helmets, in the appearance and guise of horsemen, to
ride round the hills. To these he adds a few cavalry, with
instructions to range more widely to make a show. He orders
them all to seek the same quarter by a long circuit; these
proceedings were seen at a distance from the town, as Gergovia
commanded a view of the camp, nor could the Gauls ascertain
at so great a distance, what certainty there was in the ma-
neuver. He sends one legion to the same hill, and after it
had marched a little, stations it in the lower ground, and
conceals it in the woods. The suspicion of the Gauls are
increased, and all their forces are marched to that place to


defend it. Caesar, having perceived the camp of the enemy
deserted, covers the military insignia of his men, conceals the
standards, and transfers his soldiers in small bodies from the
greater to the less camp, and points out to the lieutenants whom
he had placed in command over the respective legions, what
he should wish to be done; he particularly advises them to
restrain their men from advancing too far, through their
desire of fighting, or their hope of plunder; he sets before
them what disadvantages the unfavorable nature of the ground
carries with it ; that they could be assisted by dispatch alone :
that success depended on a surprise, and not on a battle. After
stating these particulars, he gives the signal for action, and
detaches the jEdui at- the same time by another ascent on. the

CHAP. XL VI. The town wall was 1200 -spaces distant from
the plain and foot of the ascent, in a straight line, if no gap
intervened ; whatever circuit was added to this ascent, to make
the hill easy, increased the length of the route. But almost
in the middle of the hill, the Gauls had previously built a wall
six feet high, made of large stones, and extending in length as
far as the nature of the g*>und permitted, as a barrier to retard
the advance of our men ; and leaving all the lower space empty,
they had filled the upper part of the hill, as far as the wall of
the town, with their camps very close to one .another. The
soldiers, on the signal being given, quickly advance to this for-
tification, and passing over it, make themselves masters of the
separate camps. And so great was their activity in taking the
camps, that Teutomarus, the king of the Nitiobriges, being sud-
denly surprised in his tent, as he had gone to rest at noon, with
difficulty escaped from the hands of the plunderers, with the
upper part of his person naked, and his horse wounded.

CHAP. XLVTI. Caesar, having .accomplished the object
which he had in view, ordered the signal to be sounded for
a retreat ; and the soldiers of the tenth legion, by which he
was then accompanied, halted. But the soldiers of the other
legions, not hearing the sound of the trumpet, because there
was a very large valley between them, were however kept back
by the tribunes of the soldiers and the lieutenants, according
to Caesar's orders ; but being animated by the prospect of speedy
victory, and the flight of the enemy, and the favorable battles
of former periods, they thought nothing so difficult that their


bravery could not accomplish it ; nor did they put an end to
the pursuit, until they drew nigh to the wall of the town and
the gates. But then, when a shout arose in every quarter of
the city, those who were at a distance being alarmed by the
sudden tumult, fled hastily from the town, since they thought
that the enemy were within the gates. The matrons begin to
cast their clothes and silver over the wall, and bending over
as far as the lower part of the bosom, with outstretched hands
beseech the Romans to spare them, and not to sacrifice to
their resentment even women and children, as they had done
at Avaricum. Some of them let themselves down from the
walls by their hands, and surrendered to our soldiers. Lucius
Fabius, a centurion of the eighth legion, who, it was ascertained,
had said that day among his fellow soldiers that he was excited
by the plunder of Avaricum, and would not allow any one to
mount the wall before him, finding three men of his own com-
pany, and being raised up by them, scaled the wall. He him-
self, in turn, taking hold of them one by one drew them up to
th wall.

CHAP. XLVin. In the mean time those who had gone to
the other part of the town to defend it, as we have mentioned
above, at first, aroused by hearing he shouts, and, afterward,
by frequent accounts, that the town was in possession of the
Romans, sent forward their cavalry, and hastened in larger
numbers to that quarter. As each first came he stood beneath
the wall, and increased the number of his countrymen engaged
in action. When a great multitude of them had assembled,
the matrons, who a little before were stretching their hands
from the Avails to the Romans, began to beseech their country-
men, and after the Gallic fashion to show their disheveled hair,
and bring their children into public view. Neither in position
nor in numbers was the contest an equal one to the Romans ;
at the same time, being exhausted by running and the long
continuation of the fight, they could not easily withstand fresh
and vigorous troops.

CHAP. XLIX. Csesar, when he perceived that his soldiers
were fighting on unfavorable ground, and that the enemy's
forces were increasing, being alarmed for the safety of his
troops, sent orders to Titus Sextius, one of his lieutenants,
whom he had left to guard the smaller camp, to lead out his
cohorts quickly from the camp, and post them at the foot of the


hill, on the right wing of the enemy ; that if he should see our
men driven from the ground, he "should deter the enemy
from following too closely. He himself, advancing with the
legion a little from that place where he had taken his post,
awaited the issue of the battle.

CHAP. L. While the fight was going on most vigorously,
hand to hand, and the enemy depended on their position and
numbers, our men on their bravery, the ^Edui suddenly
appeared on our exposed flank, as Caesar had sent them by
another ascent on the right, for the sake of creating a
diversion. These, from the similarity of their arms, greatly
terrified our men ; and although they were discovered to have
their right shoulders bare, 1 which was usually the sign of those
reduced to peace, yet the soldiers suspected that this very
thing was done by the enemy to deceive them.* At the same
time Lucius Fabius the centurion, and those who had scaled
the wall with him, being surrounded and slain, were cast from
the wall. Marcus Petreius, a centurion of the same legion,
after attempting to hew down the gates, was overpowered by
numbers, and, despairing of his safety, having already re-
ceived many wounds, said to the soldiers of his own company
who followed him : " Since I can not save you as well as my-
self, I shall at least provide for your safety, since I, allured by
the love of glory, led you into this danger, do you gave your-
selves when an opportunity is given." At the same time he
rushed into the midst of the enemy, and slaying two of them,
drove back the rest a little from the gate. When his men
attempted to aid him, " In vain," he says, " you endeavor to
procure me safety, since blood and strength are now failing me,
therefore leave this, while you have the opportunity, and retreat
to the legion." Thus he fell fighting a few moments after,
and saved his men by his own death.

CHAP. LI. Our soldiers, being hard pressed on every
side, were dislodged from their position, with the loss of
forty-six centurions; but the tenth legion, which had been
posted in reserve on ground a little more level, checked the

1 It is more than probable that Caesar had entered into a compact with
such of the Gallic states as he had brought under the sway and alliance
of Rome, that when engaging in battle against their countrymen they
should leave their right shoulders bare, in order that the Roman soldiers
might be able to distinguish between friend and foe.



Gauls in their eager pursuit. It was supported by the cohorts of
the thirteenth legion, which, being led from the smaller camp,
had, under the command of Titus Sextius, occupied the higher
ground. The legions, as soon as they reached the plain,
halted and faced the enemy. Vercingetorix led back his men
from the part of the hill within the fortifications. On that
day little less than seven hundred 1 of the soldiers were missing.

CHAP. LIT. On the next day, Caesar, having called a meet-
ing, censured the rashness and avarice of his soldiers, "In
that they had judged for themselves how far they ought to
proceed, or what they ought to do, and could not be kept back
by the tribunes of the soldiers and the lieutenants;" and
stated, "what the disadvantage of the ground could effect,
what opinion he himself had entertained at Avaricum, when
having surprised the enemy without either general or cavalry,
he had given up a certain victory, lest even a trifling loss should
occur in the contest owing to the disadvantage of position.
That as much as he admired the greatness of their courage,
since neither the fortifications of the camp, nor the height of
the mountain, nor the wall of the town could retard them ; in
the same degree he censured their licentiousness and arro-
gance, because they thought that they knew more than their
general concerning victory, and the issue of actions : and that
he required in his soldiers forbearance and self-command, not
less than valor and magnanimity."

CHAP. LIU. Having held this assembly, and having
encouraged the soldiers at the conclusion of his speech, " That
they should not be dispirited on this account, nor attribute
to the valor of the enemy, what the disadvantage of position
had caused;" entertaining the same views of his departure
that he had previously had, he led forth the legions from
the camp, and drew up his army in order of battle in a
suitable place. When Vercingetorix, nevertheless, would not
descend to the level ground, a slight cavalry action, and that a
successful one, having taken place, he led back his army into
the camp. When he had done this, the next day, thinking

1 Prendeville well remarks that we might naturally infer from .the
number of officers that perished a much greater loss among the soldiers ;
however, it is by no means improbable that, as the rashness of the cen-
turions contributed largely to the defeat of the troops, so they endeavored,
by the reckless exposure of their lives, to atone for their misconduct.


that he had done enough to lower the pride of the Gauls, and
to encourage the minds of his soldiers, he moved his camp in
the direction of the JEdui. The enemy not even then
pursuing us, on the third day he repaired the bridge over the
river Allier, and led over his whole army.

CHAP. LIV. Having then held an interview with Viri-
domarus and Eporedorix the JEduans, he learns that Litavicus
had set out with all the cavalry to raise the ^Edui ; that it
was necessary that they too should go before him to confirm
the state in their allegiance. Although he now saw distinctly
the treachery of the jEdui in many things, and was of opinion
that the revolt of the entire state would be hastened by their
departure ; yet he thought that they should not be detained,
lest he should appear either to offer an insult, or betray some
suspicion of fear. He briefly states to them when departing his
services toward the ^Edui : in what a state and bofr humbled
he had found them, driven into their towns, deprived of their
lands, stripped of all their forces, a tribute imposed on them,
and hostages wrested from them with the utmost insult ; and
to what condition and to what greatness 1 he had raised them,
[so much so] that they had not only recovered their former
position, but seemed to surpass the dignity and influence of
all the previous eras of their history. After giving these
admonitions he dismissed them.

CHAP. LV. Noviodunum was a town of the ^Edui, advan-
tageously situated on the banks of the Loire. Caesar had con-
veyed hither all the hostages of Gaul, the corn, public money,
a great part of his own baggage and that of his army ; he had
sent hither a great number of horses, which he had purchased
in Italy and Spain on account of this war. When Eporedorix
and Viridomarus came to this place, and received information
of the disposition of the state, that Litavicus had been
admitted by the ^Edui into Bibracte, which is a town of the
greatest importance among them, that Convictolitanis the
chief magistrate and a great part of the senate had gone to
meet him, that embassadors had been publicly sent to Ver-
cingetorix to negotiate a peace and alliance ; they thought that
so great an opportunity ought not to be neglected. Therefore,
having put to the sword the garrison of Noviodunum, and those

1 The JEdui at this time numbered among their dependents the Segu-
siani, Ambirareti, Boii, and Aulerci Brannovices.


who had assembled there for the purpose of trading or were
on their march, they divided the money and horses among
themselves ; they took care that the hostages of the [different]
states should be brought to Bibracte, to the chief magistrate ;
they burned the town to prevent its being of any service to the
Romans, as they were of opinion that they could not hold it ;
they carried away in their vessels whatever corn they could in
the hurry, they destroyed the remainder, by [throwing it]
into the river or setting it on fire, they themselves began to
collect forces from the neighboring country, to place guards and
garrisons in different positions along the banks of the Loire,
and to display the cavalry on all sides to strike terror into the
Romans, [to try] if they could cut them off from a supply of
provisions. In which expectation they were much aided, from
the circumstance that the Loire had swollen to such a degree
from the melting of the snows, that it did not seem capable of
being forded at all.

CHAP. LVI. Cassar on being informed of these movements
was of opinion that he ought to make haste, even if he should
run some risk in completing the bridges, in order that he
might engage before greater forces of the enemy should be
collected in that place. For no one even then considered it
an absolutely necessary act, that changing his design he
should direct his march into the Province, both because the
infamy and disgrace of the thing, and the intervening mount
Cevennes, and the difficulty of the roads prevented him ; and
especially because he had serious apprehensions for the safety
of Labienus whom he had detached, and those legions whom
he had sent with him. Therefore, having made very long
marches by day and night, he came to the river Loire,
contrary to the expectation of all ; and having by means of
the cavalry, found out a ford, suitable enough considering
the emergency, of such depth that their arms and shoulders
could be above water for supporting their accoutrements,
he dispersed his cavalry in such a manner as to break the
force of the current, and having confounded the enemy at
the first sight, led his army across the river in safety ; and
finding corn and cattle in the fields, after refreshing his army
with them, he determined to march into the country of the

CHAP. LVII. While these things are being done by


Caesar, Labienus, leaving at Agendicum the recruits who had
lately arrived from Italy, to guard the baggage, marches with
four legions to Lutetia (which is a town of the Parisii, situated
on an island on the river Seine), whose arrival being discovered
by the enemy, numerous forces arrived from the neighboring
states. The supreme command is intrusted to Camalugenus
one of the Aulerci, who, although almost worn out with age,
was called to that honor on account of his extraordinary
knowledge of military tactics. He, when he observed that
there was a large marsh 1 which communicated 1 with the Seine,
and rendered all that country impassable, encamped there,
and determined to prevent our troops from passing it.

CHAP. LVHL Labienus at first attempted to raise Vineae,
fill up the marsh with hurdles and clay, and secure a road.
After he perceived that this was too difficult to accomplish, he
issued in silence from his camp at the third watch, and
reached Melodunum by the same route by which he came.
This is a town of the Senones, situated on an island in the Seine,
as we have just before observed of Lutetia. Having seized
upon about fifty ships and quickly joined them together,
and having placed soldiers in them, he intimidated by his un-
expected arrival the inhabitants, of whom a great number had
been called out to the war, and obtains possession of the
town without a contest. Having repaired the bridge, which
the enemy had broken down during the preceding days, he
led over his army, and began to march along the banks
of the river to Lutetia. The enemy, on learning the circum-
stance from those who had escaped from Melodunum, set fire
to Lutetia, and order the bridges of that town to be broken
down : they themselves set out from the marsh, and take their
position on the banks of the Seine, over against Lutetia and
opposite the camp of Labienus.

CHAP. LIX. ^Caesar was now reported to have departed
from Gergovia ; intelligence was likewise brought to them
concerning the revolt of the ^Edui, and a successful rising in
Gaul ; and that Caesar, having been prevented from prosecut-
ing his journey and crossing the Loire, and having been com-
pelled by the want of corn, had marched hastily to the province.

1 This, according to Achaintre, is the part of Paris known by the
name of Le Marais. A.

2 Literally, " flowed into."


But the Bellovaci, who had been previously disaffected of
themselves, on learning the revolt of the JEdui, began to
assemble forces and openly tcr prepare for war. Then
Labienus, as the change in affairs was so great, thought that
he must adopt a very different system from what he had
previously intended, and he did not now think of making any
new acquisitions, or of provoking the enemy to an action ; but
that he might bring back his army safe to Agendicum. For,
on one side, the Bellovaci, a state which held the highest
reputation for prowess in Gaul, were pressing on him ;
and Camulogenus, with a disciplined and well-equipped army,
held the other side ; moreover, a very great river separated
and cut off the legions from 1 the garrison and baggage. He
saw that, in consequence of such great difficulties being thrown
in his way, he must seek aid from his own energy of disposition.

CHAP. LX. Having, therefore, called a council of war a
little before evening, he exhorted his soldiers to execute with
diligence and energy such commands as he should give ; he
assigns the ships which he had brought from Melodunum to
Roman knights, one to each, and orders them to fall down
the river silently for four miles, at the end of the fourth watch,
and there wait for him. He leaves the five cohorts, which he
considered to be the most steady in action, to guard the camp ;
he orders the five remaining cohorts of the same legion to
proceed a little after midnight up the river with all their
baggage, in a great tumult. He collects also some small boats ;
and sends them in the same direction, with orders to make a
loud noise in rowing. He himself, a little after, marched out
in silence, and, at the head of three legions, seeks that place
to which he had ordered the ships to be brought.

CHAP. LXI. When he had arrived there, the enemy's
scouts, as they were stationed along every part of the river,
not expecting an attack, because a great storm had suddenly
arisen, were surprised by our soldiers : the infantry and
cavalry are quickly transported, under the superintendence of
the Roman knights, whom he had appointed to that office.
Almost at the same time, a little before daylight, intel-
ligence was given to the enemy that there was an unusual
tumult in the camp of the Romans, and that a strong force was

1 He refers to the garrison which he left at Agendicum to guard the


inarching up the river, and that the sound of oars was dis-
tinctly heard in the same quarter, and that soldiers were being
conveyed across in ships a little below. On hearing these
things, because they were of opinion that the legions were
passing in three different places, and that the entire army,
being terrified by the revolt of the ^Edui, were preparing for

Online LibraryJulius CaesarCæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: → online text (page 20 of 59)