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

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for fighting, and the remarks of all were heard [declaring]
that no longer ought delay to be made in going to the
camp, after encouraging his men, he marches to the camp of
the enemy, to the great gratification of his own troops. 1

CHAP. XXV. There, while some were filling up the ditch, and
others, by throwing a large number of darts, were driving the
defenders from the rampart and fortifications, and the auxilia-
ries, on whom Crassus did not much rely in the battle, by sup-
plying stones and weapons [to the soldiers], and by conveying

1 Lit "all earnestly wishing it "


turf to the mound, presented the appearance and charac-
ter of men engaged in fighting ; while also the enemy were
fighting resolutely and boldly, and their weapons, discharged
from their higher position, fell 1 with great effect; the horse,
having gone round the camp of the enemy, reported to Crassus
that the camp was not fortified with equal care on the side of
the Decuman gate, and had an easy approach.

CHAP. XXVI. Crassus, having exhorted the commanders of
the horse to animate their men by great rewards and promises,
points out to them what he wished to have done. They, a
they had been commanded, having brought out the four cohorts,
which, as they had been left as a guard for the camp, were not
fatigued by exertion, and having led them round by a some-
what longer way, lest they could be seen from the camp of the
enemy, when the eyes and minds of all were intent upon the
battle, quickly arrived at those fortifications which we have
spoken of, and, having demolished these, stood in the camp
of the enemy before they were seen by them, or it was known
what was going on. And then, a shout being heard in that
quarter, our men, their strength having been recruited, (which 4
usually occurs on the hope of victory), began to fight more
vigorously. The enemy surrounded on all sides, [and] all their
affairs being despaired of, made great attempts to cast them-
selves down over the ramparts and to seek safety in flight.
These the cavalry pursued over the very open plains, and after
leaving scarcely a fourth part out of the number of 50,000,
which it was certain had assembled out of Aquitania and from
the Cantabri, returned late at night to the camp.

CHAP. XXVII. Having heard of this battle, the greatest
part of Aquitania surrendered itself to Crassus, and of its own
accord sent hostages, in which number were the Tarbelli, 3 the
Bigerriones, the Preciani, the Vocasates, the Tarusates, the
Elurates, the Garites, the Ausci, the Garumni, the Sibuzates,
the Cocosates. A few [and those] most remote nations, relying
on the time of the year, because winter was at hand, neglected
to do this.

CHAP. XXVHI. About the same time Caesar, although
the summer was nearly past, yet, since, all Gaul being re-

1 Literally, "not ineffectively."

2 Literally, " which generally ia accustomed to happen."

3 For the situations of these several people, see the map.


duced, the Morini and the Menapii alone remained in arms,
and had never sent embassadors to him [to make a treaty] of
peace, speedily led his army thither, thinking that that war
might soon be terminated. They resolved to conduct the war
on a very different method irom the rest of the Gauls ; for as
they perceived that the greatest nations [of Gaul] who had
engaged in war, had been routed and overcome, and as they
possessed continuous ranges of forests and morasses, they
removed themselves and all their property thither. When
Caesar had arrived at the opening of these forests, and had
began to fortify his camp, and no enemy was in the mean time
seen, while our men were dispersed on their respective duties,
they suddenly rushed out from all parts of the forest, and
made an attack on our men. The latter quickly took up arms
and drove them back again to their forests ; and having killed
a great many, lost a few of their own men while pursuing them
too far through those intricate places.

CHAP. XXTX. During the remaining days after this, Caesar
began to cut down the forests; and that no attack might be
made on the flank of the soldiers, while unarmed and not fore-
seeing it, he placed together (opposite to the enemy) all that
timber which was cut down, and piled it up as a rampart on
either flank. When a great space had been, with incredible
speed, cleared in a few days, when the cattle [of the enemy] and
the rear of their baggage train were already seized by our men,
and they themselves were seeking for the thickest parts of the
forests, storms of such a kind came on that the work was
necessarily suspended, and, through the continuance of the
rains, the soldiers could not any longer remain in their tents.
Therefore, having laid waste all their country, [and] having
burned their villages and houses, Caesar led back his army and
stationed them in winter quarters among, the Aulerci and
Lexovii, and the other states which had made war upon him





I.-III. The TJsipetes and Tenchtheri, oppressed by the Suevi, migrate
from Germany into Gaul ; the national character of the Suevi. IV.
The TTsipetes and Tenchtheri possess themselves of the estates of the
Menapii. V., VI. Caesar resolves to make war upon the Germans.
VII.-IX. Receives an overture of peace from them ; their treacherous
designs. X. Description of the Meuse and the Rhine. XI.-XV.
The perfidy of the Germans: their overthrow and retreat. XVI.-
XVIL Caesar's bridge over the Rhine. XVIII., XIX. Caesar leads
his army into Germany ; punishes the Sigambri ; frees the Ubii from
the tyranny of the Suevi, and returns into Gaul. XX.-XXII. His
design upon Britain ; preparations for the expedition. XXIII.-XXVII.
Carries it into effect; the defeat and surrender of the Britons.
XXVIII., XXIX. The Roman vessels overtaken by a storm. XXX.
The Britons think to take advantage of this. XXXI. Caesar defeats
their designs. XXXII. A stratagem of the Britons for attacking a
Roman legion. XXXIII. Their mode of fighting with chariots.
XXXIV. They advance to the Roman camp. XXXV. Are defeated.
XXXVI. Sue for peace. XXXVII., XXXVIII. The Morini attack
two legions which had just returned from Britain and suffer a severe
loss ; Caesar goes into winter quarters among the Belgae ; a thanksgiving
of twenty days decreed by the senate for the success of this campaign.

CHAP. I. The following winter (this was the year in which
Cn. Pompey and M. Crassus were consuls), 1 those Germans
[called] the Usipetes, and likewise the Tenchtheri, with a great
number of men, crossed the Rhine, not far from the place at
which that river discharges itself into the sea. 2 The motive. for
crossing [that river] was, that having been for several years
harassed by the Suevi, they were constantly engaged in war, and
hindered from the pursuits of agriculture. The nation of the
Suevi is by far the largest and the most warlike nation of all

1 This was the year 699, after the building of Rome : 55 before Christ.
It was the fourth year of the Gallic war.

5 Lit. " not far from the sea, where the Rhine flows into it."


the Germans. They are said to possess a hundred cantons, 1
from each of which they yearly send from their territories for
the purpose of war a thousand armed men : the others who re-
main at home, maintain [both] themselves and those engaged in
the expedition. The latter again, in their turn, are in arms the
year after : the former remain at home. Thus neither husbandry,
nor the art and practice of war are neglected. But among them
there exists no private and separate land ; nor are they per-
mitted to remain more than one year in one place for the
purpose of residence. They do not live much on corn, but sub-
sist for the most part on milk and flesh, and are much [en-
gaged] in hunting ; which circumstance must, by the nature of
their food, and by their daily exercise and the freedom of their
life (for having from boyhood been accustomed to no employ-
ment, or discipline, they do nothing at all contrary to their
inclination), both promote their strength and render them men
of vast stature of body. 3 And to such a habit have they
brought themselves, that even in the coldest parts they wear
no clothing whatever except skins, 3 by reason of the scantiness
of which, a great portion of their body is bare, and besides
they bathe in open rivers. 4

CHAP. II. Merchants have access to them rather that they
may have persons to whom they may sell those things which
they have taken in war, than because they need any commodity
to be imported to them. Moreover, even as to laboring cattle,
in which the Gauls take the greatest pleasure, and which- they
procure at a great price, the Germans do not employ such as
are imported^ but those poor 6 and ill-shaped animals, which
belong to their country ; these, however, they render capable
of the greatest labor by daily exercise. In cavalry actions they

1 The correctness of this statement of Caesar's has been doubted. But
Tacitus, in his Germania, ch. T-x-viy. has " centum pagis habitantur," in
speaking of a German nation.

* Tacitus, Germania, ch. iv., describing the personal appearance of the
Germans, speaks of them in a similar manner: " magna corpora."

3 See book vi., ch. 21.

4 In the above mentioned work, ch, iv., Tacitus further says of the Ger-
mans : "frigora atque inediam ccelo solove assueverint." Their bathings
in the open rivers, in their cold climate, and perhaps without much res-
pect to seasons, would to the Romans be an evidence of their hardihood,

5 Some editions have parva. Davis and Clark have the better reading
prava. The Greek paraphrast has fiiKpuf. The classical Greek writers
use TrovTjpdc, as the Latin do prams, to denote what is inferior. Xeno-


frequently leap from their horses and fight on foot ; and train
their horses to stand still in the very spot on which they leave
them, to which they retreat with great activity when there is
occasion ; nor, according to their practice, is any thing regarded
as more unseemly, or more unmanly, than to use housings. 1
Accordingly, they have the courage, though they be themselves
but few, to advance against any number whatever of horse
mounted with housings. They on no account permit wine to be
imported to them, because they consider that men degenerate
in their powers of enduring fatigue, and are rendered effeminate
by that commodity.

CHAP. III. They esteem it their greatest praise as a
nation, that the lands about their territories lie unoccupied
to a very great extent, inasmuch as [they think] that by
this circumstance is indicated, that a great number of nations
can not withstand their power ; and thus on one side of
the Suevi the lands are said to lie desolate for about six
hundred miles. On the other side they border on the Ubii,
whose state was large and flourishing, considering the condi-
tion of the Germans, and who are somewhat more refined than
those of the same race and the rest [of the Germans], and that
because they border on the Ehine, and are much resorted to
by merchants, and are accustomed to the manners of the Gauls,
by reason of their approximity to them. Though the Suevi,
after making the attempt frequently and in several wars, could
not expel this nation from their territories, on account of the
extent and population of their state, yet they made them tribu-
taries, and rendered them less distinguished and powerful [than
they had ever been]. 2

CHAP. IV. In the same condition were the Usipetes and
the Tenchtheri (whom we have mentioned above), who, for
many years, resisted the power of the Suevi, but being at last
driven from their possessions, and having wandered through
many parts of Germany, came to the Ehine, to districts which

phon, Cyropasd. book i. The account of the cattle of the Germans given
by Tacitus, Germania, ch. v., agrees with that given here by Caesar. He
describes their country as "pecorum foecunda, sed plerumque improcera ;"
adding, " ne armentis quidem suus honor aut gloria frontis."

1 Livy, lib. xxzv. ch. xi., says, that the Numidian horse did not use

2 So we have thought fit to translate "humitiorea," the literal meaning
of which is more lowly.


the Menapii inhabited, and where they had lands, houses, and
villages on either side of the river. The latter people, alarmed
by the arrival of so great a multitude, removed from those
houses which they had on the other side of the river, and having
placed guards on this side the Rhine, proceeded to hinder the
Germans from crossing. They, finding themselves, after they
had tried all means, unable either to force a passage on account
of their deficiency in shipping, or cross by stealth on account
of the guards of the Menapii, pretended to return to their own
settlements and districts ; and, after having proceeded three
days' march, returned ; and their cavalry having performed the
whole of this journey in one night, cut off the Menapii, who
were ignorant of, and did not expect [their approach, and] who,
having moreover been informed of the departure of the Ger-
mans by their scouts, had, without apprehension, returned to
their villages beyond the Rhine. Having slain these, and seized
their ships, they crossed the river before that part of the Me-
napii, who were at peace in their settlements over the Rhine,
were apprized of [their intention] ; and seizing all their houses,
maintained themselves upon their provisions during the rest of
the winter.

CHAP. V. Caesar, when informed of these matters, fearing
the fickle disposition of the Gauls, who are easily prompted to
take up resolutions, and much addicted to change, considered
that nothing was to be intrusted to them ; for it is the custom
of that people to compel travelers to stop, even against their in-
clination, and inquire what they may have heard, or may know,
respecting any matter ; and in towns the common people throng
around merchants and force them to state from what countries
they come, and what affairs they know of there. They often
engage in resolutions concerning the most important matters,
induced by these reports and stories alone ; of which they must
necessarily instantly repent, since they yield to mere unauthor-
ized reports; 1 and since most people give to their questions
answers framed agreeably to their wishes.

CHAP. VI. Caesar, being aware of their custom, in order that
he might not encounter a more formidable war, 2 sets forward to

1 " Quum incertis rumoribus serviant." Oudendorp cites a collateral
passage from Plautus, " Nee tuia depellor dictus, quin rumore serviam."

2 Than by delay he would.


the army earlier in the year than he was accustomed to do. When
he had arrived there, he discovered that those tilings, which he
had suspected would occur, had taken place ; that embassies had
been sent to the Germans by some of the states, and that they
had been entreated to leave the Rhine, and had been promised
that all things which they desired should be provided by the
Gauls. Allured by this hope, the Germans were then making
excursions to greater distances, and had advanced to the terri-
tories of the Eburones and the Condrusi, who are under the pro-
tection 1 of the Treviri. After summoning the chiefs of Gaul,
Csesar thought proper to pretend ignorance of the things which,
he had discovered ; and having conciliated and confirmed their
minds, 2 and ordered some cavalry to be raised, resolved to make
war against the Germans.

CHAP. VII. Having provided corn and selected his cavalry,
he began to direct his march toward those parts in which
he heard the Germans were. When he was distant from them
only a few days' march, embassadors came to him from their
state, whose speech was as follows: "That the Germans
neither make war upon the Roman people first, nor do they
decline, if they are provoked, to engage with them in arms ;
for that this was the custom of the Germans handed down
to them from their forefathers, to resist whatsoever people
make war upon them and not to avert it by entreaty ; 3 this,
however, they confessed, that they had come hither reluct-
antly, 4 having been expelled from their country. If the Ro-
mans were disposed 5 to accept their friendship, they might be
serviceable allies to them ; and let them either assign them
lands, or permit them to retain those which they had acquired
by their arms ; that they are inferior to the Suevi alone, to
whom not even the immortal gods can show themselves equal ;
that there was none at all besides on earth whom they could
not conquer."

CHAP. Vin. To these remarks Caesar replied in such
terms as he thought proper; but the conclusion 8 of his

1 " Qui sunt Trevirorum dientes."

2 i. e. in their allegiance to the Roman people.

3 " Deprecari."

4 " Invitos" i. e. not by design, but by necessity.

5 Velint. The Greek 6&u has a like sense.

6 " Exitus." Conclusion, i. e. substance.


speech was, "That he could make no alliance with them,
if they continued in Gaul ; that it was not probable that
they who were not able to defend their own territories, should
get possession of those of others, nor were there any lands
lying waste in Gaul, which could be given away, especially to
so great a number of men, without doing wrong [to others] ;
but they might, if they were desirous, settle in the territories of
the Ubii ; whose embassadors were then with him, and were
complaining of the aggressions of the Suevi, and requesting
assistance from him; and that he would obtain this request
from them."

CHAP. IX. The embassadors said that they "would report
these things to their country men ; and, after having deliberated
on the matter, would return to Caesar after the third day, they
begged that he would not in the mean time advance his camp
nearer to them. Caesar said that he could not grant them
even that ; for he had learned that they had sent a great part
of their cavalry over the Meuse to the Ambivariti, 1 some days
before, for the purpose of plundering and procuring forage. He
supposed that they were then waiting for these horse, and that
the delay was caused on this account.

CHAP. X. a The Meuse rises from mount Le Vosge, 3 which
is in the territories of the Lingones ; and, having received a
branch of the Rhine, which is called the Waal, forms the
island of the Batavi, and not more than eighty miles from it
it falls into the ocean. But the Rhine takes its source
among the Lepontii, who inhabit the Alps, and is carried with
a rapid current for a long distance through the territories of
the Sarunates, Helvetii, Sequani, Mediomatrici, 4 Tribuci, and
Treviri, and when it approaches the ocean, divides into several
branches ; and, having formed many and extensive islands, a
great part of which are inhabited by savage and barbarous

1 The Ambivartti lay between the Meuse and the Rhine.

2 This tenth chapter has, though without any reason, been supposed
to be a gloss.

3 Vosegus (sometimes written Vogesus and Vosaga), the present Vosgs,
is a branch of mount Jura.

4 The Mediomatrici, or -rices, were a people of Gallia Belgica. Till
crippled by the Roman conquests in Gaul, they were a powerful people,
and possessed of an extensive country. The modern Mete, derives its
name from their chief town, MediomatricL The Tribuci lay in the east
of Gallia Belgica. They were of German origin.


nations (of whom there are some who are supposed to live on
fish and the eggs of sea-fowl), flows into the ocean by several

CHAP. XI When Caesar was not more than twelve miles
distant from the enemy, the embassadors return to him, as had
been arranged ; who meeting him on the march, earnestly en-
treated him not to advance any further. When they could not
obtain this, they begged him to send on a dispatch to those
who had marched in advance of the main army, and forbid
them to engage ; and grant them permission to send embas-
sadors to the Ubii, and if the princes and senate of the latter
would give them security by oath, they assured Caesar that they
would accept such conditions as might be proposed by him ;
and requested that he would give them the space of three days
for negociating these affairs. Caesar thought that these things
tended to the self-same point [as their other proposal] ; [namely]
that, in consequence of a delay of three days intervening, their
horse, which were at a distance, might return ; however, he said,
that he would not that day advance further than four miles
for the purpose of procuring water; he ordered that they
should assemble at that place in as large a number as possible,
the following day, that he might inquire into their demands. In
the mean time he sends messengers to the officers who had
marched in advance with all the cavalry, to order them not to
provoke the enemy to an engagement, and if they themselves
Were assailed, to sustain the attack until he came up with the

CHAP. XII. But the enemy, as soon as they saw our horse,
the number of which was 5000, whereas they themselves had
not more than 800 horse, because those which had gone over
the Meuse for the purpose of foraging had not returned, while
our men had no apprehensions, because their embassadors had
gone away from Caesar a little before, and that day had been
requested by them as a period of truce, made an onset on our
men, and soon threw them into disorder. When our men, in
their turn, made a stand, they, according to their practice, leaped
from their horses to their feet, and stabbing our horses in the
belly and overthrowing a great many of our men, put the

1 " Multisque capitibus," etc. Contrary to the use 'of the Latin -writers,
Csesar here employs caput to signify, not the source of the river, but the
part at which it flows into the sea.


rest to flight, and drove them forward so much alarmed that
they did not desist from their retreat till they had come in sight
of our army. In that encounter seventy-four of our horse were
slain ; among them, Piso, an Aquitanian, a most valiant man,
and descended from a very illustrious family; whose grand-
father had held the sovereignty of his state, and had been styled
friend by our senate. He, while he was endeavoring to render
assistance to his brother who was surrounded by the enemy, and
whom he rescued from danger, was himself thrown from his
horse, which was wounded under him, but still opposed [his
antagonists] with the greatest intrepidity, as long as he was able
to maintain the conflict. When at length he fell, surrounded
on all sides and after receiving many wounds, and his brother,
who had then retired from the fight, observed it from a dis-
tance, he spurred on his horse, threw himself upon the enemy,
and was killed.

CHAP. XDI. After this engagement, Caesar considered
that neither ought embassadors to be received to audience,
nor conditions be accepted by him from those who, after
having sued for peace by way of stratagem and treachery,
had made war without provocation. And to wait until the ene-
my's forces were augmented and their cavalry had returned,
he concluded, would be the greatest madness; and knowing
the fickleness of the Gauls, he felt how much influence the
enemy had already acquired among them by this one skirmish.
He [therefore] deemed that no time for concerting measures
ought to be afforded them. After having, resolved o.n those
things and communicated his plans to his lieutenants and
quaestor 1 in order that he might not suffer any opportunity for
engaging to escape him, a very seasonable event occurred,
namely, that on the morning of the next day, a large body of

1 From the city quaestors (qufestores urbani), whose office was nearly
coeval with the building of Rome, other functionaries of the state, from
the corresponding character of their duties, derived their name, with the
distinctive title of Militares, or Provinciales. The duties of the former
were, principally, to take charge of the treasury, which was kept in the
temple of Saturn ; to receive and expend the public money (of which they
were required to render an account) ; exact the fines imposed by the state
and provide for the accomodation of foreign embassadors. Those of the
military, or provincial, quaestors, were to attend the consuls or praetors,
into their provinces ; see that provisions and pay were there furnished to

Online LibraryJulius CaesarCæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: → online text (page 9 of 59)