For Latin scholars, translating extracts from Caesar's "Gallic Wars" is an evocative, if not nostalgic, experience, because for so many of us our earliest Latin textbooks featured sentences and passages taken from this famous work, albeit these were usually heavily abridged for young learners. Caesar, while perhaps the greatest general and statesman in Roman history, was also one of the foremost exemplars of Latin prose in the Late Republic (i.e. 80-40 B.C.), a period about which we are astonishingly well informed, mainly though the histories of Caesar and Sallust, and the letters, recorded speeches, and philosophical works of the great Cicero. Although Cicero's writing is generally considered to provide the highest development of Latin prose, it is perhaps a little too florid and rhetorical to be ideal as a basis for the initial steps in the learning of the language. On the other hand, the clear and straightforward qualities of Caesar's prose make it suitable for this purpose, and for this reason it has often been the model around which successive generations of European students have acquired a facility in the Latin language.
The "De Bello Gallico" was written by Caesar in seven books, to which an eighth was added by Aulus Hirtius shortly after his assassination in 44 A.D. Of these commentaries, which were based on Caesar's annual despatches to the Senate during his ten year proconsulship in Gaul (58-49 B.C.), H.H. Scullard has written: "Although their publication no doubt had a political purpose and the author was not free from a natural desire to establish the rightness of his conduct, they bear the stamp of essential truth: the simple and vigorous style, the lucidity of language and exposition, the unobtrusiveness of the writer, and the candour with which he lets the facts speak for themselves, all this suggests a basic honesty rather than a sinister manipulation of the truth." ["From the Gracchi to Nero", Methuen, 1959.]
Book V, which Sabidius has selected for translation, has a number of outstanding features. The first part of the book (Chapters 1-23) deals with Caesar's second expedition to Britain in 54 B.C. Caesar's account of this does not hide how little was achieved, beyond the sheer propaganda value of the operation in relation to the internal politics of Rome. On his return to Gaul, Caesar is soon met by a dangerous rebellion involving many tribes. Chapters 26-37 feature the disaster to Roman arms when at least 5,000 soldiers under the joint command of Sabinus and Cotta were wiped out by the Eburones, following the spectacular treachery of their leader Ambiorix. This was the first significant reverse suffered by Caesar during his Gallic campaigns, and he was so traumatised by the loss of these men that he vowed not to shave or cut his hair until he had effected the appropriate revenge, a considerable sacrifice for Caesar, who was noted for exceptional fastidiousness in relation to his personal appearance. The tension leading up to this disaster is well captured by Caesar's dramatic account. Following this is the story of the heroic defence of its winter quarters by the legion commanded by Quintus Cicero, younger brother of the more famous Marcus, and their eventual relief by the determined Caesar (Chapters 39-52). This thrilling account seems to have been taken, almost literally, from "The Boys' Own Paper"; in particular it features the episode of the rivalry between the two centurions, Pulfio and Varenus, (sometimes spelled Pullo and Vorenus) who vie for pre-eminence in terms of heroism (Chapter 44). This is one of the few occasions when Caesar gives us details about individual soldiers, and indeed these two have recently been portrayed in the sub-plot of a televison drama, starring Ciaran Hinds as Julius Caesar. With its legionaries being led on the ground by men of such courage and resource, one can begin to appreciate the irresistible power of Rome's armies. Book V ends with the cunning stratagem by which Caesar's lieutenant, Labienus, turns the tables on, and then kills, the British leader, Indutiomarus (Chapter 58).
Caesar's prose is, as stated above, relatively straightforward to translate. It is full of instances of the ablative absolute construction, which is perhaps the quintessential characteristic of the Latin language. An ablative absolute is a phrase detached from the main clause of a sentence, at the heart of which is a participle, or verbal adjective, agreeing with a noun or pronoun in the ablative case (viz. an ablative of attendant circumstances), when this noun or pronoun is not the subject or object of the main verb. Because orthodox verbs in Latin lack the form of a past participle in the active voice, ablative absolutes using past participles passive are often necessary to compensate for this lack, with the grammatical sense having to be inverted into the passive voice. In translating into English, it is common to restore the active construction and thus to attach the participle to the subject or object of the main verb, something which is not possible in Latin through the lack of a past participle active. At the same time ablative absolutes are often used, as indeed are participles in general, as an alternative to subordinate clauses. When translating into English, it is common to replace the participle with such a subordinate clause. e.g. a temporal or concessive clause. The use of participles in general, and ablative absolutes in particular, facilitates that conciseness of expression and economy in the use of words which are hallmarks of the Latin language. In his translation below, however, Sabidius endeavours to retain the actual grammatical usage employed by Caesar. Thus, ablative ablatives are rendered as detached phrases in the passive voice, even if the resultant English is comparatively unattractive. This is to allow anyone who has the Latin text to follow a translation which keeps as closely as possible to the structure and literal sense of Caesar's wording.
Other features of Caesar's prose writing which are visible in this work are his use of the gerund and gerundive (for information about these the reader is referred to Sabidius' article published on his blog on 6th March 2010) and the occasional use of the impersonal passive construction. Once again, Sabidius has sought to offer translations which keep as closely as possible to the actual Latin words. Another feature of Caesar's historical writing is his use of the third person in his narration of events. Although he is writing of events, many of which he witnessed in person, and he is the principal agent of the story, his use of the third person gives a more impersonal and impartial flavour to his account than if he had written in the first person.
The Latin text used for this translation is edited by Arthur Reynolds, M.A. in the Bell's Illustrated Classics Series, 1965.
Chapter I. B.C. 54. At the beginning of the year Caesar leaves his legions in their winter quarters in Belgic Gaul, and visits Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum. During his absence he has a fleet built for his second invasion of Britain.
With Lucius Domitius Domitius and Appius Claudius (as) consuls, Caesar, (when) departing from his winter quarters for Italy, as he had been accustomed to do each year, orders the generals whom he had put in charge of the legions to cause as many ships as possible to be constructed and the old ones to be repaired. He specifies the fashion and the shape of these. For the purposes of speed of loading and hauling up he makes (them) lower by a little than (those) which we have been accustomed to use on our own sea (ie. the Mediterranean); and this (was) the more so because he had learned that, on account of the frequent turns of the tides, the waves there were less great: for the cargoes and pack animals needing to be transported (he makes them) broader than (those) which we use on the other seas. He orders all these to be constructed for rowing, to which end their low build helps a lot. Those things which are of service to the ships being fitted out he orders to be conveyed from Spain. The assizes of Hither (ie. Cisalpine) Gaul having been accomplished, he, himself, sets out for Illyricum, because he heard that the neighbouring part of the Province was being ravaged by the Pirustae. When he had come thither he levies soldiers upon the states and orders (them) to assemble at an appointed place. This matter having been reported, the Pirustae send envoys to him to inform (him) that none of these things (had been) done through a public decision, and they affirm that they were ready by every (possible) means to give satisfaction for these wrongs. Their speech having been considered, Caesar levies hostages and orders them to be brought in by a certain day; unless they were to do this, he affirms that he would visit the state with war. These men having been brought in on the day as he had ordered, he appoints arbitrators between the states to assess damages and determine the penalty.
Chapter II. On his return, he orders his forces to assemble at Portus Itius [Wissant].
These matters having been performed and the assizes having been accomplished, he returns to Hither Gaul, and thence he sets out for the army. When he had come thither, all the winter quarters having been inspected, he found that by a remarkable effort of the soldiers in the utmost scarcity of all things about six hundred ships of that type which we have described above and twenty-eight warships (had been) built, and it was almost possible for them to (lit. nor was it far from that (condition) whereby they could) be launched within a few days. The soldiers and those who had been put in charge of the business having been praised, he indicates what he wishes to be done, and he orders all (the ships) to assemble at the port of Itius, from which port he had ascertained that there was the most convenient passage to Britain, a crossing from the continent of about thirty miles. For this purpose he left as large a force of soldiers as seemed to be enough: he, himself, with four lightly-armed legions and eight hundred cavalry sets out for the lands of the Treviri, because they neither came to his assemblies, nor obeyed his command, and were said to be inciting the Germans across the Rhine.
Chapter III. Caesar settles the rival claims of Indutiomarus and Cingetorix for the chieftainship of the Treviri in favour of the latter.
This state is by far the most strong in all Gaul in cavalry and has great forces of infantry and, as we have shown above, touches the Rhine. In this state two men were striving between themselves for the chieftainship, Indutiomarus and Cingetorix: the latter of these, as soon as he was informed of the coming of Caesar and his legions, came to him; he affirmed that he and all his men would preserve their allegiance (lit. would be in their duty) nor would they defect from friendship with the Roman people, and he showed what things were being done amongst the Treviri. But Indutiomarus began to collect the cavalry and infantry, and to prepare for war, those who not could be in arms through age having been hidden in the forest of the Ardennes, which extends in great size through the middle of the lands of the Treviri from the river Rhine to the border of the Remi. But afterwards some chiefs from this state, both induced by friendship with Cingetorix and alarmed by the coming of our army, came to Caesar and began to seek (assurances) from him concerning their own affairs individually, since (as they alleged) they were not able to consult over (the interests of) the state, (until) Indutiomarus, fearing lest he be deserted by everyone, sends envoys to Caesar: he had been unwilling to depart from his own people and to come to him for this reason, in order to keep the state in its allegiance more easily, lest, through the departure of the whole of the nobility, the people might fall away on account of their ignorance: thus the state was under his control, and he, if Caesar would allow (this), would come to him in his camp, (and) would entrust his possessions and (those) of the state to his protection.
Chapter IV. Caesar's secures the subservience of Indutiomarus by requiring him to offer up hostages, but his advice to Treviri chiefs that they should support Cingetorix earns him Indutiomarus' resentment.
Caesar, although he understood for what reason these things were said, and what thing deterred him from his original plan, yet, lest he be compelled to consume the summer among the Treviri, all things having been prepared for the Britannic campaign, ordered Indutiomarus to come to him with two hundred hostages. These having been brought in, among them his son and all his relatives, whom he had called out by name, he comforted Indutiomarus and encouraged (him) to remain in his allegiance: yet nonetheless (lit. not at all otherwise), the chiefs of the Treviri having been called to him, he won them over to Cingetorix individually: he was not only aware that this was being done by himself in accordance with his deserts, but also that it was of great importance that the authority of a man whose good will towards himself he had found so conspicuous should be as strong as possible among his own people. Indutiomarus resented this action (lit. bore this action grievously), his own influence among his people being lessened; and, inasmuch as he had already been in a hostile mind towards us beforehand, he blazed up (even) more severely through his resentment at this.
Chapter V. The forces assemble at Portus Itius. They are reinforced by 4,000 Gaulish horse.
These matters having been resolved, Caesar arrives with his legions at the port of Itius. There he learns that forty ships, which had been built in the land of the Meldi, having been beaten back by storm, could not keep to their course and had returned to the same place whence they had set out: the rest he finds ready for sailing and equipped in all respects. At the same (spot) the cavalry of the whole of Gaul, four thousand in number assembled, and chieftains from every state: a very few of these whose loyalty to himself he had perceived he had decided to leave in Gaul, (and) to take the rest with him in the position of hostages, because he feared a rising in Gaul, when he, himself, was absent.
Chapter VI. Dumnorix, the Aeduan, refuses to accompany Caesar to Britain, and tries to induce the other chiefs to follow his example.
Together with the others there was Dumnorix, the Aeduan, about whom it has been spoken by us before. He had determined to keep him with himself in particular, because he had discovered him desirous for new arrangements, desirous of power, of great influence, (and) of great authority among the Gauls. To this was added the reason that Dumnorix had already said in the assembly of the Aedui that the kingship of the state had been offered to him by Caesar: the Aedui were annoyed at this statement (lit. bore this statement grievously), but they did not dare to send envoys to Caesar for the sake of rejecting or deprecating (it). Caesar had learned this fact from his own guest-friends. He firstly strove with every sort of entreaty to beg that he might remain in Gaul, partly because, being unaccustomed to sailing, he was (as he said) afraid of the sea, (and) partly because he said that he was prevented by religious scruples. When he saw that this was to be firmly denied to him, all hope of gaining this request being taken away, he begins to incite the Gallic chieftains, and to call (them) aside individually and to exhort (them) to remain on the mainland; he frightens them with fear, (saying that) it was not without reason that Gaul was being stripped of all its nobility: that it was the design of Caesar to kill all those who had been transported to Britain, whom he feared to kill in the sight of Gaul: he pledges his word to the rest, he demands an oath that they should carry out by common consent what they should perceive to be of service to Gaul. These things were reported back to Caesar by several people.
Chapter VII. He makes his escape. Caesar gives orders to pursue him, and kill him if he resists.
This matter having been discovered, Caesar determined, because he attributed very great importance to the Aeduan state, that it (was) necessary to restrain and deter Dumnorix by whatever means he could; because he saw that his folly was proceeding too far, (he determined that) precautions must be taken, lest he could do some harm to himself or the republic. And so, having remained at that spot for about twenty-five days, because the north-west wind, which was accustomed in these locations to blow for a great part of every season, hindered his navigation, he gave attention to keeping Dumnorix in his allegiance, yet nonetheless (lit. not all otherwise) to learn all his designs: at last, having obtained fair weather, he orders the soldiers and the cavalry to climb aboard the ships. But, the attention of all being occupied, Dumnorix with some cavalry of the Aedui, began, with Caesar unaware, to depart from the camp homewards. This matter having been reported, Caesar, the departure having been interrupted and everything having been postponed, sends a large force of cavalry in pursuit of him (lit. for the purpose of him being pursued), and he commands that (he) be dragged back: if he were to offer resistance (lit. violence) and were not to obey, he orders that he be killed, supposing that this man who had disregarded the authority of (himself when) present would do nothing like a sober person, himself being absent. For he, having been recalled, begins to resist and to defend himself by hand and to entreat the help of his men, frequently crying out that he was a free man and (the subject) of a free state. They, as it had been ordered, surrounded the man and killed (him), but the Aeduan cavalry all return to Caesar.
Chapter VIII. Caesar lands for the second time in Britain.
These things having been done, Labienus having been left on the continent with three legions and two thousand horsemen, in order to guard the ports and to provide for the corn supply, to find out about whatever was going on in Gaul, and to take counsel in accordance with time and circumstance, he, himself, with five legions and the same number of horsemen as (lit. which) he was leaving on the continent, weighed anchor at sunset, and, having been carried forward by a gentle south-west wind, the wind having been interrupted around the middle of the night, he did not hold his course and having been carried too far by the tide, at daybreak he caught sight of Britain, left (behind) on the port side. Then, again, taking advantage of (lit. following) the turn of the tide, he strove with oars to make for that part of the island which he had learned in the previous summer was the best embarkation point. In this business the pluck of the soldiers was much worthy to be praised, inasmuch as, by a continuous (lit. not interrupted) labour of rowing in the transports and heavily laden vessels, they kept pace with the course of the warships. All the ships reached Britain (lit. it was reached to Britain by all the ships) at about the time of midday; nor was the enemy to be seen in that place, but, as Caesar afterwards ascertained from captives, although large bands had gathered thither, alarmed by the large number of ships, of which, with those built the year before and private ships which certain individuals had built for their own advantage, more than eight hundred had been seen at one time, they had withdrawn from the shore and had concealed themselves on higher ground.
Chapter IX. He marches inland twelve miles, and defeats the Britons in his first engagement.
Caesar, the army having been disembarked, and a suitable place for a camp having been taken over, when he had learned from captives in what place the forces of the enemy had taken up their position, ten cohorts and three hundred cavalry having been left at the sea-shore to serve as a protection (lit. to be for a protection) to the ships, from the third watch he pressed on towards the enemy, fearing the less for the ships there because he was leaving (them) moored at anchor on a sandy and open shore, and he placed Quintus Atrius in command of the guard for the ships. He, himself, having advanced about twelve miles at night, caught sight of the enemy's forces. They, having advanced with cavalry and chariots to the river from the higher ground, began to check our men and to engage battle. Having been driven back by our cavalry, they concealed themselves in the woods, (and) they had obtained a position very well fortified both by nature and by handiwork, which, as it appeared, had already been prepared before on account of a domestic war; for all the entrances were barred by a large number of felled trees. They, themselves, in small groups came out of the woods fighting, and sought to prevent our men from entering into the fortifications. But the soldiers of the seventh legion, a tortoise (i.e. a roof of shields) having been formed and a rampart having been thrown up against the fortifications, took the place and drove them out of the woods, with (only) a few wounds having been received. But Caesar forbade them to pursue (those) fleeing any further, partly because he did not know the nature of the country, and partly because, a great part of the day having been passed, he wished to leave time for the fortification of the camp.
Chapter X. The next day he hears that his ships were much damaged by a storm.
On the next day after that day, in the morning, he sent infantry and cavalry in three columns in a detachment in order to pursue those who had fled. These men having advanced for a considerable part of the journey, when their rearguards were just in sight, horsemen from Quintus Atrius came to Caesar to report that on the previous night, a very great storm having arisen, nearly all the ships had been damaged and were on shore, having been cast up, because neither the anchors and cables would hold, nor could the sailors and helmsmen suffer the force of the storm; accordingly from this collision great damage had been received.
Chapter XI. He goes back to the shore, and gives orders that the remaining ships shall be drawn up on the beach, fenced within the enclosure of the camp and repaired.
These things having been discovered, Caesar orders the legions and the cavalry to be recalled and to cease from their (line of) march, (and) he, himself, returns to the ships: in person he finds almost the same things which he had learned from the messengers and despatches, such that, about forty ships having been lost, yet the rest seemed to be able to be repaired (albeit) with great trouble. And so, he picks out artificers from the legions and orders others to be sent for from the continent; he writes to Labienus to construct as many ships as he could with the legions which are with him. He, himself, although it was a matter requiring (lit. of) much time and trouble, resolved, however, that it was most expedient that all the ships were beached and connected to the camp by a single fortification. On these matters he spends about ten days, not even the night times having been neglected for the work of the soldiers. The ships having been beached and the camp having been very well fortified, he left the same forces as before for a guard for the ships: he, himself, sets out to the same place whence he had returned. When he had come thither, more forces of the Britons had now assembled from all directions in this place, (and) the supreme command and the conduct of the war (lit. the highest things of power and the war having to be managed) having been entrusted by common consent to Cassivellaunus, whose territories a river, which is called the Thames, (and which lies) about eighty miles from the sea, separates from the maritime states. Continuous wars had existed for him with the other states previously; but, alarmed by our arrival, the Britons had put him in charge of the whole war and the conduct (of it).
Chapter XII. A description of the Britons and the resources of the country.
The interior part of Britain is inhabited by those about whom they say that it (has been) handed down by oral tradition (lit. memory) that they (were) born in the island itself; the maritime part (is inhabited) by those who had migrated from Belgium for the sake of plunder and waging war (lit. war being waged), of whom almost all are called by those names of the states sprung from which states they arrived thither, and, war having been waged, they remained there and began to cultivate the fields. The population is countless and their buildings very numerous (and), for the most part, very similar to those of the Gauls; (there is) a great number of cattle. They use either bronze, or gold coin, or iron bars, weighed at a fixed standard, in place of coin. In the midland regions tin is obtained there, in the maritime (regions) iron, but the supply of that (is) scanty: they use imported bronze. There is timber of every kind, as in Gaul, except beech and fir. They do not think (it is) lawful to eat hare, fowl and goose; however, they rear these for the sake of pastime and pleasure. The climate is more temperate than in Gaul, the cold (seasons) (being) less severe.
Chapter XIII. The geography of the island.
The island is triangular in shape, of which one side is opposite to Gaul. Of this side, one corner, which is in Kent, whither almost all the ships from Gaul are put into land, faces towards the rising sun (i.e. the east), the lower (corner) towards midday (i.e. the south). This side stretches about five hundred miles. The other side inclines towards Spain and the setting sun (i.e. the west), (looking) from which side is Ireland, smaller by a half, as it is thought, than Britain, but of equal distance in its sea-crossing as it is from Gaul to Britain. In the middle of this voyage is an island which is called Man; in addition there are believed to be several smaller islands adjacent; about these islands some have written that at the winter solstice night lasts for thirty continuous days. We learned nothing about this by enquiries, except that by the exact measurements from the water(-clock) we observed that the nights were shorter than on the continent. The length of this side, as comes from their belief, is seven hundred miles. The third (side) is opposite the north, to which (side) there is no adjacent land; but the corner of that side faces mainly towards Germany: this side is supposed to be eight hundred miles in length. So, the whole island is two thousand (lit. twenty hundred) miles in circumference.
Chapter XIV. Further description of the Britons.
Out of all these (people), those who live in Kent, which is a wholly maritime district, are by far the most civilised, nor do they differ much from Gallic custom. Most of the people of the interior do not sow corn, but live on milk and meat and are clothed in skins. All the Britons, indeed, dye themselves with woad, which brings about a blue colour, and by this (means) they are in battle more terrible in appearance: they are long-haired (lit. with long hair) and shaven in every part of the body except the head and upper lip. Ten or (lit. and) twelve men (in a group) have wives between themselves, and especially brothers with brothers and fathers with sons; but (those) who are born from these (unions) are considered (to be) the children of those to whose homes (lit. whither) each maiden was first conducted.
Chapter XV. Caesar advances, repulses the Britons, is attacked again suddenly, and loses one of his officers. Again the Britons are repulsed.
The enemy's cavalry and charioteers engaged fiercely in battle with our cavalry on the march, yet in such a way so that our men were victorious in all parts and drove them into the woods and hills; but, several having been killed, they lost some of their own men, (through) pursuing too eagerly. But they, an interval having been allowed to elapse, with our men off-guard and occupied in the fortification of the camp, suddenly threw themselves out of the woods, and, an attack having been made against those who had been stationed on guard in front of the camp, they fought fiercely, and two cohorts having been sent in support by Caesar, and these the first of two legions, though these had taken up position with a very small interval of ground having been placed between them, our men having been disconcerted by the new kind of fighting, they broke most daringly through the middle, and withdrew themselves thence safely. On that day, Quintus Laberius Durus, tribune of the soldiers, was killed. More cohorts having been sent up, they were driven back.
Chapter XVI. The British mode of fighting.
In all this kind of fighting, since it was fought under the eyes of all and in front of the camp, it was clear that our men on account of the weight of their armour, because they could neither pursue those retiring, nor did they dare to depart from the standards, were less suited to an enemy of this kind, (and), moreover, the cavalry fought in battle with great risk, on account of the fact that they (i.e. the enemy) generally retreating even deliberately, and, when they had drawn our (cavalry) a little distance from the legions, they leaped down from their chariots and fought on foot in unequal battle. On the other hand, the method of cavalry battle brought both to those retreating and to those pursuing an equal and similar danger. It was added to this that they never fought in close array but in small parties with wide intervals and they had detachments posted around, and some relieved others in succession, and so untired and freshly arrived men took the place of the weary.
Chapter XVII. A surprise attack by the Britons is repulsed.
The next day, the enemy took up position on the hills at a distance from the camp, and began to show themselves in small groups and to provoke our cavalry with less vigour (lit. more gently) than on the previous day. But at noon, when Caesar had sent three legions and all the cavalry with the legate Gaius Trebonius, for the sake of foraging, they suddenly swooped from all directions upon the foragers, such that they did not stop at (lit. did not refrain from) attacking the standards and the legions. Our men, an attack having been made fiercely against them, drove (them) back, nor did they make an end of pursuing (them) until the cavalry, relying upon support when they saw the legions behind them, drove the enemy headlong, and, a great number of them having been killed, neither gave (them) a chance of rallying themselves (lit. themselves being rallied) nor of standing fast or of jumping down from their chariots. After this rout, the auxiliaries, which had assembled from all directions, departed, nor after this time did the enemy ever fight with our men with their whole forces.
Chapter XVIII. Caesar advances towards the Thames, to invade the territory of Cassivellaunus, and forces a passage.
Their plan having been discovered, Caesar led his army to the river Thames in the territory of Cassivellaunus, which river is able to be crossed on foot in one place only. When he had come thither, he noticed that large forces of the enemy had been drawn up on the other river bank: moreover the bank had been fortified with sharp and projecting stakes, and stakes of the same kind fixed under the water were covered by the river. These things having been learned from the captives and fugitives, Caesar, the cavalry having been sent out in advance, ordered the legions to follow immediately. But the troops went with such speed and with such impact, although they stood out of the water with their heads only, that the enemy could not withstand the attack of the legions and the cavalry, and they abandoned the banks and entrusted themselves to flight.
Chapter XIX. Cassivellaunus harasses Caesar's march.
Cassivellaunus, as we have shown above, all hope of struggle having been abandoned, (and) the larger part of his forces having been disbanded, about four thousand charioteers having been left, kept our marches under watch and withdrew a little distance from the route, and concealed himself in entangled and wooded positions, and in those districts in which he had learned that we would make our route he drove cattle and people from the fields into the woods; and when our cavalry flung themselves into the fields for the sake of plundering and ravaging more freely, he sent out his charioteers from the woods by all known roads and paths, and engaged with them with great danger to our cavalry, and through this fear he prevented (them) from ravaging more widely. It (only) remained for Caesar not to permit (anyone) to be removed very far from the line of march (lit. column) of the legions, and only so much damage was done to the enemy in fields being ravaged and conflagrations being made as the legionary soldiers could achieve with labour while (lit. and with) marching.
Chapter XX. The Trinobantes surrender to Caesar.
Meanwhile, the Trinobantes, almost the strongest state in those regions, from which young Mandubratius, relying on the good faith of Caesar, came to him on the continent of Gaul (his father Imanuentius had held the kingship in this state and had been killed by Cassivellaunus; he, himself, had avoided death by flight), send envoys to Caesar and promise that they will surrender themselves to him and carry out his commands: they beseech (him) to protect Mandubratius from harm by Cassivellaunus, and to send him into the state to be their chief and hold power. Caesar orders forty hostages from them and corn for his army, and sends Mandubratius to them. They quickly performed his commands, and sent hostages to the number (required) and the corn.
Chapter XXI. Other tribes submit, and Caesar attacks the Oppidum Cassivellauni.
The Trinobantes having been protected and having been secured from all injury by the soldiers, the Cenimagni, the Segontiaci, the Ancalites, the Bibroci (and) the Cassi, envoys having been sent, surrender themselves to Caesar. From them he learns that the stronghold of Cassivellaunus was not far away from that place and protected by woods and marshes, in which rather a large number of men and cattle have assembled. Now the Britons, when they have fortified entangled woodlands with rampart and trench, whither they have been accustomed to assemble for the sake of an attack of the enemy being avoided, call (it) a stronghold. Thither he sets out with the legions: he found the place excellently fortified by nature and artifice; however, he strove to attack it from two sides. The enemy, having delayed for a short time, did not withstand the attack of our soldiers and flung themselves out of another side of the stronghold. A great number of cattle (were) found there, and many men were caught in flight and killed.
Chapter XXII. Cassivellaunus persuades the four Kentish kings to attack Caesar's naval camp. The attack failing disastrously, Cassivellaunus comes to terms with Caesar.
While these (operations) were being conducted in these places, Cassivellaunus sends messengers to Kent, which we have shown above is by the sea, over which district four kings were ruling, Cingetorix, Carvilius, Taximagulus and Segonax, and orders them, all their forces having been gathered, to rise up unexpectedly (lit. from the unforeseen) and attack the naval camp. When they had come to the camp, our men, a sortie having been made, many of them having been killed, (and) Lugotorix, a noble leader also having been captured, led their own men back without loss. Cassivellaunus, (the result of) this battle having been reported, so many losses having been received, his territories having been ravaged, (and) also very greatly alarmed by the defection of states, sends envoys to Caesar concerning surrender through Commius the Atrebatian. Caesar, since he had decided to spend the winter on the continent on account of the sudden disturbances in Gaul, nor was much of the summer left and he was aware that it could easily be wasted (lit. protracted), levied hostages and determined what tribute Britain should pay each year to the people of Rome: he forbids and orders Cassivellaunus that he should not harm Mandubratius or the Trinobantes.
Chapter XXIII. Caesar returns to Gaul with a large number of captives.
Hostages having been received, he leads the army back to the sea, (and) he finds the ships repaired. These having been launched, and, because he had a great number of prisoners, and some ships had perished in the storm, he decided to bring the army back in two convoys. But it so happened that of the very great number of ships in so many voyages, neither in this or in the previous year was absolutely a single ship which carried troops missing, but of those which were sent to him empty from the continent, [both] (those) of the previous convoy, the soldiers having been disembarked, and (those) which before Labienus had caused to be built beforehand, to the number of forty, very few reached port, (and) almost all the rest were driven back. Caesar, when he had waited some time for these in vain, in order that he should not be excluded from sailing by the time of the year, because the equinox was close at hand, of necessity packed the troops more closely, and, a complete calm having followed, when he had weighed anchor (lit. loosed the ships), the second watch [having begun], he reached land at first light and brought all the ships through safely.
Chapter XXIV. Caesar distributes his legions over a wide area for the winter, owing to the scarcity of corn due to a dry summer.
The ships having been beached, and a council of the Gauls having been held at Samarobriva (i.e. Amiens), because in that year corn had grown somewhat scantily on account of droughts, he was compelled to place the army in winter quarters otherwise than in former years, and to distribute the legions among several states: of these, he gave one to the legate Gaius Fabius to be led into the Morini; a second to Quintus Cicero into the Nervii; a third to Lucius Roscius into the Essui; a fourth with Titus Labienus he ordered to winter among the Remi on the boundaries of the Treviri; he stationed three in Belgium: over these he placed in command the quaestor, Marcus Crassus, and the legates Munatius Plancus and Gaius Trebonius. He sent one legion, which he had enrolled most recently beyond the Po, and five cohorts into the Eburones, the greatest portion of whom is between the Meuse and the Rhine, (and) who were under the rule of Ambiorix and Cativolcus. He ordered the legates Quintus Titurius Sabinus and Lucius Aurunculeius Cotta to command these troops. And the legions having been distributed in this manner, he thought that he could most easily remedy the shortage of corn: and yet the winter quarters of all those legions, except that which he had assigned to Lucius Roscius to be led into the most peaceful and quietest district, were within a hundred miles (of each other). Meanwhile, he, himself, decided to wait (lit. delay) in Gaul till he should have stationed the legions and he knew that the winter quarters had been fortified.
Chapter XXV. Tasgetius, the Carnutian, is murdered. Caesar sends L. Plancus to winter among the Carnutes.
Tasgetius, whose ancestors had held the kingship in their state, was born in the highest position amongst the Carnutes. To him, in consideration of his character and goodwill towards himself, because in all the campaigns he had employed his remarkable services, Caesar had restored the position of his ancestors. His private enemies killed him now reigning for a third year, many from the state openly (being) promoters (of this act). This event is reported to Caesar. He, fearing that, because the matter was pertinent to a considerable number, that the state might defect at their instigation, orders Lucius Plancus with his legion to set out quickly from Belgium for (the land of) the Carnutes, and to winter there; and to arrest and send to him those (lit. to send to him those having been arrested) by whose act he has learned that Tasgetius (had been) killed. Meanwhile, he was informed by all the legates and quaestors, to whom he had assigned legions, that they had arrived in their winter quarters and that their position had been fortified for (such) winter quarters.
Chapter XXVI. Ambiorix and Cativolcus revolt. Sabinus and Cotta are attacked by the Eburones.
About fifteen days after which they came into winter quarters, the beginning of a sudden uprising and rebellion by Ambiorix and Cativolcus arose; they, when they had met (lit. had been at hand with) Sabinus and Cotta at the borders of their kingdom and had conveyed corn into their winter quarters, having been induced by the messages of the Treviran Indutiomarus, they stirred up their own men, and, (a party of) wood collectors having been suddenly surprised, they came with a great force in order to attack the camp. When our men had speedily taken up arms and had mounted the rampart, and the Spanish horsemen, having been sent out from one gate, had been victorious in a cavalry battle, the enemy, the situation having been despaired of, withdrew their men from the attack. Then, according to their custom, they called loudly for someone from our men to go forth to a parley; (they said) that they had (something) which they wished to say concerning the common interest, by which they hoped to be able to reduce disputes.
Chapter XXVII. Ambiorix, under false pretences, advises Sabinus and Cotta to join Cicero or Labienus, and promise them safe conduct.
Gaius Arpineius, a Roman knight, a friend of Quintus Titurius, is sent to them for the purpose of parleying, together with (lit. and) a certain Quintus Junius from Spain, who had already been accustomed previously to make frequent visits to Ambiorix on the mission of Caesar; before them Ambiorix spoke in this way: that he admitted that he was greatly indebted to him for the benefits of Caesar towards himself, because he had been freed by his action from the tribute which he had been accustomed to pay to his neighbours, the Aduatuci: and because both his son and the son of his brother, whom, having been sent in the number of hostages, the Aduatuci had had held amongst themselves in servitude and chains, had been sent back to him; nor had he done the thing which he had done concerning the attack on the camp either through his own judgment or desire but by the compulsion of his state; and his own sovereignty was of such a kind that the people had no less sovereignty over him than he, himself, (had) over the people. Moreover, there had been to the state this cause of war because it could not resist this sudden conspiracy of the Gauls: he could easily prove this from his own weakness, because he was not so inexperienced in affairs that he should believe that the Roman people could be overcome by his own forces, but there was common consent among the Gauls; this was the day appointed for all Caesar's winter quarters being attacked, so that no other legion could come to the relief of any other legion, especially when it seemed that the plan (was) about their common liberty being recovered. Since he had given satisfaction to them on the score of patriotism, he now had an account of duty in response to the good offices of Caesar; he warned, he begged Titurius, on the ground of their friendship, to take steps for the safety of himself and his colleagues: a great band of Germans, having been hired, had crossed the Rhine; this would be at hand in two days. It was their own decision whether they wished to remove their soldiers from their winter quarters and to conduct (them) (lit. to conduct their soldiers having been removed from...) either to Cicero or to Labienus, one of whom was distant from them about fifty miles, the other a little further. He promised, and confirmed it by an oath, that (he) would give (them) safe passage through his territories; when he were to do this, he would be consulting both the interests of the state, because it would be relieved from (the burden of) winter quarters and he could render thanks to Caesar in accordance with his merits. This address having been delivered, Ambiorix departs.
Chapter XXVIII. A council of war is held in the Roman camp. Cotta is opposed to doing anything without orders from Caesar.
Arpineius and Junius report what they heard to the legates. They, having been greatly disturbed by the sudden news, though these things were said by an enemy, considered that it ought not to be disregarded; and they were especially influenced by this consideration, (namely) that it was scarcely worthy of belief that the ignoble and lowly state of the Eburones should dare, of its own accord, to make war upon the Roman people. And so, they refer the issue to a council (of war) and a great dispute arises between them. Lucius Aurunculeius and several military tribunes and centurions of the first rank thought that nothing should be done rashly, nor that they should depart from their winter quarters without an order of Caesar: they argued that, the winter quarters having been fortified, even very large forces of Germans could be withheld: that this fact was a proof (of it), (namely) that they had withstood most bravely the enemy's first attack, many wounds having been inflicted besides: in respect of corn supplies, they (were) not hard pressed: meanwhile, relief forces would assemble both from the nearest winter quarters and from Caesar; finally, what was more despicable or shameful than to take advice on matters of the highest importance, the enemy (being) one's adviser?
Chapter XXIX. Sabinus argues that Caesar is out of reach, and that they had better join the nearest camp before it is too late.
Against these points, Titurius loudly insisted that (they) would act too late, when larger bands of the enemy, the Germans having been joined (to them), had come up, or when some disaster had been experienced in the nearest winter quarters: there was a short opportunity for deliberating: he believed that Caesar had set out for Italy; nor would the Carnutes have conceived the plan of killing Tasgetius, nor, if he had been present, would the Eburones have come against the camp with such great contempt for us: he regarded not the suggestion of the enemy but the situation; the Rhine was nearby; the death of Ariovistus and our earlier victories were to the Germans a (source of) great anger: Gaul was ablaze, so many indignities having been received (while) having been brought under the sway of the Roman people, their earlier glory in military affairs having been extinguished. Finally, who would persuade himself of this, that Ambiorix would have engaged in a design of that kind without sure grounds? His own proposal was a safe (one) in either event: if there were nothing awkward, they would arrive at the nearest legion without danger; if all Gaul were to agree with the Germans, their only safety lay in speed. What outcome did the plan of Cotta, and indeed of those who disagreed with him, have? If (there was) no immediate danger in it, nevertheless famine was certainly to be feared in a protracted siege.
Chapter XXX. Sabinus appeals to the soldiers against Cotta in a brief and angry speech.
This argument about each alternative having been held, when he was bitterly opposed by Cotta and the centurions of the first rank, Sabinus said, "Have your way, if you wish (it) so," and (he said) this in a louder voice, so that a great part of the soldiers could hear: "Nor," he said, "am I the man out of you all to feel most deeply alarm at the danger of death: these will understand, and if anything rather serious happens, they will require an account from you; they, if it is permitted by you, having joined with the nearest winter quarters on the day after tomorrow, could endure the common chance of war with the rest, (and) they would not perish, either by sword or by famine, cast out and far removed from the others."
Chapter XXXI. The question is debated in the camp. Cotta gives way and the next morning the column sets out in firm reliance on Ambiorix' fidelity.
They rise (lit. it is risen) from the council; they (i.e. the centurions) detain both of them and entreat (them) not to bring the issue into the highest danger through their dissension and obstinacy: it was an easy matter whether they were to remain or to set out, if only all appreciated and approved one plan; on the other hand they saw no safety in disagreement. The matter in dispute is prolonged until the middle of the night: at last Cotta, greatly distressed, gives in (lit. gives his hand): the view of Sabinus prevails. Word is given out (lit. it is proclaimed) that (they) would go at first light: the remaining part of the night is consumed by watchings, since every soldier looked over his (belongings), (to see) what he could carry with him and what equipment in the winter quarters he would be compelled to leave behind. All (arguments) are thought of (to show) why they cannot not remain (lit. it cannot be awaited) without danger and (why) the danger is (only) increased by the weariness of the troops and the long watchings. Thus, at first light they set out in a very long column and with very heavy baggage, as men who had been convinced (lit. to whom it had been persuaded) that the advice (was) given, not by an enemy, but by Ambiorix, a man very friendly (towards them).
Chapter XXXII. The Romans fall into an ambuscade.
But the enemy, when they had learned of their departure from the noise during the night and (from them) remaining awake, ambushes in two divisions having been placed in the woods in a convenient and covert spot about two miles away (lit. from about two miles), awaited the arrival of the Romans; and, when the greater part of the column had descended into a big ravine, they suddenly showed themselves on each side of this valley and began to harass the rearguard and to hinder the vanguard from the ascent, and to join battle on ground very disadvantageous to our men.
Chapter XXXIII. Sabinus is at a loss what to do. Cotta does what he can with admirable coolness. The troops are formed in square.
Then, indeed, Titurius, as one who had foreseen nothing beforehand, was alarmed and ran to and fro and posted cohorts; yet (he did) even these things (lit. these very things) timidly and so that all his (powers) were seen to be failing him: this has been generally wont to happen to those who are forced to take a decision during the action itself. But Cotta, who had thought this could happen on the march, and for this reason had not been a proponent of the setting out, failed the common safety in no respect, and in soldiers being addressed and encouraged he fulfilled his duties as a commander and in battle as a soldier. When, on account of the length of the column they could less easily to se to everything personally (lit. by themselves) and provide for what it was necessary to do at each location, they commanded (their officers) to pass the word (lit. to proclaim) (along the line) that they should abandon the baggage and to stand fast in square formation (lit. a ring). This plan, though it was not worthy of blame in a situation of this kind, turned out disastrously however; for it both lessened the hope in our soldiers, and made the enemy more eager for the fight, because it did not seem that it was done without the greatest fear and desperation. Moreover, it happened, as (lit. that which) was bound to happen, that on all sides soldiers were deserting from the standards, (and) each of them hastened to search for and grab from the baggage-train what he held most dear, and everything was engulfed by shouting and weeping.
Chapter XXXIV. A fierce battle ensues. Ambiorix' tactics described.
But resource was not lacking to the natives, for their leaders commanded (their officers) to pass the word (lit. to proclaim) along the whole battle-line. No one was to depart from his position; the booty was theirs and whatever the Romans abandoned was reserved for them; therefore they must think that everything depended on victory. Both in valour and in number they were equal to our men in fighting. However, though they were deserted by their commander and by fortune, yet they placed all their hope of victory in their courage, and, as often as each cohort ran forward, a great number of the enemy fell in that quarter. This thing having been noticed, Amboirix orders (his officers) to pass the word (to proclaim) along the line that they should throw their weapons from a distance and that they should not approach too near, and withdraw in whatever area the Romans made an attack; from the lightness of their arms and their daily practice, no damage could be done to them; (but) they should pursue (them) when they withdraw themselves (lit. withdrawing themselves) to the standards again.
Chapter XXXV. The Romans fight gallantly, but Cotta is wounded.
This instruction having been observed very carefully by them, when any cohort had departed from the square, and an attack had been made, the enemy retreated very quickly. Meanwhile, it was necessary for that detachment to be unprotected and for weapons to be received on its exposed flank. When they had begun to return again to the position whence they had advanced, they were surrounded both by those who had retreated and by those who were stationed nearest (to them); but if, however, they wished to hold their position, neither was room left for valour, nor could they, crowded together (as they were), avoid the missiles hurled by so great a multitude. Yet, having been harassed by so many disadvantages, (and) many wounds having been received, they stood firm, and, a great part of the day having been spent, since they had fought from first light to the eighth hour, they did nothing which was unworthy of themselves. Then, in the case of Titus Balventius, who had led the first century in the previous year, a brave man and (one) of great influence, each thigh is transfixed by a javelin: Quintus Lucanius, of the same rank, fighting most bravely, is killed, while coming to the aid of his son who had been surrounded (lit. having been surrounded): the legate Lucius Cotta, (while) cheering on all the cohorts and centuries, is wounded full in the face (lit. on the face fronting (the blow)) by a sling-stone.
Chapter XXXVI. Sabinus asks for a parley with Ambiorix. Cotta will have nothing to do with it.
Alarmed by these events, Quintus Titurius, when he had seen in the distance Ambiorix encouraging his troops, sends his interpreter, Gnaeus Pompeius, to him to ask that he should spare himself and his soldiers. Having been appealed to, he replied: that, if he wishes to parley with him, it is permitted; that he hopes that what pertains to the safety of the soldiers can be obtained from his people; that to himself, indeed, no injury will be done, and that in this matter he pledges his own faith. He confers with the wounded Cotta, whether it seems right to withdraw from the fighting and parley together with Ambiorix; he hopes that he can obtain a request from him with regard to their own safety and (that) of the soldiers. Cotta says that he will not go to an armed enemy, and he persisted in this.
Chapter XXXVII. Sabinus is shamefully murdered during his interview with Ambiorix. Attack on Roman camp. Cotta is slain while fighting. The battle is kept up till nightfall, when the Romans in despair kill themselves.
Sabinus orders those military tribunes whom he had around him at the time and the centurions of the first rank to follow him, and, when he had approached nearer to Ambiorix, having been ordered to throw down his arms, he carries out the order, and orders his men to do the same. Meanwhile, while they treat among themselves about the terms and a too lengthy speech is made intentionally by Ambiorix, having being surrounded little by little, he (i.e. Sabinus) is slain. Then, indeed, they shout out victory in their own custom and raise their war-cry (lit. howling), and, an attack against our men having been made, they threw the ranks into confusion. There, Lucius Cotta, (while) fighting, is slain (together) with the greatest part of the troops; the remainder withdraw themselves to the camp whence they had marched out: of these, Lucius Petrosidius, the standard-bearer (of the legion), when he was hard pressed by the great host of the enemy, threw the eagle within the entrenchments, and is himself slain fighting very bravely having before the camp. They (i.e. the rest of the soldiers) scarcely withstand the attack until nightfall: in the night, safety having been despaired of, they kill themselves, all to a (lit. one) man. A few, having slipped away from the battle, make their way by uncertain paths through the woods to the legate Titus Labienus in his winter quarters, and inform him (lit. make him more certain) about the things which had been done (lit. having been done).
Chapter XXXVIII. Ambiorix raises a rebellion among other tribes.
Elated by this victory, Ambiorix sets out at once with his cavalry for (the lands of) the Aduatuci, who were neighbours to his kingdom; he neglects neither night nor day, and orders his infantry to follow him. The event having been reported, and the Aduatuci, having been aroused, he arrives the next day to (the lands of) the Nervii, and exhorts them not to let slip the opportunity of themselves being freed for ever and of avenging themselves upon the Romans for the outrages which they had received: he explains that two legates have been killed and a great part of the army has perished: that it is no (difficult) business to surprise (lit. overwhelm suddenly) and slay the legion (lit. to slay the legion having been surprised) which is wintering with Cicero; he declares himself (as) a helper in this enterprise. He easily persuades the Nervii by this speech.
Chapter XXXIX. The camp of Q. Cicero is attacked.
Therefore, messengers having been sent out at once to the Centrones, the Grudii, the Levaci, the Pleumoxiis (and) the Geiduni, who are all under their sway, they collect the biggest bands that they can, and unexpectedly (lit. from the unforeseen) swoop down upon the winter quarters of Cicero, a report of the death of Titurius having not yet reached him. In his case it happened also, which was inevitable, that some soldiers, who had gone off into the woods for the sake of timber and (therewith constructing) fortifications, were cut off by the sudden arrival of their cavalry. These men having been surrounded, the Eburones, the Nervii, the Aduatuci, and the allies and dependents of them all in a great band begin to attack: our men run speedily to arms, (and) mount the rampart. That day is scarcely endured because the enemy were placing all their hope on speed, and were confident that, having obtained this victory, they would be victors in perpetuity.
Chapter XL. Cicero prepares for a siege.
Despatches to Caesar are sent at once by Cicero, large rewards having been offered, if they were to carry (them) through; all roads having been blocked, those sent are intercepted. During the night as many as a hundred and twenty towers are erected with incredible speed; they rectify what appeared to be lacking in the (fortification) works. On the next day, the enemy, a much larger force having been collected, attacks the camp, (and) fills in the trench. Resistance is made (lit. it is resisted) by our men in the same way as on the day before: the same thing is done successively on the following days. No part of the night time is omitted for the purpose of work: an opportunity for rest is given neither to the sick nor to the wounded: whatever is needed for the attack on the next day is prepared during the night: many stakes with charred points, (and) a great number of pikes for wall fighting are got ready; the towers are furnished with floors, battlements and breast-works are woven out of wicker-work hurdles. Cicero, himself, although he was in very weak health, left not even the night time for himself to rest, so that he was compelled against his will by a crowd of soldiers and their entreaties to spare himself.
Chapter XLI. The Nervii with treacherous design ask Cicero to withdraw his forces from their territory, promising not to molest him. Cicero refuses terms offered by an enemy under arms.
Then, the leaders and chiefs of the Nervii, who had some right of access to conversation, and grounds of friendship, with Cicero, say that they wish to parley. The opportunity having been granted, they relate the same things which Ambiorix had discussed with Titurius, (namely) that the whole of Gaul is in arms, that the Germans have crossed the Rhine, (and) that the winter quarters of Caesar and of the rest are being attacked. They also add (information) about the death of Sabinus. They point to Ambiorix for the sake of their faith being proved. They say that they are mistaken if they hope for any protection from those who are concerned about their own circumstances; however, they are in this mind about Cicero and the Roman people, that they would refuse (them) nothing except winter quarters, and that they are unwilling that this custom should become established: it is permitted for them to depart from their winter quarters unharmed by themselves, and to set out without fear in whatever directions they wish. Cicero replies (with) one thing only: it is not the custom of the Roman people to accept any terms from an armed enemy: if they are willing to lay down (lit. depart from) their arms, they might employ him (as) an advocate and send envoys to Caesar: he hopes that they would obtain what they sought in accordance with his sense of justice.
ChapterXLII. The Nervii besiege Cicero's camp.
Foiled of (lit. from) this hope, the Nervii surround the winter quarters with a rampart of nine feet (in height) and a trench of fifteen feet (in depth). They had learned these things from us both by our practice in previous years and, having obtained certain prisoners from our army, they were instructed by them; but, with no supply of tools which were suitable for this purpose, they were compelled to cut out the turf with their swords and to draw out the earth with their hands and cloaks. Indeed, from this circumstance a large number of men could be inferred: for in less than three hours they completed an entrenchment of fifteen miles in circumference (N.B. this must be an error - five miles is more likely): and in the following days they began to prepare and to construct towers to the height of the rampart, grappling hooks and mantlets (i.e. sappers' sheds), which the same prisoners had taught (them).
Chapter XLIII. After six days' investment, they assault the camp, which is gallantly defended by the Romans.
On the seventh day of the attack, a very great wind having arisen, they began to hurl red-hot balls (made) from soft white clay and blazing darts on to the huts, which were covered with thatch in the Gallic fashion. These quickly caught fire, and through its strength the winds dispersed (the fire) to every part of the camp. With a very great shout , as though victory (were) already gained and assured, the enemy began to move up their towers and mantlets, and to climb the rampart with scaling ladders. But so great was the courage of the soldiers and their resolution (lit. presence of mind) that, although they were everywhere scorched by the flames and oppressed by the very great multitude of missiles, and they understood that all their baggage and all their property was ablaze, not only did no one depart from the rampart for the sake of removing (himself from his post) but scarcely anyone even looked behind him, but (even) then they were all fighting most fiercely and most bravely. This day was by far the most critical for our men; but, however, it had this outcome that on that day the greatest number of the enemy were wounded and slain, as they had crowded themselves under the very rampart, and the rearguard was not giving the vanguard (the chance) of retreat. The fire, indeed, having abated a little, and in one place a tower having been brought up and touching the rampart, the centurions of the third cohort withdrew from the place at which they were stationed, and removed all their men: and they began to call the enemy by gesture and by voices to come inside if they wished; not one of these dared to come forward. Then, stones having been hurled from every direction, they (i.e. the enemy) were dislodged, and the tower was set on fire.
Chapter XLIV. The episode of Pulfio and Varenus.
In that legion there were (two) very brave men, centurions, who were already approaching the first rank, Titus Pulfio and Lucius Varenus. They used to have continual disputes between themselves as to which should have the preference, and every year they contended with the keenest competition for the position. Of these, Pulfio, when the fighting by the entrenchments was very fierce (lit. it was being fought very fiercely by...), said, "Why are you hesitating, Varenus? Or what opportunity of proving your courage are you waiting for? This day will decide concerning our disputes." When he had said this, he advances outside the fortifications, and dashes into that section of the enemy which seemed most closely-packed. Nor indeed does Varenus keep himself within the rampart, but, fearing the judgment of all, he follows after (him). A moderate distance having been left, Pulfio hurls his javelin at the enemy and transfixes one of the host running forward, whom, having been pierced and killed, the enemy cover with shields, and they all hurl missiles at him, nor do they give him a chance of retreating. With regard to Pulfio, his shield is pierced and a dart is lodged in his belt. This accident displaces his scabbard and obstructs his right hand as he tries (lit. with regard to (him) trying) to draw his sword: the enemy surround (him), having been (thus) hampered. His rival, Varenus, runs up to him and helps (him) in his distress. The whole host at once turns itself from Pulfio towards him: [they think that the former has been transfixed by the dart.] Varenus meets (them) swiftly with his sword and carries out the business at close quarters, and one man being killed, he drives the rest back a little; while he presses on too eagerly, having been carried down on to lower ground, he falls. To him, having been surrounded, Pulfio in turn brings help, and, several men having been killed, both, unharmed, take themselves back inside the fortifications with the highest glory. Fortune so directed both men in this rivalry and strife that the one competitor was a (source of) succour and safety to the other, nor could it be determined which of the two should be seen as pre-eminent in courage over the other.
Chapter XLV. Caesar is informed of Cicero's danger.
In proportion as the attack became daily more critical and fiercer, and especially because, a great part of the soldiers having been overcome by wounds, the matter had come to a small number of defenders, the more frequent were the despatches and messengers sent to Caesar; some of these, having been captured, were put to death with torture in front of our troops. There was a single Nervian within (our camp), Vertico by name, born in an honourable position, who, from the start of the siege, had fled to Cicero, and had kept faith with him. This man persuaded his slave by the promise of freedom and by great rewards to deliver a despatch to Caesar. He (i.e. the slave) carries it fastened inside a javelin and, going about without any suspicion (as) a Gaul among Gauls, he reaches Caesar. From him, he learns about the danger of Cicero and the legion.
Chapter XLVI. Caesar prepares to relieve the garrison.
The despatch having been received at about the eleventh hour of the day, Caesar at once sends a messenger into (the land of) the Bellovaci to his quaestor, Marcus Crassus, whose winter quarters were twenty-five miles away from him. He orders his legion to set out in the middle of the night and to come to him quickly. On the arrival of the messenger (lit. simultaneously with the messenger), he leaves. He sends another (messenger) to the legate, Gaius Fabius, (ordering him) to bring his legion into the territory of the Atrebates, by which (route) he knew that the march would need to be made by him. He writes to Labienus to come with his legion to the borders of the Nervii, if he could do so with advantage to the republic: he does not think that the remaining part of the army should be awaited, because it was a little too far away; he gathers about four hundred cavalrymen from the nearest winter camp.
Chapter XLVII. He sets out and is joined by Fabius.
Having been informed (lit. having been made more sure) at about the third hour by scouts of the arrival of Crassus, he moves forward twenty miles on that day. He puts Crassus in charge of Samarobriva and assigns a legion to him, because he was leaving there the baggage of the army, the hostages of the state, the public documents, and all the corn which he had conveyed thither for the sake of the winter being endured. Fabius, thus not delaying for long, with his legion, meets (him) on the march, as he had been ordered. Labienus, the destruction of Sabinus and the slaughter of his cohorts having been ascertained, since all the forces of the Treviri had come against him, fearing lest, if he made a march from his winter quarters, similar to a flight, he might not be able to withstand the attack of the enemy, especially inasmuch as he knew them to have been elated by the recent victory, sends back a despatch to Caesar, (showing) with what great risk he would lead out his legion from its winter quarters: he writes a complete account of the events which had happened (lit. having been undertaken) in (the land of) the Eburones: he informs (him) that all the forces of the Treviri, of their cavalry and of their infantry have encamped at a distance of three miles from his camp.
Chapter XLVIII. He reaches the territory of the Nervii by forced marches, and gets a message into Cicero's camp.
Caesar, his (i.e. Labienus') advice having been approved, although foiled in his expectation of three legions, had come down to two, nevertheless placed the one (hope of) help for the common safety in speed. He comes into the territories of the Nervii. There, he learns from prisoners what things are happening in Cicero's camp, and in what great danger the situation is. Then, he persuades one of his Gallic horsemen by great rewards to deliver a letter to Cicero. He sends this written in Greek letters, lest the letter, having been intercepted, our plans might be ascertained by the enemy. If he were not able to approach, he is advised to throw a javelin, with the letter fastened to its thong, inside the fortification of the camp. In the letter he writes that he, having set out with the legions, would be there quickly: he exhorted (him) to retain his old courage. Fearing danger, the Gaul discharges his javelin, as he had been instructed. By chance, it sticks to a tower, and, not having been noticed by our men for two days, on the third day it is seen by some soldier; having been taken down, it is brought to Cicero. He reads (it) through and recites (it) (lit. recites the letter, having been read through) in an assembly of the soldiers, and affects all with the greatest joy. Then, columns of smoke from fires were seen in the distance, which event drives out all doubt about the arrival of the legions.
Chapter XLIX. Hearing of Caesar's approach, the Gauls abandon the siege and go to meet him. Caesar contrives to make them think he has only a small force with him.
The situation having been discovered through their scouts, the Gauls abandon the siege, and hurry towards Caesar with all their troops: these were about sixty thousand armed men. An opportunity having been given by the same Vertico, whom we have mentioned above, Cicero again asks for a Gaul to deliver a message to Caesar: he advises him to make his way cautiously and carefully: in the letter he writes in detail that the enemy had departed from himself and that the whole host had turned round to face him. This letter having been brought in about midnight, Caesar informs his men (lit. makes his men more sure), and inspires them with courage for the fighting: on the next day, at first light, he strikes camp, and, having advanced about four miles, he catches sight of the host of the enemy across a wide valley and a stream. It was a matter of great danger to fight with so great a force on unfavourable ground: then since he knew that Cicero (had been) freed from the blockade, he thought calmly (lit. with a level mind) concerning speed that it should be abated. He halted, and entrenches his camp in as favourable a position as he can, and, though this was small in itself, (there being) scarcely seven thousand men, and in particular with no baggage, he nevertheless compresses it as much as he can by the narrowness of its passages, with the plan that it would come into the greatest contempt with regard to the enemy. Meanwhile, scouts having been sent out in all directions, he explores by which route he might be able to cross the valley most advantageously.
Chapter L. Caesar feigns fear.
On that day, small scale cavalry battles having taken place by the river, both (armies) keep themselves on their own ground; the Gauls, because they were awaiting larger forces, which had not yet assembled; Caesar, so that he might engage in battle on his side of the valley in front of his camp, (to see) if by chance he should be able, by the pretence of fear, to draw the enemy on to his own ground; (or), if he were not able to effect this, that, the routes having been explored, he might be able to cross the valley and the stream with less risk. At first light, the enemy's cavalry approaches our camp and joins battle with our cavalry. Caesar deliberately orders his cavalry to give way and withdraw themselves into the camp; at the same time, he orders the camp to be fortified with a higher rampart on all sides, and the gates to be barricaded, and that there should be running to and fro (as much) as possible, and that they should act with the pretence of fear in those things being arranged.
Chapter LI. The Gauls are taken in by this device. Attacking the camp they are repulsed with great loss in a fierce sortie by the Romans.
Lured on by all these things, the enemy lead their forces across, and draw up their battle-line on unfavourable ground; our troops having been withdrawn even from the rampart, they approach nearer and hurl missiles from all sides into the entrenchment; and, heralds having been sent around, they order (it) to be proclaimed that if any Gaul or Roman wishes to cross over to them before the third hour, this is permitted; after that time there will not be the chance: and they so despised our troops that, the gates having been blocked up, for show, with single rows of turf, because they appeared (to themselves) not to be able to break in by that (route), some began to tear down the rampart by hand, others to fill in the trenches. Then, a sally having been made from all the gates and the cavalry having been sent out, Caesar so speedily puts the enemy to flight that no one stops at all for the sake of fighting; he kills a great number of them and strips all (of them) of their arms.
Chapter LII. Fearing to pursue the Gauls, Caesar marches to Cicero's camp, reviews the forces there, praises Cicero for his gallant defence, and encourages the soldiers.
Fearing to pursue further, because forests and marshes were in the way, and he saw that there was left no opportunity for even a trifling amount of damage to them, he reached Cicero on the same day with all his forces unharmed. He marvels at the towers which had been made (lit. having been made), and the mantlets and the fortifications of the enemy: the legion having been paraded, he finds that not one man in ten (lit. every tenth man) had been left without a wound. From all these things he judges with what great peril and with what great courage those matters were carried out: he highly praises Cicero according to his deserts and the legion: and he addresses individually the centurions and military tribunes, whose courage he had discovered from the testimony of Cicero to have been exceptional. He learns more particularly from captives about the disaster of Sabinus and Cotta. On the next day, an assembly having been held, he sets out the events which had taken place (lit. having taken place), (and) he cheers and encourages the soldiers: he shows (them) that the loss which had been sustained through the fault and rashness of the legate must be endured with a calmer mind, because through the goodness of the immortal gods and their own valour, the disaster having been expiated, neither was lasting joy left to the enemy, nor too long a grief to themselves.
Chapter LIII. Labienus is informed of Caesar's victory. Indutiomarus in alarm raises the sige of Labienus' camp. Caesar resolves to winter in Gaul in oder to allay disaffection.
Meanwhile, a report about Caesar's victory is brought to Labienus with incredible speed through the Remi, so that, although he was about sixty miles distant from Cicero's winter quarters, and Caesar had arrived thither after the ninth hour of the day, before midnight a shout arose at the gates of the camp, such that by this shout the news of the victory and their congratulations were conveyed to Labienus by the Remi. This report having been brought to the Treviri, Indutiomarus, who had decided to attack Labienus' camp on the next day, flees by night and withdraws all his forces into the lands of the Treviri. Caesar sends Fabius and his legion back into his winter quarters (and) decides to winter himself with three legions around Samarobriva in three (separate) winter camps; and, because very great disturbances had occurred in Gaul, he decided to remain himself with the army. For, that disaster concerning the death of Sabinus having been spread abroad, almost all the states of Gaul began to consult about war, and sent out messengers and envoys in all directions, and they were trying to find out what plan the rest should adopt and whence the beginning of the war would happen, and were holding nocturnal meetings in secluded places. Nor did any time pass during almost the whole winter without anxiety for Caesar, such that he did not receive some tidings of meetings and disturbance of the Gauls. Among these things, he was informed (lit. made more certain) by the legate Lucius Roscius, whom he had put in command of the thirteenth legion, that a large force of Gauls from those states which are called Armorican had assembled for the sake of himself being attacked, nor were they further than eight miles distant from his winter quarters; but, the news concerning Caesar's victory having been brought, they departed in such a way that their retreat seemed like flight.
Chapter LIV. Disturbed state of Gaul further described.
Nevertheless, Caesar, the chief men of each state having been summoned to him, now by frightening (them), since he announced that he knew what was happening, now by exhorting (them), he kept a great part of Gaul in submission. However, the Senones, which is one of the strongest states (lit. a state, strong among the first) and of great influence among the Gauls, having tried through a public decision to kill Cavarinus, whom Caesar had appointed (as) king among them, whose brother Moritasgus, on the arrival of Caesar in Gaul, and whose ancestors, had held the kingship, when he had realised (this) in advance and had fled, having pursued (him) as far as the borders, they drove (him) out of (lit. from) his kingdom and his home; and, envoys having been sent to Caesar for the sake of giving satisfaction, when he had ordered all their senate to come to him, they were not obedient to his command. That there were some men found (as) leaders in waging war was esteemed so highly among these barbarian peoples, and brought about so great a change among (them) all, that, except for the Aedui and the Remi, whom Caesar always held in especial honour, the former for their long-established and unbroken loyalty to the Roman people, the latter for their recent services in the Gallic war, almost no state was not suspect to us. And I do not know whether this is so remarkable (or not), both for several other reasons, and especially because they, who used to to be held superior to all peoples in valour of war, were very grievously annoyed that they had lost so great an amount of that reputation that they were enduring rule by the Roman people.
Chapter LV. Indutiomarus still continues his revolt.
Indeed, the Treviri and Indutiomarus allowed no time to elapse during the whole winter but that they were sending envoys across the Rhine, importuning the states, and promsing money, (and) afffirming that, a large part of our army having been slain, a much smaller part was left. However, it was not possible for any state of the Germans to be persuaded to cross the Rhine, since they said that they (had) tried (it) twice, in the war of Ariovistus and in the crossing of the Tenchtheri; (and) fortune ought not to be tempted further. Disappointed in respect of of this hope, Indutiomarus began, nevertheless, to gather forces, to train (them), to procure horses from his neighbours, and to attract to himself by great rewards exiles and condemned persons from the whole of Gaul. Moreover, by these means he had already acquired for himself such great influence in Gaul that envoys flocked to him from all directions, and sought his favour and friendship both in the name of the state and privately.
Chapter LVI. He prepares, with the help of other tribes, to attack Labienus' camp.
When he understood that they were coming to him unbidden, that on the one hand the Senones and the Carnutes were spurred on by awareness of guilt, on the other hand the Nervii and the Aduatuci were preparing for war with the Romans, and a force of volunteers would not be lacking to him, if he began to advance from his own borders, he proclaims an armed convention. This, in the custom of the Gauls, is the beginning of a war, whither by a common law all adults were accustomed to gather in arms: of them he who arrived last, having been visited with every kind of torture is killed in the sight of the host. In this muster, he declares Cingetorix, the chief of the other party (and) his son-in-law, whom, as we have explained above, having followed the protection of Caesar, had not departed from him, (as) an enemy and confiscates his property. These matters having been accomplished, he declares in the muster that he had been summoned by the Senones and the Carnutes and several other states of Gaul, that he would make his journey hither through the territories of the Remi, and that he would ravage their fields, and that, before he were to do this, he would attack Labienus' camp. He gives instructions as to what he wishes to be done.
Chapter LVII. Labienus acts strictly on the defensive.
Labienus, since he kept himself in a camp fortified both by the nature of the position and by hand, feared nothing concerning his own danger and (that) of his legion: he was meditating lest he let slip any opportunity of the operation being conducted well. So, Indutiomarus' speech, which he had delivered in the muster, having been ascertained by Cingetorix and his relatives, he sends messengers to the neighbouring states and calls out cavalry from all sides: he assigns them a fixed day for assembling. Meanwhile, almost every day Indutiomarus and all his cavalry used to wander around his camp, now to reconnoitre the site of the camp, now for the sake of conversing or intimidating: all the horsemen usually hurled missiles within the rampart. Labienus kept his men within the fortifications, and sought to increase by whatever means he could the impression of his fear.
Chapter LVIII. Indutiomarus, who despises his foe, makes an attack and is slain. Rout of his troops. Lull in the disturbance among the Gauls.
When Indutiomarus came near to the camp with a contempt growing daily, the cavalry of all the neighbouring states, which he (i.e. Labienus) had caused to be summoned, having been admitted in a single night, he confined all his men within the camp by guards with such great care that this fact could by no means be given out or disclosed to the Treviri. Meanwhile, in accordance with his daily custom, Indutiomarus comes up to the camp and spends a great part of the day there; his cavalry throw their missiles, and with great insolence of words call out our men to battle; no reply having been given by our men, towards evening when it seemed (good), they depart, having been dispersed and scattered. Suddenly, Labienus sends out all his cavalry from two gates: he orders that, the enemy having been scared and thrown into flight, which he saw would happen just as it did happen, they should all seek out Indutiomarus alone, and he forbids that any (of them) should wound anyone until he saw him slain, because he did not wish him, through the delay of the rest, to obtain time to escape: he offers great rewards to those who should kill (him): he sends up cohorts in support of the cavalry. Fortune justifies his plan, and, since all were seeking one man, Indutiomarus, having been caught in the very ford of the river, is slain, and his head is brought back to the camp: (while) returning, the cavalry chase and kill (those) whom they could. This event, having been ascertained, all the forces of the Eburones and Nervii, which had assembled, depart; after this had happened, Caesar had Gaul a little quieter.
Caesar's prose is, as stated above, relatively straightforward to translate. It is full of instances of the ablative absolute construction, which is almost the quintessential characteristic of Latin prose. An ablative absolute is a phrase detached from the main clause of a sentence, at the heart of which is a participle, or verbal adjective, agreeing with a noun or pronoun which is not the subject or object of the main verb. Because most Latin verbs lack an active past participle, many ablative absolutes involve the use of a past participle in the passive voice