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Bill Thayer

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Caesar: The Gallic War

For J. L., who once wanted to be a Soldier.

The Author, the Manuscripts

For once, there's no need to scour incidental mentions of the author in obscure commentators: Julius Caesar is of course one of the best-known figures of Antiquity. If you've never read his life, you could do worse than read Suetonius' entertaining short biography of him, written not so very long after his death. For those in a hurry, though — or just plain lazy — the editors' introduction to the Gallic War, linked below, includes a convenient timeline of his life.

The Text of the Gallic War on LacusCurtius

The entire work is online in English translation. At some point I may also enter the Latin text, but there is no urgency since it's adequately online at Latin Library; and in the header bar of each of my own pages, I link to the appropriate page of that Latin.

Several English translations of the work are already online elsewhere. Seeing, however, that the work is cited on LacusCurtius well over a hundred times, yet linking to the specific cited passages in those offsite versions is inconvenient in one case and in the others impossible, it became useful to add it to the texts onsite.

The Table of Contents that follows here is a transcription of the section of the Loeb editor's introduction titled "Analysis of the Books".


Book Subject
The Loeb Editor's Introduction vii

1: Description of Gaul — geography and inhabitants.


2‑29: Campaign against the Helvetii.

Their ambitions — their leader, Orgetorix; his death — Caesar takes steps to protect the Province — the Helvetii enter the country of the Aedui — battle of the Arar — negotiations: Liscus, Dumnorix, and Diviciacus — battle near Bibracte; retreat and surrender of the Helvetii — their numbers.


30‑53: Campaign against Ariovistus.

General assembly of the Gauls; complaints against Ariovistus — Caesar's overtures to him rebuffed — a temporary panic in the Roman army quelled by Caesar — conference with Ariovistus — defeat of the Germans (near Mülhausen)


1‑33: Campaign against the Belgae.

Caesar crosses the Axona — relieves Bibrax — punishes the Bellovaci — defeats the Nervii — captures a stronghold of the Aduatuci.


34: P. Crassus reports the subjection of the maritime states of Gaul.


35: Fifteen days' thanksgiving in Rome for Caesar's achievements.


1‑6: (57 B.C.) Servius Galba repulses an attack of the Seduni and Veragri upon his camp at Octodurus.


7‑16: (56 B.C.) Campaign against the Veneti.

The Roman fleet — the ships of the Veneti — a naval engagement: victory of the Romans.


17‑19: Operations of Titurius Sabinus against the Venelli.


20‑27: Operations of P. Crassus in Aquitania.


28, 29: Operations of Caesar against the Morini and Menapii.


1‑4: Description of the Suebi, Ubii, Usipetes, and Tencteri.


5‑15: Operations of Caesar against the Usipetes and Tencteri.


16: Caesar determines to cross the Rhine.


17: His bridge over the Rhine.


18, 19: Operations in Germany.


20‑36: First expedition to Britain.

A difficult landing — defeat of the British forces — a storm damages the Roman ships — the chariot-fighting of the Britons — second defeat of the Britons — Caesar returns to Gaul.


37, 38: Defeat of the rebellious Morini — subjection of the Menapii.

Twenty days' thanksgiving in Rome for Caesar's achievements.


1‑25: Second expedition to Britain.

Preparation of a fleet — (2‑8. Caesar composes the factions of the Treveri: Cingetorix and Indutiomarus — the intrigues of Dumnorix) — landing unopposed — repulse of the Britons — Roman fleet damaged by a storm — description of Britain — Cassivellaunus subdued — Caesar crosses the Thames — returns to Gaul.


26‑58: Revolt of Belgic tribes.

Assassination of Tasgetius — Ambiorix and Catuvolcus — dispute between Titurius Sabinus and Cotta: their defeat and death, and destruction of their troops — Q. Cicero attacked by the Nervii: Caesar effects his relief — Indutiomarus attacks Labienus' camp, but is defeated.


1‑8: Further revolt in Gaul.

Caesar's operations against the Nervii, Senones, Carnutes, Menapii — Labienus defeats the Treveri.


9, 10: Caesar crosses the Rhine — retirement of the Suebi.


11‑20: Description of the Gauls.

Rivalry of Aedui and Sequani — the three estates: Druids, knights, commons — religious rites.


21‑28: Description of the Germans.

Religion — customs — warfare — animals in the Hercynian forest.


29‑44: Caesar returns to Gaul.

Operations against Ambiorix and the Eburones — the Sugambri attack Caesar's camp, but are repulsed — Ambiorix escapes — execution of Acco.


1‑7: General conspiracy of the Gauls — Vercingetorix chosen as leader.


8‑14: Caesar moves suddenly against the Arverni.

Succors the Boii — takes Vellaunodunum, Cenabum, Noviodunum.


15‑31: Siege, defence, and capture of Avaricum.


34‑52: Siege of Gergovia — abandoned, after severe repulse.


53‑57: Caesar moves against the Aedui.


58‑62: Labienus, successful against the Parisii, joins him.


63‑74: General revolt of the Gauls under Vercingetorix.

They attack Caesar, but are defeated, and retire to Alesia.


75‑89: Siege of Alesia.

The Gauls make an unsuccessful attempt to relieve it — surrender of the town, and of Vercingetorix.


90: Submission of the Aedui and the Arverni.

Twenty days' thanksgiving in Rome for Caesar's achievements.


1‑48: (51 B.C.) End of the revolt in Gaul.

Bituriges reduced, Carnutes dispersed, Bellovaci defeated — Dumnacus besieges Lemonum, but without success — Armoric states subdued — Drappes captured — Uxellodunum besieged, and taken by Caesar — Labienus' successful operations against the Treveri — Commius subdued.


49‑55: (50 B.C.) Caesar and the Senate.

His triumphal reception by cities and colonies — he returns to the army in Gaul — his opponents in the Senate — he returns to Italy.


Appendix A: The Roman Army


Appendix B: Britain


Maps and Plans

The Battle against the Helvetii

To face p. 39

The Battle of the Aisne


The Battle of the Sambre


Bridge over the Rhine


Plan of Gergovia


Plan of Alesia


Siege Appliances



At end of volume

Campaign Map


Technical Details

Edition Used

Loeb Classical Library, 1917. The text has been in the public domain since at least 1973. (Details here on the copyright law involved.)

Chapters are marked by large numbers which are also local anchors, according to a consistent scheme; you can therefore link directly to any passage. The sections, which some writers refer to, are not marked because the Loeb edition does not indicate them. The Loeb edition pagination is also indicated by local links in the sourcecode.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if successful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription has been minutely proofread. I run a first proofreading pass immediately after entering each section; then a second proofreading, detailed and meant to be final: in the table of contents above, the text and its accompanying material are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe them to be completely errorfree; any red backgrounds would mean that the chapter had not received that second final proofreading. The header bar at the top of each chapter page will remind you with the same color scheme.

The print edition was very well proofread; I spotted only one error (and at that, almost certainly not typographical due to the printer, but a mental slip of the editor's), which I marked with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the underscored words to read the variant. Bullets before measurements provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

Inconsistencies or errors in punctuation are remarkably few; they have been corrected to the editor's usual style, in slightly brighter blue — barely noticeable on the page when it's a comma for example like this one, but it shows up in the sourcecode as <SPAN CLASS="emend">. Finally, a number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑sic‑‑> in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked.

Any other mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have the printed edition in front of you.

[image ALT: A map of Roman Gaul, partly obscured by a portrait-bust of Julius Caesar. The image serves as the icon for Caesar's 'Gallic War' on this site.]

The icon with which I indicate this work is about as obvious an image as one might use: a map of Roman Gaul, the sea in the color I use onsite for the period of republican Rome; and looming over it, the head of Caesar (from a bust in the museum of Corinth).

Page updated: 9 Nov 13