Short URL for this page:

[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Clicca hic ad Latinam paginam legendam.]

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous section]

This webpage reproduces part of
Gallic War

Julius Caesar

Loeb Classical Library

The text is in the public domain.

This text has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


[image ALT: link to next section]
Book VI

Gallic War

 p267  Book V (chapters 26‑58)

26 In about a fortnight after the troops had moved into winter quarters, disorder and revolt suddenly began. It originated with Ambiorix and Catuvolcus, who, after attending Sabinus and Cotta upon the borders of their kingdom, and bringing in cornº to the cantonments, were induced by messages from Indutiomarus of the Treveri to stir up their own folk. They overwhelmed of a sudden the detachments gathering wood, and with a large force came to assault the camp. Our troops speedily took up arms and mounted the rampart; and a party of Spanish horse sent out on one flank secured us the advantage in a cavalry engagement, upon which the enemy, despairing of success, withdrew their men from the assault. Then, according to their national usage, they called loudly for some one of our number to go forth for a parley, affirming that they had something to say for the interest of both parties, whereby they trusted to be able to reduce the matters in dispute.

 p269  27 Gaius Arpineius, a Roman knight, a friend of Quintus Titurius, and Quintus Junius, a Spaniard, who had previously been accustomed to go to and fro upon Caesar's errands to Ambiorix, were sent to them for the purpose of a parley. Before them Ambiorix spake as follows. He admitted that he was very greatly indebted to Caesar for his good offices towards himself; for it was by Caesar's instrumentality that he had been set free from the tribute which he had been accustomed to pay to his neighbours the Aduatuci, and by Caesar's action that a son and a nephew, sent to the Aduatuci as hostages, and kept in their country in slavery and bondage, had been sent back to him. He declared that his action in assaulting the camp had been the result, not of judgment or intention on his part, but of compulsion on the part of his state; and that the conditions of his own sovereignty were such that the people had as much authority over him as he himself over the people. The state, moreover, had gone to war because it had not been able to resist the sudden conspiracy of the Gauls. He could easily prove that by the insignificance of his own position;​1 for he was not so ignorant of affairs as to believe that by his own forces the Roman people could be overcome. No, there was common consent among the Gauls: this was the day appointed for assaulting all the cantonments of Caesar, so that one legion might not be able to come to the support of another. It would not have been easy for Gauls to refuse Gauls, especially when they considered that the design they had entered on was  p271 for the recovery of their common freedom. And now, having satisfied the Gauls as far as the claim of his country required, he had regard to his duty in response to the good offices of Caesar; and he warned, he prayed Titurius, as in private duty bound, to take measures for his own and his soldiers' safety. A great company of Germans had been hired, and had crossed the Rhine; in two days it would be at hand. It was for the Romans themselves to consider whether they would choose to bring the troops out of cantonments before neighbours could know of it, and to march them either to Cicero or to Labienus, one of whom was about fifty miles from them, the other a little farther. He promised them, and confirmed it with an oath, that he would grant them safe passage through his borders. In so doing, he said, he was consulting the interests of his state, by relieving it of the burden of cantonments, and was making a return to Caesar according to his merits. After delivering this address Ambiorix departed.

28 Arpineius and Junius reported what they heard to the lieutenant-generals. The latter were alarmed by the sudden news, and, though the statement was made by an enemy, they nevertheless considered that it must not be disregarded. One thing especially stirred their anxiety — it was scarcely credible that the Eburones, an undistinguished and insignificant state, had dared of their own motion to make war on Rome. They accordingly submitted the question to a council of war, and a great dispute arose among them. Lucius Aurunculeius, with several tribunes and centurions of the first grade, thought that nothing should be done rashly, and no departure from winter quarters made without Caesar's order. They sought to show that even German forces, no matter  p273 how numerous, could be withstood by entrenched cantonments; there was proof of it in the fact that they had most gallantly withstood the first charge of the enemy, and had actually dealt them many wounds. They were not hard pressed for corn; meanwhile reinforcements would reach them alike from the nearest cantonments and from Caesar. In fine, what was more senseless or more discreditable than to take the advice of an enemy in deciding supreme issues?

29 Against this Titurius vociferated that it would be too late to act when larger bodies of the enemy, with Germans in addition, had come up, or when some disaster had been experienced in the cantonments next their own. There was short time, he said, for deliberation. He believed that Caesar had started for Italy; otherwise the Carnutes would not have conceived the design of murdering Tasgetius, nor, with Caesar present, would the Eburones now have come against the camp with so profound a contempt for us. He had regard, not to the suggestion of the enemy, but to fact. The Rhine was close at hand; the Germans were highly indignant at the death of Ariovistus and our previous victories; Gaul was incensed at all the insults experienced since it was brought in subjection to the authority of Rome, and at the extinction of its earlier renown in war. In fine, who could persuade himself that Ambiorix had engaged in such a design without sure cause? His own view made for safety in either event: if nothing very serious occurred, they would reach the next legion without danger; if the whole of Gaul were at one with the Germans, the sole chance of safety lay in speedy action. And to what was the plan of Cotta, and those who  p275 disagreed with himself, to lead? There might be no present danger in it, but there was certainly famine to fear from a prolonged siege.

30 After this discussion of the alternatives Cotta and the senior centurions vehemently opposed Sabinus, who exclaimed — and with a louder voice than usual, so that a great number of the soldiers might hear — "Have your way, if you please. I am not the man to feel the most serious alarm of any of you at the danger of death. The troops will understand. If anything very serious comes to pass, they will require an account from yourself; for, if you allowed them, they would by the day after to‑morrow have joined forces with the nearest cantonments, and would abide the event of war along with the rest, instead of perishing by sword or famine, far removed and isolated from their comrades."

31 The council rose, and the officers laid hold on the two generals and prayed them not utterly to endanger the issue by their own obstinacy in disagreement. There was no difficulty, whether they stayed or marched, if only all shared and approved one plan; in disagreement, on the contrary, they saw no safety. The matter continued in dispute till midnight. At last Cotta was induced to yield, and the view of Sabinus prevailed. It was announced that the troops would march at dawn. The rest of the night was spent without sleep, for each soldier was looking over his effects, to see what he could carry with him, and what part of the winter equipment he must needs leave. They thought of any and every plea to prove that it must be dangerous to remain, and that the danger would be increased by the exhaustion of the troops in long watches. At dawn they marched forth from camp, as men persuaded  p277 that counsel had been given them not by an enemy, but by Ambiorix, a devoted friend; the column was very lengthy, and the baggage very heavy.

32 When the enemy felt sure, by the noise and watchfulness of the night, that the Romans meant to march out, they posted a double ambush in the woods, in a convenient and covert spot about two miles away; and there they awaited the coming of the Romans. When the greater part of the column had descended into a big ravine, they showed themselves suddenly on either flank of the same, and sought to harass the rearguard, to prevent the vanguard from climbing the ascent, and to engage on ground the most unfavourable for our troops.

33 Then indeed, as he had anticipated nothing, Titurius was alarmed: he ran hither and thither posting cohorts, yet even this he did in timid fashion and with all judgment evidently gone, as generally happens when men are forced to decide in the moment of action. Cotta, however, as he had thought this might happen on the march, and for that reason had opposed departure, neglected nothing for the safety of the force: in addressing and encouraging the troops he did his duty as a commander, in action his duty as a soldier. When by reason of the length of the column the generals found it too hard to control everything in their own person, and to provide for the action necessary at each point, they ordered to pass the word along the line to abandon the baggage and form square. This plan, though not reprehensible in an emergency, had an unfortunate result; for it diminished the hope of our own troops and made the enemy keener for the fight, since the movement could not but betray  p279 the greatest apprehension and despair. Moreover, it was an inevitable consequence that on all sides soldiers were deserting their standards, while each of them hastened to seek and to seize from the baggage-train all that he accounted dearest. So everything was a confusion of shouting and weeping.

34 But the natives were not lacking in resource. Their leaders ordered the command to be given along the line that no one was to leave his rank, that the booty was theirs, and whatsoever the Romans abandoned was to be reserved for them; wherefore they must think that all depended on victory. The enemy were our equals in valour and in fighting zeal. Our troops, though deserted by their commander and by fortune, still set all hope of safety in valour; and as often as each cohort dashed forward a great number of the enemy would fall in that quarter. Noticing this, Ambiorix ordered the command to be given that his men should discharge their missiles at long range and not approach too near, and give way where the Romans made a charge, for that by reason of the lightness of their armament and their daily training no harm could be done to them, and when the enemy retired upon their standards they were to pursue in their turn.

35 This instruction they most carefully observed. When any cohort left the square and made a charge the enemy would run back with great rapidity. Meanwhile that detachment was of necessity uncovered, and a discharge of missiles was received upon its exposed​2 flank. And when they sought to return back to the position from which they had started, they were like to be surrounded both by those who had given way and by those who had the nearest station. If, on the other hand, they were fain  p281 to hold their ground, there was no room left for valour, and in close array they could not avoid the missiles discharged by so great a host. Yet, handicapped by all these disadvantages, and with many men wounded, they stood firm; and though a great part of the day was so spent, for the battle lasted from dawn till the eighth hour, they did nothing unworthy of themselves. At this point Titus Balventius, a gallant man of great influence, who in the previous year had commanded the first century,​3 had both thighs pierced by a dart; Quintus Lucanius, of the same rank, was killed fighting most bravely to succour a son who had been surrounded; Lucius Cotta, the lieutenant-general, as he cheered on all the cohorts and centuries, was hit full in the face by a sling-bullet.

36 Alarmed by these events, Quintus Titurius, who had remarked Ambiorix at a distance encouraging his men, sent his interpreter, Gnaeus Pompeius, to him to ask him to spare himself and his troops. Ambiorix replied to the appeal that, if Titurius wished to parley with him, he was at liberty so to do; he hoped that he could prevail on his host to save the soldiers alive; to Titurius himself certainly no harm would be done, and thereto he pledged his own word. Titurius communicated with the wounded Cotta to see if he agreed to withdraw with him from the fight and parley with Ambiorix, stating that he hoped he might prevail on him to save themselves and the troops. Cotta refused to go to an armed enemy, and persisted in the refusal.

37 Sabinus ordered all the tribunes and the senior centurions he had about him at the time to follow him; and when he was come quite near to Ambiorix,  p283 and was ordered to cast away his arms, he obeyed the command and commanded his party to do the same. While they two were discussing the terms together, and Ambiorix was purposely making a longer speech than necessary, Titurius was gradually surrounded and slain. Then at once they shouted victory after their own fashion, and, with a loud yell, charged our troops and threw the ranks into confusion. There Lucius Cotta was killed fighting, with the greatest part of the troops. The remainder retired to the camp from which they had marched out. One of them, the standard-bearer Lucius Petrosidius, hard pressed by a great host of the enemy, flung his eagle within the rampart, and was himself cut down, fighting most gallantly, before the camp. The others scarcely kept off the assault till nightfall; in the night, despairing of deliverance, they slew one another to a man. A few who had slipped away from the battle made their way by uncertain paths through the woods to the cantonments of Titus Labienus, the lieutenant-general, and informed him of what had happened.

38 Elated by this victory, Ambiorix at once set out with his cavalry for the country of the Aduatuci, which lay next to his kingdom; he marched without a break, for a night and a day, ordering his infantry to follow after him. Having reported the battle and aroused the Aduatuci, he came the next day into the territory of the Nervii, and exhorted them not to let slip the chance of winning freedom for all time and of taking vengeance on the Romans for the outrages they had suffered. He made it clear that two lieutenant-generals had been slain and the great part of an army destroyed; that it was not a difficult business to fall suddenly upon the legion which was  p285 wintering with Cicero and cut it to pieces; and he offered his own assistance to that end. With this speech he easily persuaded the Nervii.

39 Accordingly messengers were at once despatched to the Ceutrones, the Grudii, the Levaci, the Pleumoxii, the Geidumni, all of whom were under the sovereignty of the Nervii; they raised companies as large as they could, and of a sudden swooped upon the winter quarters of Cicero, who had not yet received report of the death of Titurius. In Cicero's case also it happened, as was inevitable, that some soldiers who had gone off into the woods to get timber for entrenching were cut off by the sudden arrival of the enemy's horsemen. They were surrounded; and then in a huge mass the Eburones, the Nervii, the Aduatuci, and the allies and dependents of them all, began the assault upon the legion. Our troops speedily ran to arms and mounted the rampart. Scarcely for that day could they hold out, because the enemy were putting all their hope in despatch, believing that if they won this victory they would be victorious right through.

40 Despatches were at once sent by Cicero to Caesar, with promise of great rewards if the bearers carried them safe; but all the roads were blocked, and the messengers were cut off. During the night about one hundred and twenty towers were run up with incredible speed out of the timber which had been collected for the purpose of the entrenchment, and all apparent deficiencies in the earthworks were rectified. On the next day the enemy assaulted the camp with a far larger force which they had assembled, and filled in the trench. Our troops resisted in the same fashion as on the day before. And exactly the same was done on the other days following. For  p287 not a moment of the night season was there a break in the work; no chance of rest was given to sick or wounded. All that was needed against the next day's assault was made ready in the night: quantities of stakes fired at the end, a great number of pikes for wall-fighting were got ready; the towers were raised stage by stage,​4 battlements and breastworks of hurdles were attached to them. Cicero himself, though he was in very frail health, left himself not even the night season for rest, until at last he was actually forced to spare himself by the protests of the soldiers, who crowded about him.

41 Then the leaders and chiefs of the Nervii who had some plea of friendship to give them access to conversation with Cicero said that they desired to parley. When the opportunity was given them they recounted the same arguments which Ambiorix had used with Titurius. All Gaul, they said, was in arms; the Germans had crossed the Rhine; the winter stations of Caesar and the rest were being assaulted. They told further of the death of Sabinus; they pointed to Ambiorix in order to inspire credit. "You are wrong," they said, "to hope for any security from others who are themselves in desperate case; our own feeling, however, towards Cicero and Rome is to refuse nothing except winter quartering, for we are unwilling that this practice should become established. So far as we are concerned, you have liberty to depart safe from your winter quarters, and to march off without fear in what soever direction you please." To this Cicero made one remark only in reply: that it was not the practice of Rome to accept terms from an enemy in arms; if they would lay  p289 down their arms, they might use his good offices and send deputies to Caesar; he hoped that, having regard to the justice of Caesar, they would obtain their petition.

42 Foiled of this hope, the Nervii encompassed the station with a rampart nine feet high and a trench fifteen feet wide. These expedients they had learnt from us in the intercourse of previous years, and they were further instructed by prisoners from the army whom they kept in secret; but, having no supply of the tools suitable for this purpose, they were striving to cut sods round with swords, and lifting out earth with hands and cloaks. And this circumstance made it possible to ascertain the number of their host; for in less than three hours they completed an entrenchment fifteen miles in circumference, and on the days that followed they set about their preparations, making towers to suit the height of the rampart, grappling-hooks,​5 and shelters, under the instruction of the prisoners aforesaid.

43 On the seventh day of the siege-operations a very strong wind arose, and they began to sling red‑hot bullets of softened clay and to hurl blazing darts on to the huts, which in Gallic fashion had been thatched with straw. These speedily caught fire, which the strength of the wind carried to every corner of the camp. With a huge shout, as though victory were already won and assured, the enemy began to move up their towers and shelters, and to mount the rampart with scaling-ladders. Yet so great was the valour of the troops, and such their presence of mind, that, although they were everywhere scorched by the flame and harassed by the vast multitude of missiles, and understood that all their own baggage and all  p291 their possessions were ablaze, not only did no man leave the rampart to withdraw from the fight, but scarcely a man even looked behind him, and all at that time fought with the greatest zeal and gallantry. This day was by far the most serious for our troops, with the result, however, that a greater number of the enemy were wounded and slain than on any other day, as they had pressed right up to the very rampart, the rear giving no chance of retirement to the van. When the flames had abated somewhat, in one place a tower was moved up to touch the rampart: whereupon the centurions of the third cohort withdrew from their station and moved back all their men, and then began to invite the enemy by signs and shouts, in case they should desire to come in; but not one of them durst advance. Then they were dislodged by volleys of stones from every side, and the tower was set on fire.

44 In that legion there were two most gallant centurions, now not far from the first class of their rank,​6 Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus. They had continual quarrels together which was to stand first, and every year they struggled in fierce rivalry for the chief posts. One of them, Pullo, when the fight was fiercest by the entrenchments, said: "Why hesitate, Vorenus? Or what chance of proving your pluck do you wait for? This day shall decide our quarrels." So saying, he stepped outside the entrenchments, and dashed upon the section of the enemy which seemed to be in closest array. Neither did Vorenus keep within the rampart, but in fear of what all men would think he followed hard. Then, at short range, Pullo sent his pike at the enemy, and pierced one man as he ran forward from the host.  p293 When he was struck senseless the enemy sought to cover him with their shields, and discharged their spears in a volley at the foeman, giving him no chance of retirement. Pullo's shield was penetrated, and a dart was lodged in his belt. This accident threw his scabbard out of place, and delayed his right hand as he tried to draw his sword, and while he was in difficulty the enemy surrounded him. His enemy, Vorenus, ran up to him and helped him in his distress. Upon him at once all the host turned, and left Pullo, supposing him to be slain by the dart. Vorenus plied his sword at close quarters, and by slaying one man drove off the rest a little; while he pressed on too eagerly he fell down headlong into a dip in the ground. He was surrounded in his turn, but Pullo brought assistance; and both, unhurt, though they had slain several men, retired with the utmost glory within the entrenchments. In the eagerness of their rivalry fortune so handled the two that, for all their mutual hostility, the one helped and saved the other, and it was impossible to decide which should be considered the better man in valour.

45 The more serious and burdensome the siege-operations each day became — and chiefly because, with a great part of the soldiers overcome by wounds, the burden had fallen on a small number of defenders — the more frequent were the despatches and messengers sent to Caesar. Part of these latter were captured and put to death with torture in sight of our own troops. There was a Nervian in the camp, named Vertico, born to an honourable estate, who at the very beginning of the blockade had fled to Cicero for refuge, and had since proved his loyalty to him. He persuaded a slave by the hope of freedom and by great rewards to deliver a  p295 despatch to Caesar. The man carried forth the despatch bound on a javelin,​7 and moving, all unsuspected, as a Gaul among Gauls, he made his way to Caesar. It was he who brought the information about the dangers of Cicero and the legion.

46 Caesar received the despatch about the eleventh hour of the day, and at once sent a messenger into the country of the Bellovaci to Marcus Crassus, the quartermaster-general, whose winter quarters were twenty-five miles away from him; he bade the legion start at midnight and come speedily to him. Crassus marched out on receipt of the message. Another envoy was sent to Gaius Fabius, the lieutenant-general, bidding him bring his legion into the borders of the Atrebates, through which Caesar knew he himself would have to march. He wrote instructions to Labienus to come with his legion as far as the borders of the Nervii, if he could so do without damage to the public service. For the rest of the army he did not think he ought to wait, because it was somewhat too far away; he assembled about four hundred horse from the nearest cantonments.

47 About the third hour the advanced parties informed him of the approach of Crassus, and he moved forward twenty miles that day. He put Crassus in charge of Samarobriva, and assigned him a legion, because he purposed to leave there the baggage of the army, the hostages of the states, the public documents, and all the corn which he had brought in thither to last through the winter. Fabius and his legion, as ordered, after a brief delay met him on the march. Labienus learnt of the death of Sabinus and the  p297 slaughter of the cohorts; but as all the forces of the Treveri were come against him he feared that, if he started to march from his cantonments with the appearance of flight, he would not be able to withstand the onslaught of the enemy, especially as he knew them to be elated by the recent victory. He accordingly sent back a despatch to Caesar explaining the greatness of the danger if he were to bring the legion out of cantonments. He wrote in detail of the operation in the territory of the Eburones, and he informed him that all the horsemen and footmen of the Treveri had stationed themselves three miles from his own camp.

48 Caesar approved his conclusion, although he was thereby disappointed in his expectation of obtaining three legions, and reduced to two; none the less, he still regarded speed as the only means to the general safety, and proceeded by forced marches into the borders of the Nervii. There he learnt from prisoners what was taking place at Cicero's station, and how dangerous was his case. Then he persuaded one of the Gallic troopers with great rewards to deliver a letter to Cicero. The letter he sent written in Greek characters, lest by intercepting it the enemy might get to know of our designs. The messenger was instructed, if he could not approach, to hurl a spear, with the letter fastened to the thong, inside the entrenchment of the camp. In the despatch he wrote that he had started with the legions and would speedily be with him, and he exhorted Cicero to maintain his old courage. Fearing danger, the Gaul discharged the spear, as he had been instructed. By chance it stuck fast in the tower, and for two days was not noticed by our troops; on the third day it was sighted by a soldier, taken down, and  p299 delivered to Cicero. He read it through, and then recited it at a parade of the troops, bringing the greatest rejoicing to all. Soon the smoke of the fires​8 was to be seen in the distance, and this banished all doubt about the arrival of the legions.

49 The Gauls were informed of it by their scouts, and, relinquishing the blockade, they pressed on to meet Caesar with all their forces. These amounted to some sixty thousand men under arms. When a chance offered, Cicero again asked Vertico, whom we mentioned above, for a Gaul to deliver a despatch to Caesar. He warned the man to make his way cautiously and carefully. He wrote explicitly in the despatch that the enemy had departed from him and that the whole host had turned round to meet Caesar. The despatch was brought in about midnight; Caesar informed his troops thereof, and encouraged them for the fight. At dawn next day he struck camp, and, having advanced about four miles, he caught sight of the enemy's host across a valley and a stream. It was a very dangerous thing for so slender a force to fight on unfavourable ground; further, as he knew that Cicero was freed from blockade, he was without anxiety, and thought that he should abate his speed. He halted, therefore, and proceeded to entrench his camp in the most favourable position to be found; and small as was the camp itself, as it was for scarce seven thousand men, and those, too, without baggage, he nevertheless compressed it by narrowing the streets​9 as much as possible, with the object of incurring the utmost contempt on the part of the enemy. Meanwhile, by  p301 scouts despatched in all directions, he sought to find the most convenient route by which to cross the valley.

50 On that day petty encounters of cavalry took place by the water, but both armies kept to their own ground — the Gauls because they were waiting for larger forces which had not yet joined them; Caesar, to see if by pretending fear he could draw the enemy on to his own ground, and fight on this side of the valley, in front of the camp, or, if he might not do so, that, after reconnaissance of the routes, he might cross valley and stream with less danger. At break of day the enemy's horsemen came up to the camp and engaged our own cavalry. Caesar purposely ordered the cavalry to give way and to retire into camp; at the same time he ordered the camp to be fortified with a higher rampart on all sides, the gates to be barricaded, and as much confusion and pretence of fear as possible to be shown in the execution of these arrangements.

51 All these proceedings tempted the enemy to lead their forces across and to form line on unfavourable ground; and then, as our troops had been withdrawn even from the rampart, they approached nearer and discharged their missiles from all sides into the entrenchment. Next they sent heralds round about, and ordered proclamation to be made that if anyone, Gaul or Roman, would go over to their side before the third hour, he was at liberty to do so without danger; after that time there would be no chance. And, indeed, they held our troops in such contempt that, thinking they could not break in by the gates, which had been barricaded for show with single rows of sods, some of them set to work to tear down the rampart with their hands, others to fill in the trenches. Then Caesar caused a sally to be made  p303 from all the gates, and sending out the cavalry put the enemy speedily to flight, so effectually that never a man stood to fight. He slew a great number of them and stripped all of their arms.

52 He feared to pursue very far, because there were woods and marshes in the way, and, as he saw, there was no chance now of doing even slight damage to the enemy; therefore, with his whole force unhurt, he joined Cicero the same day. He marvelled at the towers erected, the shelters, the fortifications of the enemy. He paraded the legion and found that not one‑tenth of the soldiers were left unwounded. From all these evidences he could judge with what danger and with what courage the operations had been carried out. He warmly praised Cicero according to his desert, and the legion likewise; he addressed severally the centurions and tribunes, whose valour, on the testimony of Cicero, he knew to have been exceptional. As touching the disaster of Sabinus and Cotta, he learnt more particularly from prisoners. The next day he held a parade and set forth all that had occurred, cheering and encouraging the troops, and admonishing them to bear with the greater equanimity the loss incurred through the fault and foolhardiness of a general, inasmuch as by the goodness of the immortal gods and by their own valour the misfortune had been made good, leaving to the enemy no lasting joy, to themselves no long-enduring grief.

53 Meanwhile report of Caesar's victory was brought to Labienus with incredible speed through the agency of the Remi. In fact, though Labienus was about sixty miles away from Cicero's cantonments, and Caesar had not reached the latter until after the ninth hour, before midnight a shout arose at the  p305 gates of Labienus' camp, to signify the victory and to express the congratulations of the Remi to Labienus. When the same report was brought to the Treveri, Indutiomarus, who had determined to attack Labienus' camp next day, fled away in the night and withdrew all his forces into the country of the Treveri. Caesar sent Fabius with his legion back into cantonments, and determined to winter himself with three legions in three separate stations around Samarobriva; and in view of the great disturbances which had arisen in Gaul, he decided to remain with the army in person throughout the winter. For when news was brought of Sabinus' great disaster almost all the states of Gaul began to think of war, despatching messengers and deputations in all directions to find out what the others purposed and where the war should start, and holding nightly councils in solitary places. And scarcely a moment the whole winter through passed without anxiety for Caesar, without the receipt of some message concerning the projected rising of the Gauls. Among other news he was informed by Lucius Roscius, whom he had put in command of the Thirteenth Legion, that a large force of Gauls, from the states called Armoric, had assembled to attack him and had stationed themselves not farther than eight miles from his cantonments; but that upon receiving report of Caesar's victory they had departed so hastily that their departure seemed like unto flight.

54 Nevertheless, Caesar summoned to his quarters the chief men of each state; and by frightening some with the announcement that he knew what was afoot, and by encouraging others, he kept a great part of Gaul in submission. The Senones, however,  p307 a state of prominent power and great authority among the Gauls, took counsel together and attempted to slay Cavarinus, whom Caesar had appointed king among them, and whose brother Moritasgus had held the kingship at the time of Caesar's arrival in Gaul, and his ancestors before him. Cavarinus got wind of their design and escaped. They pursued him even to the boundaries and drove him out of kingship and home, and then sent deputies to Caesar to make excuse; but they did not obey his command that all their senate should come to him. Indeed, the fact that they had found men to take the lead in a war of offence had so much weight among the natives, and brought about such a universal change of feeling, that, save the Aedui and the Remi, whom Caesar always held in especial honour — the former for their old‑established and unbroken loyalty towards Rome, the latter for their recent services in the Gallic war — scarcely a single state was free from suspicion on our part. And I am inclined to think that this is not so very remarkable, chiefly, among several other reasons, because this nation, which at one time surpassed all others in military courage, was grievously indignant to have lost so much of that estimation as to submit to the sovereignty of the Roman people.

55 So the Treveri and Indutiomarus, without intermission throughout the course of the winter, sent deputies across the Rhine, inviting the states, promising sums of money, and affirming that, as a great part of our army had been slain, a much smaller part was left. But still none of the German states could be persuaded to cross the Rhine: they had tried it twice, they said, in the war of Ariovistus and the passage of the Tencteri, and they would not  p309 tempt fortune further. Though disappointed in this hope, Indutiomarus none the less set to work to raise forces, to train them, to procure horses from his neighbours, and to attract to his standard by great rewards exiles and condemned persons throughout Gaul. And, indeed, by such means, he had already secured himself so great an authority in Gaul that deputations hastened to him from every direction, seeking favour and friendship for their states or for themselves.

56 When he perceived that they were coming to him of their own motion, that on the one hand the Senones and Carnutes were spurred on by the sense of guilt, on the other the Nervii and the Aduatuci were preparing for war against the Romans, and that he would not lack forces of volunteers if he began to advance from out his own borders, he proclaimed an armed convention. This in the practice of the Gauls marks the beginning of a war; and by a general law all grown men are accustomed to assemble at it in arms, while the one who comes last to the assembly is put to death with every kind of torture in sight of the host. At the convention Indutiomarus declared Cingetorix an enemy and confiscated his goods. Cingetorix was his son-in‑law, the chief man of the other party, who, as set forth above,​10 had sought the protection of Caesar and had not deserted him. This business despatched, Indutiomarus declared in the convention that he had been summoned by the Senones, the Carnutes, and several other Gallic states, and that he proposed to march to them through the borders of the Remi, laying waste their lands, and before so doing to attack the camp of Labienus. He gave instructions as to what he would have done.

 p311  57 Labienus, secure as he was in a camp well fortified by natural position and by handiwork, had no apprehension of danger to himself and his legion; his purpose was to lose no chance of a successful operation. And so, having learnt from Cingetorix and his kinsfolk the speech which Indutiomarus had made in the convention, he sent messengers to the neighbouring states and called up cavalry from all quarters, appointing them a certain day for assembly. Meanwhile, almost every day, Indutiomarus, with all his horsemen, would range close to his camp, sometimes to reconnoitre the situation thereof, sometimes to parley or to intimidate; and generally all the horsemen would discharge missiles within the rampart. Labienus kept his troops within the entrenchment, and sought by all means in his power to enhance the impression that he was afraid.

58 Indutiomarus continued to come up to the camp with daily increasing contempt; but in one night Labienus brought inside the cavalry of all the neighbouring states, which he had caused to be summoned, and by means of guards he kept all his troops so carefully inside camp that the fact could by no means be disclosed or reported to the Treveri. Meanwhile, in accordance with his daily custom, Indutiomarus came up to the camp and spent there a great part of the day; his horsemen discharged missiles, and with great insolence of language called our troops out to fight. No reply was given by our men; and towards evening, when it seemed good, the Gauls began to depart, dispersing in disorder. Suddenly from two gates Labienus launched forth all his cavalry; he straitly charged them that when they had once frightened the enemy and sent them flying (foreseeing exactly what would, and did, happen), they should all make  p313 for Indutiomarus alone, and no one was to wound any until he saw the chieftain slain, as Labienus did not wish that delay over the rest might give him time to escape. He offered great rewards to those who should kill him, and sent up cohorts to support the horse. The event approved his plan, and as all the force were making for one man they caught Indutiomarus just in the ford of the river, slew him, and brought his head back to camp; during their return the cavalry chased and killed all they could. On learning of this all the forces of the Eburones and Nervii which had assembled departed, and thereafter Caesar found Gaul somewhat more tranquil.

The Editor's Notes:

1 The argument appears to be: "I was compelled by my state, against my better judgment, to attack you. Left to myself, I should never have supposed that any forces of mine could defeat the Romans."

[decorative delimiter]

2 i.e. the right.

[decorative delimiter]

3 i.e. had been chief centurion of his legion.

[decorative delimiter]

4 Or "raised a stage"; or, according to others, "boarded over."

[decorative delimiter]

5 See III.14, and VII.22.

[decorative delimiter]

6 There was a regular gradation of the centurions in a legion.

[decorative delimiter]

7 The message was probably not tied to the javelin, but bound up inside the shaft, hollowed for the purpose.

[decorative delimiter]

8 i.e. burning villages and the like.

[decorative delimiter]

9 The roadways of a camp.

[decorative delimiter]

10 V.3.

Page updated: 28 Oct 13