54 BC J.-C.
1. Under the consulship of Lucius Domitius and Appius Claudius, Caesar, leaving his winter quarters to go to Italy, as he was accustomed to do each year, orders his legates, whom he had placed at the head of the legions, to have as many vessels as possible built during the winter and to have the old ones repaired. It indicates what should be the dimensions and shape. For the speed of loading and the ease of hauling out, he makes them a little lower than those we are accustomed to using on our seas, especially since he had observed that the waves, as a result of the flow and reflux, were less high; because of the loads and the great number of horses and beasts of burden which they had to transport, it gives them a breadth a little greater than that of the vessels which we use on the other seas. He orders that they should all be of the light type, with sails and oars, an arrangement greatly facilitated by their low height. What is necessary for their armament, he brings from Spain. Then, having finished holding its seats in the Gaul later, he left for Illyricum, on the news that the Pirustes were devastating the confines of the province by their incursions. As soon as he arrives, he orders the cities to raise troops and sets them an assembly point. When they learn of this, the Pirustes send deputies to him to tell him that the nation has nothing to do with what has happened, and declare themselves ready to furnish all the satisfactions he will demand. After having heard them, Caesar orders them to deliver hostages to him and sets the day of the surrender: in case of failure, it will be war. They are brought in on the appointed day, according to his orders; he appoints arbitrators to estimate the damage suffered by each city and fix the reparation.
2. Having settled this affair and held his assizes, he returns to Citerior Gaul, and from there, leaves for the army. As soon as he arrived, he visited all the winter quarters and found fully equipped, thanks to the singular activity of the troops, when everything was lacking, about six hundred ships of the type we have described above, and twenty- eight long vessels: there was not much missing for them to be put to sea in a few days. He congratulates the soldiers and those who have led the enterprise, explains his intentions, and orders that all concentrate at Portus Itius, from where he knew the crossing was easiest, and from where there is only about thirty miles from the mainland in Brittany ; he left the troops he deemed necessary for this operation. As for him, taking four legions without baggage and eight hundred cavalry, he went to the Treveri, because they abstained from coming to the assemblies, did not recognize his authority and tried, it was said, to attract the germans trans-Rhenish.
3. These people have the strongest cavalry in all of Gaul, a large infantry, and they touch, as we have said, the Rhine. Two men argued for power Indutiomaros and Cingetorix. The latter, as soon as it was known of the approach of Caesar and his legions, came to find him, gave the assurance that he and his family would remain in duty and would not betray the friendship of the Roman people, and the learned about what was happening among the Treveri. Indutiomaros, on the contrary, began to raise cavalry and infantry and prepare for war, hiding in the forest of the Ardennes, which stretches over an immense expanse, in the middle of the territory of the Trevires, from the Rhine to 'at the borders of the Rèmes, those whose age did not allow them to bear arms. Then when he saw that a large enough number of Treveri chiefs, yielding to their friendship for Cingetorix and to the fear that the arrival of our troops caused them, went to Caesar and, being unable to do anything for the nation, requested him for themselves, he fears being abandoned by all and sends deputies to Caesar: "If he had not wanted to leave his family and come to find him, it was to be able to better maintain the city in duty, for it was feared that, if all the nobles left, the people, in their ignorance, would allow themselves to be dragged along; the city therefore obeyed him, and if Caesar consented, he would come to his camp to place his person and the city under his protection. "
4. Caesar was not unaware of what dictated these words to him and what diverted him from his first designs; however, not wanting to be forced to spend the whole summer with the Treveri when everything was ready for the war in Brittany, he ordered Indutiomaros to come with two hundred hostages. When the latter had brought them, and among them his son and all his relatives whom Caesar had requested by name, he reassured him and exhorted him to remain in duty; but he nonetheless summoned the Treveri chiefs and rallied them one by one to Cingerorix: it was not only a just recompense for his services; Caesar also saw a great interest in strengthening as much as possible the credit of a man in whom he had found an exceptional devotion. It was a significant blow for Indutiomaros to see himself put in less favor with his family; and he who was already hostile to us, he conceived a resentment which exasperated his hatred.
5. These matters once settled, Caesar goes to Portus Itius with his legions. There he learns that sixty ships, which had been built among the Meldes, have been washed up by the storm, and, unable to hold their course, have had to return to their point of departure; as for the others, he finds them ready to sail and provided with everything necessary. The cavalry of all Gaul is assembled there, four thousand horses strong, with the leaders of all the nations; Caesar had resolved to leave only a very small number in Gaul, those he was sure of, and to take the others as hostages, because he feared an uprising in Gaul in his absence.
6. Among these chiefs was the Heduan Dumnorix, of whom we have already spoken. He was one of the first that Caesar would have thought of keeping with him, for he knew his taste for adventure, his thirst for domination, his boldness and the authority he enjoyed among the Gallic. Moreover, Dumnorix had said in an assembly of the Aedui that Caesar offered him to be king of this people, a statement which greatly worried them, without them daring to depute to Caesar to say that they did not accept his project or to pray let him give it up. Caesar had known about the trait through his hosts. Dumnorix began by using all kinds of prayers to obtain that he be left in Gaul: “He was not in the habit of sailing and dreaded the sea; he was restrained by religious duties. When he saw that he was met with a categorical refusal, having no longer any hope of success, he began to intrigue with the Gallic chiefs, frightening them, taking them each aside and urging them to stay on the continent. "It was not without reason, he said, that Gaul was deprived of all its nobility: Caesar's project, who dared not massacre it under the eyes of the Gauls, was to transport it to Brittany to put him to death there. To others, Dumnorix swore and made swear that they would carry out by common agreement what they believed useful to the interests of Gaul. Many people denounced these plots to Caesar.
7. When he knew this situation, his thought was as follows: because of the rank in which he placed the Heduan nation, to try everything to retain Dumnorix and divert him from his designs; but since, on the other hand, the character's bewilderment obviously only increased, took precautions so that he could not be a danger either for himself or for the State. Consequently, having been detained in port for about twenty-five days by the chorus, a wind which blows most often, in all seasons, on these coasts, he endeavored to keep Dumnorix in duty, without neglecting to keep himself aware of all the plans he was making; finally, taking advantage of a favorable wind, he gave the infantry and cavalry the order to embark. But, while this operation occupied the attention of all, Dumnorix left the camp, unbeknownst to Caesar, with the Heduan cavalry, and set out for his country. When he learns the thing, Caesar suspends the departure and, all business ceasing, sends a large part of the cavalry in pursuit, with orders to bring him back; if he resists, if he refuses to obey, he orders that he be killed, for he expected nothing sensible, far from his presence, from a man who had disobeyed him in his face. Dumnorix, summoned to return, resists, puts his sword in his hand, begs his people to do their duty, repeating with loud cries that he is free and belongs to a free people. In accordance with orders, they surround him and kill him; as for the Heduan horsemen, all return to Caesar.
8. This affair ended, Caesar left Labienus on the continent with three legions and two thousand horsemen, to guard the ports and provide for corn, to watch the events of Gaul and take the decisions that the circumstances would entail; himself, with five legions and as many horsemen as he had left on the mainland, he weighed anchor at sunset. It was first pushed by a light south-westerly wind; but towards midnight the wind died down, he could not keep his way, and, carried far enough by the tidal current, when day came, he saw on his left Brittany which he had missed. Then he followed the current which was now carrying in the opposite direction and made force of oars to approach at this place of the island which the previous summer he had recognized as very favorable to a disembarkation. On this occasion our soldiers were above all praise with transport ships, and heavily loaded, they were able, by rowing relentlessly, to go as fast as long vessels. We reached Brittany, with the whole fleet, around noon, without seeing the enemy at this point; as Caesar later learned from prisoners, large groups had assembled there and, terrified at the sight of so many vessels - along with those of the previous year, and those that individuals had built for their use, it was was more than eight hundred ships that had appeared at a time, - they had left the shore to go and hide on the heights.
9. Caesar disembarked his troops and chose a suitable site for his camp; when he learned from the prisoners where the enemy had stopped, leaving ten cohorts and three hundred horsemen near the sea to guard the ships, before the end of the third watch, he marched to the enemy; he feared all the less for his fleet as he left it at anchor on a soft and level beach; he gave command of the detachment and the fleet to Quintus Atrius. For him, a night march of about twelve miles brought him in sight of the enemy. This one advanced towards the river with its cavalry and its tanks and, of a dominant position, tried to deny us the passage and engaged the battle. Repulsed by our riders, the Barbarians hid in the woods: they found a position remarkably fortified by nature and by art, which they had previously arranged, no doubt for some war between them: because a great number of trees, and they had been used to obstruct all accesses. Scattered like skirmishers, they threw arrows from inside the forest and barred us from entering their fortress. But the soldiers of the Seventh Legion, having formed the tortoise and pushed an approach terrace to the enemy entrenchment, gained a foothold in the place and drove them out of the forest without suffering appreciable losses. Caesar forbade that they should be pursued further, because he did not know the country and because, the day being well advanced, he wanted to devote the end to the fortification of the camp.
10. The next morning he sent infantry and cavalry in three corps in pursuit of the fleeing enemy. They had come a long way, and already we saw the last fleeing, when horsemen sent by Quintus Atrius came to announce to Caesar that, the previous night, a very violent storm had arisen, and that almost all the ships had been distraught and thrown on the coast, cables and anchors having given way and the sailors and pilots not being able to withstand the violence of the hurricane, the ships, struck against each other, had suffered greatly.
11. At this news, Caesar orders that the legionnaires and horsemen be called back, that they stop and turn back; himself returns to the ships; what messengers and letters had told him was confirmed, on the whole, in his eyes: forty ships were lost, but the others seemed capable of being repaired, at the cost of a great deal of work. He chooses workers from the legions and brings in others from the continent; he writes to Labienus to have to build, with the legions at his disposal, as many ships as possible. For his part, although it was a great job, and which must have cost a lot of trouble, he took the decision, which seemed to him the best, to dry the whole fleet and to lock it up with the camp in a common fortification. . This operation required about ten days of labor which the night itself did not interrupt. Once the ships are aground and the camp perfectly fortified, leaving the same troops to guard the fleet as before, he returns to the place he left. He found there already numerous Breton forces which had gathered there from all sides, under the orders of Cassivellaunos to whom, by common agreement, all powers for the conduct of the war had been entrusted. He is a prince whose territory is separated from the maritime states by a river called the Thames, about eighty miles from the sea. but the dread caused by our arrival had determined the Bretons to give him supreme command.
12. The interior of Brittany is populated by inhabitants who call themselves, by virtue of an oral tradition, indigenous; on the coast live tribes which had come from Belgium to plunder and wage war (almost all bear the names of the cities from which they came); these men, after the war, remained in the country and became colonists there. The population of the island is extremely dense, the houses throng there, almost entirely similar to those of the Gauls, the cattle abound. For money one uses copper, gold coins or iron ingots of a determined weight. The center of the island produces tin, the coastal region iron, but in small quantities; the copper comes from outside. There are trees of all kinds, as in Gaul, except beech and fir. The hare, the hen and the goose are in their eyes forbidden food; however, they breed it for fun. The climate is more temperate than that of Gaul, the colds being less severe.
13. The island is shaped like a triangle, one side of which faces Gaul. From the two angles on this side, one, towards the Cantium, where almost all the ships coming from Gaul land, looks east; the other, lower, is at noon. This side runs for about five hundred miles. The second looks at Spain and the setting in these parts is Hibernia, which is estimated to be twice as small as Brittany; it is at the same distance from Brittany as this one from Gaul. Halfway is the island called Mona; there are also, it is said, several other smaller islands, neighboring Brittany, about which some authors claim that night reigns there for thirty consecutive days, at the time of the winter solstice. For us, our investigations did not reveal anything of the same to us; however, we observed, by our clepsydra, that the nights were shorter than on the mainland. The length of this side of the triangle, according to the opinion of said authors, is seven hundred miles. The third faces north; there is no land in front of it, except, at its end, Germany. The length of this coast is estimated at eight hundred miles. Thus the whole of the island has two thousand miles around.
14. Of all the inhabitants of Brittany, the most civilized, by many, are those who inhabit the Cantium, an entirely maritime region; their customs hardly differ from those of the Gauls. Those in the interior, in general, do not sow wheat; they live on milk and meat, and are clothed in skins. But it is a common practice for all Britons to dye their body in pastel, which gives a blue color, and this makes them look particularly terrible in combat. They wear long hair, and shave all parts of the body except the head and upper lip. Their wives are in common between ten or twelve, particularly between brothers and between fathers and sons; but the children who are born from this promiscuity are deemed to belong to the one who was the first spouse.
15. The enemy cavalry and tanks engaged strongly with our cavalry while we were on the march; nevertheless we had the upper hand everywhere and the Bretons were driven back into forests and hills; we killed many, but too fiery a pursuit caused us some losses. The enemies waited a while; then, while our soldiers were unsuspecting and occupied in fortifying the camp, they suddenly burst out of the forests and, falling on those who were on guard in front of the camp, engaged in a violent combat; Caesar sent in support two cohorts, and he chose the first of two legions; they took up a position leaving only a very small interval between them; but the enemy, taking advantage of the disturbance which this new kind of combat was causing among our people, had the audacity to rush between the two cohorts and freed themselves without loss. That day Quintus Labérius Durus, military tribune, is killed. Sending new cohorts pushes back the enemy.
16. The affair, with all its incidents, was instructive: as it took place before everyone's eyes and in front of the camp, we could realize that our soldiers, too heavily armed, could not pursue the enemy if he withdrew and not daring to depart from their ensigns, were ill prepared to fight such an adversary; that, on the other hand, our cavalry could not give battle without grave danger, because the enemies gave way most often by feint, and, when they had drawn our legions at some distance, jumped from their chariots and delivered , on foot, an unequal fight. As the combat remained a combat of cavalry, it was fought under such conditions that the danger was exactly the same for the pursuer and the pursued. Add to this that they never fought in masses, but in dispersed order and at very large intervals, and that they had reserve posts staggered from distance to distance, which allowed them to offer each other, in turn. role, a line of retreat and replace tired combatants with others whose forces were intact.
17. The next day, the enemies took up position far from the camp, on the hills: they only showed themselves in small groups, and attacked our horsemen with less force than the day before. But at noon, as Caesar had sent for fodder three legions and all the cavalry under the command of the legate Caius Trebonius, suddenly, from all sides, they rushed on our foragers, and their enthusiasm carried them to the ensigns and the legions. Ours, counterattacking with vigor, repulsed them, and they followed them relentlessly; our horsemen, reassured by this support, since they saw the legions behind them, charged them impetuously and, by carrying out a great massacre, did not leave them the means of reforming themselves nor of facing up or of jumping down from the tanks. This rout immediately led to the dispersal of the auxiliaries who had come from all sides, and the enemies never again engaged us in battle with all of their forces.
18. Caesar, informed of their plan, led his army towards the Thames, to make it penetrate into the land of Cassivellaunos; this river is fordable only in one place, and not without difficulty. When he got there, he noticed that on the other side of the river large enemy forces were lined up: In addition, the bank was defended by pointed stakes which bordered it, and other stakes of the same kind, as the water covered, were sunk in the bed of the river. Having learned this from prisoners and deserters, Caesar sent the cavalry forward, and ordered the legions to march in his train without delay. The speed and momentum of our troops were such, although the men had their heads above the water, that the enemy could not withstand the shock of the legions and the cavalry, and, abandoning the banks of the river, fled.
19. Cassivellaunos, as we said above, had, despairing of defeating us in pitched battle, sent back the main body of his troops; he had only kept about four thousand essedaries, with whom he watched our steps he kept a little distance from the road and hid himself in difficult terrain covered with woods: where he knew we were going to pass, he did evacuate the countryside, pushing animals and men into the forests; if it happened that our cavalry had spread a little far to pillage and devastate, it would throw its essedaries out of the woods by all the exits, roads or paths, and deliver to our horsemen a combat so formidable that it deprived them of the want to venture some distance. There remained to Caesar no other party but to forbid the withdrawal of the column of infantry, and to injure the enemy, by devastating his campaigns and lighting fires, to the limited extent that the the fatigue of the march allowed it to the legionaries.
20. However the Trinovantes, who were, or nearly so, the most powerful people of these lands - Mandubracios, a young man of this city, had become attached to Caesar and had come to find him on the continent his father had been king of the Trinovantes, he had been killed by Cassivellaunos, and the son had avoided death only by fleeing - this people therefore sent deputies to Caesar, promising to submit and obey his orders; they ask him to protect Mandubracios against the violence of Cassivellaunos, and to send him to his city so that he can exercise sovereign power. Caesar demands from them forty hostages and wheat for the year, and he sends them Mandubracios. They obeyed without delay, sent the requested number of hostages and corn.
21. Seeing the Trinovantes protected against Cassivellaunos and sheltered from any violence on the part of the troops, the Cenimagnes, the Segontiacs, the Ancalites, the Bibroques and the Casses deputate to Caesar and submit. Through them, he learns that he is not far from the stronghold of Cassivellaunos, which is defended by forests and swamps and where there is a rather considerable gathering of men and cattle. What the Bretons call a stronghold is a forest that is difficult to access, and which serves as their usual refuge to avoid incursions by their enemies. Caesar leads his legions there: he finds a place that is singularly well fortified by nature and art; however, he attacks it vigorously from two sides. The enemy, after a short resistance, yielded to the impetuosity of our assault and fled through another side of the square. Many cattle were found there, and a good number of fleeing people were taken or killed.
22. While these events are unfolding inside, Cassivellaunos sends into the Cantium, which is, as we said above, a maritime region, and which obeyed four kings, Cingetorix, Carvilios, Taximagulos and Ségovax, messengers bringing to these kings the order to attack unexpectedly, all forces united, the camp of the vessels. When they arrived there, our people made a sortie and killed many people, even taking prisoner a chief of high birth, Lugotorix; they then returned to the camp without casualties. At the news of this fight, Cassivellaunos, discouraged by so many failures, moved by the devastation of his territory, and above all alarmed by the defection of the cities, sends deputies to Caesar, through the intermediary of the Atrebate Commios, to deal with his submission. Caesar, who had resolved to spend the winter on the continent, because of the sudden movements that could occur in Gaul, who, on the other hand, saw the summer already advanced and understood that it would be easy on the enemy to procrastinate until its end, order the delivery of hostages and fix the tribute that Brittany will have to pay each year to the Roman people; it formally forbids Cassivellaunos to worry neither Mandubracios nor the Trinovantes.
23. Having received the hostages, he brings his army back to the seaside, and finds the ships repaired. After putting them in the water, as he had many prisoners and a number of ships had perished in the storm, he decides to bring his army back in two convoys. And it happened that on a great number of ships, in spite of so many crossings, there was not a single one among those which carried troops, neither this year nor the preceding one, which did not complete the voyage normally; on the other hand, of those which were returned to him empty from the continent, that it is about the ships of the first convoy which had unloaded their; troops or of the sixty ships that Labienus had built after the departure of the expedition, very few reached their goal, and the others were almost all thrown ashore. After having waited for them in vain for a certain time, Caesar, wanting to prevent the season from forbidding him from the sea, for the equinox was approaching, found himself forced to embark his more cramped troops; A great calm ensued, and, weighing anchor at the beginning of the second watch, she reached land at daybreak, with all her vessels intact.
24. He put the ships dry and held the assembly of the Gauls at Samarobriva; as this year the wheat harvest, due to the drought, was meager in Gaul, he was forced to organize the wintering of his troops differently than in previous years, by distributing the legions in a larger number of cities. He sent one to the Morins, under the command of the legate Laius Fabius; another among the Nervians with Quintus Cicero, a third among the Esuvii with Lucius Roscius; a fourth received the order to winter at the Rèmes, on the border of the Trevires, with Titus Labiénus; he placed three of them with the Belgians, under the orders of the quaestor Marcus Crassus, of the legates Lucius Munatius Plancus and Laïus Trebonius. He sent a legion, raised last, to the Transpadane, and five cohorts among the Eburones, most of whom live between the Meuse and the Rhine, and who were ruled by Ambiorix and Catuvolcos. These troops were placed under the orders of the legates Quintus Titurius Sabinus and Lucius Aurunculéius Cotta. Such a distribution of the legions should, he thought, enable him to remedy very easily the shortage of wheat. And, nevertheless, the quarters of all these legions, except the one that Lucius Roscius had been commissioned to lead in a quite pacified and very quiet region, were not more than a hundred thousand paces from each other. Caesar moreover resolved to remain in Gaul until he knew the legions in place and the fortified winter camps.
25. There was among the Carnutes a man of high birth, Tasgetios, whose ancestors had been kings in their city. Caesar, to reward his valor and his devotion, for in all wars he had found a singularly active cooperation with him, had restored this man to the rank of his ancestors. It was that year, in the third year of his reign, when his enemies secretly murdered him; several of their fellow citizens had moreover publicly encouraged them. We learn this from Caesar. Fearing, because of the number of culprits, that their influence would lead to the defection of the city, he hurriedly sent Lucius Plancus, with his legion, from Belgium to the Carnutes, with orders to winter there, to arrest those that he knew responsible for the murder of Tasgétios and to send them to him. In the meantime, all those to whom he had entrusted the legions let him know that they had arrived in the winter quarters and that the fortifications were made.
26. The troops had been wintering for about fifteen days, when a sudden revolt broke out, excited by Ambiorix and Catuvolcos; these kings had come to the frontier of their country to put themselves at the disposal of Sabinus and Cotta and had brought wheat to their winter quarters, when messages from Trevira Indutiomaros determined them to call their subjects to arms; They immediately attacked our timber chores and came in great forces to besiege the camp. But our troops armed themselves without delay and mounted the intrenchment, while the Spanish cavalry, leaving by one of the gates, engaged in a cavalry combat in which they had the advantage; the enemies, seeing the enterprise failed, withdrew their troops; then, with loud cries, as was their custom, they asked that someone of ours come forward to negotiate; they had certain communications to make to us which were of no less interest to us than to them and which were of a nature, they thought, to appease the conflict.
27. They are sent for this interview Caius Arpineius, Roman knight, friend of Quintus Titurius, and a certain Quintus Junius, Spanish, who had already had several missions from Caesar to Ambiorix. The latter spoke to them more or less in these terms: "He recognized that he had great obligations towards Caesar because of the benefits he had received from him: it was thanks to him that he had been delivered from the tribute which he paid regularly to the Atuatuci, his neighbors, and Caesar had given him back his son and his nephew, who, being among the hostages sent to the Atuatuci, had been treated by them as slaves and loaded with chains. As regards the attack on the camp, he acted against his advice and against his will, he was coerced by his people, for the nature of his power subjects him no less to the multitude than it subjects them to him. And if the city took up arms, it was because it could not put up any resistance to the sudden conspiracy of the Gauls. His weakness is easy proof of what he is saying because he is not a novice enough to believe that he can defeat the Roman people with his own strength. But it is a common plan for all of Gaul, all of Caesar's winter quarters must be attacked that very day, so that one legion cannot help the other. Gauls could not easily have said no to other Gauls, especially when the goal they saw was the reconquest of common freedom. Since he had responded to their appeal, thus paying his debt to his country, he was now thinking of the duty of gratitude to which Caesar's benefits obliged him, and he warned Titurius, he begged him, in the name of the bonds of hospitality which united him to him, to provide for his salvation and that of his soldiers. A large troop of German mercenaries had crossed the Rhine: they would be there in two days. It is up to them to see if they want, before the neighboring peoples notice it, to get their troops out of the camp and lead them either to Cicero or to Labienus, who are one about fifty miles away. another a little further. For him, he promises, and under oath, that he will give them free passage through his territory. By doing so, he serves his country, since he rids it of the cantonment of the troops, and he recognizes the benefits of Caesar. After this speech, Ambiorix withdraws.
28. Arpineius and Junius report to the legates what they have just heard. The news surprises them, disturbs them; although it was about an enemy, they did not feel they had to neglect them; what struck them most was that it was hardly believable that an obscure and not very powerful city like that of the Eburones would have dared of its own accord to wage war against the Roman people. They therefore leave the matter before the council a lively discussion arises. Lucius Aurunculéius, a large number of tribunes and the centurions of the first cohort were of the opinion that nothing should be ventured, nor left the winter quarters without an order from Caesar; they showed that "we could resist the Germans, whatever their strength, as long as we were in an entrenched camp, the proof is that they resisted a first assault very well, and by inflicting on the enemy severe losses; wheat is not lacking; before it runs out, help will arrive from neighboring camps and from Caesar; and then, finally, is there any more light-hearted and more shameful conduct than to decide, on a question of extreme importance, according to the suggestions of an enemy? "
29. But Titurius cried out: "It would be too late, once the enemies, reinforced by the Germans, had assembled in greater numbers, or that some misfortune had happened in the neighboring quarters. We only had this moment to make up our minds. Caesar, according to him, had left for Italy otherwise, the Carnutes would not have solved the assassination of Tasgétios, and the Eburons, if he were in Gaul, would not have come to attack us by making our money so cheap. strengths. It didn't matter to him that the advice came from the enemies: he looked at the facts: the Rhine was very close; the Germans resented the death of Arioviste and our previous victories; Gaul burned for revenge, not accepting to have been so often humiliated and finally submitted to Rome, nor to see its former military glory tarnished. Finally, who could believe that Ambiorix had resolved to take such a step without serious reason? His opinion, in either case, was certain: if the danger were imaginary, we would join the nearest legion without running any risk; if the whole of Gaul agreed with the Germans, there was no salvation except in promptitude. Cotta and those who thought like him, where did their advice go? If he did not expose the troops to immediate danger, at least it was the certainty of a long siege, with the threat of famine. "
30. After the two theses had thus been supported, as Cotta and the centurions of the first cohort resisted energetically: “Well! so be it, said Sabinus, since you want it! "- and he raised his voice, so that a large part of the soldiers could hear him -" I am not the most afraid of death among you; these will judge things in a healthy way: if something bad happens, they will demand accountability from you; if you wanted, the day after tomorrow they would have joined the neighboring districts and they would jointly support, with the others, the chances of war, instead of remaining abandoned, exiled, far from their comrades, to be massacred or to die of hunger. "
31. We get up; one surrounds the two legates, one urges them not to persist in a conflict which makes the situation extremely perilous: the condition that everyone agrees; but if one quarrels, all chance of salvation disappears. We continue to chat until the middle of the night. Finally Cotta, very moved, surrenders: Sabinus' opinion wins. We announce that we will leave at daybreak. The rest of the night is spent in vigil, each soldier seeking in what belongs to him what he can take, what he is forced to give up from his winter installation. We do everything imaginable so that we cannot leave in the morning without danger and that the danger is further increased by the fatigue of the soldiers deprived of sleep. At dawn, they leave the camp like people well convinced that the advice of Ambiorix comes not from an enemy, but from the best of their friends: they formed a very long column encumbered with a lot of baggage.
32. The enemies, when the nocturnal agitation and the watches of our soldiers had made them understand that they were going to leave, set up a double ambush in the woods, on favorable and covered ground, about two thousand paces from the camp, and there they waited for the Romans; the greater part of the column had just entered a large valley, when suddenly they showed themselves at both ends of this valley, and falling on the rear guard, preventing the head of the column from advancing towards the heights, forced our troops to fight at a great disadvantage.
33. Titurius, like a man who had not known how to foresee anything, now agitates and runs in all directions, placing the cohorts; but even that he does it without assurance, and in a way which shows that he has lost all his means, which generally happens to those who are forced to make up their minds in full swing. Cotta, on the contrary, like a man who had thought that such a surprise was possible and for this reason had not approved the departure, neglected nothing for the common safety he addressed a word to the troops and exhorted them as the general would have done. in chief, and he fought in rank like a soldier. The length of the column hardly allowing the legates to direct everything personally and to take the necessary measures in each place, they ordered the abandonment of the baggage and form the circle. This decision, although in a case of this kind it is not to be condemned, nevertheless had unfortunate consequences: it diminished the confidence of the soldiers and made the enemies more ardent, for it seemed that fear and despair alone prevailed. could inspire him. This, moreover, happened, which was inevitable: many soldiers left the ranks and ran to the baggage to look for and take away the objects that everyone cared for the most; everywhere it was only cries and moans.
34. The barbarians, on the contrary, were very well inspired. Their leaders had the order not to leave his place transmitted to the whole line of battle; all the Romans would leave was their booty, it was for them: consequently, they could only think of victory, on which everything depended ... Ours, although abandoned by their general and Fortune , did not think of other means of safety than their courage, and each time a cohort charged, it was on this side a great massacre of enemies. Seeing this, Ambiorix ordered his men to cast their darts from afar, avoiding approaching, and to yield wherever the Romans attacked; thanks to the lightness of their weapons and their daily training, no harm can be done to them; when the enemy will fall back on his signs, let him be pursued.
35. This slogan was carefully observed whenever any cohort came out of the circle and attacked, the enemies fled at full speed. However the place left empty was necessarily uncovered, and the right side, unprotected, received lines. Then, when the cohort had turned around to return to their starting point, they were enveloped by those who had given way to them and by those who remained on the sides. If, on the contrary, they did not want to leave the circle, their courage was then unemployed and, pressed against each other, they could not avoid the features which the whole multitude rained down. Yet, overwhelmed by so many difficulties, despite significant losses, they held out; much of the day had passed - we had been fighting since daybreak and it was the eighth hour - and they were not doing anything that was unworthy of them. At this moment, Titus Balventius, who the previous year had been named primipile, valiant fighter, and much listened to, has both thighs crossed by a tragula; Quintus Lucanius, an officer of the same rank, is killed while fighting valiantly to rescue his son surrounded by the enemy; the legate Lucius Cotta, while exhorting all units, cohorts and even centuries, is wounded with a sling bullet in the face.
36. Under the influence of these events, Quintus Titurius, having seen in the distance Ambiorix haranguing his troops, sends him his interpreter Cnéus Pompée to beg him to spare him and his soldiers. At the first words of the messenger, Ambiorix replied: “If he wishes to confer with him, he consents; he hopes to be able to obtain from his troops that the life be left to the soldiers; as for the general, no harm will be done to him, and he vouches for that. "Titurius asked Cotta, who was injured, to leave the fight with him, if he wanted to go and confer together with Ambiorix:" He hopes that we will be able to save his life for them and for them. soldiers. Cotta declares that he will not surrender to an armed enemy, and he persists in this refusal.
37. Sabinus orders the tribunes he now had around him and the centurions of the first cohort to follow him, and he advances towards Ambiorix; summoned to lay down their arms, he obeyed, and enjoined his family to do the same. While they discuss the conditions, and Ambiorix purposely prolongs the interview, we surround him little by little and kill him. So they are cries of triumph, the customary howls; they rush on our troops and wreak havoc in their ranks. This is where Lucius Cotta is killed, guns in hand, along with most of the soldiers. The survivors retreat to the camp from which they left. One of them, the eagle carrier Lucius Petrosidius, seeing himself pressed by a crowd of enemies, throws the eagle inside the entrenchment and is killed bravely in front of the camp. Until the end of the day they painfully support the assault; at night, having no more hope, all to the last kill each other. A handful of men, escaped from the fight, without knowing the way, arrive through the woods to the winter quarters of the legate Titus Labienus, and inform him of what has happened.
38. Transported with pride by this victory, Ambiorix immediately set off with his cavalry among the Atuatuques, who were confined to his kingdom, and night and day marched without stopping; the infantry was ordered to follow him closely. He tells what happened, raises the Atuatuques, arrives the next day at the Nerviens and urges them not to let this opportunity slip away to free themselves forever and to make the Romans atone for the harm they have done them: “Two legates,” he explains, “have been killed, a large part of the Roman army is wiped out; it is very easy to attack unexpectedly the legion which takes up its winter quarters with Cicero and to massacre it ”. He promises his help for this helping hand. The Nerviens are easily persuaded by this speech.
39. They therefore hasten to send messengers to the Centrons, to the Grudii, to the Levaci, to the Pleumoxii, to the Geidumnes, all tribes which are under their dependence; they gather as many troops as they can and suddenly rush on Cicero's camp, before the news of Titurius's death reaches him. It also happened to him - which was inevitable - that a number of soldiers, who had moved away to go into the forests to look for firewood and lumber for the fortification, were surprised by the arrival. sudden cavalry. They were enveloped, and Eburons, Nerviens, Atuatuques, as well as the allies and clients of all these peoples, began the attack on the legion. Ours hastily run to arms, go up to the entrenchments. It was a rough day: the enemies placed all their hopes in swift action, and having once won, they believed they should always be.
40. Cicero immediately writes to Caesar promising the couriers great rewards if they succeed in sending his letter; but the enemy holds all the roads, they are intercepted. During the night, with the wood which had been brought for the fortification, one does not raise less than one hundred and twenty turns, by a prodigy of speed; what the defensive works presented as incomplete, we are finishing. The following day, the enemy, whose forces had increased considerably, stormed, filled the ditch. Ours resist under the same conditions as the day before. Same thing the following days. During the night, we work tirelessly for the sick, for the wounded, no rest. All that is necessary to support the assault of the next day, one prepares it at night: one sharpens and one hardens with the fire a great number of spikes, one makes many siege javelins; the towers are furnished with platforms, the rampart is provided with battlements and a wattle parapet. Cicero himself, although his health was very delicate, did not even allow himself the night's rest, it was to the point that the soldiers were seen to crowd around him and force him by their entreaties to spare himself. .
41. Then the chiefs and the noble Nerviens who had some access to Cicero, having pretext to call themselves his friends, let it be known that they wanted an interview. It is granted to them, and they make the same declarations that Ambiorix had made to Titurius: “All Gaul is in arms, the Germans have crossed the Rhine; Caesar's winter quarters and those of his lieutenants were besieged. In addition, they narrate the death of Sabinus and, to be believed, they parade Ambiorix's presence. "It is to delude yourself," they say, "to expect the slightest help from troops who have concerns for themselves; they, however, are in no way hostile to Cicero and the Roman people; all they ask is to get rid of the winter quarters and not see the habit of doing so: they will not worry the legion in its retreat, and it will be able without fear to go to the side that pleases him. "Cicero confined his answer to these words:" It was not the custom of Rome to accept the conditions of an enemy in arms; if they wish to disarm, their support is assured to them for the sending of an embassy to Caesar: he hopes that, in his justice, he will give them satisfaction. "
42. Disappointed in this hope, the Nervians surround the camp with a rampart ten feet high and a ditch fifteen wide. They had acquired from our contact, in previous years, the experience of this work; and besides, having some prisoners of our army, they profited from their lessons. But as they lacked the necessary tools, they had to cut the sods with their swords, remove the earth with their hands and carry it in their sayons. We could see there their number in less than three hours, they completed a fortified line which had fifteen thousand feet in turn. The following days, they undertook to build towers proportionate to the height of the rampart, to manufacture scythes and turtles, always according to the indications of the prisoners.
43. On the seventh day of the siege, a strong wind having arisen, they began to hurl at the houses, which, according to Gallic custom, were covered with thatch, burning sling balls made of clay which could blush in the fire, and fiery features. The fire caught quickly, and the violence of the wind dispersed it over all points of the camp. The enemies, uttering an immense clamor, as if they were already holding victory, made their towers and their turtles advance and, with the help of ladders, undertook to climb the rampart: But such were the courage and the coolness of our soldiers that despite the scorching heat of the fire that surrounded them, despite the hail of arrows with which they were overwhelmed, although they realized that all their baggage, everything they had was engulfed in flames, no one neither left the rampart to go elsewhere, nor even, one might almost say, only turned away: all, on the contrary, then fought with unparalleled vigor and valor. This day was by far the hardest for our troops, but it also had the result that the enemies had more wounded and killed than ever, because they had piled up at the foot of the rampart and the last comers barred the retreat at those who were in front. As the fire had subsided a little and a tower had been pushed right up against the rampart at a certain point, the centurions of the third cohort left their place and retreated with all their men, then, making signs to the enemies and calling them, they invited them to enter but not one dared to advance. Then a hail of stones, raining on all sides, put them to flight, and the tower was set on fire.
44. There were in this legion two very brave centurions, who were approaching the first ranks, Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus. It was between them a perpetual rivalry to which would come before the other, and each year the question of advancement put them in violent conflict. Pullo, at the moment when they were fighting most fiercely on the rampart, exclaimed: "Why hesitate, Vorenus? what other opportunity are you waiting to prove your worth? it is that day that will decide between us. With these words, he advances out of the entrenchment, and choosing the densest spot of the enemy line, he rushes forward. Vorenus does not stay behind the rampart either, but fearing the opinion of the troops, he closely follows his rival. When he is only a short distance from the enemy, Pullo throws his javelin and hits a Gaul who had detached himself from the main body of the enemy to run forward; Pierced, dying, his companions cover him with their shields, while they all at the same time shoot their darts against the Roman and prevent him from advancing. He has his shield crossed by a javelin which is planted in the harness of the sword: this blow moves the scabbard, and delays the movement of his hand which seeks to draw; while he groped, the enemy enveloped him. His rival, Vorenus, rushes to his aid. Immediately, all the multitude of enemies turn against him and leave Pullo there, believing that the javelin has pierced him through and through. Vorenus, sword in hand, hand-to-hand fight, kills one, pushes the others a little aside; but, carried away by his ardor, he throws himself into a hollow, and falls. It is his turn to be enveloped; but Pullo comes to his aid, and they both return to the camp, safe and sound, having killed many enemies and having covered themselves with glory. Fortune treated these rivals in such a way that despite their enmity they rescued each other and saved each other's lives, and it was impossible to decide who should pay the price for bravery.
45. The siege was becoming more distressing and more difficult to bear with each passing day; all the more so since, many soldiers being exhausted by their wounds, we were reduced to a handful of defenders; Cicero wrote more and more letters to Caesar, sending him courier after courier; several of these, caught on the spot, were tortured under the eyes of our soldiers. There was in the camp a Nervian, by the name of Vertico, a man of good birth, who from the beginning of the siege had passed to Cicero and had sworn loyalty to him. He decides a Gaul, his slave, by promising him freedom and great rewards, to bring a letter to Caesar. The man carries it fixed to his javelin, passes in the middle of his compatriots without arousing any suspicion and arrives near Caesar. Through him we learn the dangers facing Cicero and his legion.
46. Caesar, having received the letter around the eleventh hour of the day, immediately sends a courier to the Bellovaci, to the quaestor Marcus Crassus, whose winter quarters were twenty-five miles away: the legion must leave in the middle of the night and come in haste to join him. Crassus leaves his camp with the messenger. Another is sent to the legate Caius Fabius: he must lead his legion to the land of the Atrebates, through which Caesar knew he had to pass. He writes to Titus Labiénus to come with his legion to the border of the Nervians, if he can do so without compromising anything. The rest of the army being a little further away, he does not think he has to wait for it; as a cavalry, it brings together about four hundred men which it draws from the nearest quarters.
47. Having heard about the third hour from the scouts that Crassus was arriving, he advanced twenty miles that day. He gives Crassus the command of Samarobriva, and assigns him the legion he was bringing, for Caesar left there the baggage of the army, the hostages provided by the cities, the archives, and all the wheat he had made there. collect as a winter supply. Fabius, following the order received, joined him on the road with his legion, without much delay. Labienus knew of the death of Sabinus and the massacre of the cohorts; the Treveri had brought all their forces against him; he feared the consequences of a departure which would resemble a flight: he could not support the assault of the enemies, especially given that the recent victory had them, he was not unaware, transported with pride. He therefore replies to Caesar with a letter in which he represents to him all the danger he was running in bringing out his legion; he tells her in detail what happened among the Eburones; he informed him that all the forces of the Treviso, cavalry and infantry, had taken up their positions three miles from his camp.
48. Caesar approved of his views, and although reduced to two legions after counting on three, he nevertheless continued to believe that prompt action was the only way to save the army. He therefore gained by forced marches the country of the Nervii. There, he learns from prisoners what is happening in Cicero's camp and how critical the situation is. He then decides a Gallic horseman, promising him great rewards, to take a letter to Cicero. He writes it in Greek so that, if intercepted, the enemy does not know our plans. If he cannot reach Cicero, he must attach the letter to the strap of his tragula and throw it inside the fortifications. In his letter he announces that he has set out with legions and will soon be there; he urges the legate not to allow his courage to bend. The Gaul, not daring to approach, throws his javelin, according to the instructions he had received. As luck would have it, the line was planted in a tower, where two days remain without ours noticing it: on the third day, a soldier sees it, pulls it out and takes it to Cicero. The latter, after having read the message, read it to the troops, among whom he excited the liveliest joy. At this moment, smoke from the fire could be seen in the distance: this no longer allowed us to doubt the approach of the legions.
49. The Gauls, informed by their scouts, raise the siege and march to meet Caesar with all their forces. They were about sixty thousand men. Cicero, thanks to this same Vertico mentioned above, finds a Gaul who takes it upon himself to take a letter to Caesar; he recommends that he go with precaution and diligence. In his letter, he explains that the enemy left him and turned all his forces against Caesar. The message is delivered around midnight: Caesar informs his army and urges them to fight. The next day, at daybreak, he broke camp, and he had traveled about four miles when he saw the enemy masses on the other side of a valley where a stream flowed. It was exposing oneself to great perils to engage in combat on unfavorable ground with such a numerical inferiority; moreover, since he knew Cicero delivered from the siege, he could without anxiety slow down his action: he therefore halted; he established a fortified camp by choosing the best possible position and, although this camp was already small in itself, since it was for a troop of barely seven thousand men, and, what is more, devoid of baggage , nevertheless he tightens it as much as he can, by reducing the width of the streets, in order to inspire the enemy with the most perfect contempt. At the same time, he sends scouts from all sides to find out which way he can most conveniently cross the valley.
50. That day there were small cavalry engagements near the water, but the two armies remained in their positions: the Gauls were waiting for more forces, which had not yet joined, and Caesar wanted to fight. on this side of the valley, in front of his camp, if he succeeded, by simulating fear, in attracting the enemy to his ground; in case he did not succeed, he wanted to know the paths well in order to be able to cross the valley and pass the ravière with less danger. At daybreak, the enemy cavalry approaches our position and engages in combat with our cavalry. Caesar orders them to give in by tactics and to return to the camp: at the same time, the rampart will be raised up everywhere, the gates will be blocked, and we will act in all this with extreme haste, as if we were afraid. .
51. Attracted by all these feints, the enemies cross the valley and line up with the disadvantage of the position; but we go so far as to evacuate the rampart; then they approach again, throw darts from all sides inside the entrenchment, and have heralds published all around the camp that any Gaul or Roman who wants to pass on their side before the third hour can do so without fear; afterwards, there will be no more time. And such was the contempt we inspired in them that, believing that they could not break down our doors which we had barricaded, to give the change, with a simple row of sods, some undertook to make a breach by hand in the palisade. , and others to bridge the gaps. At this moment, Caesar makes an exit through all the doors and launches his cavalry: the enemies are quickly routed, and in such conditions that not one of them resisted; many are killed, none keep their weapons.
52. Caesar, considering it dangerous to pursue them any further, because of the woods and the marshes, and seeing moreover that it was no longer possible to do them the slightest harm, joined Cicero the same day, without having suffered any loss. The towers, the turtles, the entrenchments built by the enemy cause his astonishment; a review of the legion shows him that not one soldier in ten is without injury; all this shows him what dangers we have run and what value we have displayed. He gives Cicero and the soldiers the praise they deserve; he individually congratulated the centurions and the tribunes who, according to Cicero's testimony, had particularly distinguished themselves. Prisoners give him details of what happened to Sabinus and Cotta. The next day, he assembles the troops, explains the tragedy to them, comforts them and reassures them: immortal gods and thanks to their own bravery, the affront is avenged the enemy's joy was short, and their sadness must not last any longer. "
53. However, the news of Caesar's victory reaches Labienus, through the Remes, with incredible rapidity: Cicero's camp being about sixty miles away, and Caesar, having arrived after the ninth hour of the day, before midnight a clamor rose at the gates of the camp: it was the Rèmes who announced the victory to Labienus and congratulated him. The same news reaches the Treveri, and Indutiomaros, who had resolved to attack the camp of Labiénus the next day, fled during the night and brought all his troops back to the Treveri. Caesar sends Fabius back to his winter quarters with his legion; As for him, he decides to winter around Samarobriva with three legions in three camps, and the gravity of the disturbances which had broken out in Gaul determined him to remain himself in the army during all the winter. Indeed, since the rumor of this failure in which Sabinus had been killed had spread, almost all the cities of Gaul spoke of war, they sent letters and embassies from all sides, inquiring about what the others and where the uprising would start; meetings were held at night in deserted places. Throughout the winter, Caesar had hardly a moment's respite: he constantly received some advice on the plans of the Gauls, on the revolt they were preparing. He learned in particular from Lucius Roscius, whom he had put at the head of the thirteenth legion, that important Gallic forces, belonging to the cities called Armoricaines, had gathered to attack him and had come up to eight miles from his camp, but at the news of Caesar's victory they had withdrawn with such haste that their retreat resembled flight.
54. Caesar called to him the heads of each city and sometimes out of fear, telling them that he knew everything, sometimes through persuasion, he succeeded in keeping a large part of Gaul in duty. However the Sénons, one of the most powerful Gallic peoples and who among the others enjoys great authority, wanted to put to death, by decision of their assembly, Cavarinos, whom Caesar had given them for king, whose brother Moritasgos reigned when Caesar arrived in Gaul, and whose ancestors had been kings; As he had suspected their intentions and had fled, they pursued him to the border, dethroned him and banished him; then they sent deputies to Caesar to justify their conduct, and as the latter had ordered that the whole senate come to him, they did not obey. The impression was so strong on these barbarian minds, when it was known that there had been a few daring to declare war on us, it resulted in such a change in the dispositions of all the peoples, that except the Heduans and the Remi , to whom Caesar always showed a particular esteem, some because of their old and faithful friendship for Rome, the others because of their recent services in the Gallic war, there was hardly a city which did not give place to us suspect her. Is it really surprising? I do not know ; for besides many other motive, a nation which one placed, for its warlike value, higher than all, could not see itself without a sharp sorrow deprived of this reputation to the point of being subjected to the sovereignty of Rome.
55. The Treveri, with Indutiomaros, did more all winter, they did not cease to intrigue beyond the Rhine, sending embassies, trying to gain the cities, promising money, telling that the greater part of our army had been destroyed, that far less than half remained. And yet, no people german did not allow himself to be persuaded to cross the Rhine: "They had experienced it twice, with the Ariovist war and with the emigration of the Tenctheres: they were not disposed to tempt fortune again." Lost in this hope, Indutiomaros none the less began to collect troops, to exercise them, to procure horses from the neighbors, to attract by grand promises the exiles and the condemned from all over Gaul. And such was the credit which these initiatives had already acquired for him in Gaul, that from all parts embassies came to him soliciting, in a public or private capacity, the favor of his friendship.
56. When he saw that people came to him with this eagerness, and that on the one hand, the Sénons and the Carnutes were driven to revolt by the memory of their crimes, that on the other the Nerviens and the Atuatuques were preparing for war, that finally the volunteers would not fail to come in droves when he had begun to advance out of his country, he summoned the armed assembly. It is there, according to the use of the Gauls, the initial act of the war a law, the same among all, wants that all those which are of the age of man come there in arms; he who arrives last is delivered, in the presence of the multitude, to the most cruel tortures. In this assembly, he declares Cingetorix a public enemy and confiscates his property: he was the leader of the opposing party, and his son-in-law; we said above that he gave himself to Caesar and remained faithful to him. After that, Indutiomaros makes known to the assembly that he is called by the Senons and the Carnutes and by many other cities of Gaul he proposes to go there by crossing the country of the Rèmes, of which he will devastate the lands. , and, before, he will attack the camp of Labienus. He gives orders accordingly.
57. Labienus, who occupied a very well situated and no less well fortified camp, feared nothing for himself and his legion; but he was careful not to let the opportunity for a happy action slip away. Also, having learned from Cingetorix and his relatives what Indutiomaros had said in the assembly, he sends messengers to neighboring cities and calls riders from all sides, whom he summons on a fixed day. However, almost daily, Indutiomaros with all his cavalry came to prowl around the camp, sometimes to recognize the position, sometimes to enter into negotiations or to frighten us; most of the time they all threw dashes inside our lines. Labienus kept his troops behind the entrenchment and by all possible means tried to strengthen the enemy's idea that we were afraid.
58. While Indutiomaros showed an ever more contemptuous daring in approaching our camp, Labienus introduced there, in one night, the horsemen of the neighboring cities that he had summoned, and he was so good at preventing all outings. by the guard posts that there was no way that the matter was heard and known to the Trevires. However Indutiomaros, as it did every day, came to the outskirts of the camp and spent the greater part of the day there; his horsemen throw darts and provoke our men into battle in very outrageous terms. Having received no answer, when they have had enough, at the approach of evening, they leave, in the most complete disorder. Suddenly Labienus makes all his cavalry leave by two doors; he prescribes that once the enemy is surprised and routed - which he foresaw, and which happened - everyone think only of joining the only Indutiomaros, and refrain from hitting anyone before seeing him dead : he did not want that by lingering in pursuing others we gave him time to escape; he promises great rewards to those who kill him; he sends the cohorts in support of the cavalry. Fortune justifies his forecasts: all focusing on the pursuit of one, Indutiomaros is caught just as he was fording a river, he is killed and his head is brought back to the camp; on their return, the horsemen chase and slaughter whoever they can. At the news of the event, all the forces of the Eburones and the Nervians which had been concentrated disperse, and Caesar was able to see, after that, Gaul relatively quiet.