BG 6.1-12

I.—Caesar, expecting for many reasons a greater commotion in Gaul, resolves to hold a levy by the means of M. Silanus, C. Antistius Reginus, and T. Sextius, his lieutenants: at the same time he requested of Cn. Pompey, the proconsul, that since he was remaining near the city invested with military command for the interests of the commonwealth, he would command those men whom when consul he had levied by the military oath in Cisalpine Gaul, to join their respective corps, and to proceed to him; thinking it of great importance, as far as regarded the opinion which the Gauls would entertain for the future, that the resources of Italy should appear so great, that if any loss should be sustained in war, not only could it be repaired in a short time, but likewise be further supplied by still larger forces. And when Pompey had granted this to the interests of the commonwealth and the claims of friendship, Caesar having quickly completed the levy by means of his lieutenants, after three legions had been both formed and brought to him before the winter [had] expired, and the number of those cohorts which he had lost under Q. Titurius had been doubled, taught the Gauls, both by his dispatch and by his forces, what the discipline and the power of the Roman people could accomplish.

II.—Indutiomarus having been slain, as we have stated, the government was conferred upon his relatives by the Treviri. They cease not to importune the neighbouring Germans and to promise them money: when they could not obtain [their object] from those nearest them, they try those more remote. Having found some states willing to accede to their wishes, they enter into a compact with them by a mutual oath, and give hostages as a security for the money: they attach Ambiorix to them by an alliance and confederacy. Caesar, on being informed of their acts, since he saw that war was being prepared on all sides, that the Nervii, Aduatuci, and Menapii, with the addition of all the Germans on this side of the Rhine were under arms, that the Senones did not assemble according to his command, and were concerting measures with the Carnutes and the neighbouring states, that the Germans were importuned by the Treviri in frequent embassies, thought that he ought to take measures for the war earlier [than usual].

III.-Accordingly, while the winter was not yet ended, having concentrated the four nearest legions, he marched unexpectedly into the territories of the Nervii, and before they could either assemble, or retreat, after capturing a large number of cattle and of men, and wasting their lands and giving up that booty to the soldiers, compelled them to enter into a surrender and give him hostages. That business having been speedily executed, he again led his legions back into winter-quarters. Having proclaimed a council of Gaul in the beginning of the spring, as he had been accustomed [to do], when the deputies from the rest, except the Senones, the Carnutes, and the Treviri, had come, judging this to be the commencement of war and revolt, that he might appear to consider all things of less consequence [than that war], he transfers the council to Lutetia of the Parisii. These were adjacent to the Senones, and had united their state to them during the memory of their fathers, but were thought to have no part in the present plot. Having proclaimed this from the tribunal, he advances the same day towards the Senones with his legions and arrives among them by long marches.

IV.—Acco, who had been the author of that enterprise, on being informed of his arrival, orders the people to assemble in the towns; to them, while attempting this and before it could be accomplished, news is brought that the Romans are close at hand: through necessity they give over their design and send ambassadors to Caesar for the purpose of imploring pardon; they make advances to him through the Aedui, whose state was from ancient times under the protection of Rome. Caesar readily grants them pardon and receives their excuse at the request of the Aedui; because he thought that the summer season was one for an impending war, not for an investigation. Having imposed one hundred hostages, he delivers these to the Aedui to be held in charge by them. To the same place the Carnutes send ambassadors and hostages, employing as their mediators the Remi, under whose protection they were: they receive the same answers. Caesar concludes the council and imposes a levy of cavalry on the states.

V.—This part of Gaul having been tranquillized, he applies himself entirely both in mind and soul to the war with the Treviri and Ambiorix. He orders Cavarinus to march with him with the cavalry of the Senones, lest any commotion should arise either out of his hot temper, or out of the hatred of the state which he had incurred. After arranging these things, as he considered it certain that Ambiorix would not contend in battle, he watched his other plans attentively. The Menapii bordered on the territories of the Eburones, and were protected by one continued extent of morasses and woods; and they alone out of Gaul had never sent ambassadors to Caesar on the subject of peace. Caesar knew that a tie of hospitality subsisted between them and Ambiorix: he also discovered that the latter had entered into an alliance with the Germans by means of the Treviri. He thought that these auxiliaries ought to be detached from him before he provoked him to war; lest he, despairing of safety, should either proceed to conceal himself in the territories of the Menapii, or should be driven to coalesce with the Germans beyond the Rhine. Having entered upon this resolution, he sends the baggage of the whole army to Labienus, in the territories of the Treviri and orders two legions to proceed to him: he himself proceeds against the Menapii with five lightly-equipped legions. They, having assembled no troops, as they relied on the defence of their position, retreat into the woods and morasses, and convey thither all their property.

VI.—Caesar, having divided his forces with C. Fabius, his lieutenant, and M. Crassus, his questor, and having hastily constructed some bridges, enters their country in three divisions, burns their houses and villages, and gets possession of a large number of cattle and men. Constrained by these circumstances, the Menapii send ambassadors to him for the purpose of suing for peace. He, after receiving hostages, assures them that he will consider them in the number of his enemies if they shall receive within their territories either Ambiorix or his ambassadors. Having determinately settled these things, he left among the Menapii, Commius the Atrebatian with some cavalry as a guard; he himself proceeds toward the Treviri.

VII.—While these things are being performed by Caesar, the Treviri, having drawn together large forces of infantry and of cavalry, were preparing to attack Labienus and the legion which was wintering in their territories, and were already not further distant from him than a journey of two days, when they learn that two legions had arrived by the order of Caesar. Having pitched their camp fifteen miles off, they resolve to await the support of the Germans. Labienus, having learned the design of the enemy, hoping that through their rashness there would be some opportunity of engaging, after leaving a guard of five cohorts for the baggage, advances against the enemy with twenty-five cohorts and a large body of cavalry, and, leaving the space of a mile between them, fortifies his camp. There was between Labienus and the enemy a river difficult to cross and with steep banks: this neither did he himself design to cross, nor did he suppose the enemy would cross it. Their hope of auxiliaries was daily increasing. He [Labienus] openly says in a council that "since the Germans are said to be approaching, he would not bring into uncertainty his own and the army's fortunes, and the next day would move his camp at early dawn. These words are quickly carried to the enemy, since out of so large a number of cavalry composed of Gauls, nature compelled some to favour the Gallic interests. Labienus, having assembled the tribunes of the soldiers and principal centurions by night, states what his design is, and, that he may the more easily give the enemy a belief of his fears, he orders the camp to be moved with greater noise and confusion than was usual with the Roman people. By these means he makes his departure [appear], like a retreat. These things, also, since the camps were so near, are reported to the enemy by scouts before daylight.

VIII.—Scarcely had the rear advanced beyond the fortifications when the Gauls, encouraging one another "not to cast from their hands the anticipated booty, that it was a tedious thing, while the Romans were panic stricken, to be waiting for the aid of the Germans, and that their dignity did not suffer them to fear to attack with such great forces so small a band, particularly when retreating and encumbered," do not hesitate to cross the river and give battle in a disadvantageous position. Labienus suspecting that these things would happen, was proceeding quietly, and using the same pretence of a march, in order that he might entice them across the river. Then, having sent forward the baggage some short distance and placed it on a certain eminence, he says, "Soldiers, you have the opportunity you have sought: you hold the enemy in an encumbered and disadvantageous position: display to us your leaders the same valour you have ofttimes displayed to your general: imagine that he is present and actually sees these exploits." At the same time he orders the troops to face about towards the enemy and form in line of battle, and, despatching a few troops of cavalry as a guard for the bag gage, he places the rest of the horse on the wings. Our men, raising a shout, quickly throw their javelins at the enemy. They, when, contrary to their expectation, they saw those whom they believed to be retreating, advance towards them with threatening banners, were not able to sustain even the charge, and, being put to flight at the first onslaught, sought the nearest woods: Labienus pursuing them with the cavalry, upon a large number being slain, and several taken prisoners, got possession of the state a few days after; for the Germans who were coming to the aid of the Treviri, having been informed of their flight, retreated to their homes. The relations of Indutiomarus, who had been the promoters of the revolt, accompanying them, quitted their own state with them. The supreme power and government were delivered to Cingetorix, whom we have stated to have remained firm in his allegiance from the commencement.

IX.—Caesar, after he came from the territories of the Menapii into those of the Treviri, resolved for two reasons to cross the Rhine; one of which was, because they had sent assistance to the Treviri against him; the other, that Ambiorix might not have a retreat among them. Having determined on these matters, he began to build a bridge a little above that place, at which he had before conveyed over his army. The plan having been known and laid down, the work is accomplished in a few days by the great exertion of the soldiers. Having left a strong guard at the bridge on the side of the Treviri, lest any commotion should suddenly arise among them, he leads over the rest of the forces and the cavalry. The Ubii, who before had sent hostages and come to a capitulation, send ambassadors to him, for the purpose of vindicating themselves, to assure him that "neither had auxiliaries been sent to the Treviri from their state, nor had they violated their allegiance"; they entreat and beseech him "to spare them, lest, in his common hatred of the Germans, the innocent should suffer the penalty of the guilty: they promise to give more hostages, if he desire them." Having investigated the case, Caesar finds that the auxiliaries had been sent by the Suevi; he accepts the apology of the Ubii, and makes minute inquiries concerning the approaches and the routes to the territories of the Suevi.


X.—In the meanwhile he is informed by the Ubii, a few days after, that the Suevi are drawing all their forces into one place, and are giving orders to those nations which are under their government to send auxiliaries of infantry and of cavalry. Having learned these things, he provides a supply of corn, selects a proper place for his camp, and commands the Ubii to drive off their cattle and carry away all their possessions from the country parts into the towns, hoping that they, being a barbarous and ignorant people, when harassed by the want of provisions, might be brought to an engagement on disadvantageous terms: he orders them to send numerous scouts among the Suevi, and learn what things are going on among them. They execute the orders, and, a few days having intervened, report that all the Suevi, after certain intelligence concerning the army of the Romans had come, retreated with all their own forces and those of their allies, which they had assembled, to the utmost extremities of their territories: that there is a wood there of very great extent, which is called Bacenis; that this stretches a great way into the interior, and, being opposed as a natural barrier, defends from injuries and incursions the Cherusci against the Suevi, and the Suevi against the Cherusci: that at the entrance of that forest the Suevi had determined to await the coming up of the Romans.

XI.—Since we have come to this place, it does not appear to be foreign to our subject to lay before the reader an account of the manners of Gaul and Germany, and wherein these nations differ from each other. In Gaul there are factions not only in all the states, and in all the cantons and their divisions, but almost in each family, and of these factions those are the leaders who are considered according to their judgment to possess the greatest influence, upon whose will and determination the management of all affairs and measures depends. And that seems to have been instituted in ancient times with this view, that no one of the common people should be in want of support against one more powerful; for none [of those leaders] suffers his party to be oppressed and defrauded, and if he do otherwise, he has no influence among his party. This same policy exists throughout the whole of Gaul; for all the states are divided into two factions.

XII.—When Caesar arrived in Gaul, the Aedui were the leaders of one faction, the Sequani of the other. Since the latter were less powerful by themselves, inasmuch as the chief influence was from of old among the Aedui, and their dependencies were great, they had united to themselves the Germans and Ariovistus, and had brought them over to their party by great sacrifices and promises. And having fought several successful battles and slain all the nobility of the Aedui, they had so far surpassed them in power, that they brought over, from the Aedui to themselves, a large portion of their dependants and received from them the sons of their leading men as hostages, and compelled them to swear in their public character that they would enter into no design against them; and held a portion of the neighbouring land, seized on by force, and possessed the sovereignty of the whole of Gaul. Divitiacus urged by this necessity, had proceeded to Rome to the senate, for the purpose of entreating assistance, and had returned without accomplishing his object. A change of affairs ensued on the arrival of Caesar, the hostages were returned to the Aedui, their old dependencies restored, and new acquired through Caesar (because those who had attached themselves to their alliance saw that they enjoyed a better state and a milder government), their other interests, their influence, their reputation were likewise increased, and in consequence, the Sequani lost the sovereignty. The Remi succeeded to their place, and, as it was perceived that they equalled the Aedui in favour with Caesar, those, who on account of their old animosities could by no means coalesce with the Aedui, consigned themselves in clientship to the Remi. The latter carefully protected them. Thus they possessed both a new and suddenly acquired influence. Affairs were then in that position, that the Aedui were considered by far the leading people, and the Remi held the second post of honour.