« PreviousContinue »
Titus Labienus] it will be remembered that the IXth and xth legions, the latter commanded by Labienus, had driven the Atrebates in confusion across the river. Caesar now says that they had succeeded in taking the enemies' entrenchments on the hill of Hautmont, and from this position they were able to see how their comrades were faring across the river.
not by Long (App. 2), whose explanation (taken from Roesch) of the movements of the two legions is almost too elaborate to be probable. in novissimo agmine] 'in the extreme rear of the line of march'. praelio...incitato] 'having quickened their pace on receiving intelligence of the battle'.
nihil...fecerunt] lit. 'left nothing undone to effect speed' 'made all possible haste': the phrase reliqui facere is only used with a negative.
p. 46. 3 inermes] in I. 40 the form inermus is used.
in extrema spe salutis] this occurs again in 33, 'in their utter despair of safety' (or 'success').
qui procubuissent] a little less definite than qui procubuerant.
ad internicionem] cf. 1. 13. Notwithstanding this great defeat the Nervii were able to furnish 5000 fighting-men in the war of independence B. C. 52: cf. VII. 75.
quae...redegerat] cf. IV. 3 hos Suebi multo humiliores infirmioresque redegerunt, the only other instance of this use of redigere reddere that I can find quoted from any classical author; redigere aliquem ad aliquid 'to reduce a person (or thing) to' is common enough; see beginning of next chapter.
nomine] 'power' as in the common expression nomen Romanum.
aestuaria] the word is defined by Festus as meaning those places quae mare vicissim tum accedit tum recedit: if this is universally correct and aestuaria here really denotes 'inlets' or 'creeks', and not merely 'marshes', it will be necessary to suppose that the Nervii had deposited their non-combatants somewhere near the estuary of the Scheldt: cf. n. on 16.
coniectos dixeramus] cf. n. on 24 quos pulsos dixeram.
LX] the Nervii had promised 50000 men at the beginning of the war, cf. 4.
vix ad quingentos]=ad vix quingentos: cf. 1. 6 vix qua singuli.
ut...prohiberent] 'to stay themselves and their adherents from doing any injury or harm to them' (the conquered Nervii).
iniuria et maleficio] these words are thus united in 1. 79.
A brief recapitulation of the chief incidents of this battle may be useful. The two armies were encamped on rising ground on opposite sides of the Sambre near Maubeuge, the Belgae on the SE., the Romans on the NW., bank. The Atrebates occupied the right of the Belgic position, to one looking towards the river, the Viromandui the centre and the Nervii the left. The right of the Roman position (opposite the Nervii) was occupied by the VIIth and XIIth legions, the centre by the VIIIth and XIth, the left (opposite the Atrebates) by the IXth and xth; the XIIIth and XIVth were in charge of the baggage-train some distance behind. The battle began by the Roman cavalry crossing the river and engaging the Belgic cavalry. While these were skirmishing the Belgae caught sight of the Roman baggage-train appearing some way off over the crest of the opposite hill: acting on a preconcerted plan they at once broke from their positions, scattered the Roman cavalry, crossed the river and burst with terrific fury upon the Roman legions on the opposite side. The latter, encouraged by Caesar, sustained the attack as well as they could. Soon the IXth and xth succeeded in driving back the Atrebates across the river, crossed it themselves and attacked and actually occupied the Belgic camp: about the same time the VIIIth and xith had driven the Viromandui down the slope and were fighting on the banks of the river; thus the whole of the front and left of the Roman position was left unprotected. The Nervii seeing this divided their attack, their right making an assault on the front of the Roman camp, while their left went to the left of the VIIth and XIIth legions (with whom it will be remembered that the Nervii were engaged) in order to take them on their right and exposed flank (latus apertum). At this time the XIIIth and XIVth were coming up behind at a rapid pace, and, besides this, Labienus with the IXth and xth on the opposite bank, seeing the critical state of affairs, hastened to recross the river. This double succour in front and behind completely turned the day, and the Nervii notwithstanding their magnificent bravery were utterly routed.
ex itinere] 'stayed their march and returned home'.
unum oppidum] Göler has concluded with great probability that the site of this oppidum is to be found on the hill Falhize, a steep and rocky plateau on the north bank of the Meuse, just opposite the town of Huy in the province of Liège, about halfway between Namur and Liège, and close to the junction of the small river Mehaigne with the Meuse. This hill, of an oblong shape, is steep and almost inaccessible on the SE. and SW. sides; on the NW. side the ground is less precipitous, being broken by a few ravines, while on the NE. the plateau, instead of terminating in an abrupt fall, has a gently-descending slope for some little distance, after which the ground again rises till it merges with the range of hills covered with the Bois du Huy; the width of this end where the slope begins is about 230 feet; this is a sufficiently near approximation to the width of 200 feet given by Caesar. Across the plateau are some slight earthworks, marking no doubt the line of the double wall flanked by a ditch which the besieged constructed.
despectusque] cf. VII. 36 collibus occupatis qua despici poterat, 79 erat ex oppido Alesia despectus in campum. See appendix.
p. 47. 2 duplici altissimo muro] 'with a double wall of great height'. praeacutas] 'sharpened at the end' 'pointed'.
prognati] "the word which occurs again in vI. 18 is poetical and in the older prose is only found in Cael. ap. Cic. Fam. VIII. 15' (Kraner).
iter in provinciam] in B.C. 102; cf. Momms. III. 90.
agere ac portare] these two words are also found together in B. C. II. 25 animadvertit multa undique portari atque agi plenissimis viis quae repentini tumultus timore ex agris in urbem conferantur. Gaius says ferri proprie dicimus quae quis suo corpore baiulat, portari ea quae in iumento secum ducit, agi ea quae animalia sunt; this distinction though far from universally valid may possibly apply here; or we may perhaps regard the phrase as an example of those pairs of words in which each word merges its independent meaning in the general signification given by the two combined: cf. kaλòs kάyalós, agere vertere, fusus fugatus, purus putus, 'safe and sound', etc.
custodiam] 'custodians'; 'together with these (una) they left a guard (praesidium) of 6000 men'.
alias...alias] 'at one time'... 'at another time'..
vallo...circummuniti] pedum should no doubt be read with the inferior MSS for passuum: 'the natural line of circumvallation which touches the river at both ends is exactly 15000 pedes long' (A. v. Kampen): it is noticeable that Caesar says nothing about a river, but would rather lead us to infer that the town was completely surrounded by the wall in question,
vineis actis] the vineae (cf. 12) were pushed forward to serve as protections for the men while engaged in constructing the agger, which was a raised dam begun some little distance from the oppidum and carried up to it at right angles. The object of the dam was to serve as an inclined platform up which the turris was to be wheeled till it was brought near enough to command the town.
turrim procul constitui] 'a tower in course of erection some distance off'.
quod] at the idea of so great a contrivance being set up so great a distance off'. The thought of the Gauls, not merely an actual fact, has to be expressed, hence the subjunctive instrueretur instead of instruebatur.
praesertim] the word qualifies homines tantulae staturae, men too of such little stature', or 'especially as they were men of such little stature'.
20 omnibus Gallis] all the Gauls without exception, whether Belgae, Celtae or Aquitani. plerumque 'as a rule': for plerumque omnibus Schneider, qu. v. 57, equites plerumque omnes.
petere ac deprecari] petere is simply to make a request, deprecari is to beg a person not to do something; our 'deprecate' does not cover quite the same ground as deprecari: tr. 'beg as a favour'.
pro...mansuetudine] the same phrase has already occurred in 14.
possent] posse would have done equally well, cf. n. on 14 consuerint.
in muro se posse] Caesar, as Long remarks, seems to represent the Gauls as crying derisively, 'how are such little fellows going to lift that tower on to our wall?' as though suggesting with some irony that the only possible way of taking so strongly fortified a place would be to put the tower on the top of the duplex murus. See appendix.
locuti] this is not for locuti sunt, but is the participle.
existimare] se must be supplied, as also with the verbs permittere and petere ac deprecari.
5 si prius, quam] Kr. qu. Cic. de Off. I. 35 tum ei qui armis positis ad imperatorum fidem confugient, quamvis murum aries percusserit, recipiendi. Cicero would have been less rigorous than Caesar in dealing with a besieged foe.
facere dixerunt] 'they said that they were doing'; facere must not be translated as if it were facturos. imperata facere is the regular term for surrender.
muri aggerisque] murus is the wall of the oppidum, agger the Roman earthwork which had been advanced up to the brink of the fosse: the deep ravine-like space between the two was nearly filled up with the Gallic weapons,
praesidia] they thought the Romans would remove the sentinels from the vallum and castella forming the line of circumvallation, or that at any rate a less vigilant watch would be kept.
scutis...intextis] as Kraner points out, it is not clear whether intextis agrees with scutis and ex is to be supplied with viminibus, the meaning then being 'shields made of bark or woven out of osiers', or whether viminibus intextis is an ablative absolute, in which case tr. 'shields made of bark or by the interlacing of osiers'.
qua minime arduus] we do not know where the Gauls intended to break through the Roman line of circumvallation. We gather from the present passage that most of the encompassing lines was on high ground, otherwise the Gauls could not be said to have looked out for a spot where the ascent was least difficult. Of course the first thing for the Gauls to do was to descend from their own stronghold; this they might do by the ravines on the north-west face of the hill.
ex proximis castellis] there were castella at short intervals along the whole line of circumvallation.
27 eo] to the place threatened.
ut a viris fortibus pugnari debuit] 'as brave men were bound to fight'.
iniquo loco] ablative of attendant circumstances: the ground was unfavourable to the Gauls because of the ascent required before they could reach the Roman lines.
contra eos, qui] against assailants who': the statement is perfectly general, hence the subjunctive iacerent.
turribusque] the castella previously mentioned; quite different from the turris mobilis (cf. 30) with which the Romans were going to besiege the town.
cum in una...consisteret] Caesar seems to have forgotten that he had already said in extrema spe salutis. 31 ad] ad is here adverbial='about'.
p. 49. I
sectionem oppidi universam] 'the whole booty of the town without exception'. sectio, properly division', came to be applied to booty that was sold and 'divided' among the conquerors.
2 numerus] numerus is followed here by a double genitive, capitum and milium, as in 1. 29, where see note.
3 Venetos] a powerful maritime state who occupied the region now comprised in the department of Morbihan. They broke out into revolt and were subdued by Caesar in the following year, B. C. 56. Cf. III. 8 for some account of their power: they possessed several islands off the coast insulas complures Venetorum quae et Veneticae appellantur, Plin. IV. 19, 2 quoted by Desjardins. Their name survives in Vannes.
Venellos] this, and not Unellos, is shown by Glück to be the proper spelling. The district occupied by this tribe corresponds more or less with the department of Somme in the north-west of Normandie.
Osismos] the habitation of this tribe is to be sought in the department of Finisterre.
Curiosolitas] the name of this people may still be traced in the town of Corseul in the department of Côtes du Nord. Near Corseul are the remains of a Roman temple, the Fanum Martis. The name Curiosolitae has been found on an inscription discovered at Corseul: this should be substituted probably for Curiosolites in VII. 75.
P. C. I.