« PreviousContinue »
of the two best Latin grammars that have appeared in England. I have to offer my best thanks to Mr J. S. Reid of Christ's College, who has been kind enough to look through most of the proof-sheets of this book and to make several useful suggestions. Two small plans taken on a reduced scale and with many omissions from the Atlas to Napoleon's Histoire accompany this edition.
The following abbreviations may be mentioned:
S. D. A. =Smith's Dictionary
of Greek and Roman L=Long.
EVERY year the Romans were reminded by the anniversary of the dies Aliensis of that dark period of their history when, on the 18th of July B.C. 390, vast hordes of Gauls, who had made their way over the Alps and devastated the north of Italy, routed the Roman army on the banks of the Alia and three days after set the city itself in flames. Rome however did not lie prostrate long, but, to use the simile of Livy, like a plant whose stem has been severed, she soon sprang up again with a more vigorous growth than before. On many subsequent occasions the Romans encountered the Gauls in Italy, and in 283 they succeeded in avenging in some degree the day of Alia by utterly defeating the barbarians in a great battle near the lake Vadimonis. Henceforth the Roman dominion slowly but surely established itself over the north of Italy which was occupied by the Gauls and was hence called at a later period Gallia cisalpina. But it was not till 154 that a Roman army crossed the Alps. Their object was to defend the Greek colony of Massilia from the attacks of the neighbouring Ligurians : this expedition was followed by others in 125 and the following years, and in course of time a large district, extending from the Lake of Geneva to the Pyrenees and bounded on the west by the range of the Cévennes, was entirely subdued and constituted a Roman province, receiving the name of Gallia Narbonensis from the town of Narbo. In the year 113 the newly-formed province was overrun by the Cimbri and Teutones who had left their original homes on the shores of the Baltic, and were moving in
large masses southward. At first the Romans were defeated, but in 102 Gaius Marius won a great victory over the Teutones in the neighbourhood of Aquae Sextiae ; "the whole horde was annihilated, and the dead, lying unburied upon the field, gave to it the frightful appellation of the Putrid Plain which seems still to be retained in the name of Pourrières, a village which marks the spot?” The Cimbri who had invaded Italy were no less decisively defeated the next year in the battle of the Campus Raudius not far from Verona. About this time (probably in 102) was born G. Iulius Caesar, who was destined to bring the whole of Gaul beneath the imperial sway of Rome. A pretext for interference in the affairs of Gaul beyond the limits of the Province was first given by the encroachments of the powerful German nation of the Suevi, who crossed the Rhine at the invitation of the Sequani, a tribe of Keltic Gauls who fancied themselves oppressed by the stronger and more numerous Aedui. Thus assisted, the Sequani in their turn oppressed the Aedui, and in 61 the Aeduan prince Divitiacus went to Rome in order to try and gain the alliance of the Republic for his distressed countrymen ; but he was not the only claimant for the friendship of Rome, for Ariovistus, the king of the Suevi, was anxious to secure the same alliance for himself. About this time the Helvetii, who occupied a district to the north and east of the Lake of Geneva, began to migrate westwards under the leadership of Orgetorix, and on their way came into contact with the Allobroges, who dwelt within the limits of the Roman province. It was now full time for Rome to interfere. G. Iulius Caesar, who was one of the consuls for 59, at the expiration of his year of office, received from the people the government of the two provinces of Gallia cisalpina and Gallia transalpina or Narbonensis for the space of 5 years from March 1, 59, to March 1, 54. In the spring of 58 Caesar entered Gaul, having under his command four legions, together with auxiliary troops : in the same year he subdued the Helvetii at Bibracte (Autun) and the Germans under Ariovistus near Mülhausen. In 57 several powerful Belgic nations, the Suessiones, Bellovaci, Ambiarii, Nervii, Aduatici, succumbed before the proconsul, the rapidity of whose movements inspired the barbarians with almost as much awe as the success of his arms. After spending the winter in Italy, Caesar next marched in 56 against the Veneti on the coast, whom he defeated by sea and land. In 55, having got through the consuls Pompey and Crassus a prolongation of his proconsular command for another 5 years from March 1, 54 to March 1, 49, Caesar pursuing his victories, subdued the two German tribes of the Usipetes and the Tencteri who had invaded Gaul, and, in order to impress the Germans with a due sense of the greatness of Rome, threw a bridge over the Rhine and transported his legions across, withdrawing them again after a stay of 18 days on German territory. His next expedition was into Britain, whither he crossed in the summer with two legions, marching as far as London and even crossing the Thames. Returning into Gaul he vanquished the Menapii and Morini, two tribes situated in the north-west of Gaul. In 54 Caesar went again into Italy, undertook an expedition to Illyricum and a second time invaded Britain. During his absence among the Belgae the Roman legions remaining in Gaul suffered considerable losses by the attacks of the Nervii, Aduatici and Eburones, but Caesar returning suddenly soon routed his foes. In the following year, 53, he again crossed the Rhine : on his return into Gaul he proceeded to take a fearful vengeance on the Eburones for their share in the last insurrection, utterly exterminating the whole tribe. Having now reduced Gaul to a state of apparent quiet Caesar returned into Italy for the winter. But a fresh insurrection“ soon broke out, and this brings us to the campaign of the year 52 recorded in the 7th book of the Commentaries. Of this campaign the sieges of Avaricum, Gergovia and Alesia were the most important operations. The 8th book written by Aulus Hirtius continues the narrative of Caesar's successes in Gaul during the year 51, and sets forth the causes and origin of the civil war between the two great rivals Pompey and Caesar, which ended in the defeat and death of Pompey in 48 and the establishment of Caesar as absolute ruler of the Roman world.
1 Merivale, I. 210.
Mommsen1 is of opinion that Caesar had three main objects in view in undertaking the subjugation of Gaul. One of his aims, though perhaps not the one that chiefly influenced him, was to train by foreign conquest an army of veterans devoted to his service and ready to fight for him against their own countrymen in the great struggle for supreme power which was already impending. But the immediate and ostensible object of the campaign was to subdue and Romanise Gaul, to carry on the great scheme of Roman conquest and advance that worldwide empire which the Republic felt to be her destiny-a feeling which finds expression in the language of her great orator who, speaking in 54, calls the Roman state princeps populus et omnium gentium dominus ac victor? A third reason for the conquest of Gaul may be found in the necessity of providing more room for the growing population of Italy.
From an historical and political point of view the story of Caesar's campaigns in Gaul must be of abiding interest for Englishmen scarcely less than for Frenchmen; as it has been said,—“the conquest of Gaul by Caesar is one of the most important events in the history of the world. It is in some sort the beginning of modern history, as it brought the old world of southern Europe, of which Rome was at the head, into contact with the lands and nations which were to play the greatest part in later times, with Gaul, Germany and Britain 3.” But independently of the great historical interest attaching to the Commentaries, they will always be read for their own sake as narratives of marvellous graphic power, accuracy and conciseness, written by one who was both soldier, scholar and statesman, and the chief actor in the events which he describes.
1 Mommsen, IV. 211. 2 Cicero, p. Plancio, S II. 3 E. A. Freeman, General Sketch of European History, c. iii. $ 32.