小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 英文短篇小说 » The History of Rome, Book V » Chapter VII
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
Chapter VII
The Subjugation of the West

The Romanizing of the West

When the course of history turns from the miserable monotony of the political selfishness, which fought its battles in the senate-house and in the streets of the capital, to matters of greater importance than the question whether the first monarch of Rome should be called Gnaeus, Gaius, or Marcus, we may well be allowed—on the threshold of an event, the effects of which still at the present day influence the destinies of the world—to look round us for a moment, and to indicate the point of view under which the conquest of what is now France by the Romans, and their first contact with the inhabitants of Germany and of Great Britain, are to be apprehended in their bearing on the general history of the world.

By virtue of the law, that a people which has grown into a state absorbs its neighbours who are in political nonage, and a civilized people absorbs its neighbours who are in intellectual nonage— by virtue of this law, which is as universally valid and as much a law of nature as the law of gravity—the Italian nation (the only one in antiquity which was able to combine a superior political development and a superior civilization, though it presented the latter only in an imperfect and external manner) was entitled to reduce to subjection the Greek states of the east which were ripe for destruction, and to dispossess the peoples of lower grades of culture in the west—Libyans, Iberians, Celts, Germans—by means of its settlers; just as England with equal right has in Asia reduced to subjection a civilization of rival standing but politically impotent, and in America and Australia has marked and ennobled, and still continues to mark and ennoble, extensive barbarian countries with the impress of its nationality. The Roman aristocracy had accomplished the preliminary condition required for this task— the union of Italy; the task itself it never solved, but always regarded the extra-Italian conquests either as simply a necessary evil, or as a fiscal possession virtually beyond the pale of the state. It is the imperishable glory of the Roman democracy or monarchy—for the two coincide—to have correctly apprehended and vigorously realized this its highest destination. What the irresistible force of circumstances had paved the way for, through the senate establishing against its will the foundations of the future Roman dominion in the west as in the east; what thereafter the Roman emigration to the provinces—which came as a public calamity, no doubt, but also in the western regions at any rate as a pioneer of a higher culture—pursued as matter of instinct; the creator of the Roman democracy, Gaius Gracchus, grasped and began to carry out with statesmanlike clearness and decision. The two fundamental ideas of the new policy—to reunite the territories under the power of Rome, so far as they were Hellenic, and to colonize them, so far as they were not Hellenic—had already in the Gracchan age been practically recognized by the annexation of the kingdom of Attalus and by the Transalpine conquests of Flaccus: but the prevailing reaction once more arrested their application. The Roman state remained a chaotic mass of countries without thorough occupation and without proper limits. Spain and the Graeco-Asiatic possessions were separated from the mother country by wide territories, of which barely the borders along the coast were subject to the Romans; on the north coast of Africa the domains of Carthage and Cyrene alone were occupied like oases; large tracts even of the subject territory, especially in Spain, were but nominally subject to the Romans. Absolutely nothing was done on the part of the government towards concentrating and rounding off their dominion, and the decay of the fleet seemed at length to dissolve the last bond of connection between the distant possessions. The democracy no doubt attempted, so soon as it again raised its head, to shape its external policy in the spirit of Gracchus—Marius in particular cherished such ideas—but as it did not for any length of time attain the helm, its projects were left unfulfilled. It was not till the democracy practically took in hand the government on the overthrow of the Sullan constitution in 684, that a revolution in this respect occurred. First of all their sovereignty on the Mediterranean was restored—the most vital question for a state like that of Rome. Towards the east, moreover, the boundary of the Euphrates was secured by the annexation of the provinces of Pontus and Syria. But there still remained beyond the Alps the task of at once rounding off the Roman territory towards the north and west, and of gaining a fresh virgin soil there for Hellenic civilization and for the yet unbroken vigour of the Italic race.

Historical Significance of the Conquests of Caesar

This task Gaius Caesar undertook. It is more than an error, it is an outrage upon the sacred spirit dominant in history, to regard Gaul solely as the parade ground on which Caesar exercised himself and his legions for the impending civil war. Though the subjugation of the west was for Caesar so far a means to an end that he laid the foundations of his later height of power in the Transalpine wars, it is the especial privilege of a statesman of genius that his means themselves are ends in their turn. Caesar needed no doubt for his party aims a military power, but he did not conquer Gaul as a partisan. There was a direct political necessity for Rome to meet the perpetually threatened invasion of the Germans thus early beyond the Alps, and to construct a rampart there which should secure the peace of the Roman world. But even this important object was not the highest and ultimate reason for which Gaul was conquered by Caesar. When the old home had become too narrow for the Roman burgesses and they were in danger of decay, the senate's policy of Italian conquest saved them from ruin. Now the Italian home had become in its turn too narrow; once more the state languished under the same social evils repeating themselves in similar fashion only on a greater scale. It was a brilliant idea, a grand hope, which led Caesar over the Alps—the idea and the confident expectation that he should gain there for his fellow-burgesses a new boundless home, and regenerate the state a second time by placing it on a broader basis.

Caesar in Spain

The campaign which Caesar undertook in 693 in Further Spain, may be in some sense included among the enterprises which aimed at the subjugation of the west. Long as Spain had obeyed the Romans, its western shore had remained substantially independent of them even after the expedition of Decimus Brutus against the Callaeci(1), and they had not even set foot on the northern coast; while the predatory raids, to which the subject provinces found themselves continually exposed from those quarters, did no small injury to the civilization and Romanizing of Spain. Against these the expedition of Caesar along the west coast was directed. He crossed the chain of the Herminian mountains (Sierra de Estrella) bounding the Tagus on the north; after having conquered their inhabitants and transplanted them in part to the plain, he reduced the country on both sides of the Douro and arrived at the northwest point of the peninsula, where with the aid of a flotilla brought up from Gades he occupied Brigantium (Corunna). By this means the peoples adjoining the Atlantic Ocean, Lusitanians and Callaecians, were forced to acknowledge the Roman supremacy, while the conqueror was at the same time careful to render the position of the subjects generally more tolerable by reducing the tribute to be paid to Rome and regulating the financial affairs of the communities.

But, although in this military and administrative debut of the great general and statesman the same talents and the same leading ideas are discernible which he afterwards evinced on a greater stage, his agency in the Iberian peninsula was much too transient to have any deep effect; the more especially as, owing to its physical and national peculiarities, nothing but action steadily continued for a considerable time could exert any durable influence there.


A more important part in the Romanic development of the west was reserved by destiny for the country which stretches between the Pyrenees and the Rhine, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean, and which since the Augustan age has been especially designated by the name of the land of the Celts—Gallia—although strictly speaking the land of the Celts was partly narrower, partly much more extensive, and the country so called never formed a national unity, and did not form a political unity before Augustus. For this very reason it is not easy to present a clear picture of the very heterogeneous state of things which Caesar encountered on his arrival there in 696.

The Roman Province
Wars and Revolts There

In the region on the Mediterranean, which, embracing approximately Languedoc on the west of the Rhone, on the east Dauphine and Provence, had been for sixty years a Roman province, the Roman arms had seldom been at rest since the Cimbrian invasion which had swept over it. In 664 Gaius Caelius had fought with the Salyes about Aquae Sextiae, and in 674 Gaius Flaccus,(2) on his march to Spain, with other Celtic nations. When in the Sertorian war the governor Lucius Manlius, compelled to hasten to the aid of his colleagues beyond the Pyrenees, returned defeated from Ilerda (Lerida) and on his way home was vanquished a second time by the western neighbours of the Roman province, the Aquitani (about 676;(3)), this seems to have provoked a general rising of the provincials between the Pyrenees and the Rhone, perhaps even of those between the Rhone and Alps. Pompeius had to make his way with the sword through the insurgent Gaul to Spain,(4) and by way of penalty for their rebellion gave the territories of the Volcae-Arecomici and the Helvii (dep. Gard and Ardeche) over to the Massiliots; the governor Manius Fonteius (678-680) carried out these arrangements and restored tranquillity in the province by subduing the Vocontii (dep. Drome), protecting Massilia from the insurgents, and liberating the Roman capital Narbo which they invested. Despair, however, and the financial embarrassment which the participation in the sufferings of the Spanish war(5) and generally the official and non-official exactions of the Romans brought upon the Gallic provinces, did not allow them to be tranquil; and in particular the canton of the Allobroges, the most remote from Narbo, was in a perpetual ferment, which was attested by the "pacification" that Gaius Piso undertook there in 688 as well as by the behaviour of the Allobrogian embassy in Rome on occasion of the anarchist plot in 691,(6) and which soon afterwards (693) broke into open revolt Catugnatus the leader of the Allobroges in this war of despair, who had at first fought not unsuccessfully, was conquered at Solonium after a glorious resistance by the governor Gaius Pomptinus.

Relations to Rome

Notwithstanding all these conflicts the bounds of the Roman territory were not materially advanced; Lugudunum Convenarum, where Pompeius had settled the remnant of the Sertorian army,(7) Tolosa, Vienna and Genava were still the most remote Roman townships towards the west and north. But at the same time the importance of these Gallic possessions for the mother country was continually on the increase. The glorious climate, akin to that of Italy, the favourable nature of the soil, the large and rich region lying behind so advantageous for commerce with its mercantile routes reaching as far as Britain, the easy intercourse by land and sea with the mother country, rapidly gave to southern Gaul an economic importance for Italy, which much older possessions, such as those in Spain, had not acquired in the course of centuries; and as the Romans who had suffered political shipwreck at this period sought an asylum especially in Massilia, and there found once more Italian culture and Italian luxury, voluntary emigrants from Italy also were attracted more and more to the Rhone and the Garonne. "The province of Gaul," it was said in a sketch drawn ten years before Caesar's arrival, "is full of merchants; it swarms with Roman burgesses. No native of Gaul transacts a piece of business without the intervention of a Roman; every penny, that passes from one hand to another in Gaul, goes through the account books of the Roman burgesses." From the same description it appears that in addition to the colonists of Narbo there were Romans cultivating land and rearing cattle, resident in great numbers in Gaul; as to which, however, it must not be overlooked that most of the provincial land possessed by Romans, just like the greater part of the English possessions in the earliest times in America, was in the hands of the high nobility living in Italy, and those farmers and graziers consisted for the most part of their stewards—slaves or freedmen.

Incipient Romanizing

It is easy to understand how under such circumstances civilization and Romanizing rapidly spread among the natives. These Celts were not fond of agriculture; but their new masters compelled them to exchange the sword for the plough, and it is very credible that the embittered resistance of the Allobroges was provoked in part by some such injunctions. In earlier times Hellenism had also to a certain degree dominated those regions; the elements of a higher culture, the stimulus to the cultivation of the vine and the olive,(8) to the use of writing(9) and to the coining of money, came to them from Massilia. The Hellenic culture was in this case far from being set aside by the Romans; Massilia gained through them more influence than it lost; and even in the Roman period Greek physicians and rhetoricians were publicly employed in the Gallic cantons. But, as may readily be conceived, Hellenism in southern Gaul acquired through the agency of the Romans the same character as in Italy; the distinctively Hellenic civilization gave place to the Latino-Greek mixed culture, which soon made proselytes here in great numbers. The "Gauls in the breeches," as the inhabitants of southern Gaul were called by way of contrast to the "Gauls in the toga" of northern Italy, were not indeed like the latter already completely Romanized, but they were even now very perceptibly distinguished from the "longhaired Gauls" of the northern regions still unsubdued. The semiculture becoming naturalized among them furnished, doubtless, materials enough for ridicule of their barbarous Latin, and people did not fail to suggest to any one suspected of Celtic descent his "relationship with the breeches"; but this bad Latin was yet sufficient to enable even the remote Allobroges to transact business with the Roman authorities, and even to give testimony in the Roman courts without an interpreter.

While the Celtic and Ligurian population of these regions was thus in the course of losing its nationality, and was languishing and pining withal under a political and economic oppression, the intolerable nature of which is sufficiently attested by their hopeless insurrections, the decline of the native population here went hand in hand with the naturalizing of the same higher culture which we find at this period in Italy. Aquae Sextiae and still more Narbo were considerable townships, which might probably be named by the side of Beneventum and Capua; and Massilia, the best organized, most free, most capable of self-defence, and most powerful of all the Greek cities dependent on Rome, under its rigorous aristocratic government to which the Roman conservatives probably pointed as the model of a good urban constitution, in possession of an important territory which had been considerably enlarged by the Romans and of an extensive trade, stood by the side of those Latin towns as Rhegium and Neapolis stood in Italy by the side of Beneventum and Capua.

Free Gaul

Matters wore a different aspect, when one crossed the Roman frontier. The great Celtic nation, which in the southern districts already began to be crushed by the Italian immigration, still moved to the north of the Cevennes in its time-hallowed freedom. It is not the first time that we meet it: the Italians had already fought with the offsets and advanced posts of this vast stock on the Tiber and on the Po, in the mountains of Castile and Carinthia, and even in the heart of Asia Minor; but it was here that the main stock was first assailed at its very core by their attacks. The Celtic race had on its settlement in central Europe diffused itself chiefly over the rich river-valleys and the pleasant hill-country of the present France, including the western districts of Germany and Switzerland, and from thence had occupied at least the southern part of England, perhaps even at this time all Great Britain and Ireland;(10) it formed here more than anywhere else a broad, geographically compact, mass of peoples. In spite of the differences in language and manners which naturally were to be found within this wide territory, a close mutual intercourse, an innate sense of fellowship, seems to have knit together the tribes from the Rhone and Garonne to the Rhine and the Thames; whereas, although these doubtless were in a certain measure locally connected with the Celts in Spain and in the modern Austria, the mighty mountain barriers of the Pyrenees and the Alps on the one hand, and the encroachments of the Romans and the Germans which also operated here on the other, interrupted the intercourse and the intrinsic connection of the cognate peoples far otherwise than the narrow arm of the sea interrupted the relations of the continental and the British Celts. Unhappily we are not permitted to trace stage by stage the history of the internal development of this remarkable people in these its chief seats; we must be content with presenting at least some outline of its historical culture and political condition, as it here meets us in the time of Caesar.

Agriculture and the Rearing of Cattle

Gaul was, according to the reports of the ancients, comparatively well peopled. Certain statements lead us to infer that in the Belgic districts there were some 200 persons to the square mile— a proportion such as nearly holds at present for Wales and for Livonia—in the Helvetic canton about 245;(11) it is probable that in the districts which were more cultivated than the Belgic and less mountainous than the Helvetian, as among the Bituriges, Arverni, Haedui, the number rose still higher. Agriculture was no doubt practised in Gaul—for even the contemporaries of Caesar were surprised in the region of the Rhine by the custom of manuring with marl,(12) and the primitive Celtic custom of preparing beer (-cervesia-) from barley is likewise an evidence of the early and wide diffusion of the culture of grain—but it was not held in estimation. Even in the more civilized south it was reckoned not becoming for the free Celts to handle the plough. In far higher estimation among the Celts stood pastoral husbandry, for which the Roman landholders of this epoch very gladly availed themselves both of the Celtic breed of cattle, and of the brave Celtic slaves skilled in riding and familiar with the rearing of animals.(13) Particularly in the northern Celtic districts pastoral husbandry was thoroughly predominant. Brittany was in Caesar's time a country poor in corn. In the north-east dense forests, attaching themselves to the heart of the Ardennes, stretched almost without interruption from the German Ocean to the Rhine; and on the plains of Flanders and Lorraine, now so fertile, the Menapian and Treverian herdsman then fed his half-wild swine in the impenetrable oak-forest. Just as in the valley of the Po the Romans made the production of wool and the culture of corn supersede the Celtic feeding of pigs on acorns, so the rearing of sheep and the agriculture in the plains of the Scheldt and the Maas are traceable to their influence. In Britain even the threshing of corn was not yet usual; and in its more northern districts agriculture was not practised, and the rearing of cattle was the only known mode of turning the soil to account. The culture of the olive and vine, which yielded rich produce to the Massiliots, was not yet prosecuted beyond the Cevennes in the time of Caesar.

Urban Life

The Gauls were from the first disposed to settle in groups; there were open villages everywhere, and the Helvetic canton alone numbered in 696 four hundred of these, besides a multitude of single homesteads. But there were not wanting also walled towns, whose walls of alternate layers surprised the Romans both by their suitableness and by the elegant interweaving of timber and stones in their construction; while, it is true, even in the towns of the Allobroges the buildings were erected solely of wood. Of such towns the Helvetii had twelve and the Suessiones an equal number; whereas at all events in the more northern districts, such as among the Nervii, while there were doubtless also towns, the population during war sought protection in the morasses and forests rather than behind their walls, and beyond the Thames the primitive defence of the wooden barricade altogether took the place of towns and was in war the only place of refuge for men and herds.


In close association with the comparatively considerable development of urban life stands the activity of intercourse by land and by water. Everywhere there were roads and bridges. The river-navigation, which streams like the Rhone, Garonne, Loire, and Seine, of themselves invited, was considerable and lucrative. But far more remarkable was the maritime navigation of the Celts. Not only were the Celts, to all appearance, the nation that first regularly navigated the Atlantic ocean, but we find that the art of building and of managing vessels had attained among them a remarkable development. The navigation of the peoples of the Mediterranean had, as may readily be conceived from the nature of the waters traversed by them, for a comparatively long period adhered to the oar; the war-vessels of the Phoenicians, Hellenes, and Romans were at all times oared galleys, in which the sail was applied only as an occasional aid to the oar; the trading vessels alone were in the epoch of developed ancient civilization "sailers" properly so called.(14) On the other hand the Gauls doubtless employed in the Channel in Caesar's time, as for long afterwards, a species of portable leathern skiffs, which seem to have been in the main common oared boats, but on the west coast of Gaul the Santones, the Pictones, and above all the Veneti sailed in large though clumsily built ships, which were not impelled by oars but were provided with leathern sails and iron anchor-chains; and they employed these not only for their traffic with Britain, but also in naval combat. Here therefore we not only meet for the first time with navigation in the open ocean, but we find that here the sailing vessel first fully took the place of the oared boat—an improvement, it is true, which the declining activity of the old world did not know how to turn to account, and the immeasurable results of which our own epoch of renewed culture is employed in gradually reaping.


With this regular maritime intercourse between the British and Gallic coasts, the very close political connection between the inhabitants on both sides of the Channel is as easily explained as the flourishing of transmarine commerce and of fisheries. It was the Celts of Brittany in particular, that brought the tin of the mines of Cornwall from England and carried it by the river and land routes of Gaul to Narbo and Massilia. The statement, that in Caesar's time certain tribes at the mouth of the Rhine subsisted on fish and birds' eggs, may probably refer to the circumstance that marine fishing and the collection of the eggs of sea-birds were prosecuted there on an extensive scale. When we put together and endeavour to fill up the isolated and scanty statements which have reached us regarding the Celtic commerce and intercourse, we come to see why the tolls of the river and maritime ports play a great part in the budgets of certain cantons, such as those of the Haedui and the Veneti, and why the chief god of the nation was regarded by them as the protector of the roads and of commerce, and at the same time as the inventor of manufactures. Accordingly the Celtic industry cannot have been wholly undeveloped; indeed the singular dexterity of the Celts, and their peculiar skill in imitating any model and executing any instructions, are noticed by Caesar. In most branches, however, their handicraft does not appear to have risen above the ordinary level; the manufacture of linen and woollen stuffs, that subsequently flourished in central and northern Gaul, was demonstrably called into existence only by the Romans. The elaboration of metals forms an exception, and so far as we know the only one. The copper implements not unfrequently of excellent workmanship and even now malleable, which are brought to light in the tombs of Gaul, and the carefully adjusted Arvernian gold coins, are still at the present day striking witnesses of the skill of the Celtic workers in copper and gold; and with this the reports of the ancients well accord, that the Romans learned the art of tinning from the Bituriges and that of silvering from the Alesini—inventions, the first of which was naturally suggested by the traffic' in tin, and both of which were probably made in the period of Celtic freedom.


Hand in hand with dexterity in the elaboration of the metals went the art of procuring them, which had attained, more especially in the iron mines on the Loire, such a degree of professional skill that the miners played an important part in the sieges. The opinion prevalent among the Romans of this period, that Gaul was one of the richest gold countries in the world, is no doubt refuted by the well-known nature of the soil and by the character of the articles found in the Celtic tombs, in which gold appears but sparingly and with far less frequency than in the similar repositories of the true native regions of gold; this conception no doubt had its origin merely from the descriptions which Greek travellers and Roman soldiers, doubtless not without strong exaggeration, gave to their countrymen of the magnificence of the Arvernian kings,(15) and of the treasures of the Tolosan temples.(16) But their stories were not pure fictions. It may well be believed that in and near the rivers which flow from the Alps and the Pyrenees gold-washing and searches for gold, which are unprofitable at the present value of labour, were worked with profit and on a considerable scale in ruder times and with a system of slavery; besides, the commercial relations of Gaul may, as is not unfrequently the case with half-civilized peoples, have favoured the accumulation of a dead stock of the precious metals.

Art and Science

The low state of the arts of design is remarkable, and is the more striking by the side of this mechanical skill in handling the metals. The fondness for parti-coloured and brilliant ornaments shows the want of a proper taste, which is sadly confirmed by the Gallic coins with their representations sometimes exceedingly simple, sometimes odd, but always childish in design, and almost without exception rude beyond parallel in their execution. It is perhaps unexampled that a coinage practised for centuries with a certain technical skill should have essentially limited itself to always imitating two or three Greek dies, and always with increasing deformity. On the other hand the art of poetry was highly valued by the Celts, and intimately blended with the religious and even with the political institutions of the nation; we find religious poetry, as well as that of the court and of the mendicant, flourishing.(17) Natural science and philosophy also found, although subject to the forms and fetters of the theology of the country, a certain amount of attention among the Celts; and Hellenic humanism met with a ready reception wherever and in whatever shape it approached them. The knowledge of writing was general at least among the priests. For the most part in free Gaul the Greek writing was made use of in Caesar's time, as was done among others by the Helvetii; but in its most southern districts even then, in consequence of intercourse with the Romanized Celts, the Latin attained predominance—we meet with it, for instance, on the Arvernian coins of this period.

Political Organization
Cantonal Constitution

The political development of the Celtic nation also presents very remarkable phenomena. The constitution of the state was based in this case, as everywhere, on the clan-canton, with its prince, its council of the elders, and its community of freemen capable of bearing arms; but the peculiarity in this case was that it never got beyond this cantonal constitution. Among the Greeks and Romans the canton was very early superseded by the ring-wall as the basis of political unity; where two cantons found themselves together within the same walls, they amalgamated into one commonwealth; where a body of burgesses assigned to a portion of their fellow- burgesses a new ring-wall, there regularly arose in this way a new state connected with the mother community only by ties of piety and, at most, of clientship. Among the Celts on the other hand the "burgess-body" continued at all times to be the clan; prince and council presided over the canton and not over any town, and the general diet of the canton formed the authority of last resort in the state. The town had, as in the east, merely mercantile and strategic, not political importance; for which reason the Gallic townships, even when walled and very considerable such as Vienna and Genava, were in the view of the Greeks and Romans nothing but villages. In the time of Caesar the original clan-constitution still subsisted substantially unaltered among the insular Celts and in the northern cantons of the mainland; the general assembly held the supreme authority; the prince was in essential questions bound by its decrees; the common council was numerous—it numbered in certain clans six hundred members—but does not appear to have had more importance than the senate under the Roman kings. In the more stirring southern portion of the land, again, one or two generations before Caesar—the children of the last kings were still living in his time—there had occurred, at least among the larger clans, the Arverni, Haedui, Sequani, Helvetii, a revolution which set aside the royal dominion and gave the power into the hands of the nobility.

Development of Knighthood
Breaking Up of the Old Cantonal Constitution

It is simply the reverse side of the total want of urban commonwealths among the Celts just noticed, that the opposite pole of political development, knighthood, so thoroughly preponderates in the Celtic clan-constitution. The Celtic aristocracy was to all appearance a high nobility, for the most part perhaps the members of the royal or formerly royal families; as indeed it is remarkable that the heads of the opposite parties in the same clan very frequently belong to the same house. These great families combined in their hands financial, warlike, and political ascendency. They monopolized the leases of the profitable rights of the state. They compelled the free commons, who were oppressed by the burden of taxation, to borrow from them, and to surrender their freedom first de facto as debtors, then de jure as bondmen. They developed the system of retainers, that is, the privilege of the nobility to surround themselves with a number of hired mounted servants— the -ambacti- as they were called (18)—and thereby to form a state within the state; and, resting on the support of these troops of their own, they defied the legal authorities and the common levy and practically broke up the commonwealth. If in a clan, which numbered about 80,000 men capable of arms, a single noble could appear at the diet with 10,000 retainers, not reckoning the bondmen and the debtors, it is clear that such an one was more an independent dynast than a burgess of his clan. Moreover, the leading families of the different clans were closely connected and through intermarriages and special treaties formed virtually a compact league, in presence of which the single clan was powerless. Therefore the communities were no longer able to maintain the public peace, and the law of the strong arm reigned throughout. The dependent found protection only from his master, whom duty and interest compelled to redress the injury inflicted on his client; the state had no longer the power to protect those who were free, and consequently these gave themselves over in numbers to some powerful man as clients.

Abolition of the Monarchy

The common assembly lost its political importance; and even the power of the prince, which should have checked the encroachments of the nobility, succumbed to it among the Celts as well as in Latium. In place of the king came the "judgment-worker" or -Vergobretus-,(19) who was like the Roman consul nominated only for a year. So far as the canton still held together at all, it was led by the common council, in which naturally the heads of the aristocracy usurped the government. Of course under such circumstances there was agitation in the several clans much in the same way as there had been agitation in Latium for centuries after the expulsion of the kings: while the nobility of the different communities combined to form a separate alliance hostile to the power of the community, the multitude ceased not to desire the restoration of the monarchy; and not unfrequently a prominent nobleman attempted, as Spurius Cassius had done in Rome, with the support of the mass of those belonging to the canton to break down the power of his peers, and to reinstate the crown in its rights for his own special benefit.

Efforts towards National Unity

While the individual cantons were thus irremediably declining, the sense of unity was at the same time powerfully stirring in the nation and seeking in various ways to take shape and hold. That combination of the whole Celtic nobility in contradistinction to the individual canton-unions, while disturbing the existing order of things, awakened and fostered the conception of the collective unity of the nation. The attacks directed against the nation from without, and the continued diminution of its territory in war with its neighbours, operated in the same direction. Like the Hellenes in their wars with the Persians, and the Italians in their wars with the Celts, the Transalpine Gauls seem to have become conscious of the existence and the power of their national unity in the wars against Rome. Amidst the dissensions of rival clans and all their feudal quarrelling there might still be heard the voices of those who were ready to purchase the independence of the nation at the cost of the independence of the several cantons, and even at that of the seignorial rights of the knights. The thorough popularity of the opposition to a foreign yoke was shown by the wars of Caesar, with reference to whom the Celtic patriot party occupied a position entirely similar to that of the German patriots towards Napoleon; its extent and organization are attested, among other things, by the telegraphic rapidity with which news was communicated from one point to another.

Religious union of the Nation

The universality and the strength of the Celtic national feeling would be inexplicable but for the circumstance that, amidst the greatest political disruption, the Celtic nation had for long been centralized in respect of religion and even of theology. The Celtic priesthood or, to use the native name, the corporation of the Druids, certainly embraced the British islands and all Gaul, and perhaps also other Celtic countries, in a common religious- national bond. It possessed a special head elected by the priests themselves; special schools, in which its very comprehensive tradition was transmitted; special privileges, particularly exemption from taxation and military service, which every clan respected; annual councils, which were held near Chartres at the "centre of the Celtic earth"; and above all, a believing people, who in painful piety and blind obedience to their priests seem to have been nowise inferior to the Irish of modern times. It may readily be conceived that such a priesthood attempted to usurp, as it partially did usurp, the secular government; where the annual monarchy subsisted, it conducted the elections in the event of an interregnum; it successfully laid claim to the right of excluding individuals and whole communities from religious, and consequently also from civil, society; it was careful to draw to itself the most important civil causes, especially processes as to boundaries and inheritance; on the ground, apparently, of its right to exclude from the community, and perhaps also of the national custom that criminals should be by preference taken for the usual human sacrifices, it developed an extensive priestly criminal jurisdiction, which was co-ordinate with that of the kings and vergobrets; it even claimed the right of deciding on war and peace. The Gauls were not far removed from an ecclesiastical state with its pope and councils, its immunities, interdicts, and spiritual courts; only this ecclesiastical state did not, like that of recent times, stand aloof from the nations, but was on the contrary pre-eminently national.

Want of Political Centralization
The Canton-Leagues

But while the sense of mutual relationship was thus vividly awakened among the Celtic tribes, the nation was still precluded from attaining a basis of political centralization such as Italy found in the Roman burgesses, and the Hellenes and Germans in the Macedonian and Frank kings. The Celtic priesthood and likewise the nobility—although both in a certain sense represented and combined the nation—were yet, on the one hand, incapable of uniting it in consequence of their particular class-interests, and, on the other hand, sufficiently powerful to allow no king and no canton to accomplish the work of union. Attempts at this work were not wanting; they followed, as the cantonal constitution suggested, the system of hegemony. A powerful canton induced a weaker to become subordinate, on such a footing that the leading canton acted for the other as well as for itself in its external relations and stipulated for it in state-treaties, while the dependent canton bound itself to render military service and sometimes also to pay a tribute. In this way a series of separate leagues arose; but there was no leading canton for all Gaul—no tie, however loose, combining the nation as a whole.

The Belgic League
The Maritime Cantons
The Leagues of Central Gaul

It has been already mentioned(20) that the Romans at the commencement of their Transalpine conquests found in the north a Britanno-Belgic league under the leadership of the Suessiones, and in central and southern Gaul the confederation of the Arverni, with which latter the Haedui, although having a weaker body of clients, carried on a rivalry. In Caesar's time we find the Belgae in north-eastern Gaul between the Seine and the Rhine still forming such an association, which, however, apparently no longer extends to Britain; by their side there appears, in the modern Normandy and Brittany, the league of the Aremorican or the maritime cantons: in central or proper Gaul two parties as formerly contended for the hegemony, the one headed by the Haedui, the other by the Sequani after the Arvernians weakened by the wars with Rome had retired. These different confederacies subsisted independently side by side; the leading states of central Gaul appear never to have extended their clientship to the north-east nor, seriously, perhaps even to the north-west of Gaul.

Character of Those Leagues

The impulse of the nation towards freedom found doubtless a certain gratification in these cantonal unions; but they were in every respect unsatisfactory. The union was of the loosest kind, constantly fluctuating between alliance and hegemony; the representation of the whole body in peace by the federal diets, in war by the general,(21) was in the highest degree feeble. The Belgian confederacy alone seems to have been bound together somewhat more firmly; the national enthusiasm, from which the successful repulse of the Cimbri proceeded,(22) may have proved beneficial to it. The rivalries for the hegemony made a breach in every league, which time did not close but widened, because the victory of one competitor still left his opponent in possession of political existence, and it always remained open to him, even though he had submitted to clientship, subsequently to renew the struggle. The rivalry among the more powerful cantons not only set these at variance, but spread into every dependent clan, into every village, often indeed into every house, for each individual chose his side according to his personal relations. As Hellas exhausted its strength not so much in the struggle of Athens against Sparta as in the internal strife of the Athenian and Lacedaemonian factions in every dependent community, and even in Athens itself, so the rivalry of the Arverni and Haedui with its repetitions on a smaller and smaller scale destroyed the Celtic people.

The Celtic Military System

The military capability of the nation felt the reflex influence of these political and social relations. The cavalry was throughout the predominant arm; alongside of which among the Belgae, and still more in the British islands, the old national war-chariots appear in remarkable perfection. These equally numerous and efficient bands of combatants on horseback and in chariots were formed from the nobility and its vassals; for the nobles had a genuine knightly delight in dogs and horses, and were at much expense to procure noble horses of foreign breed. It is characteristic of the spirit and the mode of fighting of these nobles that, when the levy was called out, whoever could keep his seat on horseback, even the gray-haired old man, took the field, and that, when on the point of beginning a combat with an enemy of whom they made little account, they swore man by man that they would keep aloof from house and homestead, unless their band should charge at least twice through the enemy's line. Among the hired warriors the free-lance spirit prevailed with all its demoralized and stolid indifference towards their own life and that of others. This is apparent from the stories— however anecdotic their colouring—of the Celtic custom of tilting by way of sport and now and then fighting for life or death at a banquet, and of the usage (which prevailed among the Celts, and outdid even the Roman gladiatorial games) of selling themselves to be killed for a set sum of money or a number of casks of wine, and voluntarily accepting the fatal blow stretched on their shield before the eyes of the whole multitude.


By the side of these mounted warriors the infantry fell into the background. In the main it essentially resembled the bands of Celts, with whom the Romans had fought in Italy and Spain. The large shield was, as then, the principal weapon of defence; among the offensive arms, on the other hand, the long thrusting lance now played the chief part in room of the sword. Where several cantons waged war in league, they naturally encamped and fought clan against clan; there is no trace of their giving to the levy of each canton military organization and forming smaller and more regular tactical subdivisions. A long train of waggons still dragged the baggage of the Celtic army; instead of an entrenched camp, such as the Romans pitched every night, the poor substitute of a barricade of waggons still sufficed. In the case of certain cantons, such as the Nervii, the efficiency of their infantry is noticed as exceptional; it is remarkable that these had no cavalry, and perhaps were not even a Celtic but an immigrant German tribe. But in general the Celtic infantry of this period appears as an unwarlike and unwieldy levy en masse; most of all in the more southern provinces, where along with barbarism valour had also disappeared. The Celt, says Caesar, ventures not to face the German in battle. The Roman general passed a censure still more severe than this judgment on the Celtic infantry, seeing that, after having become acquainted with them in his first campaign, he never again employed them in connection with Roman infantry.

Stage of Development of the Celtic Civilization

If we survey the whole condition of the Celts as Caesar found it in the Transalpine regions, there is an unmistakeable advance in civilization, as compared with the stage of culture at which the Celts came before us a century and a half previously in the valley of the Po. Then the militia, excellent of its kind, thoroughly preponderated in their armies;(23) now the cavalry occupies the first place. Then the Celts dwelt in open villages; now well- constructed walls surrounded their townships. The objects too found in the tombs of Lombardy are, especially as respects articles of copper and glass, far inferior to those of northern Gaul. Perhaps the most trustworthy measure of the increase of culture is the sense of a common relationship in the nation; so little of it comes to light in the Celtic battles fought on the soil of what is now Lombardy, while it strikingly appears in the struggles against Caesar. To all appearance the Celtic nation, when Caesar encountered it, had already reached the maximum of the culture allotted to it, and was even now on the decline. The civilization of the Transalpine Celts in Caesar's time presents, even for us who are but very imperfectly informed regarding it, several aspects that are estimable, and yet more that are interesting; in some respects it is more akin to the modern than to the Hellenic-Roman culture, with its sailing vessels, its knighthood, its ecclesiastical constitution, above all with its attempts, however imperfect, to build the state not on the city, but on the tribe and in a higher degree on the nation. But just because we here meet the Celtic nation at the culminating point of its development, its lesser degree of moral endowment or, which is the same thing, its lesser capacity of culture, comes more distinctly into view. It was unable to produce from its own resources either a national art or a national state; it attained at the utmost a national theology and a peculiar type of nobility. The original simple valour was no more; the military courage based on higher morality and judicious organization, which comes in the train of increased civilization, had only made its appearance in a very stunted form among the knights. Barbarism in the strict sense was doubtless outlived; the times had gone by, when in Gaul the fat haunch was assigned to the bravest of the guests, but each of his fellow-guests who thought himself offended thereby was at liberty to challenge the receiver on that score to combat, and when the most faithful retainers of a deceased chief were burnt along with him. But human sacrifices still continued, and the maxim of law, that torture was inadmissible in the case of the free man but allowable in that of the free woman as well as of slaves, throws a far from pleasing light on the position which the female sex held among the Celts even in their period of culture. The Celts had lost the advantages which specially belong to the primitive epoch of nations, but had not acquired those which civilization brings with it when it intimately and thoroughly pervades a people.

External Relations
Celts and Iberians

Such was the internal condition of the Celtic nation. It remains that we set forth their external relations with their neighbours, and describe the part which they sustained at this moment in the mighty rival race and rival struggle of the nations, in which it is everywhere still more difficult to maintain than to acquire. Along the Pyrenees the relations of the peoples had for long been peaceably settled, and the times had long gone by when the Celts there pressed hard on, and to some extent supplanted, the Iberian, that is, the Basque, original population. The valleys of the Pyrenees as well as the mountains of Bearn and Gascony, and also the coast- steppes to the south of the Garonne, were at the time of Caesar in the undisputed possession of the Aquitani, a great number of small tribes of Iberian descent, coming little into contact with each other and still less with the outer world; in this quarter only the mouth of the Garonne with the important port of Burdigala (Bordeaux) was in the hands of a Celtic tribe, the Bituriges-Vivisci.

Celts and Romans
Advance of Roman Trade and Commerce into Free Gaul

Of far greater importance was the contact of the Celtic nation with the Roman people, and with the Germans. We need not here repeat— what has been related already—how the Romans in their slow advance had gradually pressed back the Celts, had at last occupied the belt of coast between the Alps and the Pyrenees, and had thereby totally cut them off from Italy, Spain and the Mediterranean Sea—a catastrophe, for which the way had already been prepared centuries before by the laying out of the Hellenic stronghold at the mouth of the Rhone. But we must here recall the fact that it was not merely the superiority of the Roman arms which pressed hard on the Celts, but quite as much that of Roman culture, which likewise reaped the ultimate benefit of the respectable beginnings of Hellenic civilization in Gaul. Here too, as so often happens, trade and commerce paved the way for conquest. The Celt after northern fashion was fond of fiery drinks; the fact that like the Scythian he drank the generous wine unmingled and to intoxication, excited the surprise and the disgust of the temperate southern; but the trader has no objection to deal with such customers. Soon the trade with Gaul became a mine of gold for the Italian merchant; it was nothing unusual there for a jar of wine to be exchanged for a slave. Other articles of luxury, such as Italian horses, found advantageous sale in Gaul. There were instances even already of Roman burgesses acquiring landed property beyond the Roman frontier, and turning it to profit after the Italian fashion; there is mention, for example, of Roman estates in the canton of the Segusiavi (near Lyons) as early as about 673. Beyond doubt it was a consequence of this that, as already mentioned(24) in free Gaul itself, e. g. among the Arverni, the Roman language was not unknown even before the conquest; although this knowledge was presumably still restricted to few, and even the men of rank in the allied canton of the Haedui had to be conversed with through interpreters. Just as the traffickers in fire-water and the squatters led the way in the occupation of North America, so these Roman wine-traders and landlords paved the way for, and beckoned onward, the future conqueror of Gaul. How vividly this was felt even on the opposite side, is shown by the prohibition which one of the most energetic tribes of Gaul, the canton of the Nervii, like some German peoples, issued against trafficking with the Romans.

Celts and Germans

Still more violent even than the pressure of the Romans from the Mediterranean was that of the Germans downward from the Baltic and the North Sea—a fresh stock from the great cradle of peoples in the east, which made room for itself by the side of its elder brethren with youthful vigour, although also with youthful rudeness. Though the tribes of this stock dwelling nearest to the Rhine—the Usipetes, Tencteri, Sugambri, Ubii—had begun to be in some degree civilized, and had at least ceased voluntarily to change their abodes, all accounts yet agree that farther inland agriculture was of little importance, and the several tribes had hardly yet attained fixed abodes. It is significant in this respect that their western neighbours at this time hardly knew how to name any one of the peoples of the interior of Germany by its cantonal name; these were only known to them under the general appellations of the Suebi, that is, the roving people or nomads, and the Marcomani, that is, the land-guard(25)—names which were hardly cantonal names in Caesar's time, although they appeared as such to the Romans and subsequently became in various cases names of cantons.

The Right Bank of the Rhine Lost to the Celts

The most violent onset of this great nation fell upon the Celts. The struggles, in which the Germans probably engaged with the Celts for the possession of the regions to the east of the Rhine, are wholly withdrawn from our view. We are only able to perceive, that about the end of the seventh century of Rome all the land as far as the Rhine was already lost to the Celts; that the Boii, who were probably once settled in Bavaria and Bohemia,(26) were homeless wanderers; and that even the Black Forest formerly possessed by the Helvetii,(27) if not yet taken possession of by the German tribes dwelling in the vicinity, was at least waste debateable border- land, and was presumably even then, what it was afterwards called, the Helvetian desert The barbarous strategy of the Germans—which secured them from hostile attacks by laying waste the neighbourhood for miles—seems to have been applied here on the greatest scale.

German Tribes on the Left Bank of the Rhine

But the Germans had not remained stationary at the Rhine. The march of the Cimbrian and Teutonic host, composed, as respects its flower, of German tribes, which had swept with such force fifty years before over Pannonia, Gaul, Italy, and Spain, seemed to have been nothing but a grand reconnaissance. Already different German tribes had formed permanent settlements to the west of the Rhine, especially of its lower course; having intruded as conquerors, these settlers continued to demand hostages and to levy annual tribute from the Gallic inhabitants in their neighbourhood, as if from subjects. Among these German tribes were the Aduatuci, who from a fragment of the Cimbrian horde(28) had grown into a considerable canton, and a number of other tribes afterwards comprehended under the name of the Tungri on the Maas in the region of Liege; even the Treveri (about Treves) and the Nervii (in Hainault), two of the largest and most powerful peoples of this region, are directly designated by respectable authorities as Germans. The complete credibility of these accounts must certainly remain doubtful, since, as Tacitus remarks in reference to the two peoples last mentioned, it was subsequently, at least in these regions, reckoned an honour to be descended of German blood and not to belong to the little-esteemed Celtic nation; yet the population in the region of the Scheldt, Maas, and Moselle seems certainly to have become, in one way or another, largely mingled with German elements, or at any rate to have come under German influences. The German settlements themselves were perhaps small; they were not unimportant, for amidst the chaotic obscurity, through which we see the stream of peoples on the right bank of the Rhine ebbing and flowing about this period, we can well perceive that larger German hordes were preparing to cross the Rhine in the track of these advanced posts. Threatened on two sides by foreign domination and torn by internal dissension, it was scarcely to be expected that the unhappy Celtic nation would now rally and save itself by its own vigour. Dismemberment, and decay in virtue of dismemberment, had hitherto been its history; how should a nation, which could name no day like those of Marathon and Salamis, of Aricia and the Raudine plain—a nation which, even in its time of vigour, had made no attempt to destroy Massilia by a united effort—now when evening had come, defend itself against so formidable foes?

The Roman Policy with Reference to the German Invasion

The less the Celts, left to themselves, were a match for the Germans, the more reason had the Romans carefully to watch over the complications in which the two nations might be involved. Although the movements thence arising had not up to the present time directly affected them, they and their most important interests were yet concerned in the issue of those movements. As may readily be conceived, the internal demeanour of the Celtic nation had become speedily and permanently influenced by its outward relations. As in Greece the Lacedaemonian party combined with Persia against the Athenians, so the Romans from their first appearance beyond the Alps had found a support against the Arverni, who were then the ruling power among the southern Celts, in their rivals for the hegemony, the Haedui: and with the aid of these new "brothers of the Roman nation" they had not merely reduced to subjection the Allobroges and a great portion of the indirect territory of the Arverni, but had also, in the Gaul that remained free, occasioned by their influence the transference of the hegemony from the Arverni to these Haedui. But while the Greeks were threatened with danger to their nationality only from one side, the Celts found themselves hard pressed simultaneously by two national foes; and it was natural that they should seek from the one protection against the other, and that, if the one Celtic party attached itself to the Romans, their opponents should on the contrary form alliance with the Germans. This course was most natural for the Belgae, who were brought by neighbourhood and manifold intermixture into closer relation to the Germans who had crossed the Rhine, and moreover, with their less-developed culture, probably felt themselves at least as much akin to the Suebian of alien race as to their cultivated Allobrogian or Helvetic countryman. But the southern Celts also, among whom now as already mentioned, the considerable canton of the Sequani (about Besangon) stood at the head of the party hostile to the Romans, had every reason at this very time to call in the Germans against the Romans who immediately threatened them; the remiss government of the senate and the signs of the revolution preparing in Rome, which had not remained unknown to the Celts, made this very moment seem suitable for ridding themselves of the Roman influence and primarily for humbling the Roman clients, the Haedui. A rupture had taken place between the two cantons respecting the tolls on the Saone, which separated the territory of the Haedui from that of the Sequani, and about the year 683 the German prince Ariovistus with some 15,000 armed men had crossed the Rhine as condottiere of the Sequani.

Ariovistus on the Middle Rhine

The war was prolonged for some years with varying success; on the whole the results were unfavourable to the Haedui. Their leader Eporedorix at length called out their whole clients, and marched forth with an enormous superiority of force against the Germans. These obstinately refused battle, and kept themselves under cover of morasses and forests. It was not till the clans, weary of waiting, began to break up and disperse, that the Germans appeared in the open field, and then Ariovistus compelled a battle at Admagetobriga, in which the flower of the cavalry of the Haedui were left on the field. The Haedui, forced by this defeat to conclude peace on the terms which the victor proposed, were obliged to renounce the hegemony, and to consent with their whole adherents to become clients of the Sequani; they had to bind themselves to pay tribute to the Sequani or rather to Ariovistus, and to furnish the children of their principal nobles as hostages; and lastly they had to swear that they would never demand back these hostages nor invoke the intervention of the Romans.

Inaction of the Romans

This peace was concluded apparently about 693.(29) Honour and advantage enjoined the Romans to come forward in opposition to it; the noble Haeduan Divitiacus, the head of the Roman party in his clan, and for that reason now banished by his countrymen, went in person to Rome to solicit their intervention. A still more serious warning was the insurrection of the Allobroges in 693(30)— the neighbours of the Sequani—which was beyond doubt connected with these events. In reality orders were issued to the Gallic governors to assist the Haedui; they talked of sending consuls and consular armies over the Alps; but the senate, to whose decision these affairs primarily fell, at length here also crowned great words with little deeds. The insurrection of the Allobroges was suppressed by arms, but nothing was done for the Haedui; on the contrary, Ariovistus was even enrolled in 695 in the list of kings friendly with the Romans.(31)

Foundation of a German Empire in Gaul

The German warrior-prince naturally took this as a renunciation by the Romans of the Celtic land which they had not occupied; he accordingly took up his abode there, and began to establish a German principality on Gallic soil. It was his intention that the numerous bands which he had brought with him, and the still more numerous bands that afterwards followed at his call from home— it was reckoned that up to 696 some 120,000 Germans had crossed the Rhine—this whole mighty immigration of the German nation, which poured through the once opened sluices like a stream over the beautiful west, should become settled there and form a basis on which he might build his dominion over Gaul. The extent of the German settlements which he called into existence on the left bank of the Rhine cannot be determined; beyond doubt it was great, and his projects were far greater still. The Celts were treated by him as a wholly subjugated nation, and no distinction was made between the several cantons. Even the Sequani, as whose hired commander-in-chief he had crossed the Rhine, were obliged, as if they were vanquished enemies, to cede to him for his people a third of their territory—presumably upper Alsace afterwards inhabited by the Triboci—where Ariovistus permanently settled with his followers; nay, as if this were not enough, a second third was afterwards demanded of them for the Harudes who arrived subsequently. Ariovistus seemed as if he wished to take up in Gaul the part of Philip of Macedonia, and to play the master over the Celts who were friendly to the Germans no less than over those who adhered to the Romans.

The Germans on the Lower Rhine
The Germans on the Upper Rhine
Spread of the Helvetian Invasion to the Interior of Gaul

The appearance of the energetic German prince in so dangerous proximity, which could not but in itself excite the most serious apprehension in the Romans, appeared still more threatening, inasmuch as it stood by no means alone. The Usipetes and Tencteri settled on the right bank of the Rhine, weary of the incessant devastation of their territory by the overbearing Suebian tribes, had, the year before Caesar arrived in Gaul (695), set out from their previous abodes to seek others at the mouth of the Rhine. They had already taken away from the Menapii there the portion of their territory situated on the right bank, and it might be foreseen that they would make the attempt to establish themselves also on the left. Suebian bands, moreover, assembled between Cologne and Mayence, and threatened to appear as uninvited guests in the opposite Celtic canton of the Treveri. Lastly, the territory of the most easterly clan of the Celts, the warlike and numerous Helvetii, was visited with growing frequency by the Germans, so that the Helvetii, who perhaps even apart from this were suffering from over-population through the reflux of their settlers from the territory which they had lost to the north of the Rhine, and besides were liable to be completely isolated from their kinsmen by the settlement of Ariovistus in the territory of the Sequani, conceived the desperate resolution of voluntarily evacuating the territory hitherto in their possession to the Germans, and acquiring larger and more fertile abodes to the west of the Jura, along with, if possible, the hegemony in the interior of Gaul—a plan which some of their districts had already formed and attempted to execute during the Cimbrian invasion.(32) the Rauraci whose territory (Basle and southern Alsace) was similarly threatened, the remains, moreover, of the Boii who had already at an earlier period been compelled by the Germans to forsake their homes and were now unsettled wanderers, and other smaller tribes, made common cause with the Helvetii. As early as 693 their flying parties came over the Jura and even as far as the Roman province; their departure itself could not be much longer delayed; inevitably German settlers would then advance into the important region between the lakes of Constance and Geneva forsaken by its defenders. From the sources of the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean the German tribes were in motion; the whole line of the Rhine was threatened by them; it was a moment like that when the Alamanni and the Franks threw themselves on the falling empire of the Caesars; and even now there seemed on the eve of being carried into effect against the Celts that very movement which was successful five hundred years afterwards against the Romans.

Caesar Proceeds to Gaul
Caesar's Army

Under these circumstances the new governor Gaius Caesar arrived in the spring of 696 in Narbonese Gaul, which had been added by decree of the senate to his original province embracing Cisalpine Gaul along with Istria and Dalmatia. His office, which was committed to him first for five years (to the end of 700), then in 699 for five more (to the end of 705), gave him the right to nominate ten lieutenants of propraetorian rank, and (at least according to his own interpretation) to fill up his legions, or even to form new ones at his discretion out of the burgess-population—who were especially numerous in Cisalpine Gaul—of the territory under his sway. The army, which he received in the two provinces, consisted, as regards infantry of the line, of four legions trained and inured to war, the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth, or at the utmost 24,000 men, to which fell to be added, as usual, the contingents of the subjects. The cavalry and light-armed troops, moreover, were represented by horsemen from Spain, and by Numidian, Cretan, and Balearic archers and slingers. The staff of Caesar—the elite of the democracy of the capital—contained, along with not a few useless young men of rank, some able officers, such as Publius Crassus the younger son of the old political ally of Caesar, and Titus Labienus, who followed the chief of the democracy as a faithful adjutant from the Forum to the battle-field. Caesar had not received definite instructions; to one who was discerning and courageous these were implied in the circumstances with which he had to deal. Here too the negligence of the senate had to be retrieved, and first of all the stream of migration of the German peoples had to be checked.

Repulse of the Helvetii

Just at this time the Helvetic invasion, which was closely interwoven with the German and had been in preparation for years, began. That they might not make a grant of their abandoned huts to the Germans and might render their own return impossible, the Helvetii had burnt their towns and villages; and their long trains of waggons, laden with women, children, and the best part of their moveables, arrived from all sides at the Leman lake near Genava (Geneva), where they and their comrades had fixed their rendezvous for the 28th of March(33) of this year. According to their own reckoning the whole body consisted of 368,000 persons, of whom about a fourth part were able to bear arms. As the mountain chain of the Jura, stretching from the Rhine to the Rhone, almost completely closed in the Helvetic country towards the west, and its narrow defiles were as ill adapted for the passage of such a caravan as they were well adapted for defence, the leaders had resolved to go round in a southerly direction, and to open up for themselves a way to the west at the point, where the Rhone has broken through the mountain-chain between the south-western and highest part of the Jura and the Savoy mountains, near the modern Fort de l'Ecluse. But on the right bank here the rocks and precipices come so close to the river that there remained only a narrow path which could easily be blocked up, and the Sequani, to whom this bank belonged, could with ease intercept the route of the Helvetii. They preferred therefore to pass over, above the point where the Rhone breaks through, to the left Allobrogian bank, with the view of regaining the right bank further down the stream where the Rhone enters the plain, and then marching on towards the level west of Gaul; there the fertile canton of the Santones (Saintonge, the valley of the Charente) on the Atlantic Ocean was selected by the wanderers for their new abode. This march led, where it touched the left bank of the Rhone, through Roman territory; and Caesar, otherwise not disposed to acquiesce in the establishment of the Helvetii in western Gaul, was firmly resolved not to permit their passage. But of his four legions three were stationed far off at Aquileia; although he called out in haste the militia of the Transalpine province, it seemed scarcely possible with so small a force to hinder the innumerable Celtic host from crossing the Rhone, between its exit from the Leman lake at Geneva and the point of its breaking through the mountains, over a distance of more than fourteen miles. Caesar, however, by negotiations with the Helvetii, who would gladly have effected by peaceable means the crossing of the river and the march through the Allobrogian territory, gained a respite of fifteen days, which was employed in breaking down the bridge over the Rhone at Genava, and barring the southern bank of the Rhone against the enemy by an entrenchment nearly nineteen miles long: it was the first application of the system—afterwards carried out on so immense a scale by the Romans—of guarding the frontier of the empire in a military point of view by a chain of forts placed in connection with each other by ramparts and ditches. The attempts of the Helvetii to gain the other bank at different places in boats or by means of fords were successfully frustrated by the Romans in these lines, and the Helvetii were compelled to desist from the passage of the Rhone.

The Helvetii Move towards Gaul

On the other hand, the party in Gaul hostile to the Romans, which hoped to obtain a powerful reinforcement in the Helvetii, more especially the Haeduan Dumnorix brother of Divitiacus, and at the head of the national party in his canton as the latter wasat the head of the Romans, procured for them a passage through the passes of the Jura and the territory of the Sequani. The Romans had no legal title to forbid this; but other and higher interestswereat stake for them in the Helvetic expedition than the question of the formal integrity of the Roman territory— interests which could only be guarded, if Caesar, instead of confining himself, as all the governors of the senate and even Marius(34) had done, to the modest task of watching the frontier, should cross what had hitherto been the frontier at the head of a considerable army. Caesar was general not of the senate, but of the state; he showed no hesitation. He had immediately proceeded from Genava in person to Italy, and with characteristic speed brought up the three legions cantoned there as well as two newly-formed legions of recruits.

The Helvetian War

These troops he united with the corps stationed at Genava, and crossed the Rhone with his whole force. His unexpected appearance in the territory of the Haedui naturally at once restored the Roman party there to power, which was not unimportant as regarded supplies. He found the Helvetii employed in crossing the Saone, and moving from the territory of the Sequani into that of the Haedui; those of them that were still on the left bank of the Saone, especially the corps of the Tigorini, were caught and destroyed by the Romans rapidly advancing. The bulk of the expedition, however, had already crossed to the right bank of the river; Caesar followed them and in twenty-four hours effected the passage, which the unwieldy host of the Helvetii had not been able to accomplish in twenty days. The Helvetii, prevented by this passage of the river on the part of the Roman army from continuing their march westward, turned in a northerly direction, doubtless under the supposition that Caesar would not venture to follow them far into the interior of Gaul, and with the intention, if he should desist from following them, of turning again toward their proper destination. For fifteen days the Roman army marched behind that of the enemy at a distance of about four miles, clinging to its rear, and hoping for an advantageous opportunity of assailing the Helvetic host under conditions favourable to victory, and destroying it. But this moment came not: unwieldy as was the march of the Helvetic caravan, the leaders knew how to guard against a surprise, and appeared to be copiously provided with supplies as well as most accurately informed by their spies of every event in the Roman camp. On the other hand the Romans began to suffer from want of necessaries, especially when the Helvetii removed from the Saone and the means of river-transport ceased. The non-arrival of the supplies promised by the Haedui, from which this embarrassment primarily arose, excited the more suspicion, as both armies were still moving about in their territory. Moreover the considerable Roman cavalry, numbering almost 4000 horse, proved utterly untrustworthy—which doubtless admitted of explanation, for they consisted almost wholly of Celtic horsemen, especially of the mounted retainers of the Haedui, under the command of Dumnorix the well-known enemy of the Romans, and Caesar himself had taken them over still more as hostages than as soldiers. There was good reason to believe that a defeat which they suffered at the hands of the far weaker Helvetic cavalry was occasioned by themselves, and that the enemy was informed by them of all occurrences in the Roman camp. The position of Caesar grew critical; it was becoming disagreeably evident, how much the Celtic patriot party could effect even with the Haedui in spite of their official alliance with Rome, and of the distinctive interests of this canton inclining it towards the Romans; what was to be the issue, if they ventured deeper and deeper into a country full of excitement, and if they removed daily farther from their means of communication? The armies were just marching past Bibracte (Autun), the capital of the Haedui, at a moderate distance; Caesar resolved to seize this important place by force before he continued his march into the interior; and it is very possible, that he intended to desist altogether from farther pursuit and to establish himself in Bibracte. But when he ceased from the pursuit and turned against Bibracte, the Helvetii thought that the Romans were making preparations for flight, and now attacked in their turn.

Battle at Bibracte

Caesar desired nothing better. The two armies posted themselves on two parallel chains of hills; the Celts began the engagement, broke up the Roman cavalry which had advanced into the plain, and rushed on against the Roman legions posted on the slope of the hill, but were there obliged to give way before Caesar's veterans. When the Romans thereupon, following up their advantage, descended in their turn to the plain, the Celts again advanced against them, and a reserved Celtic corps took them at the same time in flank. The reserve of the Roman attacking column was pushed forward against the latter; it forced it away from the main body towards the baggage and the barricade of waggons, where it was destroyed. The bulk of the Helvetic host was at length brought to give way, and compelled to beat a retreat in an easterly direction—the opposite of that towards which their expedition led them. This day had frustrated the scheme of the Helvetii to establish for themselves new settlements on the Atlantic Ocean, and handed them over to the pleasure of the victor; but it had been a hot day also for the conquerors. Caesar, who had reason for not altogether trusting his staff of officers, had at the very outset sent away all the officers' horses, so as to make the necessity of holding their ground thoroughly clear to his troops; in fact the battle, had the Romans lost it, would have probably brought about the annihilation of the Roman army. The Roman troops were too much exhausted to pursue the conquered with vigour; but in consequence of the proclamation of Caesar that he would treat all who should support the Helvetii as like the Helvetii themselves enemies of the Romans, all support was refused to the beaten army whithersoever it went— in the first instance, in the canton of the Lingones (about Langres)—and, deprived of all supplies and of their baggage and burdened by the mass of camp-followers incapable of fighting, they were under the necessity of submitting to the Roman general.

The Helvetii Sent back to Their Original Abode

The lot of the vanquished was a comparatively mild one. The Haedui were directed to concede settlements in their territory to the homeless Boii; and this settlement of the conquered foe in the midst of the most powerful Celtic cantons rendered almost the services of a Roman colony. The survivors of the Helvetii and Rauraci, something more than a third of the men that had marched forth, were naturally sent back to their former territory. It was incorporated with the Roman province, but the inhabitants were admitted to alliance with Rome under favourable conditions, in order to defend, under Roman supremacy, the frontier along the upper Rhine against the Germans. Only the south-western point of the Helvetic canton was directly taken into the possession of the Romans, and there subsequently, on the charming shore of the Leman lake, the old Celtic town Noviodunum (now Nyon) was converted into a Roman frontier-fortress, the "Julian equestrian colony."(35)

Caesar and Ariovistus

Thus the threatening invasion of the Germans on the upper Rhine was obviated, and, at the same time, the party hostile to the Romans among the Celts was humbled. On the middle Rhine also, where the Germans had already crossed years ago, and where the power of Ariovistus which vied with that of Rome in Gaul was daily spreading, there was need of similar action, and the occasion for a rupture was easily found. In comparison with the yoke threatened or already imposed on them by Ariovistus, the Roman supremacy probably now appeared to the greater part of the Celts in this quarter the lesser evil; the minority, who retained their hatred of the Romans, had at least to keep silence. A diet of the Celtic tribes of central Gaul, held under Roman influence, requested the Roman general in name of the Celtic nation for aid against the Germans. Caesar consented. At his suggestion the Haedui stopped the payment of the tribute stipulated to be paid to Ariovistus, and demanded back the hostages furnished; and when Ariovistus on account of this breach of treaty attacked the clients of Rome, Caesar took occasion thereby to enter into direct negotiation with him and specially to demand, in addition to the return of the hostages and a promise to keep peace with the Haedui, that Ariovistus should bind himself to allure no more Germans over the Rhine. The German general replied to the Roman, in the full consciousness of equality of rights, that northern Gaul had become subject to him by right of war as fairly as southern Gaul to the Romans; and that, as he did not hinder the Romans from taking tribute from the Allobroges, so they should not prevent him from taxing his subjects. In later secret overtures it appeared that the prince was well aware of the circumstances of the Romans; he mentioned the invitations which had been addressed to him from Rome to put Caesar out of the way, and offered, if Caesar would leave to him northern Gaul, to assist him in turn to obtain the sovereignty of Italy—as the party-quarrels of the Celtic nation had opened up an entrance for him into Gaul, he seemed to expect from the party- quarrels of the Italian nation the consolidation of his rule there. For centuries no such language of power completely on a footing of equality and bluntly and carelessly expressing its independence had been held in presence of the Romans, as was now heard from the king of the German host; he summarily refused to come, when the Roman general suggested that he should appear personally before him according to the usual practice with client-princes.

Ariovistus Attacked
And Beaten

It was the more necessary not to delay; Caesar immediately set out against Ariovistus. A panic seized his troops, especially his officers when they were to measure their strength with the flower of the German troops that for fourteen years had not come under shelter of a roof: it seemed as if the deep decay of Roman moral and military discipline would assert itself and provoke desertion and mutiny even in Caesar's camp. But the general, while declaring that in case of need he would march with the tenth legion alone against the enemy, knew not merely how to influence these by such an appeal to honour, but also how to bind the other regiments to their eagles by warlike emulation, and to inspire the troops with something of his own energy. Without leaving them time for reflection, he led them onward in rapid marches, and fortunately anticipated Ariovistus in the occupation of Vesontio (Besancon), the capital of the Sequani. A personal conference between the two generals, which took place at the request of Ariovistus, seemed as if solely meant to cover an attempt against the person of Caesar; arms alone could decide between the two oppressors of Gaul. The war came temporarily to a stand. In lower Alsace somewhere in the region of Muhlhausen, five miles from the Rhine,(36) the two armies lay at a little distance from each other, till Ariovistus with his very superior force succeeded in marching past the Roman camp, placing himself in its rear, and cutting off the Romans from their base and their supplies. Caesar attempted to free himself from his painful situation by a battle; but Ariovistus did not accept it. Nothing remained for the Roman general but, in spite of his inferior strength, to imitate the movement of the Germans, and to recover his communications by making two legions march past the enemy and take up a position beyond the camp of the Germans, while four legions remained behind in the former camp. Ariovistus, when he saw the Romans divided, attempted an assault on their lesser camp; but the Romans repulsed it. Under the impression made by this success, the whole Roman army was brought forward to the attack; and the Germans also placed themselves in battle array, in a long line, each tribe for itself, the cars of the army with the baggage and women being placed behind them to render flight more difficult. The right wing of the Romans, led by Caesar himself, threw itself rapidly on the enemy, and drove them before it; the right wing of the Germans was in like manner successful. The balance still stood equal; but the tactics of the reserve, which had decided so many other conflicts with barbarians, decided the conflict with the Germans also in favour of the Romans; their third line, which Publius Crassus seasonably sent to render help, restored the battle on the left wing and thereby decided the victory. The pursuit was continued to the Rhine; only a few, including the king, succeeded in escaping to the other bank (696).

German Settlements on the Left Bank of the Rhine

Thus brilliantly the Roman rule announced its advent to the mighty stream, which the Italian soldiers here saw for the first time; by a single fortunate battle the line of the Rhine was won. The fate of the German settlements on the left bank of the Rhine lay in the hands of Caesar; the victor could destroy them, but he did not do so. The neighbouring Celtic cantons—the Sequani, Leuci, Mediomatrici—were neither capable of self-defence nor trustworthy; the transplanted Germans promised to become not merely brave guardians of the frontier but also better subjects of Rome, for their nationality severed them from the Celts, and their own interest in the preservation of their newly-won settlements severed them from their countrymen across the Rhine, so that in their isolated position they could not avoid adhering to the central power. Caesar here, as everywhere, preferred conquered foes to doubtful friends; he left the Germans settled by Ariovistus along the left bank of the Rhine—the Triboci about Strassburg, the Nemetes about Spires, the Vangiones about Worms—in possession of their new abodes, and entrusted them with the guarding of the Rhine-frontier against their countrymen.(37) The Suebi, who threatened the territory of the Treveri on the middle Rhine, on receiving news of the defeat of Ariovistus, again retreated into the interior of Germany; on which occasion they sustained considerable loss by the way at the hands of the adjoining tribes.

The Rhine Boundary

The consequences of this one campaign were immense; they were felt for many centuries after. The Rhine had become the boundary of the Roman empire against the Germans. In Gaul, which was no longer able to govern itself, the Romans had hitherto ruled on the south coast, while lately the Germans had attempted to establish themselves farther up. The recent events had decided that Gaul was to succumb not merely in part but wholly to the Roman supremacy, and that the natural boundary presented by the mighty river was also to become the political boundary. The senate in its better times had not rested, till the dominion of Rome had reached the natural bounds of Italy—the Alps and the Mediterranean—and its adjacent islands. The enlarged empire also needed a similar military rounding off; but the present government left the matter to accident, and sought at most to see, not that the frontiers were capable of defence, but that they should not need to be defended directly by itself. People felt that now another spirit and another arm began to guide the destinies of Rome.

Subjugation of Gaul
Belgic Expedition

The foundations of the future edifice were laid; but in order to finish the building and completely to secure the recognition of the Roman rule by the Gauls, and that of the Rhine-frontier by the Germans, very much still remained to be done. All central Gaul indeed from the Roman frontier as far up as Chartres and Treves submitted without objection to the new ruler; and on the upper and middle Rhine also no attack was for the present to be apprehended from the Germans. But the northern provinces—as well the Aremorican cantons in Brittany and Normandy as the more powerful confederation of the Belgae—were not affected by the blows directed against central Gaul, and found no occasion to submit to the conqueror of Ariovistus. Moreover, as was already remarked, very close relations subsisted between the Belgae and the Germans over the Rhine, and at the mouth of the Rhine also Germanic tribes made themselves ready to cross the stream. In consequence of this Caesar set out with his army, now increased to eight legions, in the spring of 697 against the Belgic cantons. Mindful of the brave and successful resistance which fifty years before they had with united strength presented to the Cimbri on the borders of their land,(38) and stimulated by the patriots who had fled to them in numbers from central Gaul, the confederacy of the Belgae sent their whole first levy—300,000 armed men under the leadership of Galba the king of the Suessiones—to their southern frontier to receive Caesar there. A single canton alone, that of the powerful Remi (about Rheims) discerned in this invasion of the foreigners an opportunity to shake off the rule which their neighbours the Suessiones exercised over them, and prepared to take up in the north the part which the Haedui had played in central Gaul. The Roman and the Belgic armies arrived in their territory almost at the same time.

Conflicts on the Aisne
Submission of the Western Cantons

Caesar did not venture to give battle to the brave enemy six times as strong; to the north of the Aisne, not far from the modern Pontavert between Rheims and Laon, he pitched his camp on a plateau rendered almost unassailable on all sides partly by the river and by morasses, partly by fosses and redoubts, and contented himself with thwarting by defensive measures the attempts of the Belgae to cross the Aisne and thereby to cut him off from his communications. When he counted on the likelihood that the coalition would speedily collapse under its own weight, he had reckoned rightly. King Galba was an honest man, held in universal respect; but he was not equal to the management of an army of 300,000 men on hostile soil. No progress was made, and provisions began to fail; discontent and dissension began to insinuate themselves into the camp of the confederates. The Bellovaci in particular, equal to the Suessiones in power, and already dissatisfied that the supreme command of the confederate army had not fallen to them, could no longer be detained after news had arrived that the Haedui as allies of the Romans were making preparations to enter the Bellovacic territory. They determined to break up and go home; though for honour's sake all the cantons at the same time bound themselves to hasten with their united strength to the help of the one first attacked, the miserable dispersion of the confederacy was but miserably palliated by such impracticable stipulations. It was a catastrophe which vividly reminds us of that which occurred almost on the same spot in 1792; and, just as with the campaign in Champagne, the defeat was all the more severe that it took place without a battle. The bad leadership of the retreating army allowed the Roman general to pursue it as if it were beaten, and to destroy a portion of the contingents that had remained to the last. But the consequences of the victory were not confined to this. As Caesar advanced into the western cantons of the Belgae, one after another gave themselves up as lost almost without resistance; the powerful Suessiones (about Soissons), as well as their rivals, the Bellovaci (about Beauvais) and the Ambiani (about Amiens). The towns opened their gates when they saw the strange besieging machines, the towers rolling up to their walls; those who would not submit to the foreign masters sought a refuge beyond the sea in Britain.

The Conflict with the Nervii

But in the eastern cantons the national feeling was more energetically roused. The Viromandui (about Arras), the Atrebates (about St. Quentin), the German Aduatuci (about Namur), but above all the Nervii (in Hainault) with their not inconsiderable body of clients, little inferior in number to the Suessiones and Bellovaci, far superior to them in valour and vigorous patriotic spirit, concluded a second and closer league, and assembled their forces on the upper Sambre. Celtic spies informed them most accurately of the movements of the Roman army; their own local knowledge, and the high tree-barricades which were formed everywhere in these districts to obstruct the bands of mounted robbers who often visited them, allowed the allies to conceal their own operations for the most part from the view of the Romans. When these arrived on the Sambre not far from Bavay, and the legions were occupied in pitching their camp on the crest of the left bank, while the cavalry and light infantry were exploring the opposite heights, the latter were all at once assailed by the whole mass of the enemy's forces and driven down the hill into the river. In a moment the enemy had crossed this also, and stormed the heights of the left bank with a determination that braved death. Scarcely was there time left for the entrenching legionaries to exchange the mattock for the sword; the soldiers, many without helmets, had to fight just as they stood, without line of battle, without plan, without proper command; for, owing to the suddenness of the attack and the intersection of the ground by tall hedges, the several divisions had wholly lost their communications. Instead of a battle there arose a number of unconnected conflicts. Labienus with the left wing overthrew the Atrebates and pursued them even across the river. The Roman central division forced the Viromandui down the declivity. But the right wing, where the general himself was present, was outflanked by the far more numerous Nervii the more easily, as the central division carried away by its own success had evacuated the ground alongside of it, and even the half-ready camp was occupied by the Nervii; the two legions, each separately rolled together into a dense mass and assailed in front and on both flanks, deprived of most of their officers and their best soldiers, appeared on the point of being broken and cut to pieces. The Roman camp-followers and the allied troops were already fleeing in all directions; of the Celtic cavalry whole divisions, like the contingent of the Treveri, galloped off at full speed, that from the battle-field itself they might announce at home the welcome news of the defeat which had been sustained. Everything was at stake. The general himself seized his shield and fought among the foremost; his example, his call even now inspiring enthusiasm, induced the wavering ranks to rally. They had already in some measure extricated themselves and had at least restored the connection between the two legions of this wing, when help came up— partly down from the crest of the bank, where in the interval the Roman rearguard with the baggage had arrived, partly from the other bank of the river, where Labienus had meanwhile penetrated to the enemy's camp and taken possession of it, and now, perceiving at length the danger that menaced the right wing, despatched the victorious tenth legion to the aid of his general. The Nervii, separated from their confederates and simultaneously assailed on all sides, now showed, when fortune turned, the same heroic courage as when they believed themselves victors; still over the pile of corpses of their fallen comrades they fought to the last man. According to their own statement, of their six hundred senators only three survived this day.

Subjugation of the Belgae

After this annihilating defeat the Nervii, Atrebates, and Viromandui could not but recognize the Roman supremacy. The Aduatuci, who arrived too late to take part in the fight on the Sambre, attempted still to hold their ground in the strongest of their towns (on the mount Falhize near the Maas not far from Huy), but they too soon submitted. A nocturnal attack on the Roman camp in front of the town, which they ventured after the surrender, miscarried; and the perfidy was avenged by the Romans with fearful severity. The clients of the Aduatuci, consisting of the Eburones between the Maas and Rhine and other small adjoining tribes, were declared independent by the Romans, while the Aduatuci taken prisoners were sold under the hammer en masse for the benefit of the Roman treasury. It seemed as if the fate which had befallen the Cimbri still pursued even this last Cimbrian fragment. Caesar contented himself with imposing on the other subdued tribes a general disarmament and furnishing of hostages. The Remi became naturally the leading canton in Belgic, like the Haedui in central Gaul; even in the latter several clans at enmity with the Haedui preferred to rank among the clients of the Remi. Only the remote maritime cantons of the Morini (Artois) and the Menapii (Flanders and Brabant), and the country between the Scheldt and the Rhine inhabited in great part by Germans, remained still for the present exempt from Roman invasion and in possession of their hereditary freedom.

Expeditions against the Maritime Cantons
Venetian War

The turn of the Aremorican cantons came. In the autumn of 697 Publius Crassus was sent thither with a Roman corps; he induced the Veneti—who as masters of the ports of the modern Morbihan and of a respectable fleet occupied the first place among all the Celtic cantons in navigation and commerce—and generally the coast-districts between the Loire and Seine, to submit to the Romans and give them hostages. But they soon repented. When in the following winter (697-698) Roman officers came to these legions to levy requisitions of grain there, they were detained by the Veneti as counter-hostages. The example thus set was quickly followed not only by the Aremorican cantons, but also by the maritime cantons of the Belgae that still remained free; where, as in some cantons of Normandy, the common council refused to join the insurrection, the multitude put them to death and attached itself with redoubled zeal to the national cause. The whole coast from the mouth of the Loire to that of the Rhine rose against Rome; the most resolute patriots from all the Celtic cantons hastened thither to co-operate in the great work of liberation; they already calculated on the rising of the whole Belgic confederacy, on aid from Britain, on the arrival of Germans from beyond the Rhine.

Caesar sent Labienus with all the cavalry to the Rhine, with a view to hold in check the agitation in the Belgic province, and in case of need to prevent the Germans from crossing the river; another of his lieutenants, Quintus Titurius Sabinus, went with three legions to Normandy, where the main body of the insurgents assembled. But the powerful and intelligent Veneti were the true centre of the insurrection; the chief attack by land and sea was directed against them. Caesar's lieutenant, Decimus Brutus, brought up the fleet formed partly of the ships of the subject Celtic cantons, partly of a number of Roman galleys hastily built on the Loire and manned with rowers from the Narbonese province; Caesar himself advanced with the flower of his infantry into the territory of the Veneti. But these were prepared beforehand, and had with equal skill and resolution availed themselves of the favourable circumstances which the nature of the ground in Brittany and the possession of a considerable naval power presented. The country was much intersected and poorly furnished with grain, the towns were situated for the most part on cliffs and tongues of land, and were accessible from the mainland only by shallows which it was difficult to cross; the provision of supplies and the conducting of sieges were equally difficult for the army attacking by land, while the Celts by means of their vessels could furnish the towns easily with everything needful, and in the event of the worst could accomplish their evacuation. The legions expended their time and strength in the sieges of the Venetian townships, only to see the substantial fruits of victory ultimately carried off in the vessels of the enemy.

Naval Battle between the Romans and the Veneti
Submission of the Maritime Cantons

Accordingly when the Roman fleet, long detained by storms at the mouth of the Loire, arrived at length on the coast of Brittany, it was left to decide the struggle by a naval battle. The Celts, conscious of their superiority on this element, brought forth their fleet against that of the Romans commanded by Brutus. Not only did it number 220 sail, far more than the Romans had been able to bring up, but their high-decked strong sailing-vessels with flat bottoms were also far better adapted for the high-running waves of the Atlantic Ocean than the low, lightly-built oared galleys of the Romans with their sharp keels. Neither the missiles nor the boarding-bridges of the Romans could reach the high deck of the enemy's vessels, and the iron beaks recoiled powerless from the strong oaken planks. But the Roman mariners cut the ropes, by which the yards were fastened to the masts, by means of sickles fastened to long poles; the yards and sails fell down, and, as they did not know how to repair the damage speedily, the ship was thus rendered a wreck just as it is at the present day by the falling of the masts, and the Roman boats easily succeeded by a joint attack in mastering the maimed vessel of the enemy. When the Gauls perceived this manoeuvre, they attempted to move from the coast on which they had taken up the combat with the Romans, and to gain the high seas, whither the Roman galleys could not follow them; but unhappily for them there suddenly set in a dead calm, and the immense fleet, towards the equipment of which the maritime cantons had applied all their energies, was almost wholly destroyed by the Romans. Thus was this naval battle—so far as historical knowledge reaches, the earliest fought on the Atlantic Ocean— just like the engagement at Mylae two hundred years before,(39) notwithstanding the most unfavourable circumstances, decided in favour of the Romans by a lucky invention suggested by necessity. The consequence of the victory achieved by Brutus was the surrender of the Veneti and of all Brittany. More with a view to impress the Celtic nation, after so manifold evidences of clemency towards the vanquished, by an example of fearful severity now against those whose resistance had been obstinate, than with the view of punishing the breach of treaty and the arrest of the Roman officers, Caesar caused the whole common council to be executed and the people of the Venetian canton to the last man to be sold into slavery. By this dreadful fate, as well as by their intelligence and their patriotism, the Veneti have more than any other Celtic clan acquired a title to the sympathy of posterity.

Sabinus meanwhile opposed to the levy of the coast-states assembled on the Channel the same tactics by which Caesar had in the previous year conquered the Belgic general levy on the Aisne; he stood on the defensive till impatience and want invaded the ranks of the enemy, and then managed by deceiving them as to the temper and strength of his troops, and above all by means of their own impatience, to allure them to an imprudent assault upon the Roman camp, in which they were defeated; whereupon the militia dispersed and the country as far as the Seine submitted.

Expeditins against the Morini and Menapii

The Morini and Menapii alone persevered in withholding their recognition of the Roman supremacy. To compel them to this, Caesar appeared on their borders; but, rendered wiser by the experiences of their countrymen, they avoided accepting battle on the borders of their land, and retired into the forests which then stretched almost without interruption from the Ardennes towards the German Ocean. The Romans attempted to make a road through the forest with the axe, ranging the felled trees on each side as a barricade against the enemy's attacks; but even Caesar, daring as he was, found it advisable after some days of most laborious marching, especially as it was verging towards winter, to order a retreat, although but a small portion of the Morini had submitted and the powerful Menapii had not been reached at all. In the following year (699) while Caesar himself was employed in Britain the greater part of the army was sent afresh against these tribes; but this expedition also remained in the main unsuccessful. Nevertheless the result of the last campaigns was the almost complete reduction of Gaul under the dominion of the Romans. While central Gaul had submitted to it without resistance, during the campaign of 697 the Belgic, and during that of the following year the maritime, cantons had been compelled by force of arms to acknowledge the Roman rule. The lofty hopes, with which the Celtic patriots had begun the last campaign, had nowhere been fulfilled. Neither Germans nor Britons had come to their aid; and in Belgica the presence of Labienus had sufficed to prevent the renewal of the conflicts of the previous year.

Establishment of Communications with Italy by the Valais

While Caesar was thus forming the Roman domain in the west by force of arms into a compact whole, he did not neglect to open up for the newly-conquered country—which was destined in fact to fill up the wide gap in that domain between Italy and Spain-communications both with the Italian home and with the Spanish provinces. The communication between Gaul and Italy had certainly been materially facilitated by the military road laid out by Pompeius in 677 over Mont Genevre;(40) but since the whole of Gaul had been subdued by the Romans, there was need of a route crossing the ridge of the Alps from the valley of the Po, not in a westerly but in a northerly direction, and furnishing a shorter communication between Italy and central Gaul. The way which leads over the Great St. Bernard into the Valais and along the lake of Geneva had long served the merchant for this purpose; to get this road into his power, Caesar as early as the autumn of 697 caused Octodurum (Martigny) to be occupied by Servius Galba, and the inhabitants of the Valais to be reduced to subjection—a result which was, of course, merely postponed, not prevented, by the brave resistance of these mountain-peoples.

And with Spain

To gain communication with Spain, moreover, Publius Crassus was sent in the following year (698) to Aquitania with instructions to compel the Iberian tribes dwelling there to acknowledge the Roman rule. The task was not without difficulty; the Iberians held together more compactly than the Celts and knew better than these how to learn from their enemies. The tribes beyond the Pyrenees, especially the valiant Cantabri, sent a contingent to their threatened countrymen; with this there came experienced officers trained under the leadership of Sertorius in the Roman fashion, who introduced as far as possible the principles of the Roman art of war, and especially of encampment, among the Aquitanian levy already respectable from its numbers and its valour. But the excellent officer who led the Romans knew how to surmount all difficulties, and after some hardly-contested but successful battles he induced the peoples from the Garonne to the vicinity of the Pyrenees to submit to the new masters.

Fresh Violations of the Rhine-Boundary by the Germans
The Usipetes and Tencteri

One of the objects which Caesar had proposed to himself— the subjugation of Gaul—had been in substance, with exceptions scarcely worth mentioning, attained so far as it could be attained at all by the sword. But the other half of the work undertaken by Caesar was still far from being satisfactorily accomplished, and the Germans had by no means as yet been everywhere compelled to recognize the Rhine as their limit. Even now, in the winter of 698-699, a fresh crossing of the boundary had taken place on the lower course of the river, whither the Romans had not yet penetrated. The German tribes of the Usipetes and Tencteri whose attempts to cross the Rhine in the territory of the Menapii have been already mentioned,(41) had at length, eluding the vigilance of their opponents by a feigned retreat, crossed in the vessels belonging to the Menapii—an enormous host, which is said, including women and children, to have amounted to 430,000 persons. They still lay, apparently, in the region of Nimeguen and Cleves; but it was said that, following the invitations of the Celtic patriot party, they intended to advance into the interior of Gaul; and the rumour was confirmed by the fact that bands of their horsemen already roamed as far as the borders of the Treveri. But when Caesar with his legions arrived opposite to them, the sorely- harassed emigrants seemed not desirous of fresh conflicts, but very ready to accept land from the Romans and to till it in peace under their supremacy. While negotiations as to this were going on, a suspicion arose in the mind of the Roman general that the Germans only sought to gain time till the bands of horsemen sent out by them had returned. Whether this suspicion was well founded or not, we cannot tell; but confirmed in it by an attack, which in spite of the de facto suspension of arms a troop of the enemy made on his vanguard, and exasperated by the severe loss thereby sustained, Caesar believed himself entitled to disregard every consideration of international law. When on the second morning the princes and elders of the Germans appeared in the Roman camp to apologize for the attack made without their knowledge, they were arrested, and the multitude anticipating no assault and deprived of their leaders were suddenly fallen upon by the Roman army. It was rather a manhunt than a battle; those that did not fall under the swords of the Romans were drowned in the Rhine; almost none but the divisions detached at the time of the attack escaped the massacre and succeeded in recrossing the Rhine, where the Sugambri gave them an asylu in their territory, apparently on the Lippe. The behaviour of Caesar towards these German immigrants met with severe and just censure in the senate; but, however little it can be excused, the German encroachments were emphatically checked by the terror which it occasioned.

Caesar on the Right Bank of the Rhine

Caesar however found it advisable to take yet a further step and to lead the legions over the Rhine. He was not without connections beyond the river. the Germans at the stage of culture which they had then reached, lacked as yet any national coherence; in political distraction they—though from other causes—fell nothing short of the Celts. The Ubii (on the Sieg and Lahn), the most civilized among the German tribes, had recently been made subject and tributary by a powerful Suebian canton of the interior, and had as early as 697 through their envoys entreated Caesar to free them like the Gauls from the Suebian rule. It was not Caesar's design seriously to respond to this suggestion, which would have involved him in endless enterprises; but it seemed advisable, with the view of preventing the appearance of the Germanic arms on the south of the Rhine, at least to show the Roman arms beyond it. The protection which the fugitive Usipetes and Tencteri had found among the Sugambri afforded a suitable occasion. In the region, apparently between Coblentz and Andernach, Caesar erected a bridge of piles over the Rhine and led his legions across from the Treverian to the Ubian territory. Some smaller cantons gave in their submission; but the Sugambri, against whom the expedition was primarily directed, withdrew, on the approach of the Roman army, with those under their protection into the interior. In like manner the powerful Suebian canton which oppressed the Ubii—presumably the same which subsequently appears under the name of the Chatti—caused the districts immediately adjoining the Ubian territory to be evacuated and the non-combatant portion of the people to be placed in safety, while all the men capable of arms were directed to assemble at the centre of the canton. The Roman general had neither occasion nor desire to accept this challenge; his object—partly to reconnoitre, partly to produce an impressive effect if possible upon the Germans, or at least on the Celts and his countrymen at home, by an expedition over the Rhine—was substantially attained; after remaining eighteen days on the right bank of the Rhine he again arrived in Gaul and broke down the Rhine bridge behind him (699).

Expeditions to Britain

There remained the insular Celts. From the close connection between them and the Celts of the continent, especially the maritime cantons, it may readily be conceived that they had at least sympathized with the national resistance, and that if they did not grant armed assistance to the patriots, they gave at any rate an honourable asylum in their sea-protected isle to every one who was no longer safe in his native land. This certainly involved a danger, if not for the present, at any rate for the future; it seemed judicious—if not to undertake the conquest of the island itself—at any rate to conduct there also defensive operations by offensive means, and to show the islanders by a landing on the coast that the arm of the Romans reached even across the Channel. The first Roman officer who entered Brittany, Publius Crassus had already (697) crossed thence to the "tin-islands" at the south-west point of England (Stilly islands); in the summer of 699 Caesar himself with only two legions crossed the Channel at its narrowest part.(42) He found the coast covered with masses of the enemy's troops and sailed onward with his vessels; but the British war- chariots moved on quite as fast by land as the Roman galleys by sea, and it was only with the utmost difficulty that the Roman soldiers succeeded in gaining the shore in the face of the enemy, partly by wading, partly in boats, under the protection of the ships of war, which swept the beach with missiles thrown from machines and by the hand. In the first alarm the nearest villages submitted; but the islanders soon perceived how weak the enemy was, and how he did not venture to move far from the shore. The natives disappeared into the interior and returned only to threaten the camp; and the fleet, which had been left in the open roads, suffered very considerable damage from the first tempest that burst upon it. The Romans had to reckon themselves fortunate in repelling the attacks of the barbarians till they had bestowed the necessary repairs on the ships, and in regaining with these the Gallic coast before the bad season of the year came on.

Caesar himself was so dissatisfied with the results of this expedition undertaken inconsiderately and with inadequate means, that he immediately (in the winter of 699-700) ordered a transport fleet of 800 sail to be fitted out, and in the spring of 700 sailed a second time for the Kentish coast, on this occasion with five legions and 2000 cavalry. The forces of the Britons, assembled this time also on the shore, retired before the mighty armada without risking a battle; Caesar immediately set out on his march into the interior, and after some successful conflicts crossed the river Stour; but he was obliged to halt very much against his will, because the fleet in the open roads had been again half destroyed by the storms of the Channel. Before they got the ships drawn up upon the beach and the extensive arrangements made for their repair, precious time was lost, which the Celts wisely turned to account.


The brave and cautious prince Cassivellaunus, who ruled in what is now Middlesex and the surrounding district—formerly the terror of the Celts to the south of the Thames, but now the protector and champion of the whole nation—had headed the defence of the land. He soon saw that nothing at all could be done with the Celtic infantry against the Roman, and that the mass of the general levy— which it was difficult to feed and difficult to control—was only a hindrance to the defence; he therefore dismissed it and retained only the war-chariots, of which he collected 4000, and in which the warriors, accustomed to leap down from their chariots and fight on foot, could be employed in a twofold manner like the burgess- cavalry of the earliest Rome. When Caesar was once more able to continue his march, he met with no interruption to it; but the British war-chariots moved always in front and alongside of the Roman army, induced the evacuation of the country (which from the absence of towns proved no great difficulty), prevented the sending out of detachments, and threatened the communications. The Thames was crossed—apparently between Kingston and Brentford above London—by the Romans; they moved forward, but made no real progress; the general achieved no victory, the soldiers made no booty, and the only actual result, the submission of the Trinobante in the modern Essex, was less the effect of a dread of the Romans than of the deep hostility between this canton and Cassivellaunus. The danger increased with every onward step, and the attack, which the princes of Kent by the orders of Cassivellaunus made on the Roman naval camp, although it was repulsed, was an urgent warning to turn back. The taking by storm of a great British tree-barricade, in which a multitude of cattle fell into the hands of the Romans, furnished a passable conclusion to the aimless advance and a tolerable pretext for returning. Cassivellaunus was sagacious enough not to drive the dangerous enemy to extremities, and promised, as Caesar desired him, to abstain from disturbing the Trinobantes, to pay tribute and to furnish hostages; nothing was said of delivering up arms or leaving behind a Roman garrison, and even those promises were, it may be presumed, so far as they concerned the future, neither given nor received in earnest. After receiving the hostages Caesar returned to the naval camp and thence to Gaul. If he, as it would certainly seem, had hoped on this occasion to conquer Britain, the scheme was totally thwarted partly by the wise defensive system of Cassivellaunus, partly and chiefly by the unserviceableness of the Italian oared fleet in the waters of the North Sea; for it is certain that the stipulated tribute was never paid. But the immediate object—of rousing the islanders out of their haughty security and inducing them in their own interest no longer to allow their island to be a rendezvous for continental emigrants— seems certainly to have been attained; at least no complaints are afterwards heard as to the bestowal of such protection.

The Conspiracy of the Patriots

The work of repelling the Germanic invasion and of subduing the continental Celts was completed. But it is often easier to subdue a free nation than to keep a subdued one in subjection. The rivalry for the hegemony, by which more even than by the attacks of Rome the Celtic nation had been ruined, was in some measure set aside by the conquest, inasmuch as the conqueror took the hegemony to himself. Separate interests were silent; under the common oppression at any rate they felt themselves again as one people; and the infinite value of that which they had with indifference gambled away when they possessed it—freedom and nationality— was now, when it was too late, fully appreciated by their infinite longing. But was it, then, too late? With indignant shame they confessed to themselves that a nation, which numbered at least a million of men capable of arms, a nation of ancient and well- founded warlike renown, had allowed the yoke to be imposed upon it by, at the most, 50,000 Romans. The submission of the confederacy of central Gaul without having struck even a blow; the submission of the Belgic confederacy without having done more than merely shown a wish to strike; the heroic fall on the other hand of the Nervii and the Veneti, the sagacious and successful resistance of the Morini, and of the Britons under Cassivellaunus— all that in each case had been done or neglected, had failed or had succeeded—spurred the minds of the patriots to new attempts, if possible, more united and more successful. Especially among the Celtic nobility there prevailed an excitement, which seemed every moment as if it must break out into a general insurrection. Even before the second expedition to Britain in the spring of 700 Caesar had found it necessary to go in person to the Treveri, who, since they had compromised themselves in the Nervian conflict in 697, had no longer appeared at the general diets and had formed more than suspicious connections with the Germans beyond the Rhine. At that time Caesar had contented himself with carrying the men of most note among the patriot party, particularly Indutiomarus, along with him to Britain in the ranks of the Treverian cavalry-contingent; he did his utmost to overlook the conspiracy, that he might not by strict measures ripen it into insurrection. But when the Haeduan Dumnorix, who likewise was present in the army destined for Britain, nominally as a cavalry officer, but really as a hostage, peremptorily refused to embark and rode home instead, Caesar could not do otherwise than have him pursued as a deserter; he was accordingly overtaken by the division sent after him and, when he stood on his defence, was cut down (700). That the most esteemed knight of the most powerful and still the least dependent of the Celtic cantons should have been put to death by the Romans, was a thunder-clap for the whole Celtic nobility; every one who was conscious of similar sentiments—and they formed the great majority— saw in that catastrophe the picture of what was in store for himself.


If patriotism and despair had induced the heads of the Celtic nobility to conspire, fear and self-defence now drove the conspirators to strike. In the winter of 700-701, with the exception of a legion stationed in Brittany and a second in the very unsettled canton of the Carnutes (near Chartres), the whole Roman army numbering six legions was encamped in the Belgic territory. The scantiness of the supplies of grain had induced Caesar to station his troops farther apart than he was otherwise wont to do—in six different camps constructed in the cantons of the Bellovaci, Ambiani, Morini, Nervii, Remi, and Eburones. The fixed camp placed farthest towards the east in the territory of the Eburones, probably not far from the later Aduatuca (the modern Tongern), the strongest of all, consisting of a legion under one of the most respected of Caesar's leaders of division, Quintus Titurius Sabinus, besides different detachments led by the brave Lucius Aurunculeius Cotta(43) and amounting together to the strength of half a legion, found itself all of a sudden surrounded by the general levy of the Eburones under the kings Ambiorix and Catuvolcus. The attack came so unexpectedly, that the very men absent from the camp could not be recalled and were cut off by the enemy; otherwise the immediate danger was not great, as there was no lack of provisions, and the assault, which the Eburones attempted, recoiled powerless from the Roman intrenchments. But king Ambiorix informed the Roman commander that all the Roman camps in Gaul were similarly assailed on the same day, and that the Romans would undoubtedly be lost if the several corps did not quickly set out and effect a junction; that Sabinus had the more reason to make haste, as the Germans too from beyond the Rhine were already advancing against him; that he himself out of friendship for the Romans would promise them a free retreat as far as the nearest Roman camp, only two days' march distant. Some things in these statements seemed no fiction; that the little canton of the Eburones specially favoured by the Romans(44) should have undertaken the attack of its own accord was in reality incredible, and, owing to the difficulty of effecting a communication with the other far-distant camps, the danger of being attacked by the whole mass of the insurgents and destroyed in detail was by no means to be esteemed slight; nevertheless it could not admit of the smallest doubt that both honour and prudence required them to reject the capitulation offered by the enemy and to maintain the post entrusted to them. Yet, although in the council of war numerous voices and especially the weighty voice of Lucius Aurunculeius Cotta supported this view, the commandant determined to accept the proposal of Ambiorix. The Roman troops accordingly marched off next morning; but when they had arrived at a narrow valley about two miles from the camp they found themselves surrounded by the Eburones and every outlet blocked. They attempted to open a way for themselves by force of arms; but the Eburones would not enter into any close combat, and contented themselves with discharging their missiles from their unassailable positions into the dense mass of the Romans. Bewildered, as if seeking deliverance from treachery at the hands of the traitor, Sabinus requested a conference with Ambiorix; it was granted, and he and the officers accompanying him were first disarmed and then slain. After the fall of the commander the Eburones threw themselves from all sides at once on the exhausted and despairing Romans, and broke their ranks; most of them, including Cotta who had already been wounded, met their death in this attack; a small portion, who had succeeded in regaining the abandoned camp, flung themselves on their own swords during the following night. The whole corps was annihilated.

Cicero Attacked

This success, such as the insurgents themselves had hardly ventured to hope for, increased the ferment among the Celtic patriots so greatly that the Romans were no longer sure of a single district with the exception of the Haedui and Remi, and the insurrection broke out at the most diverse points. First of all the Eburones followed up their victory. Reinforced by the levy of the Aduatuci, who gladly embraced the opportunity of requiting the injury done to them by Caesar, and of the powerful and still unsubdued Menapii, they appeared in the territory of the Nervii, who immediately joined them, and the whole host thus swelled to 60,000 moved forward to confront the Roman camp formed in the Nervian canton. Quintus Cicero, who commanded there, had with his weak corps a difficult position, especially as the besiegers, learning from the foe, constructed ramparts and trenches, -testudines- and moveable towers after the Roman fashion, and showered fire-balls and burning spears over the straw-covered huts of the camp. The only hope of the besieged rested on Caesar, who lay not so very far off with three legions in his winter encampment in the region of Amiens. But—a significant proof of the feeling that prevailed in Gaul- for a considerable time not the slightest hint reached the general either of the disaster of Sabinus or of the perilous situation of Cicero.

Caesar Proceeds to His Relief
The Insurrection Checked

At length a Celtic horseman from Cicero's camp succeeded in stealing through the enemy to Caesar. On receiving the startling news Caesar immediately set out, although only with two weak legions, together numbering about 7000, and 400 horsemen; nevertheless the announcement that Caesar was advancing sufficed to induce the insurgents to raise the siege. It was time; not one tenth of the men in Cicero's camp remained unwounded. Caesar, against whom the insurgent army had turned, deceived the enemy, in the way which he had already on several occasions successfully applied, as to his strength; under the most unfavourable circumstances they ventured an assault upon the Roman camp and in doing so suffered a defeat. It is singular, but characteristic of the Celtic nation, that in consequence of this one lost battle, or perhaps rather in consequence of Caesar's appearance in person on the scene of conflict, the insurrection, which had commenced so victoriously and extended so widely, suddenly and pitiably broke off the war. The Nervii, Menapii, Aduatuci, Eburones, returned to their homes. The forces of the maritime cantons, who had made preparations for assailing the legion in Brittany, did the same. The Treveri, through whose leader Indutiomarus the Eburones, the clients of the powerful neighbouring canton, had been chiefly induced to that so successful attack, had taken arms on the news of the disaster of Aduatuca and advanced into the territory of the Remi with the view of attacking the legion cantoned there under the command of Labienus; they too desisted for the present from continuing the struggle. Caesar not unwillingly postponed farther measures against the revolted districts till the spring, in order not to expose his troops which had suffered much to the whole severity of the Gallic winter, and with the view of only reappearing in the field when the fifteen cohorts destroyed should have been replaced in an imposing manner by the levy of thirty new cohorts which he had ordered. The insurrection meanwhile pursued its course, although there was for the moment a suspension of arms. Its chief seats in central Gaul were, partly the districts of the Carnutes and the neighbouring Senones (about Sens), the latter of whom drove the king appointed by Caesar out of their country; partly the region of the Treveri, who invited the whole Celtic emigrants and the Germans beyond the Rhine to take part in the impending national war, and called out their whole force, with a view to advance in the spring a second time into the territory of the Remi, to capture the corps of Labienus, and to seek a communication with the insurgents on the Seine and Loire. The deputies of these three cantons remained absent from the diet convoked by Caesar in central Gaul, and thereby declared war just as openly as a part of the Belgic cantons had done by the attacks on the camps of Sabinus and Cicero.

And Suppressed

The winter was drawing to a close when Caesar set out with his army, which meanwhile had been considerably reinforced, against the insurgents. The attempts of the Treveri to concentrate the revolt had not succeeded; the agitated districts were kept in check by the marching in of Roman troops, and those in open rebellion were attacked in detail. First the Nervii were routed by Caesar in person. The Senones and Carnutes met the same fate. The Menapii, the only canton which had never submitted to the Romans, were compelled by a grand attack simultaneously directed against them from three sides to renounce their long-preserved freedom. Labienus meanwhile was preparing the same fate for the Treveri. Their first attack had been paralyzed, partly by the refusal of the adjoining German tribes to furnish them with mercenaries, partly by the fact that Indutiomarus, the soul of the whole movement had fallen in a skirmish with the cavalry of Labienus. But they did not on this account abandon their projects. With their whole levy they appeared in front of Labienus and waited for the German bands that were to follow, for their recruiting agents found a better reception than they had met with from the dwellers on the Rhine, among the warlike tribes of the interior of Germany, especially, as it would appear, among the Chatti. But when Labienus seemed as if he wished to avoid these and to march off in all haste, the Treveri attacked the Romans even before the Germans arrived and in a most unfavourable spot, and were completely defeated. Nothing remained for the Germans who came up too late but to return, nothing for the Treverian canton but to submit; its government reverted to the head of the Roman party Cingetorix, the son-in-law of Indutiomarus. After these expeditions of Caesar against the Menapii and of Labienus against the Treveri the whole Roman army was again united in the territory of the latter. With the view of rendering the Germans disinclined to come back, Caesar once more crossed the Rhine, in order if possible to strike an emphatic blow against the troublesome neighbours; but, as the Chatti, faithful to their tried tactics, assembled not on their western boundary, but far in the interior, apparently at the Harz mountains, for the defence of the land, he immediately turned back and contented himself with leaving behind a garrison at the passage of the Rhine.

Retaliatory Expedition against the Eburones

Accounts had thus been settled with all the tribes that took part in the rising; the Eburones alone were passed over but not forgotten. Since Caesar had met with the disaster of Aduatuca, he had worn mourning and had sworn that he would only lay it aside when he should have avenged his soldiers, who had not fallen in honourable war, but had been treacherously murdered. Helpless and passive the Eburones sat in their huts and looked on as the neighbouring cantons one after another submitted to the Romans, till the Roman cavalry from the Treverian territory advanced through the Ardennes into their land. So little were they prepared for the attack, that the cavalry had almost seized the king Ambiorix in his house; with great difficulty, while his attendants sacrificed themselves on his behalf, he escaped into the neighbouring thicket. Ten Roman legions soon followed the cavalry. At the same time a summons was issued to the surrounding tribes to hunt the outlawed Eburones and pillage their land in concert with the Roman soldiers; not a few complied with the call, including even an audacious band of Sugambrian horsemen from the other side of the Rhine, who for that matter treated the Romans no better than the Eburones, and had almost by a daring coup de main surprised the Roman camp at Aduatuca. The fate of the Eburones was dreadful. However they might hide themselves in forests and morasses, there were more hunters than game. Many put themselves to death like the gray-haired prince Catuvolcus; only a few saved life and liberty, but among these few was the man whom the Romans sought above all to seize, the prince Ambiorix; with but four horsemen he escaped over the Rhine. This execution against the canton which had transgressed above all the rest was followed in the other districts by processes of high treason against individuals. The season for clemency was past. At the bidding of the Roman proconsul the eminent Carnutic knight Acco was beheaded by Roman lictors (701) and the rule of the -fasces- was thus formally inaugurated. Opposition was silent; tranquillity everywhere prevailed. Caesar went as he was wont towards the end of the year (701) over the Alps, that through the winter he might observe more closely the daily-increasing complications in the capital.

Second Insurrection

The sagacious calculator had on this occasion miscalculated. The fire was smothered, but not extinguished. The stroke, under which the head of Acco fell, was felt by the whole Celtic nobility. At this very moment the position of affairs presented better prospects than ever. The insurrection of the last winter had evidently failed only through Caesar himself appearing on the scene of action; now he was at a distance, detained on the Po by the imminence of civil war, and the Gallic army, which was collected on the upper Seine, was far separated from its dreaded leader. If a general insurrection now broke out in central Gaul, the Roman army might be surrounded, and the almost undefended old Roman province be overrun before Caesar reappeared beyond the Alps, even if the Italian complications did not altogether prevent him from further concerning himself about Gaul.

The Carnutes
The Arverni

Conspirators from all the cantons of central Gaul assembled; the Carnutes, as most directly affected by the execution of Acco, offered to take the lead. On a set day in the winter of 701-702 the Carnutic knights Gutruatus and Conconnetodumnus gave at Cenabum (Orleans) the signal for the rising, and put to death in a body the Romans who happened to be there. The most vehement agitation seized the length and breadth of the great Celtic land; the patriots everywhere bestirred themselves. But nothing stirred the nation so deeply as the insurrection of the Arverni. The government of this community, which had formerly under its kings been the first in southern Gaul, and had still after the fall of its principality occasioned by the unfortunate wars against Rome(45) continued to be one of the wealthiest, most civilized, and most powerful in all Gaul, had hitherto inviolably adhered to Rome. Even now the patriot party in the governing common council was in the minority; an attempt to induce it to join the insurrection was in vain. The attacks of the patriots were therefore directed against the common council and the existing constitution itself; and the more so, that the change of constitution which among the Arverni had substituted the common council for the prince(46) had taken place after the victories of the Romans and probably under their influence.


The leader of the Arvernian patriots Vercingetorix, one of those nobles whom we meet with among the Celts, of almost regal repute in and beyond his canton, and a stately, brave, sagacious man to boot, left the capital and summoned the country people, who were as hostile to the ruling oligarchy as to the Romans, at once to re-establish the Arvernian monarchy and to go to war with Rome. The multitude quickly joined him; the restoration of the throne of Luerius and Betuitus was at the same time the declaration of a national war against Rome. The centre of unity, from the want of which all previous attempts of the nation to shake off the foreign yoke had failed, was now found in the new self-nominated king of the Arverni. Vercingetorix became for the Celts of the continent what Cassivellaunus was for the insular Celts; the feeling strongly pervaded the masses that he, if any one, was the man to save the nation.

Spread of the Insurrection
Appearance of Caesar

The west from the mouth of the Garonne to that of the Seine was rapidly infected by the insurrection, and Vercingetorix was recognized by all the cantons there as commander-in-chief; where the common council made any difficulty, the multitude compelled it to join the movement; only a few cantons, such as that of the Bituriges, required compulsion to join it, and these perhaps only for appearance' sake. The insurrection found a less favourable soil in the regions to the east of the upper Loire. Everything here depended on the Haedui; and these wavered. The patriotic party was very strong in this canton; but the old antagonism to the leading of the Arverni counterbalanced their influence— to the most serious detriment of the insurrection, as the accession of the eastern cantons, particularly of the Sequani and Helvetii, was conditional on the accession of the Haedui, and generally in this part of Gaul the decision rested with them. While the insurgents were thus labouring partly to induce the cantons that still hesitated, especially the Haedui, to join them, partly to get possession of Narbo—one of their leaders, the daring Lucterius, had already appeared on the Tarn within the limits of the old province—the Roman commander-in-chief suddenly presented himself in the depth of winter, unexpected alike by friend and foe, on this side of the Alps. He quickly made the necessary preparations to cover the old province, and not only so, but sent also a corps over the snow-covered Cevennes into the Arvernian territory; but he could not remain here, where the accession of the Haedui to the Gallic alliance might any moment cut him off from his army encamped about Sens and Langres. With all secrecy he went to Vienna, and thence, attended by only a few horsemen, through the territory of the Haedui to his troops. The hopes, which had induced the conspirators to declare themselves, vanished; peace continued in Italy, and Caesar stood once more at the head of his army.

The Gallic Plan of War

But what were they to do? It was folly under such circumstances to let the matter come to the decision of arms; for these had already decidedly irrevocably. They might as well attempt to shake the Alps by throwing stones at them as to shake the legions by means of the Celtic bands, whether these might be congregated in huge masses or sacrificed in detail canton after canton. Vercingetorix despaired of defeating the Romans. He adopted a system of warfare similar to that by which Cassivellaunus had saved the insular Celts. The Roman infantry was not to be vanquished; but Caesar's cavalry consisted almost exclusively of the contingent of the Celtic nobility, and was practically dissolved by the general revolt. It was possible for the insurrection, which was in fact essentially composed of the Celtic nobility, to develop such a superiority in this arm, that it could lay waste the land far and wide, burn down towns and villages, destroy the magazines, and endanger the supplies and the communications of the enemy, without his being able seriously to hinder it. Vercingetorix accordingly directed all his efforts to the increase of his cavalry, and of the infantry-archers who were according to the mode of fighting of that time regularly associated with it. He did not send the immense and self-obstructing masses of the militia of the line to their homes, but he did not allow them to face the enemy, and attempted to impart to them gradually some capacity of intrenching, marching, and manoeuvring, and some perception that the soldier is not destined merely for hand-to-hand combat. Learning from the enemy, he adopted in particular the Roman system of encampment, on which depended the whole secret of the tactical superiority of the Romans; for in consequence of it every Roman corps combined all the advantages of the garrison of a fortress with all the advantages of an offensive army.(47) It is true that a system completely adapted to Britain which had few towns and to its rude, resolute, and on the whole united inhabitants was not absolutely transferable to the rich regions on the Loire and their indolent inhabitants on the eve of utter political dissolution. Vercingetorix at least accomplished this much, that they did not attempt as hitherto to hold every town with the result of holding none; they agreed to destroy the townships not capable of defence before attack reached them, but to defend with all their might the strong fortresses. At the same time the Arvernian king did what he could to bind to the cause of their country the cowardly and backward by stern severity, the hesitating by entreaties and representations, the covetous by gold, the decided opponents by force, and to compel or allure the rabble high or low to some manifestation of patriotism.

Beginning of the Struggle

Even before the winter was at an end, he threw himself on the Boii settled by Caesar in the territory of the Haedui, with the view of annihilating these, almost the sole trustworthy allies of Rome, before Caesar came up. The news of this attack induced Caesar, leaving behind the baggage and two legions in the winter quarters of Agedincum (Sens), to march immediately and earlier than he would doubtless otherwise have done, against the insurgents. He remedied the sorely-felt want of cavalry and light infantry in some measure by gradually bringing up German mercenaries, who instead of using their own small and weak ponies were furnished with Italian and Spanish horses partly bought, partly procured by requisition of the officers. Caesar, after having by the way caused Cenabum, the capital of the Carnutes, which had given the signal for the revolt, to be pillaged and laid in ashes, moved over the Loire into the country of the Bituriges. He thereby induced Vercingetorix to abandon the siege of the town of the Boii, and to resort likewise to the Bituriges. Here the new mode of warfare was first to be tried. By order of Vercingetorix more than twenty townships of the Bituriges perished in the flames on one day; the general decreed a similar self-devastation as to the neighbour cantons, so far as they could be reached by the Roman foraging parties.

Caesar before Arvaricum

According to his intention, Avaricum (Bourges), the rich and strong capital of the Bituriges, was to meet the same fate; but the majority of the war-council yielded to the suppliant entreaties of the Biturigian authorities, and resolved rather to defend that city with all their energy. Thus the war was concentrated in the first instance around Avaricum, Vercingetorix placed his infantry amidst the morasses adjoining the town in a position so unapproachable, that even without being covered by the cavalry they needed not to fear the attack of the legions. The Celtic cavalry covered all the roads and obstructed the communication. The town was strongly garrisoned, and the connection between it and the army before the walls was kept open. Caesar's position was very awkward. The attempt to induce the Celtic infantry to fight was unsuccessful; it stirred not from its unassailable lines. Bravely as his soldiers in front of the town trenched and fought, the besieged vied with them in ingenuity and courage, and they had almost succeeded in setting fire to the siege apparatus of their opponents. The task withal of supplying an army of nearly 60,000 men with provisions in a country devastated far and wide and scoured by far superior bodies of cavalry became daily more difficult. The slender stores of the Boii were soon used up; the supply promised by the Haedui failed to appear; the corn was already consumed, and the soldier was placed exclusively on flesh-rations. But the moment was approaching when the town, with whatever contempt of death the garrison fought, could be held no longer. Still it was not impossible to withdraw the troops secretly by night and destroy the town, before the enemy occupied it. Vercingetorix made arrangements for this purpose, but the cry of distress raised at the moment of evacuation by the women and children left behind attracted the attention of the Romans; the departure miscarried.

Avaricum Conquered
Caesar Divides His Army

On the following gloomy and rainy day the Romans scaled the walls, and, exasperated by the obstinate defence, spared neither age nor sex in the conquered town. The ample stores, which the Celts had accumulated in it, were welcome to the starved soldiers of Caesar. With the capture of Avaricum (spring of 702), a first success had been achieved over the insurrection, and according to former experience Caesar might well expect that it would now dissolve, and that it would only be requisite to deal with the cantons individually. After he had therefore shown himself with his whole army in the canton of the Haedui and had by this imposing demonstration compelled the patriot party in a ferment there to keep quiet at least for the moment, he divided his army and sent Labienus back to Agedincum, that in combination with the troops left there he might at the head of four legions suppress in the first instance the movement in the territory of the Carnutes and Senones, who on this occasion once more took the lead; while he himself with the six remaining legions turned to the south and prepared to carry the war into the Arvernian mountains, the proper territory of Vercingetorix.

Labienus before Lutetia

Labienus moved from Agedincum up the left bank of the Seine with a view to possess himself of Lutetia (Paris), the town of the Parisii situated on an island in the Seine, and from this well-secured position in the heart of the insurgent country to reduce it again to subjection. But behind Melodunum (Melun), he found his route barred by the whole army of the insurgents, which had here taken up a position between unassailable morasses under the leadership of the aged Camulogenus. Labienus retreated a certain distance, crossed the Seine at Melodunum, and moved up its right bank unhindered towards Lutetia; Camulogenus caused this town to be burnt and the bridges leading to the left bank to be broken down, and took up a position over against Labienus, in which the latter could neither bring him to battle nor effect a passage under the eyes of the hostile army.

Caesar before Gergovia
Fruitless Blockade

The Roman main army in its turn advanced along the Allier down into the canton of the Arverni. Vercingetorix attempted to prevent it from crossing to the left bank of the Allier, but Caesar overreached him and after some days stood before the Arvernian capital Gergovia.(48) Vercingetorix, however, doubtless even while he was confronting Caesar on the Allier, had caused sufficient stores to be collected in Gergovia and a fixed camp provided with strong stone ramparts to be constructed for his troops in front of the walls of the town, which was situated on the summit of a pretty steep hill; and, as he had a sufficient start, he arrived before Caesar at Gergovia and awaited the attack in the fortified camp under the wall of the fortress. Caesar with his comparatively weak army could neither regularly besiege the place nor even sufficiently blockade it; he pitched his camp below the rising ground occupied by Vercingetorix, and was compelled to preserve an attitude as inactive as his opponent. It was almost a victory for the insurgents, that Caesar's career of advance from triumph to triumph had been suddenly checked on the Seine as on the Allier. In fact the consequences of this check for Caesar were almost equivalent to those of a defeat.

The Haedui Waver

The Haedui, who had hitherto continued vacillating, now made preparations in earnest to join the patriotic party; the body of men, whom Caesar had ordered to Gergovia, had on the march been induced by its officers to declare for the insurgents; at the same time they had begun in the canton itself to plunder and kill the Romans settled there. Caesar, who had gone with two-thirds of the blockading army to meet that corps of the Haedui which was being brought up to Gergovia, had by his sudden appearance recalled it to nominal obedience; but it was more than ever a hollow and fragile relation, the continuance of which had been almost too dearly purchased by the great peril of the two legions left behind in front of Gergovia. For Vercingetorix, rapidly and resolutely availing himself of Caesar's departure, had during his absence made an attack on them, which had wellnigh ended in their being overpowered, and the Roman camp being taken by storm. Caesar's unrivalled celerity alone averted a second catastrophe like that of Aduatuca. Though the Haedui made once more fair promises, it might be foreseen that, if the blockade should still be prolonged without result, they would openly range themselves on the side of the insurgents and would thereby compel Caesar to raise it; for their accession would interrupt the communication between him and Labienus, and expose the latter especially in his isolation to the greatest peril. Caesar was resolved not to let matters come to this pass, but, however painful and even dangerous it was to retire from Gergovia without having accomplished his object, nevertheless, if it must be done, rather to set out immediately and by marching into the canton of the Haedui to prevent at any cost their formal desertion.

Caesar Defeated before Gergovia

Before entering however on this retreat, which was far from agreeable to his quick and confident temperament, he made yet a last attempt to free himself from his painful perplexity by a brilliant success. While the bulk of the garrison of Gergovia was occupied in intrenching the side on which the assault was expected, the Roman general watched his opportunity to surprise another access less conveniently situated but at the moment left bare. In reality the Roman storming columns scaled the camp-wall, and occupied the nearest quarters of the camp; but the whole garrison was already alarmed, and owing to the small distances Caesar found it not advisable to risk the second assault on the city-wall. He gave the signal for retreat; but the foremost legions, carried away by the impetuosity of victory, heard not or did not wish to hear, and pushed forward without halting, up to the city-wall, some even into the city. But masses more and more dense threw themselves in front of the intruders; the foremost fell, the columns stopped; in vain centurions and legionaries fought with the most devoted and heroic courage; the assailants were chased with very considerable loss out of the town and down the hill, where the troops stationed by Caesar in the plain received them and prevented greater mischief. The expected capture of Gergovia had been converted into a defeat, and the considerable loss in killed and wounded— there were counted 700 soldiers that had fallen, including 46 centurions—was the least part of the misfortune suffered.

Renewed Insurrection
Rising of the Haedui
Rising of the Belgae

The imposing position of Caesar in Gaul depended essentially on the halo of victory that surrounded him; and this began to grow pale. The conflicts around Avaricum, Caesar's vain attempts to compel the enemy to fight, the resolute defence of the city and its almost accidental capture by storm bore a stamp different from that of the earlier Celtic wars, and had strengthened rather than impaired the confidence of the Celts in themselves and their leader. Moreover, the new system of warfare—the making head against the enemy in intrenched camps under the protection of fortresses—had completely approved itself at Lutetia as well as at Gergovia. Lastly, this defeat, the first which Caesar in person had suffered from the Celts crowned their success, and it accordingly gave as it were the signal for a second outbreak of the insurrection. The Haedui now broke formally with Caesar and entered into union with Vercingetorix. Their contingent, which was still with Caesar's army, not only deserted from it, but also took occasion to carry off the depots of the army of Caesar at Noviodunum on the Loire, whereby the chests and magazines, a number of remount-horses, and all the hostages furnished to Caesar, fell into the hands of the insurgents. It was of at least equal importance, that on this news the Belgae, who had hitherto kept aloof from the whole movement, began to bestir themselves. The powerful canton of the Bellovaci rose with the view of attacking in the rear the corps of Labienus, while it confronted at Lutetia the levy of the surrounding cantons of central Gaul. Everywhere else too men were taking to arms; the strength of patriotic enthusiasm carried along with it even the most decided and most favoured partisans of Rome, such as Commius king of the Atrebates, who on account of his faithful services had received from the Romans important privileges for his community and the hegemony over the Morini. The threads of the insurrection ramified even into the old Roman province: they cherished the hope, perhaps not without ground, of inducing the Allobroges themselves to take arms against the Romans. With the single exception of the Remi and of the districts—dependent immediately on the Remi— of the Suessiones, Leuci, and Lingones, whose peculiar isolation was not affected even amidst this general enthusiasm, the whole Celtic nation from the Pyrenees to the Rhine was now in reality, for the first and for the last time, in arms for its freedom and nationality; whereas, singularly enough, the whole German communities, who in the former struggles had held the foremost rank, kept aloof. In fact, the Treveri, and as it would seem the Menapii also, were prevented by their feuds with the Germans from taking an active part in the national war.

Caesar's Plan of War
Caesar Unites with Labienus

It was a grave and decisive moment, when after the retreat from Gergovia and the loss of Noviodunum a council of war was held in Caesar's headquarters regarding the measures now to be adopted. Various voices expressed themselves in favour of a retreat over the Cevennes into the old Roman province, which now lay open on all sides to the insurrection and certainly was in urgent need of the legions that had been sent from Rome primarily for its protection. But Caesar rejected this timid strategy suggested not by the position of affairs, but by government-instructions and fear of responsibility. He contented himself with calling the general levy of the Romans settled in the province to arms, and having the frontiers guarded by that levy to the best of its ability. On the other hand he himself set out in the opposite direction and advanced by forced marches to Agedincum, to which he ordered Labienus to retreat in all haste. The Celts naturally endeavoured to prevent the junction of the two Roman armies. Labienus might by crossing the Marne and marching down the right bank of the Seine have reached Agedincum, where he had left his reserve and his baggage; but he preferred not to allow the Celts again to behold the retreat of Roman troops. He therefore instead of crossing the Marne crossed the Seine under the eyes of the deluded enemy, and on its left bank fought a battle with the hostile forces, in which he conquered, and among many others the Celtic general himself, the old Camulogenus, was left on the field. Nor were the insurgents more successful in detaining Caesar on the Loire; Caesar gave them no time to assemble larger masses there, and without difficulty dispersed the militia of the Haedui, which alone he found at that point

Position of the Insurgents at Alesia

Thus the junction of the two divisions of the army was happily accomplished. The insurgents meanwhile had consulted as to the farthe conduct of the war at Bibracte (Autun) the capital of the Haeduil the soul of these consultations was again Vercingetorix, to whom the nation was enthusiastically attached after the victory of Gergovia. Particular interests were not, it is true, even now silent; the Haedui still in this death-struggle of the nation asserted their claims to the hegemony, and made a proposal in the national assembly to substitute a leader of their own for Vercingetorix. But the national representatives had not merely declined this and confirmed Vercingetorix in the supreme command, but had also adopted his plan of war without alteration. It was substantially the same as that on which he had operated at Avaricum and at Gergovia. As the base of the new position there was selected the strong city of the Mandubii, Alesia (Alise Sainte Reine near Semur in the department Cote d'Or)(49) and another entrenched camp was constructed under its walls. Immense stores were here accumulated, and the army was ordered thither from Gergovia, having its cavalry raised by resolution of the national assembly to 15,000 horse. Caesar with the whole strength of his army after it was reunited at Agedincum took the direction of Besancon, with the view of now approaching the alarmed province and protecting it from an invasion, for in fact bands of insurgents had already shown themselves in the territory of the Helvii on the south slope of the Cevennes. Alesia lay almost on his way; the cavalry of the Celts, the only arm with which Vercingetorix chose to operate, attacked him on the route, but to the surprise of all was worsted by the new German squadrons of Caesar and the Roman infantry drawn up in support of them.

Caesar in Front of Alesia
Siege of Alesia

Vercingetorix hastened the more to shut himself up in Alesia; and if Caesar was not disposed altogether to renounce the offensive, no course was left to him but for the third time in this campaign to proceed by way of attack with a far weaker force against an army encamped under a well-garrisoned and well-provisioned fortress and supplied with immense masses of cavalry. But, while the Celts had hitherto been opposed by only a part of the Roman legions, the whole forces of Caesar were united in the lines round Alesia, and Vercingetorix did not succeed, as he had succeeded at Avaricum and Gergovia, in placing his infantry under the protection of the walls of the fortress and keeping his external communications open for his own benefit by his cavalry, while he interrupted those of the enemy. The Celtic cavalry, already discouraged by that defeat inflicted on them by their lightly esteemed opponents, was beaten by Caesar's German horse in every encounter. The line of circumvallation of the besiegers extending about nine miles invested the whole town, including the camp attached to it. Vercingetorix had been prepared for a struggle under the walls, but not for being besieged in Alesia; in that point of view the accumulated stores, considerable as they were, were yet far from sufficient for his army—which was said to amount to 80,000 infantry and 15,000 cavalry—and for the numerous inhabitants of the town. Vercingetorix could not but perceive that his plan of warfare had on this occasion turned to his own destruction, and that he was lost unless the whole nation hastened up to the rescue of its blockaded general. The existing provisions were still, when the Roman circumvallation was closed, sufficient for a month and perhaps something more; at the last moment, when there was still free passage at least for horsemen, Vercingetorix dismissed his whole cavalry, and sent at the same time to the heads of the nation instructions to call out all their forces and lead them to the relief of Alesia. He himself, resolved to bear in person the responsibility for the plan of war which he had projected and which had miscarried, remained in the fortress, to share in good or evil the fate of his followers. But Caesar made up his mind at once to besiege and to be besieged. He prepared his line of circumvallation for defence also on its outer side, and furnished himself with provisions for a longer period. The days passed; they had no longer a boll of grain in the fortress, and they were obliged to drive out the unhappy inhabitants of the town to perish miserably between the entrenchments of the Celts and of the Romans, pitilessly rejected by both.

Attempt at Relief
Conflicts before Alesia

At the last hour there appeared behind Caesar's lines the interminable array of the Celto-Belgic relieving array, said to amount to 250,000 infantry and 8000 cavalry, from the Channel to the Cevennes the insurgent cantons had strained every nerve to rescue the flower of their patriots and the general of their choice—the Bellovaci alone had answered that they were doubtless disposed to fight against the Romans, but not beyond their own bounds. The first assault, which the besieged of Alesia and the relieving troops without made on the Roman double line, was repulsed; but, when after a day's rest it was repeated, the Celts succeeded—at a spot where the line of circumvallation ran over the slope of a hill and could be assailed from the height above— in filling up the trenches and hurling the defenders down from the rampart. Then Labienus, sent thither by Caesar, collected the nearest cohorts and threw himself with four legions on the foe. Under the eyes of the general, who himself appeared at the most dangerous moment, the assailants were driven back in a desperate hand-to-hand conflict, and the squadrons of cavalry that came with Caesar taking the fugitives in rear completed the defeat.

Alesia Capitulates

It was more than a great victory; the fate of Alesia, and indeed of the Celtic nation, was thereby irrevocably decided. The Celtic army, utterly disheartened, dispersed at once from the battle-field and went home. Vercingetorix might perhaps have even now taken to flight, or at least have saved himself by the last means open to a free man; he did not do so, but declared in a council of war that, since he had not succeeded in breaking off the alien yoke, he was ready to give himself up as a victim and to avert as far as possible destruction from the nation by bringing it on his own head. This was done. The Celtic officers delivered their general— the solemn choice of the whole nation—over to the energy of their country for such punishment as might be thought fit. Mounted on his steed and in full armour the king of the Arverni appeared before the Roman proconsul and rode round his tribunal; then he surrendered his horse and arms, and sat down in silence on the steps at Caesar's feet (702).

Vercingetorix Executed

Five years afterwards he was led in triumph through the streets of the Italian capital, and, while his conqueror was offering solemn thanks to the gods on the summit of the Capitol, Vercingetorix was beheaded at its foot as guilty of high treason against the Roman nation. As after a day of gloom the sun may perhaps break through the clouds at its setting, so destiny may bestow on nations in their decline yet a last great man. Thus Hannibal stands at the close of the Phoenician history, and Vercingetorix at the close of the Celtic. They were not able to save the nations to which they belonged from a foreign yoke, but they spared them the last remaining disgrace—an inglorious fall. Vercingetorix, just like the Carthaginian, was obliged to contend not merely against the public foe, but also and above all against that anti-national opposition of wounded egotists and startled cowards, which regularly accompanies a degenerate civilization; for him too a place in history is secured, not by his battles and sieges, but by the fact that he was able to furnish in his own person a centre and rallying-point to a nation distracted and ruined by the rivalry of individual interests. And yet there can hardly be a more marked contrast than between the sober townsman of the Phoenician mercantile city, whose plans were directed towards one great object with unchanging energy throughout fifty years, and the bold prince of the Celtic land, whose mighty deeds and high- minded self-sacrifice fall within the compass of one brief summer. The whole ancient world presents no more genuine knight, whether as regards his essential character or his outward appearance. But man ought not to be a mere knight, and least of all the statesman. It was the knight, not the hero, who disdained to escape from Alesia, when for the nation more depended on him than on a hundred thousand ordinary brave men. It was the knight, not the hero, who gave himself up as a sacrifice, when the only thing gained by that sacrifice was that the nation publicly dishonoured itself and with equal cowardice and absurdity employed its last breath in proclaiming that its great historical death-struggle was a crime against its oppressor. How very different was the conduct of Hannibal in similar positions! It is impossible to part from the noble king of the Arverni without a feeling of historical and human sympathy; but it is a significant trait of the Celtic nation, that its greatest man was after all merely a knight.

The Last Conflicts
With the Bituriges and Carnutes

The fall of Alesia and the capitulation of the army enclosed in it were fearful blows for the Celtic insurrection; but blows quite as heavy had befallen the nation and yet the conflict had been renewed. The loss of Vercingetorix, however, was irreparable. With him unity had come to the nation; with him it seemed also to have departed. We do not find that the insurgents made any attempt to continue their joint defence and to appoint another generalissimo; the league of patriots fell to pieces of itself, and every clan was left to fight or come to terms with the Romans as it pleased. Naturally the desire after rest everywhere prevailed. Caesar too had an interest in bringing the war quickly to an end. Of the ten years of his governorship seven had elapsed, and the last was called in question by his political opponents in the capital; he could only reckon with some degree of certainty on two more summers, and, while his interest as well as his honour required that he should hand over the newly-acquired regions to his successor in a condition of tolerable peace and tranquillity, there was in truth but scanty time to bring about such a state of things. To exercise mercy was in this case still more a necessity for the victor than for the vanquished; and he might thank his stars that the internal dissensions and the easy temperament of the Celts met him in this respect half way. Where—as in the two most eminent cantons of central Gaul, those of the Haedui and Arverni—there existed a strong party well disposed to Rome, the cantons obtained immediately after the fall of Alesia a complete restoration of their former relations with Rome, and even their captives, 20,000 in number, were released without ransom, while those of the other clans passed into the hard bondage of the victorious legionaries. The greater portion of the Gallic districts submitted like the Haedui and Arverni to their fate, and allowed their inevitable punishment to be inflicted without farther resistance. But not a few clung in foolish frivolity or sullen despair to the lost cause, till the Roman troops of execution appeared within their borders. Such expeditions were in the winter of 702-703 undertaken against the Bituriges and the Carnutes.

With the Bellovaci

More serious resistance was offered by the Bellovaci, who in the previous year had kept aloof from the relief of Alesia; they seem to have wished to show that their absence on that decisive day at least did not proceed from want of courage or of love for freedom. The Atrebates, Ambiani, Caletes, and other Belgic cantons took part in this struggle; the brave king of the Atrebates Commius, whose accession to the insurrection the Romans had least of all forgiven, and against whom recently Labienus had even directed an atrocious attempt at assassination, brought to the Bellovaci 500 German horse, whose value the campaign of the previous year had shown. The resolute and talented Bellovacian Correus, to whom the chief conduct of the war had fallen, waged warfare as Vercingetorix had waged it, and with no small success. Although Caesar had gradually brought up the greater part of his army, he could neither bring the infantry of the Bellovaci to a battle, nor even prevent it from taking up other positions which afforded better protection against his augmented forces; while the Roman horse, especially the Celtic contingents, suffered most severe losses in various combats at the hands of the enemy's cavalry, especially of the German cavalry of Commius. But after Correus had met his death in a skirmish with the Roman foragers, the resistance here too was broken; the victor proposed tolerable conditions, to which the Bellovaci along with their confederates submitted. The Treveri were reduced to obedience by Labienus, and incidentally the territory of the outlawed Eburones was once more traversed and laid waste. Thus the last resistance of the Belgic confederacy was broken.

On the Loire

The maritime cantons still made an attempt to defend themselves against the Roman domination in concert with their neighbours on the Loire. Insurgent bands from the Andian, Carnutic, and other surrounding cantons assembled on the lower Loire and besieged in Lemonum (Poitiers) the prince of the Pictones who was friendly to the Romans. But here too a considerable Roman force soon appeared against them; the insurgents abandoned the siege, and retreated with the view of placing the Loire between themselves and the enemy, but were overtaken on the march and defeated; whereupon the Carnutes and the other revolted cantons, including even the maritime ones, sent in their submission.

And in Uxellodunum

The resistance was at an end; save that an isolated leader of free bands still here and there upheld the national banner. The bold Drappes and the brave comrade in arms of Vercingetorix Lucterius, after the breaking up of the army united on the Loire, gathered together the most resolute men, and with these threw themselves into the strong mountain-town of Uxellodunum on the Lot,(50) which amidst severe and fatal conflicts they succeeded in sufficiently provisioning. In spite of the loss of their leaders, of whom Drappes had been taken prisoner, and Lucterius had been cut off from the town, the garrison resisted to the uttermost; it was not till Caesar appeared in person, and under his orders the spring from which the besieged derived their water was diverted by means of subterranean drains, that the fortress, the last stronghold of the Celtic nation, fell. To distinguish the last champions of the cause of freedom, Caesar ordered that the whole garrison should have their hands cut off and should then be dismissed, each one to his home. Caesar, who felt it all-important to put an end at least to open resistance throughout Gaul, allowed king Commius, who still held out in the region of Arras and maintained desultory warfare with the Roman troops there down to the winter of 703-704, to make his peace, and even acquiesced when the irritated and justly distrustful man haughtily refused to appear in person in the Roman camp. It is very probable that Caesar in a similar way allowed himself to be satisfied with a merely nominal submission, perhaps even with a de facto armistice, in the less accessible districts of the north-west and north-east of Gaul.(51)

Gaul Subdued

Thus was Gaul—or, in other words, the land west of the Rhine and north of the Pyrenees—rendered subject after only eight years of conflict (696-703) to the Romans. Hardly a year after the full pacification of the land, at the beginning of 705, the Roman troops had to be withdrawn over the Alps in consequence of the civil war, which had now at length broken out in Italy, and there remained nothing but at the most some weak divisions of recruits in Gaul. Nevertheless the Celts did not again rise against the foreign yoke; and, while in all the old provinces of the empire there was fighting against Caesar, the newly-acquired country alone remained continuously obedient to its conqueror. Even the Germans did not during those decisive years repeat their attempts to conquer new settlements on the left bank of the Rhine. As little did there occur in Gaul any national insurrection or German invasion during the crises that followed, although these offered the most favourable opportunities. If disturbances broke out anywhere, such as the rising of the Bellovaci against the Romans in 708, these movements were so isolated and so unconnected with the complications in Italy, that they were suppressed without material difficulty by the Roman governors. Certainly this state of peace was most probably, just as was the peace of Spain for centuries, purchased by provisionally allowing the regions that were most remote and most strongly pervaded by national feeling—Brittany, the districts on the Scheldt, the region of the Pyrenees— to withdraw themselves de facto in a more or less definite manner from the Roman allegiance. Nevertheless the building of Caesar— however scanty the time which he found for it amidst other and at the moment still more urgent labours, however unfinished and but provisionally rounded off he may have left it—in substance stood the test of this fiery trial, as respected both the repelling of the Germans and the subjugation of the Celts.

Roman Taxation

As to administration in chief, the territories newly acquired by the governor of Narbonese Gaul remained for the time being united with the province of Narbo; it was not till Caesar gave up this office (710) that two new governorships—Gaul proper and Belgica—were formed out of the territory which he conquered. That the individual cantons lost their political independence, was implied in the very nature of conquest. They became throughout tributary to the Roman community. Their system of tribute however was, of course, not that by means of which the nobles and financial aristocracy turned Asia to profitable account; but, as was the case in Spain, a tribute fixed once for all was imposed on each individual community, and the levying of it was left to itself. In this way forty million sesterces (400,000 pounds) flowed annually from Gaul into the chests of the Roman government; which, no doubt, undertook in return the cost of defending the frontier of the Rhine. Moreover, the masses of gold accumulated in the temples of the gods and the treasuries of the grandees found their way, as a matter of course, to Rome; when Caesar offered his Gallic gold throughout the Roman empire and brought such masses of it at once into the money market that gold as compared with silver fell about 25 per cent, we may guess what sums Gaul lost through the war.

Indulgences towards Existing Arrangements

The former cantonal constitutions with their hereditary kings, or their presiding feudal-oligarchies, continued in the main to subsist after the conquest, and even the system of clientship, which made certain cantons dependent on others more powerful, was not abolished, although no doubt with the loss of political independence its edge was taken off. The sole object of Caesar was, while making use of the existing dynastic, feudalist, and hegemonic divisions, to arrange matters in the interest of Rome, and to bring everywhere into power the men favourably disposed to the foreign rule. Caesar spared no pains to form a Roman party in Gaul; extensive rewards in money and specially in confiscated estates were bestowed on his adherents, and places in the common council and the first offices of state in their cantons were procured for them by Caesar's influence. Those cantons in which a sufficiently strong and trustworthy Roman party existed, such as those of the Remi, the Lingones, the Haedui, were favoured by the bestowal of a freer communal constitution—the right of alliance, as it was called—and by preferences in the regulation of the matter of hegemony. The national worship and its priests seem to have been spared by Caesar from the outset as far as possible; no trace is found in his case of measures such as were adopted in later times by the Roman rulers against the Druidical system, and with this is probably connected the fact that his Gallic wars, so far as we see, do not at all bear the character of religious warfare after the fashion which formed so prominent a feature of the Britannic wars subsequently.

Introduction of the Romanizing of the Country

While Caesar thus showed to the conquered nation every allowable consideration and spared their national, political, and religious institutions as far as was at all compatible with their subjection to Rome, he did so, not as renouncing the fundamental idea of his conquest, the Romanization of Gaul, but with a view to realize it in the most indulgent way. He did not content himself with letting the same circumstances, which had already in great part Romanized the south province, produce their effect likewise in the north; but, like a genuine statesman, he sought to stimulate the natural course of development and, moreover, to shorten as far as possible the always painful period of transition. To say nothing of the admission of a number of Celts of rank into Roman citizenship and even of several perhaps into the Roman senate, it was probably Caesar who introduced, although with certain restrictions, the Latin instead of the native tongue as the official language within the several cantons in Gaul, and who introduced the Roman instead of the national monetary system on the footing of reserving the coinage of gold and of denarii to the Roman authorities, while the smaller money was to be coined by the several cantons, but only for circulation within the cantonal bounds, and this too in accordance with the Roman standard. We may smile at the Latin jargon, which the dwellers by the Loire and the Seine henceforth employed in accordance with orders;(52) but these barbarisms were pregnant with a greater future than the correct Latin of the capital. Perhaps too, if the cantonal constitution in Gaul afterwards appears more closely approximated to the Italian urban constitution, and the chief places of the canton as well as the common councils attain a more marked prominence in it than was probably the case in the original Celtic organization, the change may be referred to Caesar. No one probably felt more than the political heir of Gaius Gracchus and of Marius, how desirable in a military as well as in a political point of view it would have been to establish a series of Transalpine colonies as bases of support for the new rule and starting-points of the new civilization. If nevertheless he confined himself to the settlement of his Celtic or German horsemen in Noviodunum(53) and to that of the Boii in the canton of the Haedui (54)—which latter settlement already rendered quite the services of a Roman colony in the war with Vercingetorix(55)— the reason was merely that his farther plans did not permit him to put the plough instead of the sword into the hands of his legions. What he did in later years for the old Roman province in this respect, will be explained in its own place; it is probable that the want of time alone prevented him from extending the same system to the regions which he had recently subdued.

The Catastrophe of the Celtic Nation
Traits Common to the Celts and Irish

All was over with the Celtic nation. Its political dissolution had been completed by Caesar; its national dissolution was begun and in course of regular progress. This was no accidental destruction, such as destiny sometimes prepares even for peoples capable of development, but a self-incurred and in some measure historically necessary catastrophe. The very course of the last war proves this, whether we view it as a whole or in detail. When the establishment of the foreign rule was in contemplation, only single districts— mostly, moreover, German or half-German—offered energetic resistance. When the foreign rule was actually established, the attempts to shake it off were either undertaken altogether without judgment, or they were to an undue extent the work of certain prominent nobles, and were therefore immediately and entirely brought to an end with the death or capture of an Indutiomarus, Camulogenus, Vercingetorix, or Correus. The sieges and guerilla warfare, in which elsewhere the whole moral depth of national struggles displays itself, were throughout this Celtic struggle of a peculiarly pitiable character. Every page of Celtic history confirms the severe saying of one of the few Romans who had the judgment not to despise the so-called barbarians—that the Celts boldly challenge danger while future, but lose their courage before its presence. In the mighty vortex of the world's history, which inexorably crushes all peoples that are not as hard and as flexible as steel, such a nation could not permanently maintain itself; with reason the Celts of the continent suffered the same fate at the hands of the Romans, as their kinsmen in Ireland suffer down to our own day at the hands of the Saxons—the fate of becoming merged as a leaven of future development in a politically superior nationality. On the eve of parting from this remarkable nation we may be allowed to call attention to the fact, that in the accounts of the ancients as to the Celts on the Loire and Seine we find almost every one of the characteristic traits which we are accustomed to recognize as marking the Irish. Every feature reappears: the laziness in the culture of the fields; the delight in tippling and brawling; the ostentation—we may recall that sword of Caesar hung up in the sacred grove of the Arverni after the victory of Gergovia, which its alleged former owner viewed with a smile at the consecrated spot and ordered the sacred property to be carefully spared; the language full of comparisons and hyperboles, of allusions and quaint turns; the droll humour—an excellent example of which was the rule, that if any one interrupted a person speaking in public, a substantial and very visible hole should be cut, as a measure of police, in the coat of the disturber of the peace; the hearty delight in singing and reciting the deeds of past ages, and the most decided gifts of rhetoric and poetry; the curiosity—no trader was allowed to pass, before he had told in the open street what he knew, or did not know, in the shape of news— and the extravagant credulity which acted on such accounts, for which reason in the better regulated cantons travellers were prohibited on pain of severe punishment from communicating unauthenticated reports to others than the public magistrates; the childlike piety, which sees in the priest a father and asks for his counsel in all things; the unsurpassed fervour of national feeling, and the closeness with which those who are fellow-countrymen cling together almost like one family in opposition to strangers; the inclination to rise in revolt under the first chance-leader that presents himself and to form bands, but at the same time the utter incapacity to preserve a self-reliant courage equally remote from presumption and from pusillanimity, to perceive the right time for waiting and for striking a blow, to attain or even barely to tolerate any organization, any sort of fixed military or political discipline. It is, and remains, at all times and all places the same indolent and poetical, irresolute and fervid, inquisitive, credulous, amiable, clever, but—in a political point of view— thoroughly useless nation; and therefore its fate has been always and everywhere the same.

The Beginnings of Romanic Development

But the fact that this great people was ruined by the Transalpine wars of Caesar, was not the most important result of that grand enterprise; far more momentous than the negative was the positive result. It hardly admits of a doubt that, if the rule of the senate had prolonged its semblance of life for some generations longer, the migration of peoples, as it is called, would have occurred four hundred years sooner than it did, and would have occurred at a time when the Italian civilization had not become naturalized either in Gaul, or on the Danube, or in Africa and Spain. Inasmuch as the great general and statesman of Rome with sure glance perceived in the German tribes the rival antagonists of the Romano-Greek world; inasmuch as with firm hand he established the new system of aggressive defence down even to its details, and taught men to protect the frontiers of the empire by rivers or artificial ramparts, to colonize the nearest barbarian tribes along the frontier with the view of warding off the more remote, and to recruit the Roman army by enlistment from the enemy's country; he gained for the Hellenico-Italian culture the interval necessary to civilize the west just as it had already civilized the east. Ordinary men see the fruits of their action; the seed sown by men of genius germinates slowly. Centuries elapsed before men understood that Alexander had not merely erected an ephemeral kingdom in the east, but had carried Hellenism to Asia; centuries again elapsed before men understood that Caesar had not merely conquered a new province for the Romans, but had laid the foundation for the Romanizing of the regions of the west. It was only a late posterity that perceived the meaning of those expeditions to England and Germany, so inconsiderate in a military point of view, and so barren of immediate result. An immense circle of peoples, whose existence and condition hitherto were known barely through the reports—mingling some truth with much fiction—of the mariner and the trader, was disclosed by this means to the Greek and Roman world. "Daily," it is said in a Roman writing of May 698, "the letters and messages from Gaul are announcing names of peoples, cantons, and regions hitherto unknown to us." This enlargement of the historical horizon by the expeditions of Caesar beyond the Alps was as significant an event in the world's history as the exploring of America by European bands. To the narrow circle of the Mediterranean states were added the peoples of central and northern Europe, the dwellers on the Baltic and North seas; to the old world was added a new one, which thenceforth was influenced by the old and influenced it in turn. What the Gothic Theodoric afterwards succeeded in, came very near to being already carried out by Ariovistus. Had it so happened, our civilization would have hardly stood in any more intimate relation to the Romano-Greek than to the Indian and Assyrian culture. That there is a bridge connecting the past glory of Hellas and Rome with the prouder fabric of modern history; that Western Europe is Romanic, and Germanic Europe classic; that the names of Themistocles and Scipio have to us a very different sound from those of Asoka and Salmanassar; that Homer and Sophocles are not merely like the Vedas and Kalidasa attractive to the literary botanist, but bloom for us in our own garden—all this is the work of Caesar; and, while the creation of his great predecessor in the east has been almost wholly reduced to ruin by the tempests of the Middle Ages, the structure of Caesar has outlasted those thousands of years which have changed religion and polity for the human race and even shifted for it the centre of civilization itself, and it stands erect for what we may designate as eternity.

The Countries on the Danube

To complete the sketch of the relations of Rome to the peoples of the north at this period, it remains that we cast a glance at the countries which stretch to the north of the Italian and Greek peninsulas, from the sources of the Rhine to the Black Sea. It is true that the torch of history does not illumine the mighty stir and turmoil of peoples which probably prevailed at that time there, and the solitary gleams of light that fall on this region are, like a faint glimmer amidst deep darkness, more fitted to bewilder than to enlighten. But it is the duty of the historian to indicate also the gaps in the record of the history of nations; he may not deem it beneath him to mention, by the side of Caesar's magnificent system of defence, the paltry arrangements by which the generals of the senate professed to protect on this side the frontier of the empire.

Alpine Peoples

North-eastern Italy was still as before(56) left exposed to the attacks of the Alpine tribes. The strong Roman army encamped at Aquileia in 695, and the triumph of the governor of Cisalpine Gaul Lucius Afranius, lead us to infer, that about this time an expedition to the Alps took place, and it may have been in consequence of this that we find the Romans soon afterwards in closer connection with a king of the Noricans. But that even subsequently Italy was not at all secure on this side, is shown by the sudden assault of the Alpine barbarians on the flourishing town of Tergeste in 702, when the Transalpine insurrection had compelled Caesar to divest upper Italy wholly of troops.


The turbulent peoples also, who had possession of the district along the Illyrian coast, gave their Roman masters constant employment. The Dalmatians, even at an earlier period the most considerable people of this region, enlarged their power so much by admitting their neighbours into their union, that the number of their townships rose from twenty to eighty. When they refused to give up once more the town of Promona (not far from the river Kerka), which they had wrested from the Liburnians, Caesar after the battle of Pharsalia gave orders to march against them; but the Romans were in the first instance worsted, and in consequence of this Dalmatia became for some time a rendezvous of the party hostile to Caesar, and the inhabitants in concert with the Pompeians and with the pirates offered an energetic resistance to the generals of Caesar both by land and by water.


Lastly Macedonia along with Epirus and Hellas lay in greater desolation and decay than almost any other part of the Roman empire. Dyrrhachium, Thessalonica, and Byzantium had still some trade and commerce; Athens attracted travellers and students by its name and its philosophical school; but on the whole there lay over the formerly populous little towns of Hellas, and her seaports once swarming with men, the calm of the grave. But if the Greeks stirred not, the inhabitants of the hardly accessible Macedonian mountains on the other hand continued after the old fashion their predatory raids and feuds; for instance about 697-698 Agraeans and Dolopians overran the Aetolian towns, and in 700 the Pirustae dwelling in the valleys of the Drin overran southern Illyria. The neighbouring peoples did likewise. The Dardani on the northern frontier as well as the Thracians in the east had no doubt been humbled by the Romans in the eight years' conflicts from 676 to 683; the most powerful of the Thracian princes, Cotys, the ruler of the old Odrysian kingdom, was thenceforth numbered among the client kings of Rome. Nevertheless the pacified land had still as before to suffer invasions from the north and east. The governor Gaius Antonius was severely handled both by the Dardani and by the tribes settled in the modern Dobrudscha, who, with the help of the dreaded Bastarnae brought up from the left bank of the Danube, inflicted on him an important defeat (692-693) at Istropolis (Istere, not far from Kustendji). Gaius Octavius fought with better fortune against the Bessi and Thracians (694). Marcus Piso again (697-698) as general-in-chief wretchedly mismanaged matters; which was no wonder, seeing that for money he gave friends and foes whatever they wished. The Thracian Dentheletae (on the Strymon) under his governorship plundered Macedonia far and wide, and even stationed their posts on the great Roman military road leading from Dyrrhachium to Thessalonica; the people in Thessalonica made up their minds to stand a siege from them, while the strong Roman army in the province seemed to be present only as an onlooker when the inhabitants of the mountains and neighbouring peoples levied contributions from the peaceful subjects of Rome.

The New Dacian Kingdom

Such attacks could not indeed endanger the power of Rome, and a fresh disgrace had long ago ceased to occasion concern. But just about this period a people began to acquire political consolidation beyond the Danube in the wide Dacian steppes—a people which seemed destined to play a different part in history from that of the Bessi and the Dentheletae. Among the Getae or Dacians in primeval times there had been associated with the king of the people a holy man called Zalmoxis, who, after having explored the ways and wonders of the gods in distant travel in foreign lands, and having thoroughly studied in particular the wisdom of the Egyptian priests and of the Greek Pythagoreans, had returned to his native country to endhis life as a pious hermit in a cavern of the "holy mountain." He remained accessible only to the king and his servants, and gave forth to the king and through him to the people his oracles with reference to every important undertaking. He was regarded by his countrymen at first as priest of the supreme god and ultimately as himself a god, just as it is said of Moses and Aaron that the Lord had made Aaron the prophet and Moses the god of the prophet. This had become a permanent institution; there was regularly associated with the king of the Getae such a god, from whose mouth everything which the king ordered proceeded or appeared to proceed. This peculiar constitution, in which the theocratic idea had become subservient to the apparently absolute power of the king, probably gave to the kings of the Getae some such position with respect to their subjects as the caliphs had with respect to the Arabs; and one result of it was the marvellous religious-political reform of the nation, which was carried out about this time by the king of the Getae, Burebistas, and the god Dekaeneos. The people, which had morally and politically fallen into utter decay through unexampled drunkenness, was as it were metamorphosed by the new gospel of temperance and valour; with his bands under the influence, so to speak, of puritanic discipline and enthusiasm king Burebistas founded within a few years a mighty kingdom, which extended along both banks of the Danube and reached southward far into Thrace, Illyria, and Noricum. No direct contact with the Romans had yet taken place, and no one could tell what might come out of this singular state, which reminds us of the early times of Islam; but this much it needed no prophetic gift to foretell, that proconsuls like Antonius and Piso were not called to contend with gods.


©英文小说网 2005-2010

有任何问题,请给我们留言,管理员邮箱:tinglishi@gmail.com  站长QQ :点击发送消息和我们联系56065533