The Roman province of Gaul, which occupies the southeastern part of modern France and extends as far north as Geneva. When Caesar mentions "the Province", he is referring to this part of Gaul.
The Rhine and the Rhone both flow from the Alps, but the Rhone flows south through the Roman Province and into the Mediterranean.
The lower Rhine is near the mouth, hence to the north.
Caesar’s explanation can be confusing: Belgium lies to the north, not the northeast., of the Roman province. The directions are approximate.
I. All Gaul is divided into three parts. The first is inhabited by the Belgae, the second by the Aquitani, and the third by those who call themselves Celts, but whom we call Gauls. All of these differ from each other in language, customs, and laws. The Garonne river separates the Gauls from the Aquitani, and the Marne and Seine separate them from the Belgae. Of all of them, the Belgae are the bravest, because they are the farthest away from the civilization and refinement of the Province, and because merchants, importing things that tend to weaken the spirit, visit them least often, and also because they are nearest to the Germans, who live across the Rhine, and with whom they are always at war. For the same reason the Helvetii surpass the rest of the Gauls in virtue: they fight with the Germans in almost daily battles, either fending them off from their own territory, or launching an attack into German territory. The particular part of the country that the Gauls inhabit begins, as has been said, at the Rhone; it is bounded by the Garonne, the Ocean, and by the land of the Belgae; it also touches the Rhine on the side of the Sequani and the Helvetii; and it generally extends to the north. The Belgae, starting from the edge of Gallic territory, reach to the lower part of the Rhine, and lie to the north and east. Aquitania starts from the Garonne and extends to the Pyrennes and to the part of the Ocean that is next to Spain; it is roughly north and west.
II. Among the Helvetii Orgetorix was by far the noblest and richest. During the consulship of M. Messala and M. Piso, he was led by his desire for the kingship to make a conspiracy of the nobility; he persuaded the citizens that they should leave their territory with all of their troops, saying that it would be very easy to gain control of all Gaul, since they surpassed everyone in virtue. It was all the easier for him to persuade them, because the Helvetii are confined by the nature of their territory. On one side is the Rhine—deep and very wide—which divides the borders of the Helvetii from those of the Germans; on another the Jura mountains—very high—lying between the Helvetii and Sequani; and on the third Lake Geneva and the Rhone, which divide the Roman Province from the Helvetii. For these reasons their movement was restricted, and it was harder for them to wage war upon neighboring states—which distressed them a good deal, since war was their chief delight. They considered that their territory—240 miles long and 180 wide—was too small an area for a people of such number, and with their reputation for courage in battle.
III. Influenced by these considerations and aroused by the authority of Orgetorix, they decided to gather what was needed to set out, to buy as many pack-animals and wagons as they could, to plant as much grain as possible, so that they would have a sufficient supply for the journey, and to establish peace and friendship with neighboring states. They thought two years to be enough time to do these things, and they swore an oath that they would depart in the third year.
The Sequani lived in southeastern Gaul, near the upper Rhone.
Orgetorix was put in charge of these matters, and he took upon himself the task of approaching the other states. In this journey, he persuaded Casticus of the Sequani (the son of Catamantaloedes, king of the Sequani for many years and called a friend of the people of Rome by the senate) that he should seize the kingship of the state, which his father had held before him; he also persuaded Dumnorix of the Haedui (the brother of Diviciacus, then king of his state, and very popular with the common folk), that he should do the same. Orgetorix even gave Dumnorix his own daughter in marriage. He convinced them that this would be easy to do, because, as he told them, he intended to seize control of his own state. There was no doubt that the Helvetii were the most powerful tribe of all the Gauls, and he swore to win them their rules with his own troops and army. Led on by this speech, they made an oath amongst themselves: for they anticipated that, once their royal power had been secured, they could, with the three most powerful and reliable tribes, gain power over all of Gaul.
IV. The plot was revealed to the Helvetii through informers. As was their custom, they forced Orgetorix to take a trial in chains; and [it was also the law that] if he were condemned he would be punished by being burnt to death. On the day chosen for the trial, Orgetorix gathered at the trial all of his household and family—about ten thousand people—and also all his clients and debtors, of whom he had a large number; and through them, he escaped the trial. When the state, deeply concerned at this, attempted to enforce its law by force of arms, and when the magistrates were gathering a number of men from all over the country, Orgetorix died under suspicious circumstances: the Helvetii believe it was suicide.
V. After his death the Helvetii decided nevertheless to try to accomplish what they had decided to do, namely to march out from their territory. When they finally judged that they were prepared for the enterprise, they set fire to all their towns (which numbered twelve) and their villages (about four hundred), and the remaining private buildings; they burnt all the grain except for what they were taking with them, on the assumption that once all hope of returning home was gone, they would be readier to face all perils; and they commanded that each man take for himself from home a supply of grain to last three months. They persuaded their neighbors, the Rauraci, Tulingi, and Latobrigi, to undertake the same plan, burn their towns and villages, and set out with them; and they recieved as allies the Boii, who had lived across the Rhine, but had crossed into the fields of Noricum and attacked Noreia.
The Allobroges lived within the Roman province of Gaul.
I.e., 58 B.C. The Romans most commonly referred to years by the names of that year’s consuls. Two consuls — more or less twin kings — were elected each year for a one-year term. Under the terms of the constitution, they could be re-elected only after ten years, but in the last century of the Republic, this rule was broken frequently, and most conspicuously by Caesar himself.
VI. There were only two routes by which they could leave home. One led through the Sequani—a narrow and difficult way between the Jura range and the Rhone, where carts could barely be led in single file; it also had a very high cliff overhanging it, so that a few men could easily stop them. The other route led through our Province—easier and far more passable, since between the borders of the Helvetii and the Allobroges, who were just recently pacified, flows the Rhone, which can be forded at some places. The most distant town of the Allobroges and the one nearest to the Helvetii is Geneva. From here a bridge extends to the Helvetii. The Helvetii thought they would either persuade the Allobroges (who seemed not yet to be on good terms with the Romans), or compel them by force to allow them to march through their territory. Having prepared everything necessary for setting out, they set a date on which all of them should convene on the banks of the Rhone. That day was March 28, in the consulship of L. Piso and A. Gabinius.
Cassius was defeated and slain in 107 B. C.
VII. When Caesar learned that they were trying to march through our Province, he made haste to set out from the city and to proceed to Further Gaul by forced marches, and he arrived at Geneva. He recruited from the entire Province as large a number of soldiers as possible (there was only one legion in Further Gaul) and commanded that the bridge at Geneva be destroyed. When the Helvetii learned of his arrival, they sent the noblest of the state to him as legates, of whom Nammeius and Verucloetius held the principal place; they were to say that they intended to march through the Province without causing any harm, since they had no other route; and to ask that this be allowed by his good will. Because he recalled the slaying of consul Lucius Cassius and the routing and subduing of his army at the hands of the Helvetii, Caesar decided not to grant permission, nor did he believe that men unfriendly in spirit would refrain from mischief and injury if they were allowed to pass through the Province. Nevertheless— to gain time to collect the troops he had enlisted— he told the legates that he would take some time to consider their request; and that if they wanted anything, they should return on April 12.
VIII. Meanwhile, with the legion he had with him, and those soldiers who had assembled from the Province, Caesar constructed a wall nineteen miles long and sixteen feet high, and a trench, from Lake Geneva, which flows into the Rhone river, to the Jura range, which separates the territories of the Helvetii from the Sequani. When this task was finished, he stationed garrisons in the forts, so that he could more easily prevent the enemy from crossing without his permission.
When the date he had set with the legates came, and they returned he said that, according to the custom and precedent of the people of Rome, he could not allow a road through the Province, and that he would stop them if they tried to use force. Disappointed in this expectation, the Helvetii tried to break through, either by joining boats together and making several rafts, or by fording the Rhone, where the stream was shallowest—sometimes by day, but more often at night. Due to the trench, the gathering of troops, and the javelins, however, they were repulsed, and gave up the project.
Cassius was defeated and slain in 107 B. C.
IX. One road remained—that going through the territory of the Sequani—by which they could not march due to the narrow road without the permission of the Sequani. When they were unable to persuade the Sequani by their own efforts, they sent legates to Dumnorix the Haeduan, so that, with him as a mediator, they might succeed in obtaining their request. Dumnorix was very powerful among the Sequani because he was both popular and generous, and was a friend of the Helvetii, for he had married the daughter of Orgetorix; and driven by his lust for the kingship, he was eager for revolutions and to have as many states as possible under obligation to him. Therefore he took the job, and convinced the Sequani to allow the Helvetii to pass through their borders, and he arranged for them to give each other hostages—to guarantee that the Sequani would not obstruct the march of the Helvetii, and that the Helvetii would go without mischief and injury.
The Santones were located in central west Gaul, near the mouth of the Garonne; the Tolosates lived at Talosa, now Toulouse, to the southeast.
The Allobroges were a tribe living in the Province, south of the Sequani.
X. Caesar received news that the Helvetii were planning to make their way through the territory of the Sequani and Haedui into the boundaries of the Santones, which are not far from the borders of the Tolosates, a state in the Province. He realized that if this happened, it would endanger the Province; for there would be a warlike people, unfriendly Romans, very near to a canton that was exposed to attack and very rich in grain. Therefore he put lieutenant-general T. Labienus in command of the fortifications he had constructed, and hastened with forced marches into Italy; there he enlisted two legions, and led out of winter quarters three more that had been wintering near Aquileia; and with these five hurried to march by the shortest route—over the Alps—to Further Gaul. There the Ceutrones, the Graioceli, and the Caturiges took the higher ground, and tried to stop the army on the march. When they had been repulsed in a number of battles, Caesar led the army on the seventh day from Ocelum, which is the last place in Nearer Gaul, and into the borders of the Vocontii in Further Gaul; then into the territory of the Allobroges, and thence into the land of the Segusiavi. These are the first people outside the Province, across the Rhone.
XI. Meanwhile the Helvetii, having led their troops though the narrow passes and across the borders of the Sequani, had reached the borders of the Haedui, and were destroying their fields. Since they were unable to defend themselves and their belongings from them, the Haedui sent legates to Caesar requesting help, arguing that the Haedui had always deserved well enough of the Roman people that their lands should not be devastated, their children be led into slavery, or their towns seized, nearly in the sight of our army. Meanwhile the Ambarri, friends and kinsmen of the Haedui, reported to Caesar that their fields had been destroyed, and that they could not easily protect their towns from the violence of the enemy. Likewise the Allobroges, who had villages and possessions across the Rhone, retreated to Caesar, saying that they had nothing left but the ground itself. For all these reasons, Caesar decided not to wait for the Helvetii to reach the borders of the Santoni, by which time they would have destroyed all the property of the Roman allies.
Conquered enemies were forced to march under under a yoke as a token of their surrender and submission.
Why is Caesar telling us this?
XII. There is a river Arar, which flows through the borders of the Sequani and the Haedui into the Rhone. It is so incredibly smooth that one cannot tell by looking at it which way it flows. The Helvetii began to cross this river by boats and rafts which were fastened together. When Caesar learned through scouts that three-fourths of their troops of the Helvetii had already crossed, and that the other fourth remained on this side of the river, he left camp just after midnight with three legions, and came to the body of the enemies that had not yet crossed. He attacked them by surprise and weighted down with baggage, and cut down a great number of them; the rest fled and took refuge in the woods nearby. This canton was called Tigurine; for the entire country of Helvetia is divided into four cantons. In the memory of our forefathers, the people of this district had marched out, and had slain the consul Lucius Cassius and sent his army under the yoke. And thus, whether by accident or by the design of the immortal gods, the part of the state of Helvetia that had brought so great a calamity to the Roman people was the first to be punished thoroughly. Thus Caesar not only avenged their public offenses, but settled a private score as well—for in the battle with Cassius, the Tigurini had killed the general Lucius Piso, grandfather of Lucius Piso, Caesar’s father-in-law.
XIII. When this battle was over, Caesar commanded that a bridge be constructed over the Arar, and so led his army across to pursue the rest of the Helvetian host. The Helvetii were alarmed at his sudden approach, for they realized that in crossing the river he had in one day done what they themselves had been hard pressed to do in twenty: and so they sent legates to him, the leader of whom was Divico, who had commanded the Helvetii in the war against Cassius. He presented the matter to Caesar thus: if the Romans would make peace with the Helvetii, they would go and settle wherever Caesar should wish and determine; but if he should continue to pursue the war, he should remember the earlier massacre of the Romans, and the ancient virtue of the Helvetii. Just because he had attacked one canton by surprise, when those who had already crossed the river could not come to the aid of their kinsmen, he should not on that account think too highly of his own valor or despise that of the Helvetii; for the Helvetii had learned from their ancestors to fight more by means of virtue than by tricks and plans. Caesar should not allow this place where they were now meeting to become famous as the site of another calamity for the Roman people or the destruction of an army.
XIV. Caesar answered him this way: he indicated that it gave him little cause for hesitation, since he remembered the events that the Helvetii legates had mentioned. He considered the matter more offensive in proportion as the Romans had not deserved what they had suffered—indeed, if they had known of some offense they had committed, it would not have been hard for them to protect themselves. Instead they had been tricked: they knew of nothing they had done to cause apprehension, and they thought they should not be afraid without reason.
But even if he could forget bygone offenses, could he also ignore the recent injuries—how they had tried to force their way through the Province against his will, and how they had pillaged the Haedui, the Ambarri, and the Allobroges? Their arrogant boast of their victory, and their surprise that their injuries had gone on for so long unopposed, all led the same conclusion: for the immortal gods typically grant temporary fortune and a longer stay of punishment to those on whom they mean to be avenged for their crimes, in order that they suffer more keenly by their change in fortune when it comes. Even leaving this aside, though, he said he would make peace with the Helvetii, if they would give hostages as a guarantee that they would do as they had promised, and if they gave satisfaction to the Haedui for the injuries they had done to them and their allies, as well as to the Allobroges. Divico responded that it was the custom and institution of the Helvetii to accept hostages, not to give them; and the Roman people were a testament to this. Saying this in answer, he left.
XV. The next day the Helvetii shifted their camp from that place. Caesar did the same, sending ahead his entire cavalry, numbering about four thousand, which he had collected from the whole of the Province, the Haedui, and their allies, to see in what direction the enemy moved. The cavalry followed the enemy rear too eagerly, though, and wound up joining battle with the enemy cavalry in an awkward postion, and a few of our men fell. The Helvetii, cheered by this outcome, and by the fact that they had driven off so large a body of horsemen with five hundred of their own, boldly began to make stands, and challenge our men to a fight with their rearguard. Caesar kept his men from fighting, as he considered it sufficient to prevent the enemy from plunder, foraging, and destruction. This continued for about fifteen days, with a distance of no more than five or six miles between the rearguard of the enemy and the front ranks of our troops each day.
Vergobret: a judge and leader of the people.
XVI. Meanwhile, Caesar was daily asking the Haedui for the grain they had promised. Because of the cold weather (since, as has been said, Gaul lies to the north) the grain in the field was not only unripe, but one simply could not find enough to meet our needs. At the same time, Caesar was unable to bring the supply of grain he had sent up the river Arar in boats, as the Helvetii had changed their course from marching along the Arar, and he did not wish to break off his pursuit. The Haedui put the matter off each day, claiming that the corn was being gathered, was being brought up, that it was nearly there. Caesar saw that he was being put off too long, and that the day when he was to issue corn to the men was nearly upon them. Thus he called together the chiefs, of which there were a great number in the camp; among these were Diviciacus and Liscus, who held the highest office—called vergobret by the Haedui — which is elected annually, and has the power of life and death. He accused them severely because they had not brought relief in time of need, when it was impossible to buy grain or collect it from the field, and when the enemy was close at hand. Since he had undetaken the campaign largely at their request, he complained more sharply about their desertion.
XVII. Then at last, prompted by Caesar’s remarks, Liscus told Caesar what he had previously held back. There were some people, he said, who had great authority over the commoners, and who in their private persons had more power than even the real magistrates. These men, by seditious and treasonous language, were frightening the commoners off from collecting the corn, as they were supposed to do; for it was better, they said, as long they could not themelves secure the most powerful position in Gaul, to prefer the commands of the Gauls over those of the Romans; for they did not doubt that, if the Romans were to conquer the Helvetii, they would deprive the Haedui and the rest of the Gauls of liberty too. [Liscus further claimed] that these men were informing the enemy of our plans and of everything that happened in camp, and that he simply could not restrain them himself. He knew, indeed, that it was dangerous for him to tell Caesar even this much under pressure of necessity; and for this reason he had kept quiet as long as possible.
XVIII. Caesar felt that Dumnorix, brother of Diviciacus, was implicated in Liscus’ speech, but because he did not wish to discuss this with many people present, he quickly dismissed the council, and detained Liscus. He questioned Liscus alone concerning what he had said in the council; and Liscus now spoke more freely and more boldly.
Taxation in the ancient world worked in a way somewhat different from our own model, though it was, if anything, even less popular. In Roman provinces and in many other situations, taxes were collected by a private citizen operating under contract with the state. The contract would go to the one who, by competitive bidding, would promise to return the largest sum for the province or area in question. The contractor was liable for the amount he had promised, but free to keep anything he could get above that amount. Rather obviously, this system was open to enormous abuse, and though there were some restraints to prevent wholesale plunder, they were inadequate and badly enforced. Tax farming, as it was called, was in fact one of the chief sources of Caesar’s own prodigious increase in wealth for the years he was governor of Gaul.
Caesar questioned others concerning the matter in private, and learned that it was true: it was indeed Dumnorix — extremely bold and powerfully influential among the common folk because of his liberality — who was agitating for a revolution. For a number of years, they told him, he had bought up the import duties and taxes at a low price, because when he offered a bid, there was no one who dared to bid aginst him. By these means he had enlarged his holdings and acquired means for bribery; he maintained a cavalry force at his expense, and kept them near at hand; and his influence was not confined to his own state, but even extended to neighboring states. To secure this power he had given his own mother in marriage to the noblest and strongest man among the Bituriges, he had himself taken a wife from among the Helvetii, and he given his half-sister and other female relations into marriages in other states. He favored the Helvetii because of this relation; he hated Caesar and the Romans on his own account, because their arrival had diminished his influence and had restored his brother Diviciacus to his old place of influence and honor. He expected that, if anything should happen to the Romans, he would secure the crown through the good offices of the Helvetii; Roman rule made him despair not only of obtaining the crown, but even of keeping the power he already had. During his investigation, Caesar also learned more about the unsuccessful cavalry engagement of several days before: he discovered that Dumnorix and his cavalry (for Dumnorix had commanded the cavalry that the Haedui had sent to Caesar’s aid) had begun the retreat, and that the remaining cavalry had been panicked by their retreat.
XIX. When all this was uncovered, and Caesar had indisputable proof of his suspicions—namely, that Dumnorix had led the Helvetii through the land of the Sequani; that he had caused hostages to be exchanged amongst the two; that he had not only done these things without orders from his own state or from Caesar, but entirely without their knowledge; and that he had been implicated by a magistrate of the Haedui—Caesar concluded that he had sufficient grounds either to punish Dumnorix himself, or else to insist that the state do so. Only one thing troubled him in all this—that Dumnorix’s brother Diviciacus was most friendly to the Romans, and of the greatest goodwill toward Caesar himself. Caesar valued him as a man of remarkable faith, justice, and self-control, and feared that punishing Dumnorix might offend him. Therefore before taking any steps in the matter, he summoned Diviciacus, and, dismissing the normal interpreters, spoke to him through Gaius Valerius Procillus, a leader in Gaul and his own close friend, in whom he had the highest confidence in every respect: he related what had been said to him in the Gallic council concerning Dumnorix, and what each man had said to him individually about Dumnorix. He requested and pleaded that he might either hear this case personally or order the state to do so, without offense to Diviciacus.
XX. Diviciacus embraced Caesar with many tears, and began to beg him not to pass too severe a punishment on his brother. He knew these things to be true, he said; no one felt more grief about it than he did himself, because, when he had had a great deal of influence at home and over the rest of Gaul, and Dumnorix had very little because he was young, he had helped Dumnorix to advance; but now Dumnorix was using all his strength and resources not only to reduce Diviciacus’ influence, but to destroy him. Yet for all that, he said, he was moved by brotherly love and the opinion of the people. After all, if Dumnorix were harshly punished at Caesar’s hands, everyone would assume, given his place in Caesar’s friendship, that it had been at his own prompting; this would alienate the feelings of all Gaul.
So, as he made this petition with more words and tears, Caesar took his hand and consoled him, entreating him to stop begging. He assured him that his friendship was so valuable to Caesar that he would overlook the injury to the state and his own grief, in consideration of Diviciacus’ request. Then Caesar summoned Dumnorix to him, and with his brother showed what he had to criticize in him—what he himself had seen, and what the state’s complaint was. He warned him to avoid suspicious activities in the future; and said that he excused his past for the sake of his brother Diviciacus.
XXI. On the same day Caesar was informed by scouts that the enemy had encamped about eight miles from his own camp on a hill, and he sent men to learn what kind of hill it was, and what kind of climb there would be from behind. They reported that it was easy. So Caesar commanded T. Labienus, a legate of praetorean rank, to ascend the hill after midnight, taking two legions and those men as guides who knew the way. He showed him what his own plan was.
At around two in the morning, he himself hastened against the enemy by the same route that they had themselves taken; he sent all his horsemen ahead. Publius Considius, a man reputed to be most skilled in military matters, and who had served in the armies of Lucius Sulla and later in that of Marcus Crassus, was sent ahead with the scouts.
XXII. At dawn Labienus was in posession of the peak, and Caesar was a mile and a half from the enemy camp: and, as he later learned from prisoners, neither his approach nor Labienus’ had been seen. Then Considius came riding back to Caesar, his horse at a gallop, claiming that the mountain he had wanted Labienus to occupy was in enemy hands, and that he knew this by the Gallic weapons and standards. Caesar withdrew his men to the nearest hill, and drew them up in battle formation. Labienus was under orders not to engage the enemy forces until Caesar’s own troops should appear near the enemy camp, so that they could make a joint attack on the enemy from all sides; so, having taken the height, he awaited the main force and held back from battle. At length, Caesar learned from his scouts that the hill was in the possession of his own men but that the Helvetii had moved their camp. As it turned out, Considius must have reported in panic what he had not seen as if he had seen it. So that day Caesar once again followed the enemy at the usual distance; he made his camp three miles from theirs.
XXIII. On the following day, because in all two days remained before he would have to distribute grain to the army, and because he was no more than eighteen miles from Bibracte—by far the greatest and wealthiest town of the Haedui—Caesar decided that he had to look after the grain supply. Therefore he turned his march away from the Helvetii and hastened to Bibracte. This was related to the enemy by some deserters from L. Aemilius, a troop-leader of the Gallic horse. The Helvetii—either because they thought that the Romans were leaving out of fear (believable enough, since we had not committed to battle on the day before, even after we had occupied the high ground), or because they believed that we could be cut off from the grain-supply—changed their plan and began to pursue and attack us from the rear.
XXIV. As soon he saw what was going on, Caesar led his troops back to the nearest hill, and sent the cavalry out to slow the onslaught of the enemy. Meanwhile he drew up his four legions of seasoned veterans in a triple battle line halfway up the hill; but he ordered the two legions he had enlisted in Nearer Gaul and all the auxiliaries to be positioned on the hilltop, so that the entire hill would be filled with men; meanwhile the baggage was to be collected in one place, and that place was to be fortified by a line of soldiers posted in a line on the height. The Helvetii, following with all of their carts, collected their baggage in one place; their soldiers, packed in a tight formation, repulsed the Roman cavalry, then formed a phalanx (or mass) and marched against our front lines.
XXV. Caesar first had his own horse removed from sight, and then those of all the others, so that everyone might be in equal danger, and the hope of flight might be put away. Then, after encouraging his troops, he joined battle. From the high ground the legionaries easily broke up the enemy formation with a rain of javelins; after scattering it, they drew their swords and charged.
The Roman javelin had a long (ca. 18 in) soft iron shaft and point on the end of a wooden pole; it was designed to bend after impact to do just what it did here, and also to make it useless for a return throw.
The Gauls were at an enormous disadvantage in the fight, since several of their [closely-massed] shields would be pierced and pinned together by a single javelin-throw, and since when the iron bent, they could not take it out again, nor could they fight easily with their left arms weighed down—with the result that many of them, after uselessly shaking their left arms (to be rid of the javelins) chose to throw their shields away and fight with their bodies unprotected.
At last, exhausted from wounds, they began to retreat: because there was a hill nearby (about a mile away), they began to retreat there. When they had reached the hill, followed by our men, the Boi and Tulingi, who had been bringing up the rear with about 15,000 men, and were last in battle, turned from their march and attacked our unprotected flank. Seeing this, the Helvetii, who had retreated to the hill, began to advance again and to renew the battle. The Romans were forced to advance in two directions—the first and second lines to face the already-defeated and routed Helvetii, and the third to resist the newcomers.
That is, no one showed cowardice on either side to turn away from the fighting.
XXVI. So the fight went on fiercely on two fronts for a long time. When they could not resist our charges any longer, the Helvetii continued their retreat uphill, while the others took refuge among their baggage and carts. Throughout the whole battle, though it lasted from noon until dark, no one could see an enemy’s back. Around the baggage they continued fighting well into the night, since the enemy constructed a wall of carts in front of them, and from the higher ground threw missiles down at our advancing lines; while some threw pikes and darts from underneath the carts, among the wheels, and wounded our men.
After a long fight, our men are able to gain possession of the baggage-train and the camp, where the daughter of Orgetorix and one of his sons were taken prisoner. From the battle about 130,000 survived, and they marched without letup for the rest of that night—they broke their march at no time during the night, and in three days reached the border of the Lingones. Caesar could not follow them, since he halted for three days in order to tend the wounds of his soldiers and to bury the fallen. Caesar sent letters to the Lingones and messengers warning them not to help the Helvetii with grain or anything else, and he said that if they did help them, Caesar would treat them as he did the Helvetii. After three days he began to follow with with all his troops.
XXVII. The Helvetii, who were now lacking everything, were forced to send legates to Caesar to talk of surrender. When they encountered him on the march, they threw themselves at his feet and, in tears, humbly begged him for peace. He told them to stop where they were and await his arrival; they obeyed. When he had arrived, Caesar demanded that they turn over to him their hostages, their weapons, and the slaves who had deserted to them. As these were being sought out and collected, night intervened, at which time nearly 6,000 of those from the district called Verbigenus fled from the Helvetian camp and made for the Rhine and German territory—either because they were afraid that once they had given up their weapons they would be slaughtered, or because they genuinely expected to escape, on the grounds that, in such a throng of prisoners, their flight could either be obscured or go unnoticed altogether.
XXVIII. When Caesar learned of this, he ordered those through whose territory they were fleeing, to seek them out and return them, if they wished to be exonerated in his sight. He treated the runaways who were returned as enemies; he allowed all the rest to surrender, once hostages, arms, and deserters had been delivered to him. He commanded the Helvetii, Tulingi, and Latobrigi to return to lands from which they had come, and because they had lost all their grain and had nothing at home by which to avoid starvation, he commanded the Allobroges to give them a supply of grain. He also instructed them to rebuild the towns and villages that they had burned. His chief reason for doing this was that he was unwilling to leave uninhabited that land from which the Helvetii had departed, lest the Germans, who live just across the Rhine, be tempted by the rich fields to cross over into Helvetia and so become neighbors to provincial Gaul and to the Allobroges. He allowed the Aedui to settle the Boi in their own lands, since they were known to be men of great courage; they gave them fields, and afterward granted them the same rights and privileges they themselves enjoyed.
XXIX. In the Helvetii camp tablets were discovered, inscribed in Greek letters; these were taken back to Caesar. They contained a detailed account of which of the Helvetii had left their home, which could bear arms, and also seperately how many old men, women, and children there were. The total showed 263,000 Helvetii, 36,000 Tulingi, 14,000 Latobrigi, 23,000 Rauraci, and 32,000 Boi; of these there were 92,000 who could bear arms. Altogether there were nearly 368,000. Of those who returned home a count was made, as Caesar had commanded, and the number was found to be 110,000.
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