Appian, Gallic War 4

Appian of Alexandria (c.95-c.165): one of the most underestimated of all Greek historians, author of a Roman History in twenty-four books.

Although only Appian's books on the Roman Civil Wars survive in their entirety, large parts of the other books, devoted to Rome's foreign wars, have also come down to us. The parts on the Third Punic War, the wars in Iberia, the Illyrian Wars, and the Mithridatic Wars are very important historical sources.

Because these texts have to be reconstructed from several medieval manuscripts, not all editions of Appian's account of Rome's foreign wars are numbered in the same way. On these pages, the separate units of a book are counted strictly chronologically.

The translation was made by Horace White; notes by Jona Lendering.

Caesar in Gaul

[20a] [From an Epitome] The latest and greatest war of the Romans against the Gauls was that waged under the command of Caesar, for, in the ten years that he held command there,note he fought with more than 4,000,000 barbarians, taken all together. Of these 1,000,000 were captured and as many more slain in battle. He reduced to subjection 400 tribes and more than 800 towns, which had either revolted from their allegiance or were conquered for the first time.

[20b] [From an Epitome] Caesar began his war against them by gaining a victory over some 200,000 of the Helvetii and Tigurini. The latter at an earlier period had captured a Roman army commanded by Piso and Cassius and sent them under the yoke, as is related in the writings of Paulus Claudius.note The Tigurini were now overcome by Labienus,note Caesar's lieutenant, and the others by Caesar himself, together with the Tricorii, who were aiding them.

[21] [From Constantine Porphyrogenitus, The Embassies] Two nations, the Tigurini and the Helvetii, made an incursion into the Roman province of Gaul.note When Caesar heard of this movement he built a wall along the river Rhône about a 25 kilometers in length to intercept them. When they sent ambassadors to him to endeavor to make a treaty, he ordered them to give him hostages and money. They replied that they were accustomed to receive these things, not to give them. As he wished to prevent them from forming a junction he sent Labienus against the Tigurini, who were the weaker, while he marched against the Helvetii, taking with him about 20,000 Gallic mountaineers. The work was easy to Labienus, who fell upon the Tigurini unawares on the river bank, defeated them, and scattered the greater part of them in disorderly flight.

Ariovistus, the king of the Germans beyond the Rhine, had crossed to this side before Caesar's arrival and made war against the Aedui, who were friends of the Romans.note But when the Romans commanded him to desist, he had obeyed and moved away from Aedui and had desired to be accounted a friend of the Roman people also, and this was granted, Caesar being consul and voting for it.

Ariovistus, the king of the Germans, who had been voted a friend of the Roman people, came to Caesar to have a colloquy.note After they had separated he wished to have another. Caesar refused it, but sent some of the leading men of the Gauls to meet him. Ariovistus cast them in chains, wherefore Caesar threatened him and made war on him, but fear fell upon the army on account of the military reputation of the Germans.

[22] [From an Epitome] Henote also overcame the Germans under Ariovistus, a people who excelled all others, even the largest men, in size; savage, the bravest of the brave, despising death because they believe they shall live hereafter, bearing heat and cold with equal patience, living on herbs in time of scarcity, and their horses browsing on trees. It seems that they were without patient endurance in their battles, and did not fight in a scientific way or in any regular order, but with a sort of high spirit simply made an onset like wild beasts, for which reason they were overcome by Roman science and endurance. For, although the Germans made a tremendous rush and pushed the legions back a short distance, the Romans kept their ranks unbroken, and outmaneuvered them, and eventually slew 800,000 of them.

[23] [From an Epitome] Afterwards Caesar fell upon the Belgae as they were crossing a river, and killed so many of them that he crossed the stream on a bridge of their bodies.note The Nervii defeated him by falling suddenly upon his army as it was getting itself into camp after a march.note They made a very great slaughter, killing all of his tribunes and centurions. Caesar himself took refuge on a hill with his bodyguard, and there he was surrounded by the enemy. The latter, being assailed in the rear by the Tenth Legion, were destroyed, although they were 60,000 in number. The Nervii were the descendants of the Cimbri and Teutones. Caesar conquered the Allobroges also.note

[24a] [From Constantine Porphyrogenitus, The Embassies] It is believed that the Usipetes and the Tencteri, German tribes, with 800 of their own horse, put to flight about 5000 of Caesar's horse.note When they sent ambassadors to Caesar he held them as prisoners and made an attack on them, and took them so completely by surprise that 400,000 of them were cut to pieces. One writer says that [Marcus Porcius] Cato in the Roman Senate proposed that Caesar should be surrendered to the barbarians for this deed of blood perpetrated while negotiations were pending. But Caesar in his own diary says that when the Usipetes and Tencteri were ordered to go back forthwith to their former homes, they replied that they had sent ambassadors to the Suebians, who had driven them away, and that they were waiting for their answer; that while these negotiations were pending, they set upon his men with 800 of their horse, and by the suddenness of the attack put to flight his 5000; and that when they sent another embassy to explain this violation of good faith he suspected a similar deception, and made his attack before giving his answer.

[24b] [From an Epitome] He slaughtered 400,000 of the Usipetes and Tencteri, armed and unarmed together. The Sugambri with 500 horse put to flight 5000 of Caesar's horse, falling upon them unexpectedly. They subsequently paid the penalty for this in a defeat.

[25a] [From the Suda] Straightwaynote they stirred up the Britons to violate the oath, complaining that while a treaty with them was in force the camp was still among them.

[25b] [From an Epitome] Caesar was also the first of the Romans to cross the Rhine. He also passed over to Britain, an island larger than a very large continent, and still unknown to the men of Rome. He crossed by taking advantage of the movement of the tide. As it rose the fleet was impelled by the waves, slowly at first, then more rapidly, until finally Caesar was carried with great swiftness to Britain.

[26] [From the Suda] [54 BCE] Caesar turned back, apprehending an attack on Cicero.note

[11] [From the Vatican manuscript of Cardinal Mai] Britores seduced the Aedui from their Roman allegiance.note When Caesar reproached them for this, they said that an ancient alliance had the precedence.