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CHAP. I. Ca#sar’s First YEAR IN GAUL






XI. Init1um TumMuLtus

XII. BeELLtum CiviLEe





XVIII, Tue IpEs or Marcu






BETWEEN 70 AND 60 B.C. . 3 : ; ; - 391 D. THE WAR BETWEEN THE HELVETII AND THE SUEVI - 9336 List oF Books REFERRED TO IN THE TEXT . : x 2353

INDEX : A A ; F : - : 350

fe We 4 ne da


Cesar’s first blunder and first success in Gaul—The negotia- tions with the Helvetii—the Helvetian trek—Cesar’s first operations—The battle on the banks of the Sa6ne—Dumanorix —The battle of Ivry—The result of the battle—The peace with the Helvetii—Cicero in exile—The tyranny of Clodius— The war against Ariovistus—The panic at Besangcon—Cesar’s first victory—The anti-capitalist law of Gabinius.

THE news that the Helvetian emigration was about to take place hastened Czsar’s departure from Rome. In the February of the preceding year the government of the two Gauls had fallen quite unexpectedly to his share. Since then he had had little chance of preparing for his new duties. During his consulship he was so taken up with the struggles and intrigues of home politics that he had no time to in- form himself about Gaul. He had neither read books of travel nor consulted the merchants and politicians who were in relations with the /Ainterland through the Narbonese province. Thus he went out to his duties without any definite ideas of policy and with the meagrest knowledge of the country and its inhabitants.* No doubt he had a clear notion of his general line of conduct. He intended, so far as possible, to apply to Gaul the methods of Lucullus and Pompey in Asia, to let slip no real or imaginary pretext for military operations, to acquire the riches and reputation so easil

picked up in the provinces, to demonstrate to his fellow- citizens that he was a skilful diplomatist and a brilliant general. But he had as yet no particular ideas as to the possibility of such a policy, nor of the risks and vicissitudes

* This is shown by the whole development of the war as well as by Czsar’s own confessions. He several times informs us that he only learnt the essential features of the situation on his arrival on the spot, when action was imminent. See B. G., ii. 4, 1; ii. 15, 3; G7 onli 20) A


58 B.c.

Cesar’s original Gallic policy.

58 B.c.

The Swiss peril.

Surprise of Cesar.



it might be likely to involve. He would make up his mind on the spot, when he was face to face with the situation. His attitude was characteristic of the debasement of Roman statesmanship both at home and abroad. Politics had now become little more than the art of framing happy improvisa- tions. Czsar in Gaul was but following the common law. He went out at his own risk; and he worked for his own ends. Lucullus had succeeded; Pompey had succeeded ; why should not Czsar succeed also?

The first of these improvisations was the war against the Helvetii. There is no doubt that, when he left Rome, Cesar’s views about the emigration of the Helvetii were those which had been circulated through the political world at Rome from 62 onwards by the A%duan emissary, Divi- tiacus. Divitiacus was the spokesman of a political party in Gaul which had its own reasons for opposing the Helvetian movement. Rome had been taught by him to believe that the Helvetii had designs of invading the country and placing themselves at the head of a great coalition of the Gallic peoples. If they were prepared to be satisfied for the moment with the invasion of the province, in order to enter the country by the shortest route, they intended some day to be the nucleus of a great Celtic Empire which would dominate Gaul and menace the independence of Italy.* With his views on the Helvetian movement inspired by Divitiacus, Cesar naturally left Rome in excitement the moment he heard that the Helvetii were actually on the march. ‘The danger to Roman interests seemed very real: and there was clearly not a moment to be lost.

The invasion of the Helvetii had been for some time on the horizon. Yet Cesar, in his inexperience, had allowed himself to be surprised with one legion in Narbonese Gaul and the three others at Aquileia, at the farther end of the Cisalpine province. Sending hasty orders to the legions at Aquileia to rejoin him, and travelling day and night, he hurried out to Geneva where he probably expected to find hostilities already begun.

It was between the 5th and 8th of April when he reached

* Cic., A., 1. 19,2. ‘“‘ Senatus decrevit . . . legati cum auctoritate mitterentur, qui adirent Gallia civitates darentque operam, ne ex se cum Helvetiis jungerent.” This fragment of a letter is of capital importance for the history of the conquest of Gaul; it shows us the point of departure of Ceesar’s Gallic policy. See Appendix D.



Geneva.* Here, to his great surprise, he found, not war 58 B.c. but an embassy from the Helvetii. ‘They explained that a part of their nation desired to trek into Gault with their Cesar's women and children, and asked his permission to pass through Begogations the Roman province. It was a reasonable request, neither Helvetii provocative nor menacing. But Cesar had been taught by his Avduan advisers to regard the Helvetii as a horde of savages impatient to swoop down on the fertile lands of Gaul. Not unnaturally he suspected treachery. He asked for a few days’ consideration, giving the deputation to understand that he would eventually consent.{ No sooner had they departed than he began, with the legion he had brought with him and some recruits enlisted on the spot, to fortify all the fordable points on the Rhone between the Lake of Geneva and the Jura§$ The object of these precautions is clear enough. They show that Czsar expected serious hostilities to ensue after the refusal he had decided to give to the Helvetian demands. But once more he had miscalculated. A negative answer was returned to the Helvetii on the 13th, and the apprehended attack did not take place. “The Helvetii made no attempt to invade the province,|| but sent instead to the Sequani to ask permission to cross the mountains at the Pass of the Ecluse, which was readily granted them. ‘Then they set out in their full numbers, with men, women, and children, some 150,900 persons in all,{] with three months’ supplies and

* Rauchenstein, F. C., 50.

¢ I think Rauchenstein (F. C., 43) has shown the probability that Cesar is mistaken in saying that the whole nation joined in the trek.

t I follow the version of Dion, xxxvili. 31-2, which differs from Ces., is) Gy i. 7, for the reasons given by Rauchenstem, FP. C., 51. As regards Dion’s sources, I think Micalella, in his interesting work on the subject (Lecce, 1896) has definitely proved, against Heller and Rauchenstein, that Dion has not followed Czesar’s Commentaries, but another writer whose account differed from Czsar’s on essential points and was often more probable.

§ Napoleon, J. C., ii. 48, judiciously corrects Cesar’s account of this operation in B. ee 1.8. See Dion, xxxvill. 31.

|| Cesar, B. G., i. 8, speaks of the attempt made by the Helvetii to force a passage. He is evidently dealing with special incidents of no particular importance and is telling them with the object of showing the Helvetii in the light of aggressors. If the Helvetii had ,wished to invade the province, which was at that time garrisoned by but a single legion, they could easily have done so, in view of their immense numerical superiority.

{| Cesar endeavours to create the impression, though he never expressly says so (B. G., i. 29), that the emigrants numbered 360,000. Plutarch, Ces., 18, and Strabo, iv. 3 (193), give almost the same figures. Orosius, vi. 7, 5, says they were 157,000. This figure is by far the most likely. Rauchenstein, F. C., 44, has shown that 360,000 men

58 B.C.

Cesar ursues the elvetii.


(Arar. ]


the few valuables they possessed stored in their waggons, under the conduct of an old chief called Divico, taking the Jura route.

The scare about the invasion of the Province had passed away as suddenly as it came, and Cesar had lost his first opportunity for a campaign. But a second scare still re- mained. ‘There was still the danger that, as the AXdui had so constantly preached, the Helvetii contemplated the founda- tion of a great Gallic Empire.

Here was Cesar’s chance. It was urgently necessary that he should have some feat to his credit as soon as was con- veniently possible. He decided therefore to declare war upon the future Gallic Empire by pursuing the fancied Empire-builders into the heart of the country. A pretext was easily found. He was already in relations with the fEduan government, which thought itself threatened by the Helvetian trek ; and the Governor of the Narbonese province had the Senate’s instructions to defend the Afdui. First of all, however, it was necessary to have sufficient forces for a campaign. Four legions by themselves were hardly enough. Leaving Labienus to defend the Rhone, Czsar hastily returned into Cisalpine Gaul, and, while awaiting the three legions he had already recalled from winter quarters at Aquileia, recruited two more. When these five legions were ready, he crossed the Col de Genévre, descended on Grenoble, and marched rapidly northward along the borders of the province. Some- where in the neighbourhood of the modern Lyons he was joined by Labienus with the legion he had left at Geneva ; and it was probably about the beginning of June when, with six legions and their auxiliaries, some 25,000 men in all,* he crossed the frontier of the Roman province and moved into Gallic territory along the left bank of the Sadne.t

with provisions for three months would have made a convoy of more than 60 miles, which Cesar could have attacked at his leisure where and when he desired. Moreover Caesar himself (B. G., i. 20) says that 110,000 persons returned to Switzerland. Now we shall see that the losses sustained by the Helvetii during the war were very slight, and as only a small number emigrated northwards and another small group remained in the territory of the AZdui, we may suppose them about 150,000 at the moment of departure.

* uKstow, H. K. C., 3, reckons 3000 men to one of Cesar’s legions, but his evidence is taken from the last years of the war. At the beginning of the war a legion must have contained more than this. If we take it at 4000, six legions would give 24,000 legionaries, to which we may add about 1000 auxiliaries, and some 4000 ASduan cavalry, who joined him later.

t This is the view of Von Géler, to which Rauchenstein, F. C.,


His arrival was well timed. During the last two months the Helvetii had slowly traversed the country of the Sequani and had then entered A®duan territory ; they had proceeded as far as the Sadne with the intention of crossing it, probably at Macon. But whether they had really been pillaging the country or whether the party hostile to the trekkers, inspired by Cesar, had concocted an agitation throughout the country, no sooner had the Proconsul crossed the Roman frontier than numerous Gallic peoples began to send him deputations beg- ging for help. Petitions came from the Allobroges, who lived on the farther side of the Rhone, the Ambarri, the A‘dui, and even from the Sequani, who had actually given the Hel- vetii permission to pass through their territory.* With a legitimate pretext thus ready to his hand, Czsar used his senatorial decree in favour of the A‘%dui to demand 4000 horse and the necessary supplies from that nation, and threw himself headlong into the war. His plan was to surprise the Helvetii, who were beginning to cross the Sadne, while they were still engaged in that slow and difficult operation. In a

67 ff., makes strategic objections, which are overwhelming on the assumption that the Helvetii were anxious to move southwards into Saintonge. In that case it would be impossible to understand how Czsar, who was in the south and wished to cut off their route, should move as far north as Macon instead of marching north-west. But is this assumption at all certain? Must we not rather admit that the Helvetii were marching northwards ? See Appendix D. On this supposition the operations become completely intelligible. Cesar intended to surprise them at the passage of the Sadne. This explains the mystery why the battle against the Tigurini took place on the left bank of the Saéne. It seems to me impossible to assign the merit of this victory to Labienus, as is done by Appian, Gall., 30, and Plut., Czs., 18. Labienus is very kindly treated in Czsar’s Com- mentaries, which were written just before the outbreak of the civil war when Ceasar was anxious to flatter his generals. Why should he have risked offending Labienus by depriving him of the merit of

- a comparatively unimportant engagement? It is true that the text

of the Commentaries does not tell us that Cesar crossed the Rhone at Lyons (B. G., i. 10. In Segusiavos exercitum ducit). The Segusiavi apparently occupied the right bank of the Rhone. Napoleon III. has also placed them on the left bank, simply in order to reconcile this passage of the Commentaries with the necessity of making Cesar cross the Rhone at Lyons. Is it not simpler to suppose that Cesar, who was writing hastily and seven years after the events described, made a mistake as to the name of this people? In this way it will

.not be necessary to assume with Saulcy, Guerre des Helvétes, in the

Revue Archeologique for 1861, that Cesar crossed the Rhone at Vienne and then crossed the Saéne in the opposite direction, which is surely absurd.

* That is, if Dion, xxxviii. 32, is to be trusted. Ces., B. G., 1. 11 does not mention the Sequani.

i} OaBsC>

The Helvetii elude him,

58 B.c.

Ariovistus and the Helvetii.

Ariovistus in- vited into Gaul.


series of forced marches he moved upon Macon. When he arrived in the neighbourhood he made a last effort, sending three legions in advance at full marching speed. But he had overestimated the delays of the passage. When his three legions arrived, only a small rearguard still remained on the left bank. To cut this to pieces was simple enough ; but the success was but of trifling importance for his object.* Czesar took one day to throw his whole army on to the opposite bank, and started in pursuit of the Helvetii, who had moved off to the north-west across the undulating country of the Charolais.t

Cesar imagined that he was marching northwards to sup- press a widespread and dangerous movement, perhaps the beginnings of a new Cimbric invasion among the Celtic populations. In reality he was merely blundering into a trap which had been skilfully laid him by Ariovistus. The Hel- vetii had not the least intention of founding a great Gallic Empire. ‘This was a ridiculous popular fairy-tale to which the Romans and Cesar, in their ignorance of Gallic affairs, had innocently lent credence, and which Ariovistus had done his best to circulate. “There were no political designs in their trek at all. The real centre of political interest lay in quite a different direction. At the moment of Czsar’s arrival what really endangered Gaul was not the Swiss peril, personified in the Helvetian trekkers, but the German peril, personified in Ariovistus.

Divided for centuries past into a large number of unequal and independent republics which were continually fighting one another for supremacy, and distracted too by desperate party conflicts which often led to warfare through outside inter- vention, { Gaul had been going through a period of particularly acute disturbance during the two decades preceding Cesar’s arrival, owing to a struggle for supremacy between the AXdui and the Sequani. The contest centred round the possession of the valuable toll-rights over the Sadne but it involved interests that affected, not the two nations only, but the whole of the country. Some years before, in the course of the struggle, the Arverni and the Sequani, having been defeated

* Rauchenstein, F. C., 61, has shown that Ces., B. G., i. 12, rather exaggerates this engagement. It did not greatly discourage the Helvetii.

t+ Heller in Phil., xix. 559.

We RGea es Ish (Ory, Waly Sie

§ Strabo, iv. 3, 2 (192).

CAKES AR’S FIRST YEAR IN GAUL 7 by the A‘dui, had appealed for aid to Ariovistus, King of the

Suevi, bribing him with the promise of territory in Gaul. Ariovistus had crossed the Rhone at the head of his Germans, and had duly helped the Sequani and the Arverni to defeat the fe dui.

The consequences of inviting the Germans west of the Rhine had been far more serious than the two Gallic dis- putants had foreseen. Once settled in Gaul, Ariovistus had no intention of remaining satisfied with the territory assigned him. He summoned numbers of his fellow-countrymen from Germany and, with a victorious army at his back, profited by the divisions which paralysed the Gallic states, to establish, within a few years, a German supremacy over the whole of Gaul. The native population chafed bitterly at the invader,* and a coalition of the states had attempted to liberate the country. But Ariovistus had defeated it, and had gone on, in the flush of his success, to extract tribute from the Adui,§ and even to oppress his old allies the Sequani, who were responsible for his original intrusion into Gaul. ||

Thus for the last fourteen years there had been growing danger of a German supremacy over Gaul with its centre on the Rhine. Nor was this the most alarming feature in the situation. What was more ominous still was that the imminence of this national peril had intensified rather than allayed the struggle between the two dominant Gallic parties, the conservative or aristocratic, and the popular or rather the plutocratic interest. For some generations past the old Gallic nobility, like their Roman compeers at the time of the Gracchi, had been sinking steadily into the slough of debt, while a small knot of aristocrats, more skilful and venturesome than their fellows, had made use of the pecuniary difficulties of the upper classes to gather a great part of the wealth and authority of the country into their own hands. Some accumulated their riches in lands and capital, others monopolised the tolls and taxes and were the creditors of half the community. Between them they had an innumerable train of debtors, dependants, and servants; they controlled the proletariat by the wholesale

mares. 3.) Gagelsr3 hs

+ Id. Omnes Galliz civitates ad se (7.e. Ariovistum) oppugnandum venisse . . . eaS omnes copias uno prelio . . . superatas esse.

t The prelium ad Magetobrigam of which Divitiacus speaks (B. G., i. 31) is probably that alluded to by Ariovistus above.

§ Ces., B. G., 1. 36.

lide a 32.

58 B.C.

The German supremacy.

Parties in Gaul.


58 z.c. distribution of largesse, and were trying to turn the old aristo- cratic republics of Gaul into something very like an ordinary monarchy.* All over Gaul in almost every state there were millionaire demagogues, the Gallic analogues of Pompey, Crassus, and Czsar, who were bidding for the support of the proletariat to strengthen their personal influence, and fighting a winning battle against the conservative nobility, which stood for the old institutions and their old prestige. So fierce was the struggle and so absorbed the combatants that, when the German invader suddenly appeared on the field, both sides thought only of how they might use him for their own petty purposes.

ee Both parties had been quick to realise that the glory of Helveti, having driven back Ariovistus across the Rhine would be sufficient to ensure them a long spell of power. But aseach side desired to win this prestige as a weapon against the other, they were necessarily debarred from pursuing any common policy against the common enemy. ‘They were thus each thrown back upon allies from outside. The conservative nobility, which was most strongly represented among the AXdui, turned naturally to the Romans, and it was with the object of securing Roman help against Ariovistus that the A%duan Conservatives had been intriguing for some time past, through Divitiacus and others, to force the Senate to intervene in the affairs of Gaul. t ‘The popular or plutocratic party, on the other hand, drew its strength from the masses, and the masses would not tolerate foreign intervention against the foreigner. To call in the Romans against Ariovistus would be to exchange one master for another. Its rallying cry therefore was the liberation of Gaul by the united effort of the Gallic peoples. But since the most civilised and influential states in Gaul were not in a position to head the national cause, they looked for allies of a more martial and primitive strain. { It was natural that at this juncture their eyes should turn eastwards, to Switzerland. The Helvetii were just the instrument they needed. It was the chiefs of the popular party then who were responsible for the Helvetian trek. ‘The Helvetii, who were finding their own territory too small for them, were promised new lands, we do not know in what part of Gaul,

Broce Cas. Bs Gio. 4 pal Lbs Vie bb Vile S200 OLA DOW VarCnGLOR)y tells us that the PaRnoriey of the Gauls lived under aristocratic republics.

Weecelesn. Cas, Be Giiis t For all this see Appendix D.


and were to be used as allies in the national uprising against 58 B.c. the Suevi, whom they had met and conquered of old in their mountain home.

This then was the situation at the moment of Czsar’s Disorder in

arrival. Both parties preferred a prolongation of the existing ©" anarchy and suspense to the possibility of a victory for their opponents; and the power of Ariovistus was being slowly consolidated, while the two factions were disputing as to the best means of overthrowing him. ‘The Roman party had made a great coup by securing the senatorial decree in favour ‘of the A‘dui; yet, though two years had elapsed, the decree had not yet been put into force. The National party had succeeded in its turn in inducing the Helvetii to take up arms against Ariovistus; but for three years past one difficulty after another, to which the Conservatives, no doubt, contri- buted their share, had prevented the trek from taking place. In short, neither party was strong enough to secure a dominant position and lead the patriots of Gaul against the national enemy. Deplorable disorder reigned in every part of the country, and the intensity of the conflict, dividing not only nation against nation, and class against class, but even family against family, is well illustrated by the fact that the head of the National party, the A’duan Dumnorix, was the brother of Divitiacus, the chief of the Roman party.

The simplest way of stifling this insensate party struggle Rome and the for supremacy would have been the conclusion of an alliance ie between Rome and the Helvetii against Ariovistus. But the foolish panic which had broken out in Rome, the obstinacy of the Italians in regarding the Helvetii as a horde of new Cimbri and Teutones, the ignorance of even well-informed Romans regarding Gallic affairs, the intrigues of Ariovistus, and the foolhardy mood in which Cesar entered on his duties, all combined to make any such understanding out of the question. Italian public opinion favoured an alliance with Ariovistus ; and Czsar had gone out to Gaul determined to play the part of a second Marius by crushing the Helvetii.

This led to an exceedingly complicated situation in Gaul. Rest ot The party which had demanded Roman intervention could intervention, not venture to oppose the Proconsul’s projects ; yet Ceesar’s war against the Helvetii was exceedingly unpopular i in Gaul ; and to support the ally of Ariovistus looked like treachery to the national cause. Still more painful was the dilemma of the Nationalists. They did-not dare openly to resist Rome, yet

58 B.c.

Cesar’s blunder.

Further negotiations with the Helvetii.


neither could they abandon the Helvetii to their fate. The Nationalist leaders were of course furious with Czsar, but they soon realised that the only policy was to conceal their embarrassment. ‘They must lie low, employ every artifice to gain time, work upon the ignorance of the Proconsul and the power that their popularity placed in their hands in order to slip in between Czsar and their opponents and find some indirect means of relieving the Helvetii. The result was that both parties protested their friendship to Rome. Dum- norix came in person to the Roman camp and offered to pay the expenses of the A‘duan cavalry on condition that he himself should be placed in command, intending of course to use his position to help his friends on the other side. Czesar’s campaign against the Helvetii was so unpopular in Gaul that the Roman party did not dare to inform him who his strange cavalry commander really was.

Thus Czsar had succeeded in entangling himself in a whole network of difficulties of whose existence he was blissfully unaware. He went off in pursuit of the Helveti, plunging into the depths of a vast and unknown country, without the faintest suspicion that his first campaign would stultify his position in Gaul from the very start by wounding the hopes and susceptibilities of the great mass of the Gallic people, or that a part of his escort, with their A%duan commander, set out on the expedition with the deliberate intention of betraying him.

The campaign so rashly undertaken was as rashly and strangely pursued. The Helvetii were anxious to carry through their trek as speedily as possible and had no desire to provoke the hostility of Rome. As soon as they learnt that the Roman general had crossed the Sadne they sent an embassy, with Divico in person at its head, to give a re- assuring statement and make a reasonable offer. Divico declared that, despite the unwarranted attack that had been made upon them on the banks of the Sadne, the Helvetii did not desire war and were prepared to trek to any territory which Cesar might suggest. To Cesar, still under the influence of the A%duan intriguers, these declara- tions sounded too favourable to be sincere. So far from appeasing him, they only increased his apprehensions. Such proposals from the would-be rulers of Gaul could only be intended to hoodwink a foreigner. In his reply to the embassy Cesar reproached them with their previous wars


against Rome, declared that he refused to trust their word, and demanded hostages as the price of his abstention from attack. Divico replied that the Helvetii were more accustomed to receive than to give hostages, and broke off the negotiations.*

58 B.C.

‘This was an official BeCicitibs of war ebetw een: Rome and Cesar

the Helvetii. Yet once more there was a lull before hostilities commenced. ‘The Helvetii, still anxious to avoid fighting, continued their march, prepared to defend themselves but resolved not to attack. Cesar, fully conscious of the danger involved in a defeat, set himself to follow the Helvetii at five or six miles’ distance, waiting for a good opportunity for attack, which the Helvetii abstained from giving him.f For fifteen days the two armies followed one another in this manner, with only a few light cavalry skirmishes in which the horsemen of Dumnorix allowed themselves to be easily beaten.f The Helvetii were marching northward towards the Céte d’Or, and Czesar in his pursuit had been forced to move away from the Sadne, which had been his line of communications hitherto. Before long the provisions which had been brought up from Macon on beasts of burden began to run low, the supplies promised him by the Atdui failed to arrive, and the Avduan nobles found all their volubility required to explain its non- appearance.

At last suspicion began to dawn on Cesar’s mind. He grew impatient, and at last ordered an inquiry. Then, from a hint here and a confession there, his eyes began to be opened to the trap into which he had been inveigled. Slowly the whole complicated political situation of Gaul began to take shape in his mind. He discovered that, if the A‘duan aristocrats with Divitiacus at their head were friendly to the Romans, a large part of the AXduan nation was bitterly opposed to them, and that the leader of this section, Dumnorix, had only consented to equip and command the A‘duan cavalry i in order to assist his real allies the Helvetii. Moreover it was Dumnorix who, through his wealth and popularity, controlled the policy of the 7Eéduan Senate and was endangering the success of the cam- paign by cutting off the supplies.

Viewed in this light the situation was exceedingly alarming. Czsar dared not take steps against Dumnorix for fear of

ee eSe els. Gael. LA.

Tbe eens ite

t See the judicious criticisms of Rauchenstein (F.C., 73) in Czsar’s account of this march in B. G., i. 15.

follows the trekkers.

He discovers his blunder.

58 B.C.

Attempted surprise of the Helvetii.


exasperating the A¥dui, but he saw that to go on pursuing the Helvetii without bringing them to an engagement was to discourage his own troops and to play into the hands of the traitors. Nothing but a speedy and decisive victory could turn the scales in his favour. His luck did not desert him. On the very day on which he discovered the danger of his position the scouts came in with the news that the Helvetii were encamped about seven miles off, at the foot of a mountain which they had as yet failed to occupy and which could be ascended by a different road from that which they had taken. Here was the long-expected .opportunity. Czsar’s scheme was to send Labienus in advance with two legions to occupy the mountain at night; he himself would set out a little later with the rest of the army on the same route as the A‘dui, arriving about dawn at their encampment to attack them in their sleep, while Labienus plunged down upon them from above. The plan was ingenious, and it was executed with care. Labienus left in good time ; Cesar first sent a detach- ment of scouts commanded by Publius Considius, one of his most trusted veterans; then at the hour fixed, in the dead of night, he started in person with the legions. It was an anxious and agitating moment for a general who was making his first essay in strategy, with his supplies almost exhausted, with a host of traitors in his camp, and with legions whose courage was none too sure. And indeed, as it turned out, one moment of hesitation was enough to spoil the whole elaborate scheme of attack. At dawn, after a difficult night march, Czsar had just come within sight of the Helvetian camp when Considius arrived at a gallop to say that the mountain was occupied, not by Labienus, but by the Helvetii. What then had taken place during the night? It looked as if Labienus had been overwhelmed and cut to pieces. In his dismay at the news Cesar hastily withdrew, and, finding a hill in a favourable position, set out his legions in order of battle expecting an attack. It was not till some hours afterwards, when the sun was already high in the heavens and all remained quiet around him, that he sent out scouts to reconnoitre. Soon he heard that Considius’ information had been mistaken. Labienus had successfully occupied the mountain and in vain awaited Czsar’s attack. Meanwhile the Helvetii had quietly broken up camp and moved on.*

* B. G., i. 21, 22. This account has given rise to many criticisms and conjectures ; see Lossau, I. K., i. 304; Rauchenstein, F. C., 76;


The situation was becoming critical. The troops had by

this time only supplies for two days. The two armies had now arrived near Bibracte, the wealthy capital of the A‘dui which lay nearly 20 miles to the west of the line of march. Cesar had no alternative but to fall back upon Bibracte for supplies. He was just about to make the necessary arrangements when suddenly, on the site of the modern village of Ivry,* the Helvetii threw themselves upon his legions and offered battle. When he learnt that only accident had saved his followers from a disastrous sur- prise, Divico probably felt unwilling to have the Romans any longer at his heels, and decided to give battle as the lesser evil.f It may be that he was also unable to control the spirit of his men. However this may be, Czsar had only just time, by dint of using his cavalry against the advancing enemy, to form up his army in order of battle. He arranged his four legions of veterans in three lines half-way up a hill on the right of the road, with the two new legions and auxiliaries above them, with orders to guard the baggage and prepare an encampment. Before long the Helvetii were upon them in full force, assailing the legions front to front with the head-

Sumpf., B. O., p. 14. All these critics, particularly R., seem to me oversubtle. Why should it be impossible that the Helvetii had that evening forgotten to occupy the mountain? Such blunders occur in every war. If the surprise had failed because the mountain was guarded, it would have been in no way Cesar’s fault, and it is not probable that he would have altered the whole of the account and risked doing himself an injustice simply, as R. supposes, to discredit Considius. It seems to me more likely that Considius was really mistaken and that the whole incident happened as Cesar re- counts it. Cesar is careful to insist on the blunder of Considius in order to explain his own mistake in believing the report and losing his presence of mind. This interpretation has the further advantage of confirming a fact of which we have numerous proofs, namely, that during this first campaign Ceasar was not yet master of his nerves.

* According to de Saulcy, Phil., xix. 559.

{ It seems unlikely that the Helvetii should have attacked Czsar as is stated in B. G., i. 23, because they heard he wished to fall back upon Bibracte and concluded that the Roman army had lost courage, or because they wished to cut off his retreat. Everything goes to show that the Helvetii were anxious to reach their journey’s end with all their forces, without fighting a battle. It is therefore probable that if they had known that the Romans were about to abandon the pursuit they would have let them go in peace. Moreover, if they had intended to cut the Roman army to pieces they would not have con- tinued their route after the battle. As we shall see, they could have renewed the attack on the following day, under conditions exceedingly unfavourable to Cesar. It is simpler to find the motive for their action in the surprise attempted by Cesar on the preceding day.

58 B.c.

{Mont Beau- vray near Autun.]


The Battle of Ivry.


strong bravery of mountaineers. Divico seems to have been one of those skilful and astute tacticians who, growing up among a primitive people exposed to constant guerilla warfare, like the Boers, learn their art by the continual exercise of a natural gift rather than by theoretical study. He was more than a match (and he knew it) for his ingenious but inexpe- rienced Roman opponent, with his academic ideas of tactics picked up in the Greek manuals he had studied as a young man, Cesar, who was probably much excited about his first big battle, took the frontal attack for the serious part of the engagement ; when the ranks of the Helvetii began slowly to give way, he ordered his men to advance down the hill and attack the enemy, who were retiring to an opposite height. But the frontal attack and the retreat were only a feint to draw the Romans down the hill.* Scarcely were they well on the level, than Divico drove in an ambush of 15,000 Boii and Tulingii on their right flank, while the retiring columns wheeled round and returned to the attack. The Romans were attacked simultaneously in front and on the flank, and also threatened in the rear; and the change had taken place so rapidly that Caesar was unable to send to the troops on the top of the hill for help. A desperate hand-to-hand conflict ensued. What exactly took place we do not know. It is impossible to make sense out of the confused and contradictory account left us by Cesar.

* Rauchenstein, F. C., 83.

+ B. G., i. 25, 26. Czesar describes the first part of the battle with perfect lucidity and in considerable detail. He relates the frontal attack made by the Helvetii, their retreat, the rash pursuit of the Romans, followed by the flank attack of the Boii and Tulingii. But this was only the beginning of the battle. To explain its development and conclusion Cesar contents himself with five words: Diu atque acriter pugnatum est. ‘It was a long and hard-contested battle.” What really happened we do not know. Cesar does not again mention the two legions placed in reserve at the top of the hill, and he asks us to believe that in the evening, while a part of the enemy were retiring in perfect order on to a hill, the Romans seized their camp, against the desperate resistance by the other part of the army. He does not tell us what happened to the Helvetii who were retiring to the hill, while the Romans were seizing the camp of their com- rades. Is it likely that they stayed there without sending help ? Cesar himself gives us to understand that he made no prisoners; he confesses that the enemy were able to continue their journey the same night, while he was forced to remain three days on the field of battle. So there was no pursuit of the enemy. What then becomes of the victory ? All this seems to show that Cesar’s pretended success was, if not a real defeat, at least a regrettable incident which he has carefully hushed up. If Divico had left memoirs as well as Cxsar the affair would probably assume a very different complexion,


What is clear is that he has something to conceal; for it will hardly be admitted that a writer so clear and definite in his descriptions as Czsar can have left usa confused account of his first great battle out of pure negligence.

It is probable that the two new legions were panic-stricken, and, having received no orders, watched the conflict from above without daring to come to Czsar’s help: that Caesar succeeded after considerable losses in extricating his men from the defile and gaining some strong position where they were able to resist the attack, and that satisfied with this success the Helvetii eventually retired. If so, the confused account in the Commen- taries is merely a device to mask what was really a defeat. In any case, Czsar was obliged to allow the enemy to break up their camp during the night and slowly continue their march towards Langres, leaving not a single prisoner in his hands, while he himself, owing to the large number of dead and wounded, and the fatigue and probably also the discourage- ment of his soldiers, was forced to remain three days on the field of battle.*

Thus the Helvetii had fully attained their object. But after this initial failure Cesar could not let matters remain as they were. He was just preparing to pursue the enemy afresh and to avenge his rebuff, cost what it might, when, to his great good-fortune, the Helvetii asked for peace. Tired out by their long march, and perhaps somewhat bewildered by what had taken place, they had suddenly conceived a fear lest Rome might make them pay dear for their victory. “They determined to make peace with the Proconsul, and declared that they were ready to return to their old country. Delighted at a proposal which rescued him without risk or dishonour from a dangerous war, Cesar was prepared to be as magnanimous as circum- stances required. Not only did he force the Allobroges to make the Helvetii large grants of grain to tide them over the time till their first harvest, but when the Boii flatly refused to return to their homes he made the A¢dui grant them land in their own territory. It was Roman magnanimity at the expense of the Gauls.+ In his report to the Senate the result

taCces. i. G., 11 20-

+ The conditions of peace which Cesar (B. G., i. 27) says that he imposed upon the Helvetii are such as to belie his whole account of the war. It is altogether unlikely that the Helvetii surrendered because the Lingones, on Czsar’s orders, refused to grant them supplies.