Chapter 1.11

Helvētiī iam per angustiās et fīnēs Sēquanōrum suās cōpiās trādūxerant, et in Aeduōrum fīnēs pervēnerant eōrumque agrōs populābantur. Aeduī, cum sē suaque ab eīs dēfendere nōn possent, lēgātōs ad Caesarem mittunt rogātum auxilium: ita sē omnī tempore dē populō Rōmānō meritōs esse ut paene in cōnspectū exercitūs nostrī agrī vastārī, lībērī eōrum in servitūtem abdūcī, oppida expugnārī nōn dēbuerint. Eōdem tempore Aeduī Ambarrī, necessāriī et cōnsanguineī Aeduōrum, Caesarem certiōrem faciunt sēsē, dēpopulātīs agrīs, nōn facile ab oppidīs vim hostium prohibēre. Item Allobrogēs, quī trāns Rhodanum vīcōs possessiōnēsque habēbant, fugā sē ad Caesarem recipiunt, et dēmōnstrant sibi praeter agrī solum nihil esse reliquī. Quibus rēbus adductus Caesar nōn exspectandum sibi statuit dum, omnibus fortūnīs sociōrum cōnsūmptīs, in Santonōs Helvētiī pervenīrent.

The Aedui, the Ambarri, and the Allobroges, into whose country the Helvetii had arrived, ask Caesar for aid; he determined on immediate action.

iam: “by this time” (A-G). Caesar’s journey to Italy and back must have taken nearly two months, so that the time would now be June (Hodges). Meanwhile the Helvetians, with their throng of women and children and their carts loaded with the baggage of a whole nation (only one of which at a time could proceed through the mountain pass (Stock)) had slowly advanced, in all, only about 100 miles (Kelsey).

per angustiās: “through the narrow pass,” i.e., the Pas-de-l’Ecluse, the pass between the Jura and the Rhone (Harkness). Compare Chapter 6: angustum et difficile, inter montem Iuram et flūmen Rhodanum” (H-T). The entire train of the Helvetii has been reckoned at 8500 four-horse wagons, extending some 50 miles. The passage must have been extremely slow. They probably followed in the line of the modern railroad as far as Culoz, then to Amberieu and across the plateau des Dombes to the Saône between Lyon and Macon, a distance of nearly a hundred miles (A-G).

Aeduōrum fīnēs: on the west side of the Arar, which the van of the Helvetian host already had crossed (Kelsey). It does not appear that these people occupied the left bank of the Saône. But predatory excursions may have been made across the river, and in Chapter 12 the Helvetians were engaged in crossing (A-G).

pervēnerant, populābantur: this they had accomplished during the absence of Caesar in Italy (Harkness). Notice the change of tense (Hodges). They seem to have followed the right bank of the Rhône about half-way to its junction with the Saône and then to have headed in a northwesterly direction for the Saône. The whole distance is stated to be not more than 98 miles (L-E). Their line of march must have been at least fifty miles in length, and their progress was necessarily slow, especially at the pass (Walker).

cumnōn possent: “unable (as they were) to defend” (H-T). Cum is here a conjunction, not a preposition. Note that imperfect subjunctive (secondary sequence) appears in this cum-causal clause (AG 549), because the main verb mittunt is an historical present (AG 469).

lēgātōs mittunt: The idea which makes possible the following indirect discourse is easily gathered from these words (H-T). Here lēgātōs refers to “envoys” or “ambassadors” sent to deliver this message, not “lieutenants.”

sē suaque: “themselves and their possessions” (Harkness), the direct objects of dēfendere. The neuter plural of adjectives is often employed to denote the abstract idea of things in general (L-E).

iīs: = eīs.

rogātum: “to ask for” (A-G); the accusative supine expresses purpose with a verb of or implying motion (AG 509). It may take an object, as, in this case, auxilium.

ita sē … meritōs esse: sc. dīcentēs (Anton), followed by indirect discourse: “saying that … ” In Latin, after the idea of speech of thought is suggested (see lēgātōs mittunt above), no further expression of saying is necessary. In direct discourse this would be, Ita [nōs] … meritī sumus, ut paene in conspectū exercitūs vestrī, … līberī nostrī … nōn dēbuerint (A-G): “that they had so deserved at all times of the Roman people, that … ” (Anton). Probably the account is somewhat exaggerated (A-G).

omnī tempore: “on every occasion” (Walker); “at all times”; ablative of time in the course of which the action takes place (AG 423), not “during” or “throughout” which, where the accusative would be required (M-T). 60 years before, in 121 B.C., the Aeduans had by treaty been recognized as sociī populī Rōmānī, “allies of the Roman people.” The Romans were first led to intervene in the affairs of Transalpine Gaul, however, not in the interest of the Aeduans, but in response to a request of Massilia (Marseilles) for protection against the incursions of Ligurian tribes east of the Rhône; this was in 155 B.C. (Kelsey).

meritōs: Tacitus relates (Ann. 11.25): sōlī Gallōrum (Aeduī) frāternitātis nōmen cum populō Rōmānō usurpant, “Alone among the Gauls the Aedui claim the name of brotherhood with the Roman people” (M-T). So, also, Cicero calls them frātrēs nostrī (A-G). The Aedui had been the earliest among the Gallic tribes to enter into friendly relations with the Romans, and had always been distinguished for their friendship and fidelity (Spencer). They also seem to have traced their descent from Trojan blood (Walpole).

in cōnspectū: “before the eyes” (L-E).

exercitūs nostrī: nostrī (a momentary lapse into direct discourse (Walpole)) is used because the indirect discourse is addressed to Romans by a Roman (L-E).

vastārī, abdūcī, expugnārī: note the omission of a conjunction (asyndeton (AG 601)) with these passive infinitives (H-T).

liberī eōrum: Caesar here leaves the standpoint of the subject (viz. the envoys of the Aedui), and speaks from his own; hence eōrum and not suī (Walpole).

in servitūtem abdūcī: “to be led away into slavery,” the penalty of capture (Kelsey).

expugnārī: “to be taken by assault” (Kelsey).

dēbuerint: perfect subjunctive, as meritōs esse depends on an historic present (mittunt), its time is that of the pluperfect. Regularly the pluperfect is followed by the imperfect, but in clauses with ut, containing a conclusion, the historical perfect is also properly placed instead of the imperfect (Spencer).  Since the English verb “ought” has no past tense while the Latin verb dēbeō does, the force of the tense in dēbuerint is brought out by the English infinitives: “that our lands ought not to have been pillaged, etc.” Dēbeō implies a legal or moral obligation (H-T).

liberī eōrum: = liberī suī (Harkness), i.e., those of the Aedui.

Ambarri: the name is likely a contraction from Ambi and Arar (“around the Arar”). If this be so, it would point to their having possessions on both sides of the Saône (Stock); “the Aedui near the Arar” (or Saône), occupying the angle between that river and the Rhône. They were evidently closely akin to the Aedui and were their allies (A-G). The main body of the nation were on the east of the middle Loire (Moberly). Bibracte, the center of the Druidical religion and Noviodunum, an important commercial town, were the chief cities of the Ambarri (L-E).

necessāriī et cōnsanguineī: “the friends and kinsmen of the Aedui.” By necessāriī, among the Roman writers, are meant friends or allies, engaged mutually to support and assist each other (Spencer). They are bound by necessitūdō, or community of interests of any kind (A-G). It is a more comprehensive term than amīcī, and includes not only those who are bound together by the ties of friendship, but also those who are connected in business or in official relations (Harkness) or connections by marriage (Kelsey). Cōnsanguineī are “kinsmen,” comprising only blood relations. Notwithstanding their close relationship with the Aedui, the Ambarri had a separate coinage (Kelsey).

dēpopulātīs agrīs: “since their fields were laid waste” (L-E); “their lands had been ravaged and … ” they were now having difficulty keeping them from their walls (Moberly). Dēpopulātīs is passive, although it’s from a deponent verb (A-G). This occurs frequently with the participles of populor, ulcīscor, meditor, and others (M-T).

nōn facile ... prohibēre: “could not (literally “did not”) keep away,” nōn prohibēmus in direct discourse (H-T). Notice the ablative of separation ab oppidīs expressed with a preposition, while in other places separation is expressed without a preposition (e.g. Chapter 10, itinere prohibēre) (AG 402).

Allobrogēs: most of the Allobroges were south of the Rhône and were not troubled; but some were north of the river and on the route of the Helvetii (Walker).

trāns Rhodanum: north of the Rhône and east of the Arar (H-T). Only a small part of their possessions was across the Rhône (Spencer).

fugā sē recipiunt: “they made their escape” (Kelsey), literally “they take themselves back (i.e., retreat) by flight”; fugā is ablative of means (AG 409).

possessiōnēs: i.e., lands (H-T).

dēmōnstrant: “they stated” (Kelsey); “they inform him,” equivalent here to narrant (Anthon). Dēmōnstrāre has this sense continually in Caesar (Spencer).

sibi … nihil esse reliquī: “that they had nothing left” (Kelsey); “that nothing was left them” (Anthon), literally “nothing of a remainder to them” (H-T). Indirect discourse dependent on dēmōnstrant. Reliquī is a partitive genitive (AG 346) of the neuter substantive adjective reliquum depending on nihil (Anthon).

quibus rēbus: = hīs rēbus.

praeter agrī solum: “except the soil of their land,” i.e., except the bare soil, a devastated country (Anthon); they had nothing left, the land was completely stripped. Note the short quantity of the o in solum; it’s the noun for “soil” (A-G), not the adjective “sōlus,-a,-um.”

nōn exspectandum sibi: sc. esse: impersonal use of the gerund in a future passive periphrastic construction (AG 500.2), literally “it must not be waited.” Sibi is the dative of agent (AG ) (H-T). Translate actively, “that he ought not to wait” (Harkness).

omnibus fortūnīs sociōrum cōnsūmptīs: “all the resources of his allies having been destroyed,” i.e., their fortunes having become completely ruined (Anthon). Like our own word “fortunes,” this means sometimes “wealth” or “substance,” as here, but more often “welfare” or “prospects” (Stock). The sociī referred to here are the Aedui and Ambarri, allies of the Roman people (H-T).

Santonōs: The MSS. vary between Santonēs and Santonōs, but the better class have Santonōs. Both forms are in use. In the same way we have Teutonī and Teutonēs (Anthon). Caesar was inconsistent in the spelling of this name, which survives in that of the city Saintes (Kelsey). These people were mentioned previously in Chapter 10 (L-E).

dum … pervenīrent: “until they should arrive” (Walker); subjunctive verb in an anticipatory clause where the arrival of the Helvetii was still contingent (AG 553).

Helvētius, -a, -um: Helvetian; as subst., m., a Helvetian; pl., the Helvetii, a rich and powerful tribe, whose country was nearly the same as modern Switzerland.

angustiae, -ārum f.: pl., narrowness, narrow place, narrow pass, defile; difficulty, perplexity.

Sēquanī, -ōrum m. : the Sequani, a tribe of eastern Gaul, west of the Jura Mountains

trādūcō, -dūcere, -dūxī, -ductus : lead across, bring over; win over; transfer, promote.

Aeduus, -a, -um: Aeduan; as subst., m., an Aeduan; pl., the Aedui, a prominent tribe of Gaul, usually friendly to the Romans

populor, -ārī, -ātus: lay waste, pillage.

Caesar, -aris, m.: Caesar, a Roman cognomen: (1) Gaius Julius Caesar, the conqueror of Gaul;(2) Lucius Julius Caesar, a distant relative of (1), and his legate in 52 b.c. He is thought to be the same Lucius Caesar who was consul in 64 b.c.

Rōmānus, -a, -um : Roman; as subst., m., a Roman; pl., Romans, the Romans.

mereō, merēre, meruī, meritus: deserve, merit, earn; serve in the army; also as dep., mereor, merērī, meritus, merit, deserve, earn, be entitled to; optimē merēns (meritus), most deserving.

cōnspectus, -ūs m.: sight, appearance; presence.

vāstō, -āre, -āvī, -ātus : make empty, lay waste, devastate, make desolate.

līberī, -ōrum m.: pl., children.

servitūs, -ūtis f.: servitude, slavery, subjection.

abdūcō, -dūcere, -dūxī, -ductus : lead away, take away.

expugnō, -āre, -āvī, -ātus : take by storm, capture, overcome.

Ambarrī, -ōrum m.: pl., the Ambarri, a Gallic tribe near the Aedui on the Arar (Saône).

necessārius, -a, -um: necessary, indispensable, requisite; pressing, urgent; tempus neces-sārium, time of need, critical time; as subst., m., connection, kinsman.

cōnsanguineus, -a, -um : related by blood; as subst., m., kinsman, blood-relation.

dēpopulor, -ārī, -ātus : lay waste, plunder; the perf. part. often has passive force.

facile : adv., easily, without difficulty; safely; unquestionably.

Allobrogēs, -um, m.: pl., the Allobroges, a Gallic tribe in the northeastern part of the Roman province.

trāns: prep. with acc., across, over, to the further side of; beyond, on the other side of; through. In comp., across, over, through.

Rhodanus, -ī, m.: the Rhone, a large river of southeastern Gaul.

vīcus, -ī, m.: village.

possessiō, -ōnis f.: possessing, occupation, possession, ownership; property, farm.

dēmōnstrō, -āre, -āvī, -ātus : point out, show; indicate, designate; mention, speak of, explain.

solum, -ī, n.: bottom; ground, soil.

socius, -ī m.: comrade; confederate, ally.

Santonēs, -um, or Santonī, -ōrum, m.: pl., the Santones, or Santoni, a tribe of western Gaul.

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Christopher Francese, Caesar: Selections from the Gallic War. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2011, revised and enlarged 2018. ISBN: 978-1-947822-02-3.