Chapter 1.15

Posterō diē castra ex eō locō movent. Idem facit Caesar, equitātumque omnem ad numerum quattuor mīlium, quem ex omnī prōvinciā et Aeduīs atque eōrum sociīs coāctum habēbat, praemittit, quī videant quās in partēs hostēs iter faciant. Quī, cupidius novissimum agmen īnsecūtī, aliēnō locō cum equitātū Helvētiōrum proelium committunt; et paucī dē nostrīs cadunt. Quō proeliō sublātī Helvētiī, quod quīngentīs equitibus tantam multitūdinem equitum prōpulerant, audācius subsistere nōn numquam et novissimō agmine proeliō nostrōs lacessere coepērunt. Caesar suōs ā proeliō continēbat, ac satis habēbat in praesentiā hostem rapīnīs pābulātiōnibus populātiōnibusque prohibēre. Ita diēs circiter quindecim iter fēcērunt utī inter novissimum hostium agmen et nostrum prīmum nōn amplius quīnīs aut sēnīs mīlibus passuum interesset.

The Helvetians resume their march, defeating Caesar’s cavalry; Caesar follows.

posterō diē: “on the following day”; ablative of time when (AG 423).

idem: neuter accusative (Kelsey): “the same [thing]”.

castra movent: sc. Helvētiī as the subject (Harkness): “march on.” They could not march due west toward the Santones because the country is too mountainous. They therefore marched north, then northwest, intending to reach the Liger (Loire) and march down its valley (Walker).

equitātum omnem … quem ex omnī prōvinciā: Caesar had no Roman cavalry in Gaul (Harkness). The Roman infantry were always excellent, but their cavalry were comparatively infirm. Hence we find them generally employing the cavalry of their allies, and, in particular, Gallic horsemen. Caesar’s cavalry was composed at first of Gauls, afterward German horsemen were also added (Anthon).

coāctum habēbat: almost = coēgerat (L-E): literally, “had collected,” more strictly, “held (had in hand) after being collected” (A-G). Coāctum agrees with quem, the object of habēbat (Hodges). Habeō, with certain participles, forms a periphrasis (Spencer).

quī videant: “to see” (Kelsey); subjunctive in a relative purpose clause (AG 531.2) (Harkness); the antecedent of quī is the collective idea contained in equitātum, as if equitēs had been used (H-T); for that reason the verb videant is plural.

quās in partēs: “in what direction” (Kelsey).

faciant: subjunctive in an indirect question (AG 574), quās being interrogative (A-G).

quī … insecūtī: “but they, having pursued” (Anthon).

cupidius: “too eagerly” (A-G); comparative degree adverb (AG 218).

novissimum agmen: “the rearguard” of the Helvetians; agmen is the army in line of march (agō) (A-G), and the novissimum agmen is that part of the line of march which is “latest” to one watching an army march by (M-T).

aliēnō loco: “in a disadvantageous place” (Anthon), literally “in a place belonging to another” (Harkness); “on unfavorable ground”; so suō locō would be “on one’s own (hence, “favorable”) ground” (A-G). The land was probably too hilly to admit of free movement (Kelsey). Ablative of place where (AG 429.4).

paucī dē nostrīs: “a few of our men” (Harkness); dē nostrīs = nostrōrum, the use of a prepositional phrase in place of the partitive genitive (AG 346c); this use of the preposition is an anticipation of the part was to play in noun inflection in the Romance languages. This preposition, we may say, exerted the strongest influence for the breakdown of the inflectional system (H-T).

paucī … cadunt: from this we can infer that the rest made good their escape through flight (Kelsey). The rest fled at the instigation of their commander, the treacherous Dumnorix, as Caesar afterwards learned (L-E).

quō proeliō: “by this battle,” ablative of means (AG 409) or “because of this battle,” ablative of cause (AG 404).

sublātī: “being elated” (Anthon); “lifted up,” “emboldened” (M-T); from tollō (Hodges).

quod … prōpulerant: “because they had routed”; but the 4000 cavalry of Caesar were Gauls, only the officers being Romans (Kelsey). Caesar’s reason, as shown by the indicative mood (Harkness).

equitibus: ablative of means (AG 409) (A-G).

audācius subsistere coepērunt: “began to make a bolder stand” (Anthon). Audācius, a comparative degree adverb, is translated literally as “more boldly,” “with greater boldness” (Kelsey).

novissimō agmine: “with the rear of their column” (Hodges), “with their rearguard” (Walker), attacking the Romans who were following them (Kelsey); “at their rear”; ablative of means (AG 409) or ablative of place where (AG 429) (A-G)

proeliō: ablative of manner (AG 412) or means (AG 409) (A-G).

nostrōs: “our men” (Kelsey); masculine plural adjective used as a substantive (AG 302.d).

lacessere: “to harass” (Kelsey); “to challenge” (Walker).

suōs: “his soldiers” (Kelsey); like nostrōs above, a substantive.

satis habēbat: “held it sufficient” (A-G); “deemed (“considered” (Hodges)) it sufficient”; the object of habēbat is the clause hostem … prohibēre (Harkness). Caesar had never before commanded so large an army or met so strong an enemy. His army was outnumbered by an enemy whom the Romans had long dreaded. Defeat meant the total destruction of his army. Nothing was lost by postponing the battle. Therefore he wisely decided to wait until he could choose his own time and place (Walker).

in praesentiā: “for the present” (Anthon); ablative of time when (AG 423).

hostem … prohibēre: in a kind of predicate agreement with satis, as the object of habēbat (A-G).

rapīnīs, pābulātiōnibus populātiōnibusque: “from pillaging, foraging, and laying waste” the country (Kelsey); ablatives of separation (AG 400-402) with prohibēre.

ita … utī: “in such a way that” (correlatives) (A-G). Caesar was obliged to follow the Helvetii because there was no place along their route where he could attack them with advantage or head them off (L-E).          

diēs circiter XV: accusative of duration of time (AG 423) (AG). Circiter is here an adverb (M-T).

utī … interesset: result clause (AG 537.1): “in such a way that there was an interval” (M-T).

nostrum prīmum: sc. agmen: “our vanguard,” literally “our first line” (Harkness). Caesar’s intention was to join battle with the Helvetii, before they should proceed much farther through Gaul and reach the territory of the Santones. His object in following them for so long a period was to get the enemy on disadvantageous ground, and then engage and conquer them. The Helvetii constantly avoiding a general action, Caesar left the line of march and went to Bibracte, for two reasons: one was in order to procure corn for his army; the other was to impress the Helvetii with the belief that the Romans were fleeing, and thus to induce them to hazard an action. The latter event actually happened as he expected it would (Anthon).

quīnīs aut sēnīs: quīnīs and sēnīs are distributives (“five or six [each day]” (Walker)), implying that this was the constant or average daily distance between the two armies. They apparently marched along the Saône, in the direction of Chalon. Their exact route from the Saône towards Autun is uncertain. The country here is very irregular and broken; so that it was impossible for Caesar to get any advantage by a rapid march or by an attack on the Helvetian rear. (A-G).

nōn amplius quīnīs aut sēnīs mīlibus passuum interesset: “that there was an interval of not more than five or six miles between them” (L-E). Caesar was waiting until a favorable opportu-nity for attacking should one present itself (Hodges). He consequently followed them at a distance, watching for his chance (A-G). Amplius, “more,” is the subject of interesset (Kelsey); quīnis,    sēnīs mīlibus is the ablative of comparison (AG 406). Interesset is used impersonally (L-E).

equitātus, -ūs m.: cavalry, body of horsemen.

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

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

praemittō, -mittere, -mīsī, -missus : send ahead, send forward.

cupidē : adv., eagerly, ardently.

īnsequor, -sequī, -secūtus : follow on, follow up, follow closely, pursue, press upon.

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.

nostri -orum m. pl.: our men

quod : conj., that, in that, because, since; as to the fact that: the fact that.

quīngentī, -ae, -a (D) : pl. adj., five hundred.

prōpellō, -pellere, -pulī, -pulsus : drive away, keep off, dislodge.

audācter : adv., daringly, boldly, courageously, confidently, recklessly.

subsistō, -sistere, -stitī : make a stand, stand firm, resist.

nōnnumquam: sometimes

lacessō, lacessere, lacessīvī, lacessītus : provoke; challenge, harass, attack.

praesentia, -ae f.: presence, readiness; present; in praesentiā, see in.

rapīna, -ae f.: robbery, plundering.

pābulātiō, -ōnis f.: collecting of fodder, foraging.

circiter : (1) adv., about, nearly; (2) prep. with acc., about, around, near.

quīndecim (xv) : indecl. adj., fifteen.

quīnī, -ae, -a : pl. adj., five each, by fives.

sēnī, -ae, -a : pl. adj., six each.

passus, -ūs m.: step, pace; double step (five Roman feet); mīlle passūs, mile; duo mīlia passuum, two miles. See mīlle.

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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.