Chapter 1.48

Eōdem diē castra prōmōvit et mīlibus passuum sex ā Caesaris castrīs sub monte cōnsēdit. Postrīdiē eius diēī praeter castra Caesaris suās cōpiās trādūxit et mīlibus passuum duōbus ultrā eum castra fēcit, eō cōnsiliō utī frūmentō commeātūque, quī ex Sēquanīs et Aeduīs supportārētur Caesarem interclūderet. Ex eō diē diēs continuōs quinque Caesar prō castrīs suās cōpiās prōdūxit et aciem īnstrūctam habuit, ut, sī vellet Ariovistus proeliō contendere, eī potestās nōn dēesset. Ariovistus hīs omnibus diēbus exercitum castrīs continuit, equestrī proeliō cotīdiē contendit. Genus hoc erat pugnae, quō sē Germānī exercuerant. Equitum mīlia erant sex, totidem numerō peditēs vēlōcissimī ac fortissimī, quōs ex omnī cōpiā singulī singulōs suae salūtis causā dēlēgerant: cum hīs in proeliīs versābantur. Ad eōs sē equitēs recipiēbant; hī, sī quid erat dūrius, concurrēbant; sī quī graviōre vulnere acceptō equō dēciderat, circumsistēbant; sī quō erat longius prōdeundum aut celerius recipiendum, tanta erat hōrum exercitātiōne celeritās ut iubīs equōrum sublevātī cursum adaequārent.

Ariovistus marches past Caesar’s camp. The German cavalry tactics.

castra prōmōvit: “[Ariovistus] moved his camp forward” (Anthon), first to a spot close upon the Vosges near Feldkirch, and then on the following day to a hill near Reiningen. This last was a decisive movement; for a general who falls thus on his adversary’s communications must mean to force him to fight (Moberly). Castra is repeated four times in various cases in this section, an illustration of Caesar’s preference on occasion of distinctness to every other quality of style (Walpole).

mīlibus passuum sex: mīlibus is ablative of measure / degree of difference (AG 414). Ariovistus had been twenty-four miles north of Caesar’s camp (Walker).

postrīdiē eius diēī: = postrīdiē (Walker): “on the following day,” literally, “on the day after that day” (Anthon).

ā Caesaris castrīs: this camp is placed by Napoleon III at the southern foot of the Vosges Mountains near Cernay (Sennheim), a few miles northwest of Mühlhausen, and thirty miles beyond Belfort, the fortress which now defends this pass on the frontier between France and Germany. The march of Ariovistus placed him nearer the passage, so as to cut off Caesar’s supplies (A-G).

sub monte: “at the foot of the mountain,” probably the Vosges (Harkness), between Soultz and Feldkirch, according to Napoleon III (M-T), north of Caesar’s camp, from which he was separated by a heavy forest (L-E).

praeter castra Caesaris: “past Caesar’s camp” (Anthon). Ariovistus’ line of march probably skirted or traversed the foothills of the Vosges in such a way that Caesar could not attack him while executing this movement (Kelsey). The forest may have protected him from observation (L-E).

ultrā eum castra fēcit: fēcit = posuit (L-E); i.e., in the direction from which Caesar had come (i.e., south of Caesar, near Reiningen (M-T)). This skillful maneuver was embarrassing to Caesar and made him anxious to fight, as Ariovistus knew it would (L-E). Whether this camp, favorably located for defense (Kelsey), was between Caesar and the Vosges Mountains or merely beyond him in the open is uncertain (A-G).

eō cōnsiliō: “with this design,” explained by the ut-clause that follows (Spencer).

utī … Caesarem interclūderet: subjunctive in a purpose clause (AG 531), in apposition with cōnsiliō, and at the same time expresses the purpose of trānsdūxit and fēcit (Harkness). Ariovistus did not encamp on the road which the convoys of provisions would have to take, for her preferred a safer position on the hills; but he was near enough to the road to cut off the supplies if they tried to pass (Walker).

frūmentō commeātūque: ablatives of separation (AG 402) with interclūderet. Ariovistus thought that by cutting off Caesar’s supplies he could force Caesar to retire, or else to fight on ground of his own choosing (Kelsey).

quī ex Sēquanīs et Aeduīs supportārētur: “which were being conveyed to him from the Sequani and Aedui” (H-T). This route led up from the south. The communications with the Leuci and Lingones farther north, were not affected, so that Caesar was not entirely cut off from supplies; but only a small part of his supplies came from that quarter (L-E). This clause is subjunctive by attraction with the preceding clause (AG 593), as being part of the purpose of Ariovistus (M-T). Quī agrees with its nearest antecedent, commeātū (Hodges).

ex eō diē diēs continuōs quinque: “for five successive days after that day” (Anthon); “for five days successively” (Spencer). Diēs is accusative of duration of time (AG 423.2).                                                                   

prō castrīs: “before his camp” (Anthon). The Romans preferred to fight with the camp in the rear as a place of retreat in case of necessity (L-E). Although Caesar could not tempt the Germans to fight him in this position, he at least encouraged his men by making it clear that the Germans were not anxious to fight them (Walker). The use of prō in the sense of prae is common in Caesar (Stock).

aciem īnstrūctam habuit: = aciem instrūxisse: “he kept his army drawn up in [triple] line of battle” (Hodges).

sī vellet Ariovistus proeliō contendere: as a matter of fact, it was Caesar who wished to fight; but he was naturally reticent on this point, knowing that his opponent had scored an advantage over him (L-E). The thought in Caesar’s mind was sī vult, “if he wishes.” Here, in implied indirect discourse, it changes to the imperfect subjunctive, sī vellet (Walker).

ut eī potestās nōn dēesset: “so that he might not lack the opportunity,” literally, “so that the means of so doing (Anthon) might not be wanting to him” (Harkness). We have ut nōn instead of for this negative purpose clause (AG 531), because the negative is closely connected with the verb (Hodges). It may possibly be a result clause (AG 537), in which case there is no irregularity with utnōn (M-T). All compounds of esse (except abesse and posse) govern the dative (AG 381) (L-E).

exercitum: i.e., the German infantry (Kelsey), expressly opposed to equitātus (Walpole).

castrīs: “within the camp” (Kelsey); Ariovistus was perfectly satisfied with his position and hoped to compel Caesar to retreat in order to secure his communications with the Sequani and Aedui (L-E). Ariovistus had a superstitious reason for refusing to fight, as appears later (Walker). Ablative of place where may omit the preposition when the idea of means is prominent (A-G); this is especially common with the verbs teneō and recipiō (H-T).

continuit, equestrī proeliō: note the asyndeton (H-T), as so often in Caesar (Walpole).

equestrī proeliō: “with cavalry skirmishing” (Kelsey).

genus hoc erat pugnae: “the following was the kind of battle” (Anthon); “their method of fighting (Kelsey) was as follows” (H-T); “the following was the method of [cavalry] fighting [practiced by the Germans]” (Moberly). The tactics here described were not really original with the Germans, but a common device among many ancient peoples (L-E).

quō sē exercuerant: “in which they were trained” (A-G); “to which they had trained themselves” (Anthon).

equitum: partitive genitive (AG 346) dependent on mīlia.

totidem numerō peditēs: sc. erant (Kelsey): “the same number of infantry”; numerō is ablative of specification (AG 418) with totidem (Harkness).

vēlōcissimī: “the fastest” (Kelsey).

quōs ex omnī cōpiā … dēlēgerant: “whom the horsemen had individually selected from the whole army” (Anthon). Cōpiā = multitūdine (Harkness), “multitude,” “number” (M-T), “troop” (Walpole).

hīs, hōs, hī: all refer to these selected peditēs (Harkness).

versābantur: sc. equitēs: “associated themselves” (Kelsey).

singulī singulōs: sc. equitēs … peditēs: i.e., one apiece (A-G): “each [horseman selecting] one [foot soldier]” (Anthon). This idiom repeats the distributive, the first singulī being merely equivalent to quisque (M-T). Singulōs agrees with quōs (Kelsey). These pairs were generally composed of close friends (L-E). This mixed arrangement produced what Caesar admires in the British chariots (4. 33), mōbilitātem equitum, stabilitātem peditum (“ease of movement for the horsemen, stability for the foot-soldiers”) (Moberly).

suae salūtis causā: “for his own protection” (Anthon).

cum hīs: sc dēlectīs peditibus (Spencer).

sī quid erat dūrius: “if anything occurred of more than ordinary danger” (Anthon); “if there was anything at all untoward” (Walpole); “if things were harder than usual” (M-T); “if there was anything unusually difficult” (Harkness); “if there was anything too hard [for the cavalry to accomplish on their own]” (L-E); “if their friends were at all hard pressed” (Moberly). If the danger was unusually great at any particular point (Spencer).

concurrēbant: “they ran to their assistance / support” (Anthon).

sī quī: = sī quis (Anthon), the indefinite pronoun (Hodges).

equō dēciderat: “had fallen off of his horse” (Kelsey). Dēciderat is indicative of indefinite frequency, according to the usual rule in Caesar (M-T). Equō is ablative of place from which (understand dē equō) or ablative of separation (AG 402).

circumsistēbant: “stood around [to defend him]” (Anthon); “they would gather round him” (Kelsey).

sī quō erat … prōdeundum: “if it was necessary to advance to any place” (Harkness). Erat prōdeundum is passive periphrastic expressing necessity (AG 500.3). Sī quō is the adverb of sī quis, just as quō of quis or quī (Hodges).

longius: “farther than usual” (Anthon); “rather far” (Hodges).

celerius: “with greater speed than ordinary” (Anthon); “with special swiftness” (Kelsey); “quite rapidly” (L-E). Note the various options one has for translating a comparative adverb.

recipiendum: “if it was necessary to retreat.” The use of the impersonal gerundive belongs to intransitive verbs (as prōdeundum above). But recipere is transitive, the ordinary expression for “to retreat” being sē recipere. In early Latin, however, recipere was used without an object, as it is here (M-T).

exercitātiōne: “from constant practice” (Anthon).

iubīs sublevātī equōrum: “being supported by the manes of the horses” (Anthon); “supporting themselves … ” (Kelsey). Running along by the horses and holding on by their manes, they could keep up with them (Hodges). Iubīs is ablative of means.

ut … cursum adaequārent: understand equōrum with cursum: “that they kept up with the running” of the horses” (Kelsey); “that they could equal their speed, (Anthon); “that they kept up with the full gallop” (Moberly). Tacitus (Ger. 6) says: “They fight in combination [infantry and cavalry] and the foot soldiers, picked out of the entire body of young men and placed in front of the line, are able to keep up with the cavalry in speed.” This method of fighting, peculiar to the Germans, seemed so advantageous to Caesar that he employed it himself on occasion, notably at the battle of Pharsalus (A-G). Caesar afterwards employed German horsemen as mercenaries, and they rendered him very effective service, as at the siege of Alesia (Kelsey).

prōmoveō, -movēre, -mōvī, -mōtus : move forward, push onward.

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

sex (vi): indecl. adj., six.

cōnsīdō, -sīdere, -sēdī, -sessus : take a seat; settle, make a home; pitch camp; take a position, station oneself; hold a meeting.

postrīdiē : adv., on the next day, the day after.

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

commeātus, -ūs m.: going to and fro, trip; supplies, provisions.

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

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

supportō, -āre, -āvī, -ātus : bring up, bring forward, convey; supply.

interclūdō, -clūdere, -clūsī, -clūsus : shut off, cut off, hinder, prevent.

continuus, -a, -um : continuous, successive, without interruption.

quīnque (v); quīntus, -a, -um : indecl. adj., five; fifth

prōdūcō, -dūcere, -dūxī, -ductus : lead forward, bring forward, produce; prolong, protract.

īnstruō, -struere, -strūxī, -strūctus : build in; set up, prepare; marshal, draw up; fit out, equip, rig.

Ariovistus, -ī, m.: Ariovistus, a German chief, or king.

contendō, -tendere, -tendī, -tentus : strain, exert oneself; strive for, attempt, try; hasten, press forward; contend, vie; join battle, fight, quarrel; insist; demand.

equester, -tris, -tre : equestrian, of cavalry, cavalry.

cottīdiē : adv., daily, every day.

Germānus, -ī, m. : a German; pl., the Germans; as adj., Germānus, -a, -um, German

totidem : indecl. adj., just as many, the same number.

pedes, -ditis m.: foot-soldier; pl., infantry.

vēlōx, -ōcis: adj., swift, fleet; (adv.) vēlōciter, swiftly, quickly.

dēligō, -ligere, -lēgī, -lēctus : choose, select, detail.

versor, -ārī, -ātus : move about; busy oneself, be engaged, be busy; live, dwell, exist; be.

quī, quae or qua, quod: indef. adj., used chiefly after sī, nisi, nē, num, any, some; the form quī is sometimes used as a substantive, any one, some one.

concurrō, -currere, -currī or -cucurrī, -cursus : run together, run up; rush, hurry; flock.

dēcidō, -cidere, -cidī : fall down, fall off.

circumsistō, -sistere, -stetī : take stand around, rally around, stand around, surround.

prōdeō, -īre, -īvī (-iī), -itus : go forward, advance, go out.

exercitātiō, -ōnis f.: exercise, practice, training; experience, skill.

celeritās, -ātis f.: quickness, swiftness, speed.

iuba, -ae, f.: mane.

sublevō, -āre, -āvī, -ātus : raise up, lift from beneath; hold up, support; lighten, lessen; assist, sustain; sē sublevāre, rise.

adaequō, -āre, -āvī, -ātus : make equal; become equal, be equal; equal; keep up with.


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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.