Chapter 1.34

Quam ob rem placuit eī ut ad Ariovistum lēgātōs mitteret, quī ab eō postulārent utī aliquem locum medium utrīusque colloquiō dēligeret: velle sēsē dē rē pūblicā et summīs utrīusque rēbus cum eō agere. Eī lēgātiōnī Ariovistus respondit: sī quid ipsī ā Caesare opus esset, sēsē ad eum ventūrum fuisse; sī quid ille sē velit, illum ad sē venīre oportēre. Praetereā sē neque sine exercitū in eās partēs Galliae venīre audēre quās Caesar possidēret, neque exercitum sine magnō commeātū atque mōlīmentō in ūnum locum contrahere posse. Sibi autem mīrum vidērī quid in suā Galliā, quam bellō vīcisset, aut Caesarī aut omnīnō populō Rōmānō negōtī esset.

    Caesar sends an embassy to Ariovistus, who returns an insolent reply.

    placuit eī: = statuit, cēnsuit (Walpole): “he resolved” (Kelsey); “he decided” (Harkness), i.e., Caesar (A-G).

    ut … mitteret: “to send”; a substantive purpose clause (AG 563) which serves as the subject of placuit (Kelsey).      

    quī ab eō postulārent: “to demand of him” (L-E); subjunctive in a relative purpose clause (AG 531) (Harkness).

    utī aliquem locum medium utrīusque colloquiō dīceret: “that he should name for the conference some place midway between both,” i.e., midway between Caesar and Ariovistus (Harkness); “to name some intervening place for a conference on the part of each,” i.e., some neutral spot (Moberly) where a mutual conference might be held (Anthon). Colloquiō is dative of purpose (AG 382).

    Caesar was anxious to secure his end without a war and probably thought that the diplomatic relations which had been maintained with Ariovistus could be kept up. His army had just ended one campaign and was not yet thoroughly to be relied upon, as was shown later on (Kelsey).

    velle sēsē: “[stating] that he wished” (Kelsey); indirect discourse (AG 580 a) dependent on a verb of saying to be supplied from postulārent (M-T). Sēsē refers to Caesar, the logical subject of the main verb of the indirect discourse, since placuit eī means “he resolved” (M-T).

    utrīusque: = inter utrumque, i.e., midway between Caesar and Ariovistus (A-G). Genitive is used after the analogy of the partitive genitive with medius (cf. medium viae); the space of which the spot chosen would be the middle point, being defined by reference to the two persons who were at either end of it (M-T). The genitive with the adjective medius is rare in prose (Hodges).

    dē rē pūblicā … agere: “to confer in regard to the common good,” i.e., interests and public matters common to both parties (Harkness).

    summīs utrīusque rēbus: “matters of the greatest importance to both of them” (H-T).

    eī lēgātiōnī: = eīs lēgātīs (Hodges).

    sī … oportēre: these conditional sentences are contained in an indirect discourse. Converting them into direct discourse, with changes underlined, they are as follows: Sī quid mihi ā Caesare opus esset, ego ad eum vēnissem (Hodges). Sī quid ille vult, illum ad venīre oportet (Kelsey).

    sī quid ipsī ā Caesare opus esset: the protasis of a contrary-to-fact condition: “that if he himself had need of anything from Caesar” Opus est is either used impersonally, in which case it has, like verbs of wanting, an ablative; or personally, and then the thing needed is in the nominative (AG 411 b). This latter construction is most common with the neuters of pronouns and adjectives (like quid in this sentence) (Anthon). Ipsī = sibi ipsī, as an antithesis to ille below (M-T); the indirect reflexive sibi would be more usual, but ipsī is more emphatic (Walker).

    sēsē ad eum ventūrum fuisse: the apodosis of the conditional sentence: “he would have come to him.” When such a condition is turned into indirect discourse, the conclusion always takes the infinitive form –ūrusfuisse (Walker).

    sī quid ille sē velit: “if Caesar wanted him for any purpose” (Moberly); “if he [Caesar] wanted anything of him [Ariovistus]”; a colloquial expression following the analogy of verbs of asking which admit two accusatives (quid, sē) (Harkness). Sī velit stands for an original sī vult of direct discourse (Walker). The syntax in this sentence makes Ariovistus imply that he did not want anything from Caesar, but that Caesar might want something from him (Stock).

    in eās partēs: Ariovistus was probably at this time between the Rhine and the Vosges (Harkness), near modern Strasburg (L-E), a long distance from Caesar, who was probably in the vicinity of Bibracte (Kelsey).

    quās possidēret: “which he was occupying” (Kelsey); i.e., the land of the Aedui and the Lingones, which Ariovistus assumes that Caesar has conquered (L-E).

    sine magnō commeātū atque ēmōlīmentō: “without a large commissariat and much trouble besides” (Moberly); “without great expenditure of means and great trouble.” Commeātus has here a general reference to supplies of all kinds (Anthon), including provisions for an army (M-T). Ēmōlīmentum is equivalent to “effort,” “exertion” (M-T), “trouble” in accumulating supplies as well as in mobilizing his forces; for the army of Ariovistus, so long as it was scattered in small detachments, could live off the country (Kelsey). Ēmōlīrī = moliendō efficere aliquid (“to accomplish something through great effort”) and ēmōlīmentum = labor ipse (Anthon).

    contrahere: “bring together” (Kelsey).

    mīrum: “a cause for wonder” (Kelsey); “he wondered,” literally “it seemed strange to him” (AG); predicate adjective with vidērī (Walker).

    quid … esset: indirect question with subjunctive (AG 575) (Hodges), used as the subject of vidērī (Kelsey).

    quid … negōtiī: “what business” (A-G); negōtiī is partitive genitive (AG 346) with quid.

    in suā Galliā: “in his [part of] Gaul” (L-E); these words depict very forcibly the arrogance of Ariovistus. Florus gives the reply of the German leader as follows: “Quis est autem Caesar? Sī vult, veniat. Quid ad illum quid agat Germānia nostra? Num ego mē interpōnō Rōmānīs?”

    vīcisset: the subjunctive, used in reference to the sentiments of the speaker, not those of the writer (A-G).

    aut Caesarī aut … populō Rōmānō: datives of possession with esset (Hodges): “what business either Caesar or the Roman people had” (Kelsey).

    omnīnō: “in general” (L-E).

    quam ob rem: on account of which thing; therefore; why

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

    postulō, -āre, -āvī, -ātūs: demand, request, require, call for; make necessary.

    conloquium, -ī n.: conference, conversation, interview.

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

    rēs publica reī publicae f.: republic

    lēgātiō, -ōnis f.: embassy, legation; members of an embassy.

    opus n.: indecl., necessity, need; opus esse, be necessary.

    possideō, -sidēre, -sēdī, -sessus: have and hold, occupy, own.

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

    mōlīmentum, -ī n.: great exertion, effort.

    contrahō, -trahere, -trāxī, -trāctus: bring together, collect; draw in, contract, make smaller.

    mīrus, -a, -um: wonderful, strange.

    omnīnō: adv., wholly, entirely, utterly; in all; only; at all.

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