Chapter 5.40

Mittuntur ad Caesarem cōnfestim ab Cicerōne litterae māgnīs prōpositīs praemiīs, sī pertulissent: obsessīs omnibus viīs mīssī intercipiuntur. Noctū ex māteriā quam mūnītiōnis causā comportāverant, turrēs admodum centum XX excitantur incrēdibilī celeritāte; quae deesse operī vidēbantur perficiuntur. Hostēs posterō diē multō māiōribus coāctīs cōpiīs castra oppūgnant, fossam complent. Eādem ratiōne, quā prīdiē, ab nostrīs resistitur. Hōc idem reliquīs deinceps fit diēbus. Nūlla pars nocturnī temporis ad labōrem intermittitur; nōn aegrīs, nōn vulnerātīs facultās quiētis datur. Quaecumque ad proximī diēī oppūgnātiōnem opus sunt noctū comparantur; multae praeūstae sudēs, māgnus mūrālium pīlōrum numerus īnstituitur; turrēs contabulantur, pinnae lōrīcaeque ex crātibus attexuntur. Ipse Cicerō, cum tenuissimā valētūdine esset, nē nocturnum quidem sibi tempus ad quiētem relinquēbat, ut ūltrō mīlitum concursū āc vōcibus sibi parcere cōgerētur.

The defense.

pertulissent: for the future perfect, implied indirect discourse. (A&G 592); the subject is unexpressed, but we should understand something like 'messengers' or 'couriers' (Gaisser).

turres: these were open at the sides and behind, solidly timbered towards the enemy, and their object was, like that of the modern bastion, to shorten the length of wall to be occupied by the defence as well as to give the soldiers a still higher position from which to throw their missiles. In this case they were probably not more than three stories, or perhaps thirty feet, high. Each story was floored with a platform, on which the soldiers stood. The front and sides of each platform were protected by a parapet (loricae) of hurdles, to the height of about four feet. Above this projected a sort of battlement of stakes {pinnae), or of hurdles standing erect, with spaces at intervals, through which the spears were hurled. The structure was square, of about ten feet on a side. Of these towers, it appears that on the first night only the framework was erected. On succeeding nights they were completed. (Allen & Greenough; see their figure 103)

fossam: 'ditch.' Each Roman camp was fortified by a palisade (vallum) and a deep v-shaped ditch (fossa) (Smith).

eadem ratione qua: 'in the same way as' (Gaisser).

Quaecumque…opus sunt: 'whatever things were necessary' (Gaisser).

praeustae sudes: heavy stakes or piles of wood, sharpened at the end, and charred to harden the point. They were hurled by the tormenta. (Allen & Greenough) It appears…that these improvised weapons were intended to be thrown. We often hear of them in ancient warfare. (Stock)

muralium pilorum: long pikes, to defend the wall (Allen & Judson).

turres: Here a light movable tower used for defensive purposes. They might be several storeys high. From them missiles could be thrown down on the enemy (Gaisser).

contabulantur: 'floored with plank'. Possibly also the towers were connected by galleries, one for each story. (Allen & Judson)

pinnae loricaeque: ‘battlements and breastworks’. (Stock)

cum: 'although' (Gaisser) (A&G 549).

ultro militum concursu…cogeretur: ‘he was compelled by the spontaneous pressure and expostulation of the soldiers’ (Moberly); concursu ac vocibus: 'by the spontaneous movement and entreaties' (Allen & Greenough).

sibi: dat., depending on parcere. (Hodges)(A&G 367)

confestim: promply, with all haste

perfěro, perferre, pertǔli, perlātum: to bear or carry through; convey

obsǐděo, obsǐdere, obsēdi, obsessum: to sit, sttay; block, blockade.

intercǐpǐo, intercǐpere, intercēpi, interceptum: to intercept, hinder, cut off

noctu: by night

mūnītǐo, -ōnis f.: a defending, fortifying, fortification

comportō, -āre, -āvi, -ātum: to bear, bring together, collect

turris, -is f.: tower; siege-tower

admŏdum adv.: very, very much; at least; up to, about

centum: one hundred

excǐtō, -āre, -āvi, -ātum: to call out or forth, to rouse up; raise up

incrēdǐbǐlis: that cannot be believed, incredible

cělěrǐtas, -ātis f.: swiftness, quickness, speed, celerity

perfĭcĭo, -ĕre, -fēci, -fectum: accomplish, carry through; build, construct

oppugnō, -āre: to attack, assail, assault

complěo, -ere, -plēui, -plētum: to fill up, fill full 

prīdĭē adv.: on the day before

resistō, -ere, -stitī: maintain one’s position, hold one’s ground, resist

dĕinceps: one after another, in turn, in succession

nocturnus, -a, -um: of or belonging to the night, nocturnal

intermitto, mittěre, mīsi, missum: to leave off, intermit, omit, neglect

vulnĕro, -āre: to wound

fǎcultas, -ātis f.: capability, power, means, opportunity

quĭēs quietis f: rest, repose, sleep

quīcumquě, quaecumquě, quodcumquě: whoever, whichever, whatever

oppugnātǐo, -ōnis f.: storming, assault, attack

praeūro, -ĕre, -ussi, -ustum: burn at the point

sŭdis, -is f.: post, picket, stake

mūrālis, -e: of the wall, mural

pīlum, -i n.: Roman spear

contǎbǔlō, -āre: to furnish or cover with boards

pinna, -ae f.: bulwark

lōrīca, ae f.: a leather cuirass

crātis, -is f.: hurdle, wickerwork

attexo, -ere, -xui, -xtum: construct upon; weave

tĕnŭis, -e: insignificant, precarious

vălētūdo, -ĭnis f.: health; state of health

ultrō: to the farther side, beyond, other side

concursus, -ūs m.: running together, rally

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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.