Cognitō Caesaris adventū, Ariovistus lēgātōs ad eum mittit: quod anteā dē colloquiō postulāsset, id per sē fierī licēre, quoniam propius accessisset, sēque id sine perīculō facere posse exīstimāret. Nōn respuit condiciōnem Caesar, iamque eum ad sānitātem revertī arbitrābātur, cum id quod anteā petentī dēnegāsset ultrō pollicērētur; magnamque in spem veniēbat prō suīs tantīs populīque Rōmānī in eum beneficiīs cognitīs suīs postulātīs fore utī pertināciā dēsisteret. Diēs colloquiō dictus est, ex eō diē quīntus. Interim saepe ultrō citrōque cum lēgātī inter eōs mitterentur, Ariovistus postulāvit nē quem peditem ad colloquium Caesar addūceret: verērī sē nē per īnsidiās ab eō circumvenīrētur; uterque cum equitātū venīret: āliā ratiōne sēsē nōn esse ventūrum. Caesar, quod neque colloquium interpositā causā tollī volēbat neque salūtem suam Gallōrum equitātuī committere audēbat, commodissimum esse statuit omnibus equīs Gallīs equitibus dētractīs, eō legiōnāriōs mīlitēs legiōnis decimae, cui quam maximē cōnfīdēbat, impōnere, ut praesidium quam amīcissimum, sī quid opus factō esset, habēret. Quod cum fieret, nōn irrīdiculē quīdam ex mīlitibus decimae legiōnis dīxit: plūs quam pollicitus esset Caesarem ei facere; pollicitum sē in cohortis praetōriae locō decimam legiōnem habitūrum ad equum rescrībere.

    Ariovistus asks for a conference and stipulated conditions which Caesar grants.

    quod … (etc.): a relative pronoun, “whereas” (M-T), object of postulāsset (Hodges); its antecedent is id (A-G), subject of fierī (Hodges): “[stating that], as to his previous demand in regard to a conference, this might now be carried into effect through his own means, since he had come nearer” (Anthon).

    dē colloquiō: used with transitive verbs is characteristic of Caesar’s style (Walpole).

    postulāsset: = postulāvisset; sc. Caesar (L-E).

    id … licēre: “this could be done” (M-T).

    per sē: “so far as he was concerned” (a common expression with licet) (A-G); “with his consent,” i.e., with the consent of Ariovistus; literally, “through himself” (Harkness).

    accessisset: the subject is Caesar (A-G). Ariovistus’ reason initially for refusing a conference (see Chapter 34) no longer held good. Caesar’s prompt advance had surprised him and he was more inclined to confer (L-E).

    sine perīculō: Ariovistus wanted to avoid seeming to be forced into a conference (L-E).

    nōn respuit condiciōnem: “Caesar did not refuse the terms of agreement offered” (Mobery), (as one might have supposed he would do). Notice the emphatic placement of nōn respuit (A-G).

    ad sānitātem revertī arbitrābātur: “he thought that he was beginning to return to a rational state of mind”; “ … he was coming back to his senses” (Kelsey), literally “to a sound mind” (Anthon); “to a correct way of thinking” (Spencer). The imperfect tense indicates here the beginning of an action (A-G).

    petentī: sc. sibi; i.e., Caesarī (Harkness): “when he requested it” (L-E); “to his request,” literally, “to him asking [it]” (H-T).

    dēnegāsset: = dēnegāvisset: “had utterly refused” (Hodges), i.e., Ariovistus (Kelsey). Subjunctive, as being part of Caesar’s thought (M-T).

    ultrō pollicerētur: ultrō (“of his own initiative” (Kelsey); “unasked” (M-T)) as opposed to petentī (A-G): “he actually promised” (H-T). The original meaning of ultrō is “to a place beyond.” Thence comes its secondary meaning of going “beyond” what is required, i.e., doing a thing “voluntarily” (M-T).

    magnam in spem veniēbat: “he was coming to have great hopes” (Kelsey); “and he began confidently to expect” (L-E); “he began to entertain hope” (Moberly).

    prō suīsbeneficiīs: “in gratitude for … ” (Hodges); “in return for … ” (Kelsey); “in view of … ” (M-T); “considering … ” (Walpole). From Caesar’s point of view, Ariovistus was showing great ingratitude (L-E). Compare Chapter 35, beneficiō suō (H-T).

    suīs: = Caesaris as a subjective genitive (Walpole).

    in eum: “to him,” i.e., Ariovistus (Harkness).

    fore utī pertināciā dēsisteret: “that he would give up his stubbornness” (Walker); “that he would cease from his stubbornness”; literally, “that it would come to pass that he would cease … ” (Hodges). Pertināciā is ablative of separation (AG 402). The use of this periphrasis is here a matter of choice on Caesar’s part, since the verb dēsisteret is active and has a future infinitive form (Walker). It is preferable in translating to omit the circumlocution (Walpole).

    colloquiō: dative of purpose (AG 382) (A-G): “for the conference” (Hodges).

    quīntus: remember that the Latin reckoning was inclusive (Walpole).

    ultrō citrōque: “hither and thither” (H-T); “on that side and on this” (Harkness); “to and fro” (M-T); “back and forth” between the headquarters of the two commanders (Kelsey).

    postulāvit: notice the form of the two demands following this verb, each expressed by the subjunctive, and each having an explanatory clause with the accusative and infinitive appended to it (Hodges).

    nē quem peditem: “that no (i.e., not any) foot soldier” (Kelsey).

    verērī: a verb of saying is understood from postulāvit (A-G): “[saying] that he was afraid” (Kelsey). Translate that introduces the following fear clause (AG 564) with “that” (Kelsey).

    venīret: standing for veniat (hortatory subjunctive (AG 439)) in indirect discourse (A-G). This may be taken as a substantive clause, like nē … addūceret. But it is better to regard it as simply the indirect form of uterque veniat, “let each come” (Hodges).

    āliā ratiōne sē nōn esse ventūrum: “that he would not come on any other terms / condition” (Anthon). Aliā ratiōne is a conditional ablative, “if there were any other terms” (Walpole).

    interpositā causā: causā = impedīmentō: “by putting in an excuse” (A-G); “by allowing difficulties or excuses to intervene” (Moberly); “by alleging any excuse” (H-T); “by the interposing of any pretext” (Anthon), i.e., by Ariovistus (Harkness). Caesar did not wish to allow Ariovistus any pretext for jeopardizing the conference (M-T). Ablative absolute (AG 419) (A-G).

    colloquium … tollī: “the conference to be thwarted / prevented” (Anthon).

    neque audēbat: “nor was rash enough to” (Walpole).

    Gallōrum equitātuī: the cavalry in Caesar’s army were all Gauls. He was afraid, therefore, lest, if attacked during the conference by the German horse, they might not prove a sufficient protection for his person (Anthon). Caesar’s natural distrust of the Gallic cavalry may have been increased by Ariovistus’ demand that cavalry only should escort him (L-E). He knew that, in any case, they were no match for the German cavalry (Walker). The Gallic cavalry numbered about 4000, about the same as a legion (A-G). Equitātuī is the dative object of a verb of trusting (AG 367); some editions have equitātū, the old form of the dative (Anthon).

    commodissimum: predicate adjective after esse, whose subject is the infinitive clause eō … impōnere (A-G): “he deemed it most expedient that … ” (Anthon).

    omnibus equīs Gallīs equitibus dētractīs: “all their horses having been taken from the Gallic cavalry” (Anthon). Gallīs equitibus is dative following dētractīs (A-G), though translated with “from” (Hodges).

    legiōnāriōs mīlitēsimpōnere: “to mount on them the legionary soldiers.” The adverbial form (“thereon” (Hodges) is equivalent here to in eōs [equōs]: “upon them” (Anthon). The horses of the Gallic cavalry were assigned to the soldiers of the famous tenth legion (Harkness). Legiōnāriōs is contrasted with equitibus (Hodges).

    cui: “in which” (Kelsey); dative with the notion of trusting (AG 367).

    quam amīcissimum: “guards as devoted as possible” (Moberly).

    sī quid opus factō esset: “if there should be need of any active measures” (A-G); “if there should be any occasion for their services” (L-E). Quid (= aliquid) is an adverbial accusative (AG 397 a); factō (a participle, not the noun) is ablative of means with opus esset (AG 411) (A-G). This phrase appears to be a mixture of the two common constructions: Sī quid opus est, “if anything is needed”; and sī factō (or factū) opus est, “if there is need of action.” Observe that quid alone is the subject, opus the predicate (Moberly). Esset is subjunctive in implied indirect discourse, for in making his plans Caesar thought sī erit, “if there shall be” (Walker).

    quod cum fieret: quod = hoc: “while this was going on” (A-G).        

    nōn irrīdiculē: “not without some humor,” i.e., humorously enough (Anthon); “wittily” (L-E). Litotes (AG 641), in which an affirmation is made in the form of a denial of the opposite (M-T).

    plūs quam pollicitus esset Caesarem facere: plūs is the object of facere (Kelsey): “that Caesar was doing more [for that legion] than he had promised” (Harkness).

    pollicitum sē in cohortis praetōriae locō decimam legiōnem habitūrum: sc. eum, referring to Caesar, the subject of rescrībere (Kelsey): “having promised [merely] that he would have the tenth legion as his body-guard” (Hodges). See Chapter 36 (A-G).

    cohortis praetōriae: “the cohort of the praetorium,” i.e., of headquarters. They were to supply the guards and escorts required by Caesar (Moberly).

    nunc … ad equum rescrībere: “that now he was transferring them to the cavalry” (Harkness); “that now he enrolled them among the knights” (A-G); “now that he was making knights of them” (H-T). The soldier said, in substance, “After promising only to make us his body-guard, Caesar is actually making us cavaliers” (Walker). Perhaps the wit of the remark consists in part in the pun involved in ad equum rescrībere, which may mean either to transfer to the cavalry (a part of the army looked down upon by the soldiers of the legion (L-E)) or to raise to the rank of knight (Harkness), a special privileged class in Roman society (A-G). When soldiers were first enlisted they were said to be scrībī, i.e., their names were entered in the roll of the legion. If they were afterward transferred, from the corps into which they had been enrolled, to some other part of the service, they were said to be rescrībī (Anthon).

    The equitēs were originally the cavalry soldiers of the Roman citizen-army. According to the arrangement attributed to Servius Tullius they formed the highest class in the state after the senators. Some received their horses at the public cost (hence the phrase rescrībere ad equum, “to enroll for a horse”); some served on horses of their own. But by a law of C. Gracchus all persons possessing the requisite property-qualification were enrolled in the ordō equestris irrespective of service in the army; so that from this date (123 B.C.) the name equitēs is applied in two distinct senses, military and civil; and the Equestrian order became the great middle class in Roman society, in which most of the merchants, financiers, etc. were found (M-T).

    adventus, -ūs m.: arrival, coming, approach.

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

    anteā : adv., before, formerly, previously, earlier, once.

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

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

    respuō, -spuere, -spuī : reject, spurn.

    sānitās, -ātis f.: soundness; sanity, good sense.

    revertor, -vertī, -versus, perf. usually act. in form, revertī : turn back, come back, go back, return.

    dēnegō, -āre, -āvī, -ātus : refuse, deny.

    ultrō : adv., to the farther side; besides, too; of oneself, unasked, spontaneously, voluntarily, without provocation; in spite of himself; ultrō citrōque, back and forth, to and fro.

    polliceor, pollicērī, pollicitus : offer, promise; līberāliter pollicērī, make generous promises.

    postulātum, -ī n.: demand.

    pertinācia, -ae f.: persistence, obstinacy.

    dēsistō, -sistere, -stitī, -stitus : stand away, aesist, give up, leave off, cease.

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

    citrō : adv., to this side; ultrō citrōque, to and fro, back and forth.

    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.

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

    īnsidiae, -ārum f.: pl., snare, trap, ambush; plot, stratagem; treachery.

    circumveniō, -venīre, -vēnī, -ventus : come around, surround, beset; circumvent, deceive.

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

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

    interpōnō, -pōnere, -posuī, -positus : put between, interpose, introduce; cause; put forward, allege; promise, pledge.

    commodus, -a, -um : complete; suitable, convenient, favorable, easy; serviceable, useful; (adv.) commodē, well, suitably, conveniently; effectively, profitably, easily.

    dētrahō, -trahere, -trāxī, -trāctus : take off, pull off; take away, remove, seize.

    legiōnārius, -a, -um : belonging to a legion, legionary.

    cōnfīdō, -fīdere, -fīsus : have confidence in, rely upon, trust, believe; hope.

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

    inrīdiculē : adv., without wit.

    praetōrius, -a, -um : of the praetor, praetorian; praetōria cohors, (commander's) body-guard.

    rescrībō, -scrībere, -scrīpsī, -scrīptus : write again; transfer, enroll.


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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.