De Bello Gallico Passages for the AP Latin Caesar Liber V Part 2

Book 5: Chapters 38-48

Below you will find the text for the the second half of the passages from Caesar's Gallic Wars Book V that are required reading in Latin for the AP Latin exam in 2012. You should first have learned Book V Part I. Reading the rest of the fifth book is not required.

You are required to read Books I, VI, and VII, as well as passages from Books I, IV, V, and VI in Latin.

I include a public domain, early 20th century translation from Thomas De Quincey.

For the whole book in translation, see:

Introduction | Book I | II | III | IV | | VI | VII | VIII | Index

AP Latin Passages

De Bello Gallico Book V Chapters 38-48

XXXVIII.--Elated by this victory, Ambiorix marches immediately with his cavalry to the Aduatuci, who bordered on his kingdom; he halts neither day nor night, and orders the infantry to follow him closely. Having related the exploit and roused the Aduatuci, the next day he arrived among the Nervii, and entreats "that they should not throw away the opportunity of liberating themselves for ever and of punishing the Romans for those wrongs which they had received from them"; [he tells them] "that two lieutenants have been slain, and that a large portion of the army has perished; that it was not a matter of difficulty for the legion which was wintering with Cicero to be cut off, when suddenly assaulted; he declares himself ready to co-operate in that design." He easily gains over the Nervii by this speech.[38] Hac victoria sublatus Ambiorix statim cum equitatu in Aduatucos, qui erant eius regno finitimi, proficiscitur; neque noctem neque diem intermittit peditatumque subsequi iubet. Re demonstrata Aduatucisque concitatis postero die in Nervios pervenit hortaturque, ne sui in perpetuum liberandi atque ulciscendi Romanos pro eis quas acceperint iniuriis occasionem dimittant: interfectos esse legatos duos magnamque partem exercitus interisse demonstrat; nihil esse negoti subito oppressam legionem quae cum Cicerone hiemet interfici; se ad eam rem profitetur adiutorem. Facile hac oratione Nerviis persuadet.
XXXIX.--Accordingly, messengers having been forthwith despatched to the Centrones, the Grudii, the Levaci, the Pleumoxii, and the Geiduni, all of whom are under their government, they assemble as large bodies as they can, and rush unexpectedly to the winter-quarters of Cicero, the report of the death of Titurius not having as yet been conveyed to him. That also occurred to him which was the consequence of a necessary work,--that some soldiers who had gone off into the woods for the purpose of procuring timber and therewith constructing fortifications, were intercepted by the sudden arrival of [the enemy's] horse. These having been entrapped, the Eburones, the Nervii, and the Aduatuci and all their allies and dependants, begin to attack the legion: our men quickly run together to arms and mount the rampart: they sustained the attack that day with great difficulty, since the enemy placed all their hope in despatch, and felt assured that, if they obtained this victory, they would be conquerors for ever.[39] Itaque confestim dimissis nuntiis ad Ceutrones, Grudios, Levacos, Pleumoxios, Geidumnos, qui omnes sub eorum imperio sunt, quam maximas manus possunt cogunt et de improviso ad Ciceronis hiberna advolant nondum ad eum fama de Tituri morte perlata. Huic quoque accidit, quod fuit necesse, ut nonnulli milites, qui lignationis munitionisque causa in silvas discessissent, repentino equitum adventu interciperentur. His circumventis magna manu Eburones, Nervii, Aduatuci atque horum omnium socii et clientes legionem oppugnare incipiunt. Nostri celeriter ad arma concurrunt, vallum conscendunt. Aegre is dies sustentatur, quod omnem spem hostes in celeritate ponebant atque hanc adepti victoriam in perpetuum se fore victores confidebant.
XL.--Letters are immediately sent to Caesar by Cicero, great rewards being offered [to the messengers] if they carried them through. All the passes having been beset, those who were sent are intercepted. During the night as many as 120 towers are raised with incredible despatch out of the timber which they had collected for the purpose of fortification: the things which seemed necessary to the work are completed. The following day the enemy, having collected far greater forces, attack the camp [and] fill up the ditch. Resistance is made by our men in the same manner as the day before: this same thing is done afterwards during the remaining days. The work is carried on incessantly in the night: not even to the sick, or wounded, is opportunity given for rest: whatever things are required for resisting the assault of the next day are provided during the night: many stakes burnt at the end, and a large number of mural pikes are procured: towers are built up, battlements and parapets are formed of interwoven hurdles. Cicero himself, though he was in very weak health, did not leave himself the night-time for repose, so that he was forced to spare himself by the spontaneous movement and entreaties of the soldiers.[40] Mittuntur ad Caesarem confestim ab Cicerone litterae magnis propositis praemiis, si pertulissent: obsessis omnibus viis missi intercipiuntur. Noctu ex materia, quam munitionis causa comportaverant, turres admodum CXX excitantur incredibili celeritate; quae deesse operi videbantur, perficiuntur. Hostes postero die multo maioribus coactis copiis castra oppugnant, fossam complent. Eadem ratione, qua pridie, ab nostris resistitur. Hoc idem reliquis deinceps fit diebus. Nulla pars nocturni temporis ad laborem intermittitur; non aegris, non vulneratis facultas quietis datur. Quaecumque ad proximi diei oppugnationem opus sunt noctu comparantur; multae praeustae sudes, magnus muralium pilorum numerus instituitur; turres contabulantur, pinnae loricaeque ex cratibus attexuntur. Ipse Cicero, cum tenuissima valetudine esset, ne nocturnum quidem sibi tempus ad quietem relinquebat, ut ultro militum concursu ac vocibus sibi parcere cogeretur.
XLI.--Then these leaders and chiefs of the Nervii, who had any intimacy and grounds of friendship with Cicero, say they desire to confer with him. When permission was granted, they recount the same things which Ambiorix had related to Titurius, namely, "that all Gaul was in arms, that the Germans had passed the Rhine, that the winter-quarters of Caesar and of the others were attacked." They report in addition also, about the death of Sabinus. They point to Ambiorix for the purpose of obtaining credence; "they are mistaken," say they, "if they hoped for any relief from those who distrust their own affairs; that they bear such feelings towards Cicero and the Roman people that they deny them nothing but winter-quarters and are unwilling that this practice should become constant; that through their [the Nervii's] means it is possible for them [the Romans] to depart from their winter-quarters safely and to proceed without fear into whatever parts they desire." To these Cicero made only one reply: "that it is not the custom of the Roman people to accept any condition from an armed enemy: if they are willing to lay down their arms, they may employ him as their advocate and send ambassadors to Caesar: that he believed, from his [Caesar's] justice, they would obtain the things which they might request."[41] Tunc duces principesque Nerviorum qui aliquem sermonis aditum causamque amicitiae cum Cicerone habebant colloqui sese velle dicunt. Facta potestate eadem quae Ambiorix cum Titurio egerat commemorant: omnem esse in armis Galliam; Germanos Rhenum transisse; Caesaris reliquorumque hiberna oppugnari. Addunt etiam de Sabini morte: Ambiorigem ostentant fidei faciendae causa. Errare eos dicunt, si quidquam ab his praesidi sperent, qui suis rebus diffidant; sese tamen hoc esse in Ciceronem populumque Romanum animo, ut nihil nisi hiberna recusent atque hanc inveterascere consuetudinem nolint: licere illis incolumibus per se ex hibernis discedere et quascumque in partes velint sine metu proficisci. Cicero ad haec unum modo respondit: non esse consuetudinem populi Romani accipere ab hoste armato condicionem: si ab armis discedere velint, se adiutore utantur legatosque ad Caesarem mittant; sperare pro eius iustitia, quae petierint, impetraturos.
XLII.--Disappointed in this hope, the Nervii surround the winter-quarters with a rampart eleven feet high, and a ditch thirteen feet in depth. These military works they had learnt from our men in the intercourse of former years, and, having taken some of our army prisoners, were instructed by them: but, as they had no supply of iron tools which are requisite for this service, they were forced to cut the turf with their swords, and to empty out the earth with their hands and cloaks, from which circumstance the vast number of the men could be inferred; for in less than three hours they completed a fortification of ten miles in circumference; and during the rest of the days they began to prepare and construct towers of the height of the ramparts, and grappling irons, and mantlets, which the same prisoners had taught them.[42] Ab hac spe repulsi Nervii vallo pedum IX et fossa pedum XV hiberna cingunt. Haec et superiorum annorum consuetudine ab nobis cognoverant et, quos clam de exercitu habebant captivos, ab eis docebantur; sed nulla ferramentorum copia quae esset ad hunc usum idonea, gladiis caespites circumcidere, manibus sagulisque terram exhaurire nitebantur. Qua quidem ex re hominum multitudo cognosci potuit: nam minus horis tribus milium pedum XV in circuitu munitionem perfecerunt reliquisque diebus turres ad altitudinem valli, falces testudinesque, quas idem captivi docuerant, parare ac facere coeperunt.
XLIII.--On the seventh day of the attack, a very high wind having sprung up, they began to discharge by their slings hot balls made of burnt or hardened clay, and heated javelins, upon the huts, which, after the Gallic custom, were thatched with straw. These quickly took fire, and by the violence of the wind, scattered their flames in every part of the camp. The enemy following up their success with a very loud shout, as if victory were already obtained and secured, began to advance their towers and mantlets, and climb the rampart with ladders. But so great was the courage of our soldiers, and such their presence of mind, that though they were scorched on all sides, and harassed by a vast number of weapons, and were aware that their baggage and their possessions were burning, not only did no one quit the rampart for the purpose of withdrawing from the scene, but scarcely did any one even then look behind; and they all fought most vigorously and most valiantly. This day was by far the most calamitous to our men; it had this result, however, that on that day the largest number of the enemy was wounded and slain, since they had crowded beneath the very rampart, and the hindmost did not afford the foremost a retreat. The flame having abated a little, and a tower having been brought up in a particular place and touching the rampart, the centurions of the third cohort retired from the place in which they were standing, and drew off all their men: they began to call on the enemy by gestures and by words, to enter if they wished; but none of them dared to advance. Then stones having been cast from every quarter, the enemy were dislodged, and their tower set on fire.[43] Septimo oppugnationis die maximo coorto vento ferventes fusili ex argilla glandes fundis et fervefacta iacula in casas, quae more Gallico stramentis erant tectae, iacere coeperunt. Hae celeriter ignem comprehenderunt et venti magnitudine in omnem locum castrorum distulerunt. Hostes maximo clamore sicuti parta iam atque explorata victoria turres testudinesque agere et scalis vallum ascendere coeperunt. At tanta militum virtus atque ea praesentia animi fuit, ut, cum undique flamma torrerentur maximaque telorum multitudine premerentur suaque omnia impedimenta atque omnes fortunas conflagrare intellegerent, non modo demigrandi causa de vallo decederet nemo, sed paene ne respiceret quidem quisquam, ac tum omnes acerrime fortissimeque pugnarent. Hic dies nostris longe gravissimus fuit; sed tamen hunc habuit eventum, ut eo die maximus numerus hostium vulneraretur atque interficeretur, ut se sub ipso vallo constipaverant recessumque primis ultimi non dabant. Paulum quidem intermissa flamma et quodam loco turri adacta et contingente vallum tertiae cohortis centuriones ex eo, quo stabant, loco recesserunt suosque omnes removerunt, nutu vocibusque hostes, si introire vellent, vocare coeperunt; quorum progredi ausus est nemo. Tum ex omni parte lapidibus coniectis deturbati, turrisque succensa est.
XLIV.--In that legion there were two very brave men, centurions, who were now approaching the first ranks, T. Pulfio, and L. Varenus. These used to have continual disputes between them which of them should be preferred, and every year used to contend for promotion with the utmost animosity. When the fight was going on most vigorously before the fortifications, Pulfio, one of them, says, "Why do you hesitate, Varenus? or what [better] opportunity of signalising your valour do you seek? This very day shall decide our disputes." When he had uttered these words, he proceeds beyond the fortifications, and rushes on that part of the enemy which appeared the thickest. Nor does Varenus remain within the rampart, but respecting the high opinion of all, follows close after. Then, when an inconsiderable space intervened, Pulfio throws his javelin at the enemy, and pierces one of the multitude who was running up, and while the latter was wounded and slain, the enemy cover him with their shields, and all throw their weapons at the other and afford him no opportunity of retreating. The shield of Pulfio is pierced and a javelin is fastened in his belt. This circumstance turns aside his scabbard and obstructs his right hand when attempting to draw his sword: the enemy crowd around him when [thus] embarrassed. His rival runs up to him and succours him in this emergency. Immediately the whole host turn from Pulfio to him, supposing the other to be pierced through by the javelin. Varenus rushes on briskly with his sword and carries on the combat hand to hand, and having slain one man, for a short time drove back the rest: while he urges on too eagerly, slipping into a hollow, he fell. To him, in his turn, when surrounded, Pulfio brings relief; and both having slain a great number, retreat into the fortifications amidst the highest applause. Fortune so dealt with both in this rivalry and conflict, that the one competitor was a succour and a safeguard to the other, nor could it be determined which of the two appeared worthy of being preferred to the other.[44] Erant in ea legione fortissimi viri, centuriones, qui primis ordinibus appropinquarent, Titus Pullo et Lucius Vorenus. Hi perpetuas inter se controversias habebant, quinam anteferretur, omnibusque annis de locis summis simultatibus contendebant. Ex his Pullo, cum acerrime ad munitiones pugnaretur, "Quid dubitas," inquit, " Vorene? aut quem locum tuae probandae virtutis exspectas ? hic dies de nostris controversiis iudicabit." Haec cum dixisset, procedit extra munitiones quaque pars hostium confertissima est visa irrumpit. Ne Vorenus quidem tum sese vallo continet, sed omnium veritus existimationem subsequitur. Mediocri spatio relicto Pullo pilum in hostes immittit atque unum ex multitudine procurrentem traicit; quo percusso et exanimato hunc scutis protegunt, in hostem tela universi coniciunt neque dant regrediendi facultatem. Transfigitur scutum Pulloni et verutum in balteo defigitur. Avertit hic casus vaginam et gladium educere conanti dextram moratur manum, impeditumque hostes circumsistunt. Succurrit inimicus illi Vorenus et laboranti subvenit. Ad hunc se confestim a Pullone omnis multitudo convertit: illum veruto arbitrantur occisum. Gladio comminus rem gerit Vorenus atque uno interfecto reliquos paulum propellit; dum cupidius instat, in locum deiectus inferiorem concidit. Huic rursus circumvento fert subsidium Pullo, atque ambo incolumes compluribus interfectis summa cum laude sese intra munitiones recipiunt. Sic fortuna in contentione et certamine utrumque versavit, ut alter alteri inimicus auxilio salutique esset, neque diiudicari posset, uter utri virtute anteferendus videretur.
XLV.--In proportion as the attack became daily more formidable and violent, and particularly because, as a great number of the soldiers were exhausted with wounds, the matter had come to a small number of defenders, more frequent letters and messengers were sent to Caesar; a part of which messengers were taken and tortured to death in the sight of our soldiers. There was within our camp a certain Nervian, by name Vertico, born in a distinguished position, who in the beginning of the blockade had deserted to Cicero, and had exhibited his fidelity to him. He persuades his slave, by the hope of freedom, and by great rewards, to convey a letter to Caesar. This he carries out bound about his javelin, and mixing among the Gauls without any suspicion by being a Gaul, he reaches Caesar. From him they received information of the imminent danger of Cicero and the legion.[45] Quanto erat in dies gravior atque asperior oppugnatio, et maxime quod magna parte militum confecta vulneribus res ad paucitatem defensorum pervenerat, tanto crebriores litterae nuntiique ad Caesarem mittebantur; quorum pars deprehensa in conspectu nostrorum militum cum cruciatu necabatur. Erat unus intus Nervius nomine Vertico, loco natus honesto, qui a prima obsidione ad Ciceronem perfugerat suamque ei fidem praestiterat. Hic servo spe libertatis magnisque persuadet praemiis, ut litteras ad Caesarem deferat. Has ille in iaculo illigatas effert et Gallus inter Gallos sine ulla suspicione versatus ad Caesarem pervenit. Ab eo de periculis Ciceronis legionisque cognoscitur.
XLVI.--Caesar having received the letter about the eleventh hour of the day, immediately sends a messenger to the Bellovaci, to M. Crassus, questor there, whose winter-quarters were twenty-five miles distant from him. He orders the legion to set forward in the middle of the night and come to him with despatch. Crassus set out with the messenger. He sends anther to C. Fabius, the lieutenant, ordering him to lead forth his legion into the territories of the Atrebates, to which he knew his march must be made. He writes to Labienus to come with his legion to the frontiers of the Nervii, if he could do so to the advantage of the commonwealth: he does not consider that the remaining portion of the army, because it was somewhat farther distant, should be waited for; but assembles about 400 horse from the nearest winter-quarters.[46] Caesar acceptis litteris hora circiter XI diei statim nuntium in Bellovacos ad M. Crassum quaestorem mittit, cuius hiberna aberant ab eo milia passuum XXV; iubet media nocte legionem proficisci celeriterque ad se venire. Exit cum nuntio Crassus. Alterum ad Gaium Fabium legatum mittit, ut in Atrebatium fines legionem adducat, qua sibi iter faciendum sciebat. Scribit Labieno, si rei publicae commodo facere posset, cum legione ad fines Nerviorum veniat. Reliquam partem exercitus, quod paulo aberat longius, non putat exspectandam; equites circiter quadringentos ex proximis hibernis colligit.
XLVII.--Having been apprised of the arrival of Crassus by the scouts at about the third hour, he advances twenty miles that day. He appoints Crassus over Samarobriva and assigns him a legion, because he was leaving there the baggage of the army, the hostages of the states, the public documents, and all the corn, which he had conveyed thither for passing the winter. Fabius, without delaying a moment, meets him on the march with his legion, as he had been commanded. Labienus, having learnt the death of Sabinus and the destruction of the cohorts, as all the forces of the Treviri had come against him, beginning to fear lest, if he made a departure from his winter-quarters, resembling a flight, he should not be able to support the attack of the enemy, particularly since he knew them to be elated by their recent victory, sends back a letter to Caesar, informing him with what great hazard he would lead out his legion from winter-quarters; he relates at large the affair which had taken place among the Eburones; he informs him that all the infantry and cavalry of the Treviri had encamped at a distance of only three miles from his own camp.[47] Hora circiter tertia ab antecursoribus de Crassi adventu certior factus eo die milia passuum XX procedit. Crassum Samarobrivae praeficit legionemque attribuit, quod ibi impedimenta exercitus, obsides civitatum, litteras publicas frumentumque omne quod eo tolerandae hiemis causa devexerat relinquebat. Fabius, ut imperatum erat, non ita multum moratus in itinere cum legione occurrit. Labienus interitu Sabini et caede cohortium cognita, cum omnes ad eum Treverorum copiae venissent, veritus, si ex hibernis fugae similem profectionem fecisset, ut hostium impetum sustinere posset, praesertim quos recenti victoria efferri sciret, litteras Caesari remittit, quanto cum periculo legionem ex hibernis educturus esset; rem gestam in Eburonibus perscribit; docet omnes equitatus peditatusque copias Treverorum tria milia passuum longe ab suis castris consedisse.
XLVIII.--Caesar, approving of his motives, although he was disappointed in his expectation of three legions, and reduced to two, yet placed his only hopes of the common safety in despatch. He goes into the territories of the Nervii by long marches. There he learns from some prisoners what things are going on in the camp of Cicero, and in how great jeopardy the affair is. Then with great rewards he induces a certain man of the Gallic horse to convey a letter to Cicero. This he sends written in Greek characters, lest the letter being intercepted, our measures should be discovered by the enemy. He directs him, if he should be unable to enter, to throw his spear with the letter fastened to the thong inside the fortifications of the camp. He writes in the letter, that he having set out with his legions, will quickly be there: he entreats him to maintain his ancient valour. The Gaul apprehending danger, throws his spear as he had been directed. It by chance stuck in a tower, and, not being observed by our men for two days, was seen by a certain soldier on the third day: when taken down, it was carried to Cicero. He, after perusing it, reads it out in an assembly of the soldiers, and fills all with the greatest joy. Then the smoke of the fires was seen in the distance, a circumstance which banished all doubt of the arrival of the legions.[48] Caesar consilio eius probato, etsi opinione trium legionum deiectus ad duas redierat, tamen unum communis salutis auxilium in celeritate ponebat. Venit magnis itineribus in Nerviorum fines. Ibi ex captivis cognoscit, quae apud Ciceronem gerantur, quantoque in periculo res sit. Tum cuidam ex equitibus Gallis magnis praemiis persuadet uti ad Ciceronem epistolam deferat. Hanc Graecis conscriptam litteris mittit, ne intercepta epistola nostra ab hostibus consilia cognoscantur. Si adire non possit, monet ut tragulam cum epistola ad amentum deligata intra munitionem castrorum abiciat. In litteris scribit se cum legionibus profectum celeriter adfore; hortatur ut pristinam virtutem retineat. Gallus periculum veritus, ut erat praeceptum, tragulam mittit. Haec casu ad turrim adhaesit neque ab nostris biduo animadversa tertio die a quodam milite conspicitur, dempta ad Ciceronem defertur. Ille perlectam in conventu militum recitat maximaque omnes laetitia adficit. Tum fumi incendiorum procul videbantur; quae res omnem dubitationem adventus legionum expulit.