Jy blaai in die argief vir 2011 Mei.

Caesar’s Gallic War 18: The Belgae (continued)

31/05/2011 in Sonder kategorie

Caesar’s army was drawn up in battle lines in front of their camp on the north bank of the Aisne, facing the Belgic army.

 

“There was a marsh of moderate extent between the two armies. The enemy were waiting for the Romans to cross; but our men remained in their position, standing to arms,and ready to attack the enemy while they were still struggling through the marsh if they ventured to cross first. When neither side would begin to cross the marsh before the other, Caesar led his men back to camp, after the cavalry skirmish had ended in our favour. Immediately the enemy marched from their position to the river Aisne, which, as we have seen, flowed behind our camp. There they found fords and tried to get some of their forces across to the other side. Their intention was, if possible, to storm the fort which was in the charge of the legate Q. Titurius and to break down the bridge, or, failing this, to ravage the lands of the Remi, who were of great service to us in the campaign, and to cut off our men from their supplies.”

After an unsuccessful attempt to cut off Caesar’s communications the Belgae decide to disband their army. They suffer heavy losses from the attacks of Caesar’s cavalry during their retreat.

 

“On the next day, before the enemy could recover from their panic-stricken flight, Caesar led his army into the country of the Suessiones, the neighbours of the Remi, and pushed on to Noviodunum by a forced march. He tried an assault on the place as soon as he arrived, hearing that it was ungarrisoned, but though the defenders were few his attempts were foiled by the breadth of the moat and the height of the wall. He then fortified a camp and began to bring up sheds and prepare siege-engines. During the night the whole host of the Suessiones who had fled reassembled in the town. On the next day Caesar quickly moved up his sheds to the town-wall, levelled the moat with earth, and placed towers* in readiness. Alarmed by the size of his engines, which had never been seen or heard of in Gaul before, and by the rapidity of the Roman movements, the townsmen sent envoys to Caesar to offer surrender, and the request of the Remi for their pardon was granted.” 

 

 

*Mobile wooden towers are represented in chess by the ‘castles’, not fixed buildings. The ‘horses’ represent cavalry, while the ‘bishops‘ represent war elephants, as used in India and North Africa. The ‘elephant’ piece originally showed a pair of tusks, which eventually became mistaken for a bishop’s mitre. The ‘queen‘ was originally the warlord or general. ‘Pawns‘ represent foot soldiers.

Caesar’s Gallic War 17: The Belgae

30/05/2011 in Sonder kategorie

 The Remi offered Caesar their support and informed him about the strength of the hostile tribes.

 

“After Caesar had encouraged the Remi* and graciously acknowledged their services he summoned the full council of the tribe to meet him and ordered them to bring the sons of the leading men as hostages. All his orders were carried out by them faithfully and punctually. Meanwhile Caesar appealed earnestly to Diviciacus the Aeduan, and pointed out how important it was for the safety of Rome and the Aedui alike that the forces of the enemy should be divided, to avert the danger of a battle against the united strength of their greatly superior numbers. This object could be attained if the Aedui led their contingent into the land of the Bellovaci and began to lay waste their territory. With these instructions Caesar sent Diviciacus away.”

Caesar crosses the Aisne and pitches his camp on the north bank. The Belgae attempted to capture Bibrax.

 

“Just after midnight Caesar sent some Numidians and some Cretan archers and Balearic slingers to Bibrax to reinforce its inhabitants, using the messengers sent by Iccius as guides. Their arrival not only encouraged the Remi to maintain the defence but inspired them with an eagerness to take the offensive, while it made the enemy abandon all hope of capturing the town. After they had lingered for a short time before the town and had laid waste the fields of the Remi, burning all the villages and scattered buildings which they could reach, they marched towards Caesar’s camp with all their forces and pitched their camp less than two miles away along a front of eight miles, as could be seen from the smoke and flames of their camp-fires.

The enemy were so numerous and their reputation in war so great that Caesar decided at first to avoid a pitched battle, but every day he fought cavalry skirmishes to test the courage of the enemy and his own men’s daring. When he found that the Romans were a match for their foes he prepared to offer battle, as the ground in front of his camp afforded a good natural position for his army. The hill on which the camp had been pitched rose gently from the plain, and on the side facing the enemy was just wide enough for Caesar’s army when drawn up in line of battle. On either flank was a steep descent, while in front a gentle slope sank gradually to the plain. The position was further protected by trenches on each flank, about 2,000 feet long and at right angles to the ridge, and at the ends of the trenches forts were built and provided with artillery. These defences were designed to safeguard the army, when drawn up in battle array, against an outflanking movement by the superior forces of the enemy during the conflict. When the preparations were finished, Caesar left the two newly-raised legions in the camp to be available for the support of any point where they may be required, and drew up the six remaining legions in line of battle in front of the camp. The enemy had also led their forces out of camp and drawn them up for battle.”

* The Remi’s name survives in the modern Rheims.

Noordkaap landskap (vervolg)

29/05/2011 in Sonder kategorie

Sedert 2006 beleef ek die ‘Comrades’ elke jaar voor die TV. Ek kyk veral oor die laaste paar uur uit vir lede van die Klerksdorp Marathonklub, met die kenmerkende rooi broekies en groen-en-rooi frokkies. Tot 2005 is die ultramarathon op die pad beleef en Cowies, Drummond, Polly Shorts is meer as net plekname. Ek weet presies hoe die atlete voel wanneer die endpunt bereik word, fisies sowel as emosioneel. More sal hulle strand toe hink-en-pink om vir oulaas te  ‘tan’ en teen oormore sal die meeste op pad huistoe wees. Die tweede dag vang die stywe spiere jou eers. By Estcourt se ‘Ultra City” het ons tradisioneel gestop vir ontbyt. Dit was altyd ‘n aardigheid om te sien hoe ander deelnemers daar soos gebreklikes uit hul karre sukkel. ‘n Mens se geheue is egter kort en teen die tyd wat jy tuiskom beplan jy al weer die volgende jaar se  ‘pelgrimstog’.

Tafelkop is reeds sigbaar wanneer jy oor die waterskeiding halfpad tussen Kakamas en Pofadder ry. Mens kan dit ‘n ‘mesa’ noem. Die plat kruin is teen erosie beskerm deur ‘n 5-10 meter dik kwartsietlaag, ‘n geisoleerde remnant van dieselfde formasie waaruit die Pella-gebergtes en Gamsberg se kruin bestaan. Net nadat jy suidoos van Tafelkop verbygery het begin die N14 te daal na die laagste deel van die Kaboepriviervallei, sowat 50 meter laer as die omliggende landsoppervlak. Wat merkwaardig is aan die Kaboepriviervallei is is dat dit op hierdie punt minstens 15 km wyd is, wyer as die Oranjeriviervallei (10 km), alhoewel hierdie takrivier vanaf sy oorsprong 10 km suidoos van die N14 tot waar dit by die Oranje aansluit skaars 50 km lank is. Die Kaboepvallei bevat volgens water-boorgate tot 30 meter dik riviersediment. Dit moes ontstaan het in ‘n tydperk toe dit baie meer gereen het as tans, moontlik gedurende die ‘pluviale’ -‘n besondere nat tydperk in die suidelike halfrond, terwyl die noordelike halfrond die ystye beleef het (van 2 miljoen jaar gelede tot onlangs; die huidige interglasiaal of warmer periode is nog maar ‘n paar duisend jaar aan die gang en seker nie ver van sy einde af nie).

Halfpad teen die noordelike hang van die vallei maak die pad ‘n draai om om sandduine  te ry. Die duine bestaan uit fyn sand wat deur heersende winde uit die riviersand gewan is en het waarskynlik rotsriwwe in hul kerne. Die riviersediment aan die oppervlak is grof, dit wat agtergebly het.

‘n Lae bergreeks aan die suidwestekant van die Kaboepvallei is die suidoostelike verlenging van die Pella-berge en eindig sowat 25 km oos van Pofadder. Pofadder is gelee in die middel van ‘n uitloper van die Boesmanland-plato, wat 25 km wyd is soos gemeet langs die N14. Pofadder is op ‘n hoogte van 1 000 meter bo seevlak, terwyl die Oranjerivier op sy naaste punt, 25 km verder noordwes, op ‘n 500 meter laer elevasie is. Dit veroorsaak dat Pofadder se somers ‘n paar grade koeler is as Onseepkans en Kakamas langs die Oranjerivier. In die winter is daar weer geen natuurlike beskutting teen die koue suidewinde nie.

Noordkaap landskap.

28/05/2011 in Sonder kategorie

Ons breek vir ‘n wyle weg van die Caesar-sage (of sepie). Gister moes ons Upington toe om by ‘n Nedbank uit te kom, om my jaarlikse registrasiefooi aan die natuurwetenskaplike beheerliggaam te betaal. Ook om ‘n nuwe drukker te kry. Die oue het skielik besluit dieselfde inkkapsule wat al hoe lank gewerk het is nou nie meer ‘compatable’nie. Terloops, ek bly nie in Upington nie, dis bloot die naaste plek wat ek kon kies toe ek met die blog begin het.

Ons is met sonop hier weg en ‘n uur later deur Kakamas. Die dorp spog met verkeersligte op twee kruisings. 4-rigting-stoppe sal goed gewerk het, maar die munisipaliteit het moontlik die ligte op ‘n ‘special’ gekry. By Keimoes se hoofkruising is nou ‘n 4-rigtingstop, waar eers ‘n verkeerslig was. Dis dalk waar Kakamas een van syne gekry het. Net buite Keimoes geniet ons gou ‘n geroosterde eier-en-spek toebroodjie by ‘Die Werf Lodge”. Vir diegene wat nog nie daar was nie, daar is chalets en ‘n restaurant met groen grasperke, damme, loslopende springbokke en eende. Ons het jare gelede, op pad tussen Springbok en Klerksdorp hier oornag.

Met die takies in Upington afgehandel teen twaalfuur word die terugtog aangepak. Tussen Upington en Keimoes, net wes van Dyasonsklip, ‘n gehuggie, is daar regs van die pad, oor ‘n afstand van 3.4 km, ‘n wye strook veld skoongemaak vir waarskynlik nog wingerde. ‘n Oopgroefmyn van respektabele omvang sou in die area kon inpas. Daar word waarskynlik nie ‘n omgewingsimpakstudie en konsultasie met al wat leef in die  distrik vereis as die veld so skoongemaak word vir landbou-doeleindes nie. As daar nou ‘n myn beplan was sou daar egter groot drama gewees het. ‘n Plaaslike Jonathan Deal sou waarskynlik ‘n aksiegroep (‘Red die Kalahari’) op die been gebring het.  Kort voor lank sou ‘n ‘Critical Biodiversity Zone’ deur Omgewingssake juis in die beplande myngebied verklaar word. Ek maak nie beswaar oor landbou-ontwikkeling nie, wel oor dubbele standaarde.

 Die hoofroete tussen Kakamas en Keimoes was in die laaste somer vir ‘n tyd afgesny weens die Oranjerivier in vloed. Die brug by Kakamas was nog (net) bo water, maar die aanloop na die brug aan Kakamas se kant gaan deur ‘n laagte wat onder water was. Aangesien daar elke paar jaar ‘n vloed is, is dit onbegryplik dat daardie stukkie pad nie lankal opgebou is nie.

Nadat die N14 vanaf Alheit vir sowat 15 km skuins uit die Oranjeriviervallei geklim het, kom mens op die Boesmanlandplato (of vlakte). Die plat oppervlak is bedek met kalkreet. Dit ontstaan oor ‘n lang tyd deurdat grondwater aan die oppervlak verdamp en kalk in die bogrond agterlaat. Die plantegroei bestaan hier uit gras en bossies, met doringbome in rivierlopies (‘laagtes’). By Nabies is daar regs van die pad (noord) ‘n reeks kwartsietrante in die vorm van ‘n hoefyster; sowat 4 km lank, 2 km wyd en oop aan die oostekant. Die gesteentelae duik na die middel, dus het ons te doen met ‘n sinklien wat ooswaarts plons.

Sowat 50 km duskant Pofadder is die afdraaipad na Onseepkans. Noord daarvan is ‘n granietkoepel (berg) van 17 km by 8 km sigbaar op die plase Swartoup en Zwartmodder. Die oostelike gedeelte hiervan word omring deur swart rante van basiese stollingsgesteentes, waarskynlik pirokseniet. Die graniet self word op verskillende plekke ontgin. Die top van die granietberg is op dieselfde hoogte as die vlakte of plato waarop die N14 gebou is. Die berg is nou blootgestel weens erosie deur takke van die Oranjerivier wat slegs 20 km noordwes daarvan verbykronkel. Tafelkop (1088 m) die hoogste punt in die gebied, met ‘n plat kwartsietkruin, kyk uit oor die vallei van die Kaboeprivier na die hoogland waarop Pofadder gelee is.

Hierdie rivier regverdig ‘n pos op sigself.   

Caesar’s Gallic War 16: The Belgae

27/05/2011 in Sonder kategorie

While Caesar was in Cisalpine Gaul for the winter he was informed by frequent rumours, confirmed by an official dispatch from Labienus, that all the Belgic tribes – who form one of the three main divisions in Gaul – were forming a coalition against Rome and were exchanging hostages. Two reasons were given for the movement: one, the fear among the Belgae themselves that they would be next to be attacked by the Roman army if the whole of Gaul were conquered; the other, the appeals made to the Belgae by several chieftains in Celtic Gaul. The motives of these malcontents varied. Some resented the presence of the Roman army in their country as much as the prolonged German occupation under Ariovistus. They were indignant that it should be wintering in Central Gaul and obtaining a permanent hold there. Others, from the fickleness and inconstancy characteristic of their nation, desired a change of rule for its own sake. Others again were influenced by personal ambition. In Gaul at this time royal power was generally seized by the powerful chiefs whose means enabled them to take retainers into their pay, and such adventurers would be less able to attain their objects if Rome became supreme in Gaul. Caesar raised two new legions, and in the spring after rejoining his army leads it to Northern Gaul, where the Remi offered him their support.

“When Caesar asked them the names and extent of the tribes under arms and their strength in the field, he received this information: Most of the Belgae were of German stock. They had crossed the Rhine a long time ago and had been tempted by the richness of the soil to settle in Gaul,driving out the Gauls whom they found in possession. They alone had prevented the Teutons and Cimbri from entering their land when they had harried the rest of Gaul a generation ago. This achievement had given them a high opinion of their own powers and inspired them with great confidence in their military abilities. The Remi proceeded to say that they were fully informed of the numbers of the hostile tribes, because they were connected with them by ties of blood and marriage, and so had been able to learn how many men had been promised for the war by each chieftain in the united assembly of the Belgae.

The Bellovaci were first in numbers, valour, and prestige, and could muster 100,000 armed men. Of these they promised 60,000 picked warriors, and claimed for their leaders the supreme command throughout the war. The Suessiones were the neighbours of the Remi and possessed a rich and extensive territory. Diviciacus had been their king, the most powerful ruler in Gaul, who in addition to his rule over a large part of Belgic Gaul had extended his sway to Britain. He had died during the lifetime of the present generation, and the present king of the Suessiones was Galba, on whom the confederates had unanimously conferred the supreme command on account of his ability and impartiality. His tribe numbered twelve towns and promised 50,000 mem. An equal number was promised by the Nervii, who are considered by the Belgae the most uncivilized of their tribes and whose country is the most remote of all. The smaller contingents of the twelve other tribes amounted to about 136,000 men. The Condrusi, Eburones,Caerosi, and Paemani, who supplied 40,000 of these, are all called Germans.”

Caesar’s Gallic War 15

26/05/2011 in Sonder kategorie

The results of the first campaign of 58 B.C. were immense, and were felt for many centuries after. The Rhine had become the boundary of the Roman empire against the Germans until 406 A.D. In Gaul, which was no longer able to govern itself, the Romans had hitherto ruled on the south coast, while lately the Germans had attempted to establish themselves farther up.

In Northern Italy, at Ravenna or Luca, where Caesar stayed for the winter, he could get into touch with his agents in Rome, and watch political events there. He also raised two new legions. That he did not withdraw his army within the boundaries of the Province after he had defeated the foes of his Gallic allies was significant. The occupation of Vesontio and the wintering of the legions in Sequani territory were the prelude to the subjugation of all Gaul, and were so interpreted by the anti-Roman party throughout Gaul. 

The campaign of 57B.C. was spent in the subjugation of the Belgic tribes of Northern Gaul. This attack on the independent tribes of the north was unavoidable. Not only was it a necessary step towards the establishment of Roman rule along the entire length of the west bank of the Rhine, but it also helped to secure the loyalty of Central Gaul, where all the anti-Roman elements looked for support to their unconquered kinsmen of the north. Caesar undertook his expeditions to Britain partly for the same reason, to prevent British support of the anti-Roman movements in Gaul.

 The unfolding of this campaign will be related in the next few posts.

Caesar’s Gallic War 14

24/05/2011 in Sonder kategorie

Soos met die veldslag teen die Helvetii brei Caesar nie veel uit oor die geveg teen die Duitsers nie, behalwe dat die Romeine gewen het. Daar was seker nie tyd vir aantekeninge nie. Die volgende inligting word verskaf in die vertaler se notas agter in die boek:

Die veldslag het plaasgevind aan die oostelike voet van die Vogese, ‘n suid-noord strekkende bergreeks net noord van die Alpe, wat die waterskeiding vorm tussen die Saone (‘n tak van die suidvloeiende Rhone-rivier) en die noordvloeiende Rynrivier, binne vlugafstand van die Ryn. Ariovistus se Duitsers wat hulle aan die verkeerde kant (wes) van die Ryn bevind het het sowat 120 000 getel, aangevul deur 24 000 Harudi. Hiervan was sowat ‘n kwart (36 000) weerbare manne, teenoor 27 000 Romeine. Die veldslag het plaasgevind voor nuwemaan (voor 18 September 58 v.C.).

Caesar wou nie Ariovistus se kamp heuwelop laat stormloop nie, maar het die Duitsers met pyle bestook totdat hul uitgekom het om te veg.   Die Duitse stamme het in afsonderlike groepe voor hul kamp stelling ingeneem. Dit moes noodwendig lei tot gebrekkige sinkronisasie gedurende die geveg. (Een van die stamme, die Marcomanni, het later in die Bohemie-gebied ‘n sterk staat gestig.) Caesar se aanwending van sy reserwemag het skynbaar die die geveg in sy guns laat swaai. Omdat die Duitsers se flanke en agterhoede geblokkeer was deur hul waens, met vroue en kinders daarop, sou dit hulle meer desperaat laat veg. Caesar het sy magte opdrag gegee om  vir die Duitsers ‘n vlugkanaal na die ooste oop te hou. Toe hulle eers op vlug was kon die Romeine hulle van agter aanval. Daar word nie verder na die Duitse vroue en kinders verwys nie. Van die Duitse vegters het daarin geslaag om die Rynse oos-oewer te haal, insluitend Ariovistus wat voor die winter van 54 v.C. gesterf het.

“When the news of the battle reached the other side of the Rhine, the Suebi, who had advanced to the right [east] bank of the river, at once started to return home; but when the Ubii, the tribe living nearest the Rhine, saw that the Suebi had lost heart, they pursued them and killed many of them.

In the course of a single summer Caesar had brought two important campaigns to a successful conclusion. He now quartered his army for the winter among the Sequani a little earlier than was required by the season of the year, and left Labienus in command. He himself set out for Cisalpine Gaul to hold the assizes there.”

Caesar’s Gallic War 13

23/05/2011 in Sonder kategorie

“…. Ariovistus advanced from his camp and occupied a new camp, six miles from Caesar’s and at the foot of a mountain [possibly in the foothills of the Vosges range]. The next day he led his forces past the Roman position and pitched camp two miles beyond. [It puzzled historians that the Germans were allowed to pass the Romans unharassed, unless they kept to high ground, where it would not be to the Romans’ advantage to attack them]. His object was to cut Caesar’s communications with the convoys of corn and other stores which were coming up from the Sequani and the Aedui. On each of the four following days Caesar drew out his army in front of his camp and deployed them into battle formation, so that Ariovistus might not be deprived of the opportunity to fight if he wanted it. [So considerate!] But Ariovistus kept his main army in camp all four days, though he allowed his cavalry to skirmish with ours every day.

When Caesar realized that Ariovistus refused to leave the protection of his camp, he resolved to restore communications with his convoys, and after he had selected a suitable site for a new camp, about a thousand yards south of the position where the Germans had encamped, he marched his army there in three columns. Then he ordered the first and second columns to remain under arms while the third made the defences of the new camp. Ariovistus now sent about 16,000 light infantry  and all his cavalty [6,000 horsemen] to intimidate the Romans and stop the fortification of the camp. Caesar had taken precautions against such  a move by his disposition of his army, and he now ordered the first two columns to repel the enemy while the third finished its task. When the camp was finished he left two legions [6,000 men each] and some auxiliary contingents to hold it, and took the other four legions to the larger camp.

On the next day Caesar, following his previous custom, led his men into the open from both camps, and forming his troops in line at a short distance in front of the larger camp offered battle to the enemy. When he saw that even then they would not come out to fight, about midday he led his men back to camp. Then at last Ariovistus sent a section of his army to storm the smaller camp. Both sides fought fiercely till evening. At sunset Ariovistus drew off his forces after heavy losses had been sustained on both sides. When Caesar asked the prisoners why Ariovistus was unwilling to fight a decisive battle, he learnt that it was a German custom for their matrons to decide by casting lots and by divination whether a pitched battle would be to their advantage, and on this occasion they announced that the Germans were fated not to conquer unless they postponed the battle until the new moon.

On the next day Caesar left detachments in both camps which he considered sufficient for their defence, and posted all his auxiliaries in front of the smaller camp and in full view of the enemy to make a show of strength with them, as his regular infantry were numerically weak in comparison with the masses of the enemy. He himself formed the legions in three lines and marched up to the enemy’s camp. The Germans were now at last compelled to draw their troops out of camp. They were arranged in their tribal divisions with regular intervals between; the tribes present were the Harudes, Marcomanni, Triboci, Vangiones, Nemetis, Sedusii, Suebi. Their line throughout its length was closed on the flanks and rear by a semicircle of their wagons and carts, to remove all hope of escape. On these they had placed their women, who with outstretched hands implored their fighting men as they went out to battle not to allow their wives to become Roman slaves.”

Caesar’s Gallic War 12

22/05/2011 in Sonder kategorie

A panic breaks out in the Roman army at Vesontio.

 

“When Caesar saw what was happening he called a meeting of officers, to which the centurions of all ranks were summoned, and rebuked them severely. ‘What right’, he said,’have you to ask about the goal and purpose of our march, or even to discuss such questions? If Ariovistus should be so headstrong and insane as to attack us, what have you to be afraid of? Why have you lost all faith in your own courage and your general’s ability? Romans have met Germans in battle before now. A generation ago Marius routed the Cimbri and Tuetones; recently we faced them in Italy during the slave insurrection*. These are the same Germans whom the Helvetii have often met in battle and conquered, not only in their own country but on German soil as well, and yet the Helvetii were no match for our army.

If any of you were disturbed by the defeat and flight of the Gauls, you can easily learn by inquiry that Ariovistus attacked the Gauls when they had been worn out by a long campaign. For many months he had kept his army in camp among the marshes and gave the Gauls no opportunity to fight him, until at last, when they had lost all hope of battle and allowed their troops to scatter, he set on them unexpectedly and overcame them by strategy rather than by courage in the field. Even Ariovistus cannot expect Roman armies to be trapped by a device which succeeded well enough against simple natives.

I am not affected by the rumour that you will disobey and refuse to advance, for I know that armies have only been insubordinate when their leaders have been unsuccessful through incapacity or proved guilty by detection in some dishonest act. My integrity has been proved by the whole course of my life, my good fortune by the campaign against the Helvetii.

So I shall do at once what I had intended to put off to a more distant date, and strike camp to-morrow early in the fourth watch. I shall then discover as soon as possible whether you are swayed more by cowardice, or by honour and the claims of your duty. If no one else will follow me I will go on with the Tenth Legion alone – they at least are loyal – and they will be my bodyguard’.”

*Die slawe-opstand van 73-71 v.C. gelei deur Spartacus. Die gebeurtenis is gedramatiseer in die fliek ‘Spartacus’, ‘n produksie van Universal-International, gebaseer op die boek, “Spartacus” van Howard Fast. Die verfilming het 6 maande geduur, teen ‘n koste van $9,000,000 die duurste fliek in Hollywood tot op daardie stadium. Die hoofrol is vertolk deur Kirk Douglas, met Laurence Olivier, Tony Curtis en Jean Simmons ander bekende akteurs. Die gebeurtenis het afgespeel in die tydvak van Cicero, Romeinse senator, advokaat en orator. Sy verhaal word uitgebeeld in die historiese roman, “Imperium” van Robert Harris.   

Caesar’s Gallic War 11

18/05/2011 in Sonder kategorie

Ariovistus rejected Caesar’s ultimatum.

 

“At the same time as this reply reached Caesar, envoys arrived in his camp separately from the Aedui and the Treveri, the Aedui to complain that the Harudes, who had recently been brought across the Rhine into Gaul, were ravaging their country, and that even the surrender of hostages had failed to secure from Ariovistus the suspension of hostilities, while the Treveri sent to report that a hundred cantons of the Suebi, led by the brothers Nasua and Cimberius, had encamped on the right bank of the Rhine and were attempting to cross. Caesar was seriously alarmed by the news, and decided that no time was to be lost. Delay would permit the junction of this new contingent of Suebi with the original force of Ariovistus, who would then be more difficult to withstand. He therefore arranged as quickly as possible for a regular supply of corn, and set out to meet Ariovistus, making long marches each day.

After three day’s marching he received a report that Ariovistus was hurrying with all his forces to seize Vesontio, the chief town of the Sequani. Caesar thought that he ought to strain every nerve to prevent such a catastrophy. Vesontio was well stocked with all munitions of war, and the natural strength of its position afforded exceptional facilities for prolonging the campaign, as it is almost surrounded by a circular loop of the river Dubis, and the sector left unprotected by the river, not more than 500 yards wide, is entirely occupied by a hill rising sharply from the river bank on either side. This hill is made into a citadel by a wall built round it and linking it with the town. Caesar hurried towards the place by forced marches, pressing on by night as well as by day, reaching the town first, and installed a garrison there.”