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About this text

  • Title: Life of Caesar
  • Editor: John D. Cox

  • Copyright John D. Cox. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: Plutarch
    Editor: John D. Cox
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Life of Caesar

    19

    XIX.

    Rhenus fl. Caesar made war with king Ariovistus.

    The second war he made, was in defence of the Gauls against the Germans: although before he himself had caused Ariovistius their king to be received for a confederate of the Romans. Notwithstanding, they were grown very unquiet neighbors, and it appeared plainly, that, having any occasion offered them to enlarge their territories, they would not content them with their own, but meant to invade and possess the rest of Gaul. Caesar perceiving that some of his captains trembled for fear, but specially the young gentlemen of noble houses of Rome, who thought to have gone to the wars with him as only for their pleasure and gain, he called them to council, and commanded them that were afraid that they should depart home and not put themselves in danger against their wills, sith they had such womanish faint hearts, to shrink when he had need of them. And for himself, he said, he would set upon the barbarous people, though he had left him but the tenth legion only saying that the enemies were no valianter than the Cimbri had been, nor that he was a captain inferior unto Marius. This oration being made, the soldiers of the tenth legion sent their lieutenants unto him, to thank him for the good opinion he had of them: and the other legions also fell out with their captains and all of them together followed him many days' journey with good will to serve him, until they came within two hundred furlongs of the camp of the enemies. Ariovistus' courage was well cooled, when he saw Caesar was come, and that the Romans came to seek out the Germans; where they thought and made account, that they durst not have abidden them and therefore, nothing mistrusting it would have come so to pass, he wondered much at Caesar's courage, and the more when he saw his own army in a maze withal. But much more did their courage fall,

    The wise women of Germany; how they did foretell things to come.

    by reason of the foolish women-prophesiers they had amongst them, which did foretell things to come: who, considering the waves and trouble of the rivers, and the terrible noise they made running down the stream, did forewarn them not to fight until the new moon. Caesar having intelligence thereof, and perceiving that the barbarous people thereupon stirred not, thought it best then to set upon them, being discouraged with this superstitious fear, rather than, losing time, he should tarry their leisure. So he did skirmish with them even to their forts and little hills where they lay, and by this means provoked them so, that with great fury they came down to fight.

    King Ariovistus overthrown by Caesar.

    There he overcame them in battle, and followed them in chase, with great slaughter, three hundred furlongs, even unto the river of Rheyn: and he filled all the fields "hitherto with dead bodies and spoils. Howbeit Ariovistus, flying with speed, got over the river of Rheyn, and escaped with a few of his men. It is said that there were slain fourscore thousand persons at this battle.