Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Plutarch
Editor: John D. Cox
Not Peer Reviewed

Life of Caesar


20XX. After this exploit, Caesar left his army amongst the Sequanes to winter there: and he himself in the meantime, thinking of the affairs at Rome, went over the mountains into Gaul about the river of Po, being part of his province which he had in charge. For there the river called Rubico divideth the rest of Italy from Gaul on this side of the Alps. Caesar Iying there, did practise to make friends in Rome, because many came thither to see him: unto whom he granted their suits they demanded, and sent them home also, partly with liberal rewards, and partly with large promises and hope. Now during all this conquest of the Gauls, Pompey did not consider how Caesar enterchangeably did conquer the Gauls with the weapons of the Romans, and wan the Romans again with the money of the Gauls. Caesar, being advertised that the Belgae (which were the warlikest men of all the Gauls, and that occupied the third part of Gaul) were all up in arms, and had raised a great power of men together: he straight made towards them with all possible speed, and found them spoiling and overrunning the country of the Gauls, their neighbors, and confederates of the Romans.

The Belgae overcome by Caesar.

So he gave them battle, and they fighting cowardly, he overthrew the most part of them, which were in a troup together; and slew such a number of them, that the Romans passed over deep rivers and lakes on foot, upon their dead bodies, the rivers were so full of them. After this overthrow, they that dwelt nearest unto the seaside, and were next neighbors unto the Ocean, did yield themselves without any compulsion or fight:

Nervii the stoutest warriors of all the Belgae.

whereupon he led his army against the Nervians, the stoutest warriors of all the Belgae. They, dwelling in the wood country, had conveyed their wives, children, and goods into a marvelous great forest, as far from their enemies as they could; and being about the number of six score thousand fighting men and more, they came one day and set upon Caesar, when his army was out of order, and fortifying of his camp, little looking to have fought that day. At the first charge, they brake the horsemen of the Romans, and compassing in the twelfth and seventh legion, they slew all the centurions and captains of the bands. And had not Caesar self taken his shield on his arm, and, flying in amongst the barbarous people, made a lane through them that fought before him: and the tenth legion also, seeing him in danger, run unto him from the top of the hill where they stood in battle, and broken the ranks of their enemies, there had not a Roman escaped alive that day. But taking example of Caesar's valiantness, they fought desperately beyond their power, and

The Nervii slain by Caesar.

yet could not make the Nervians fly, but they fought it out to the death, till they were all in a manner slain in the field. It is written that of threescore thousand fighting men, there escaped only but five hundred: and of four hundred gentlemen and counsellors of the Romans, but three saved.