We return now to the Gallic Veneti whom we discussed earlier here. Those indomitable Veneti that, in the end, were dominated, perhaps for lack of a magic potion possessed by the more fortunate Gauls (But were those Gauls? the zoom location suggests that they may have been Veneti! Well, maybe not). There are several sources on the Gallic Veneti.
The first is Ceasar in his Commentaries on the Gallic War. In particular, his third commentary (or Book 3) contains, in part II, the description of the Venetic War. We present those chapters (7-16) here and include too chapter 17 which contains some of the aftermath and the figure of Viridovix. Also, the fourth commentary (or Book 4 if you will) contains a minor reference to the Veneti as well in the context of the invasion of Britain. Finally, there is a mention of the Veneti in Book 7. The source translation is W. A. McDevitte’s (in W. S. Bohn, 1st Edition, New York. Harper & Brothers. 1869. Harper’s New Classical Library).
Thereafter, we move on to Pliny the Elder and description of Gallia Aquitanica in his Natural History and to Cassius Dio in his Rome.
C o m m e n t a r i i d e b e l l o G a l l i c o
By C. Julius Caesar
These things being achieved, while Caesar had every reason to suppose that Gaul was reduced to a state of tranquillity, the Belgae being overcome, the Germans expelled, the Seduni among the Alps defeated, and when he had, therefore, in the beginning of winter, set out for Illyricum , as he wished to visit those nations, and acquire a knowledge of their countries, a sudden war sprang up in Gaul. The occasion of that war was this: P. Crassus, a young man, had taken up his winter quarters with the seventh legion among the Andes, who border upon the [Atlantic] ocean. He, as there was a scarcity of corn in those parts, sent out some officers of cavalry, and several military tribunes among the neighbouring states, for the purpose of procuring corn and provision; in which number T. Terrasidius was sent among the Esubii; M. Trebius Gallus among the Curiosolitae; Q. Velanius, T. Silius, amongst the Veneti.
(His rebus gestis cum omnibus de causis Caesar pacatam Galliam existimaret, superatis Belgis, expulsis Germanis, victis in Alpibus Sedunis, atque ita inita hieme in Illyricum profectus esset, quod eas quoque nationes adire et regiones cognoscere volebat, subitum bellum in Gallia coortum est. eius belli haec fuit causa: P. Crassus adulescens cum legione septima proximus mari in Andibus hiemarat. is quod in his locis inopia frumenti erat, praefectos tribunosque militum complures in finitimas civitates frumenti commeatusque petendi causa dimisit; (4) quo in numero est T. Terrasidius missus in Unellos Essuviosque, M. Trebius Gallus in Coriosolitas, Q. Velanius cum T. Sillio in Venetos.)
The influence of this state is by far the most considerable of any of the countries on the whole sea coast, because the Veneti both have a very great number of ships, with which they have been accustomed to sail to Britain, and [thus] excel the rest in their knowledge and experience of nautical affairs; and as only a few ports lie scattered along that stormy and open sea, of which they are in possession, they hold as tributaries almost all those who are accustomed to traffic in that sea. With them arose the beginning [of the revolt] by their detaining Silius and Velanius; for they thought that they should recover by their means the hostages which they had given to Crassus. The neighboring people led on by their influence (as the measures of the Gauls are sudden and hasty), detain Trebius and Terrasidius for the same motive; and quickly sending embassadors, by means of their leading men, they enter into a mutual compact to do nothing except by general consent, and abide the same issue of fortune; and they solicit the other states to choose rather to continue in that liberty which they had received from their ancestors, than endure slavery under the Romans. All the sea coast being quickly brought over to their sentiments, they send a common embassy to P. Crassus [to say], “If he wished to receive back his officers, let him send back to them their hostages.”
(Huius est civitatis longe amplissima auctoritas omnis orae maritimae regionum earum, quod et naves habent Veneti plurimas, quibus in Britanniam navigare consuerunt, et scientia atque usu rerum nauticarum ceteros antecedunt et in magno impetu maris atque aperto Oceano paucis portibus interiectis, quos tenent ipsi, omnes fere, qui eo mari uti consuerunt, habent vectigales. ab his fit initium retinendi Sillii atque Velanii et si quos intercipere potuerunt, quod per eos suos se obsides, quos Crasso dedissent, recuperaturos existimabant. horum auctoritate finitimi adducti, ut sunt Gallorum subita et repentina consilia, eadem de causa Trebium Terrasidiumque retinent et celeriter missis legatis per suos principes inter se coniurant nihil nisi communi consilio acturos eundemque omnes fortunae exitum esse laturos, reliquasque civitates sollicitant, ut in ea libertate, quam a maioribus acceperint, permanere quam Romanorum servitutem perferre malint. omni ora maritima celeriter ad suam sententiam perducta communem legationem ad P. Crassum mittunt, si velit suos recuperare, obsides sibi remittat.)
Caesar, being informed of these things by Crassus, since he was so far distant himself, orders ships of war to be built in the mean time on the river Loire , which flows into the ocean; rowers to be raised from the province; sailors and pilots to be provided. These matters being quickly executed, he himself, as soon as the season of the year permits, hastens to the army. The Veneti, and the other states also, being informed of Caesar’s arrival, when they reflected how great a crime they had committed, in that, the embassadors (a character which had among all nations ever been sacred and inviolable) had by them been detained and thrown into prison, resolve to prepare for a war in proportion to the greatness of their danger, and especially to provide those things which appertain to the service of a navy, with the greater confidence, inasmuch as they greatly relied on the nature of their situation. They knew that the passes by land were cut off by estuaries, that the approach by sea was most difficult, by reason of our ignorance of the localities, [and] the small number of the harbors, and they trusted that our army would not be able to stay very long among them, on account of the insufficiency of corn; and again, even if all these things should turn out contrary to their expectation, yet they were very powerful in their navy. They well understood that the Romans neither had any number of ships, nor were acquainted with the shallows, the harbors, or the islands of those parts where they would have to carry on the war; and the navigation was very different in a narrow sea from what it was in the vast and open ocean. Having come to this resolution, they fortify their towns, convey corn into them from the country parts, bring together as many ships as possible to Venetia , where it appeared Caesar would at first carry on the war. They unite to themselves as allies for that war, the Osismii, the Lexovii, the Nannetes, the Ambiliati, the Morini, the Diablintes, and the Menapii; and send for auxiliaries from Britain, which is situated over against those regions.
(Quibus de rebus Caesar a Crasso certior factus, quod ipse aberat longius, naves interim longas aedificari in flumine Ligeri quod influit in Oceanum, remiges ex provincia institui, nautas gubernatoresque comparari iubet. his rebus celeriter administratis ipse, cum primum per anni tempus potuit, ad exercitum contendit. Veneti reliquaeque item civitates cognito Caesaris adventu, et de recipiendis obsidibus spem se fefellisse> certiores facti, simul quod quantum in se facinus admisissent intellegebant – legatos, quod nomen apud omnes nationes sanctum inviolatumque semper fuisset, retentos ab se et in vincula coniectos -, pro magnitudine periculi bellum parare et maxime ea quae ad usum navium pertinent providere instituunt, hoc maiore spe quod multum natura loci confidebant. pedestria esse itinera concisa aestuariis, navigationem impeditam propter inscientiam locorum paucitatemque portuum sciebant; neque nostros exercitus propter frumenti inopiam diutius apud se morari posse confidebant; ac iam ut omnia contra opinionem acciderent, tamen se plurimum navibus posse, [quam] Romanos neque ullam facultatem habere navium neque eorum locorum, ubi bellum gesturi essent, vada portus insulas novisse; ac longe aliam esse navigationem in concluso mari atque in vastissimo atque apertissimo Oceano perspiciebant. his initis consiliis oppida muniunt, frumenta ex agris in oppida comportant, naves in Venetiam, ubi Caesarem primum bellum gesturum constabat, quam plurimas possunt, cogunt. socios sibi ad id bellum Osismos Lexovios Namnetes Ambiliatos Morinos Diablintes Menapios adsciscunt; auxilia ex Britannia, quae contra eas regiones posita est, arcessunt.)
There were these difficulties which we have mentioned above, in carrying on the war, but many things, nevertheless, urged Caesar to that war;-the open insult offered to the state in the detention of the Roman knights, the rebellion raised after surrendering, the revolt after hostages were given, the confederacy of so many states, but principally, lest if, [the conduct of] this part was overlooked, the other nations should think that the same thing was permitted them. Wherefore, since he reflected that almost all the Gauls were fond of revolution, and easily and quickly excited to war; that all men likewise, by nature, love liberty and hate the condition of slavery, he thought he ought to divide and more widely distribute his army, before more states should join the confederation.
(Erant hae difficultates belli gerendi, quas supra ostendimus, sed multa tamen Caesarem ad id bellum incitabant: iniuria retentorum equitum Romanorum, rebellio facta post deditionem, defectio datis obsidibus, tot civitatum coniuratio, in primis ne hac parte neglecta reliquae nationes sibi idem licere arbitrarentur. itaque cum intellegeret omnes fere Gallos novis rebus studere et ad bellum mobiliter celeriterque excitari, omnes autem homines natura libertatis studio incitari et condicionem servitutis odisse, priusquam plures civitates conspirarent, partiendum sibi ac latius distribuendum exercitum putavit.)
He therefore sends T. Labienus, his lieutenant, with the cavalry to the Treviri , who are nearest to the river Rhine . He charges him to visit the Remi and the other Belgians, and to keep them in their allegiance and repel the Germans (who were said to have been summoned by the Belgae to their aid,) if they attempted to cross the river by force in their ships. He orders P. Crassus to proceed into Aquitania with twelve legionary cohorts and a great number of the cavalry, lest auxiliaries should be sent into Gaul by these states, and such great nations be united. He sends Q. Titurius Sabinus his lieutenant, with three legions, among the Unelli, the Curiosolitae, and the Lexovii, to take care that their forces should be kept separate from the rest. He appoints D. Brutus, a young man, over the fleet and those Gallic vessels which he had ordered to be furnished by the Pictones and the Santoni, and the other provinces which remained at peace; and commands him to proceed toward the Veneti, as soon as he could. He himself hastens thither with the land forces.
(Itaque T. Labienum legatum in Treveros, qui proximi flumini Rheno sunt, cum equitatu mittit. huic mandat, Remos reliquosque Belgas adeat atque in officio contineat Germanosque, qui auxilio a Gallis arcessiti dicebantur, si per vim navibus flumen transire conentur, prohibeat. P. Crassum cum cohortibus legionariis duodecim et magno numero equitatus in Aquitaniam proficisci iubet, ne ex his nationibus auxilia in Galliam mittantur ac tantae nationes coniungantur. Q. Titurium Sabinum legatum cum legionibus tribus in Unellos, Coriosolitas Lexoviosque mittit, qui eam manum distinendam curet. D. Brutum adulescentem classi Gallicisque navibus, quas ex Pictonibus et Santonis reliquisque pacatis regionibus convenire iusserat, praeficit et, cum primum posset, in Venetos proficisci iubet. ipse eo pedestribus copiis contendit.)
The sites of their towns were generally such that, being placed on extreme points [of land] and on promontories, they neither had an approach by land when the tide had rushed in from the main ocean, which always happens twice in the space of twelve hours; nor by ships, because, upon the tide ebbing again, the ships were likely to be dashed upon the shoals. Thus, by either circumstance, was the storming of their towns rendered difficult; and if at any time perchance the Veneti overpowered by the greatness of our works, (the sea having been excluded by a mound and large dams, and the latter being made almost equal in height to the walls of the town) had begun to despair of their fortunes; bringing up a large number of ships, of which they had a very great quantity, they carried off all their property and betook themselves to the nearest towns; there they again defended themselves by the same advantages of situation. They did this the more easily during a great part of the summer, because our ships were kept back by storms, and the difficulty of sailing was very great in that vast and open sea, with its strong tides and its harbors far apart and exceedingly few in number.
(Erant eiusmodi fere situs oppidorum, ut posita in extremis lingulis promunturiisque neque pedibus aditum haberent, cum ex alto se aestus incitavisset, quod bis accidit semper horarum duodenarum spatio, neque navibus, quod rursus minuente aestu naves in vadis adflictarentur. ita utraque re oppidorum oppugnatio impediebatur. ac si quando magnitudine operis forte superati extruso mari aggere ac molibus atque his oppidi moenibus adaequatis suis fortunis desperare coeperant, magno numero navium adpulso, cuius rei summam facultatem habebant, sua deportabant omnia seque in proxima oppida recipiebant; ibi se rursus isdem loci opportunitatibus defendebant. haec eo facilius magnam partem aestatis faciebant, quod nostrae naves tempestatibus detinebantur summaque erat vasto atque aperto mari, magnis aestibus, raris ac prope nullis portibus difficultas navigandi.)
For their ships were built and equipped after this manner. The keels were somewhat flatter than those of our ships, whereby they could more easily encounter the shallows and the ebbing of the tide: the prows were raised very high, and, in like manner the sterns were adapted to the force of the waves and storms [which they were formed to sustain]. The ships were built wholly of oak, and designed to endure any force and violence whatever; the benches which were made of planks a foot in breadth, were fastened by iron spikes of the thickness of a man’s thumb; the anchors were secured fast by iron chains instead of cables, and for sails they used skins and thin dressed leather. These [were used] either through their want of canvas and their ignorance of its application, or for this reason, which is more probable, that they thought that such storms of the ocean, and such violent gales of wind could not be resisted by sails, nor ships of such great burden be conveniently enough managed by them. The encounter of our fleet with these ships’ was of such a nature that our fleet excelled in speed alone, and the plying of the oars; other things, considering the nature of the place [and] the violence of the storms, were more suitable and better adapted on their side; for neither could our ships injure theirs with their beaks (so great was their strength), nor on account of their height was a weapon easily cast up to them; and for the same reason they were less readily locked in by rocks. To this was added, that whenever a storm began to rage and they ran before the wind, they both could weather the storm more easily and heave to securely in the shallows, and when left by the tide feared nothing from rocks and shelves: the risk of all which things was much to be dreaded by our ships.
(Namque ipsorum naves ad hunc modum factae armataeque erant: carinae aliquanto planiores quam nostrarum navium, quo facilius vada ac decessum aestus excipere possent; prorae admodum erectae atque item puppes, ad magnitudinem fluctuum tempestatumque adcommodatae; naves totae factae ex robore ad quamvis vim et contumeliam perferendam; transtra ex pedalibus in altitudinem trabibus confixa clavis ferreis digiti pollicis crassitudine; ancorae pro funibus ferreis catenis revinctae; pelles pro velis alutaeque tenuiter confectae, sive propter lini inopiam atque eius usus inscientiam, sive – quod est magis veri simile – quod tantas tempestates Oceani tantosque impetus ventorum sustineri ac tanta onera navium regi velis non satis commode posse arbitrabantur. cum his navibus nostrae classi eiusmodi congressus erat, ut una celeritate et pulsu remorum praestaret, reliqua pro loci natura, pro vi tempestatum illis essent aptiora et adcommodatiora. neque enim his nostrae rostro nocere poterant – tanta in iis erat firmitudo -, neque propter altitudinem facile telum adigebatur, et eadem de causa minus commode copulis continebantur. accedebat, ut, cum se vento dedissent, tempestatem ferrent facilius et in vadis consisterent tutius et ab aestu relictae nihil saxa et cotes timerent; quarum rerum omnium nostris navibus casus erant extimescendi.)
Caesar, after taking many of their towns, perceiving that so much labor was spent in vain and that the flight of the enemy could not be prevented on the capture of their towns, and that injury could not be done them, he determined to wait for his fleet. As soon as it came up and was first seen by the enemy, about 220 of their ships, fully equipped and appointed with every kind of [naval] implement, sailed forth from the harbor, and drew up opposite to ours; nor did it appear clear to Brutus, who commanded the fleet, or to the tribunes of the soldiers and the centurions, to whom the several ships were assigned, what to do, or what system of tactics to adopt; for they knew that damage could not be done by their beaks; and that, although turrets were built [on their decks], yet the height of the stems of the barbarian ships exceeded these; so that weapons could not be cast up from [our] lower position with sufficient effect, and those cast by the Gauls fell the more forcibly upon us. One thing provided by our men was of great service, [viz.] sharp hooks inserted into and fastened upon poles, of a form not unlike the hooks used in attacking town walls. When the ropes which fastened the sail-yards to the masts were caught by them and pulled, and our vessel vigorously impelled with the oars, they [the ropes] were severed; and when they were cut away, the yards necessarily fell down; so that as all the hope of the Gallic vessels depended on their sails and rigging, upon these being cut away, the entire management of the ships was taken from them at the same time. The rest of the contest depended on courage; in which our men decidedly had the advantage; and the more so, because the whole action was carried on in the sight of Caesar and the entire army; so that no act, a little more valiant than ordinary, could pass unobserved, for all the hills and higher grounds, from which there was a near prospect of the sea were occupied by our army.
(Compluribus expugnatis oppidis Caesar ubi intellexit frustra tantum laborem sumi neque hostium fugam captis oppidis reprimi neque iis noceri posse, statuit exspectandam classem. quae ubi convenit ac primum ab hostibus visa est, circiter CCXX naves eorum paratissimae atque omni genere armorum ornatissimae ex portu profectae nostris adversae constiterunt. neque satis Bruto, qui classi praeerat, vel tribunis militum centurionibusque, quibus singulae naves erant attributae, constabat quid agerent aut quam rationem pugnae insisterent. rostro enim noceri non posse cognoverant; turribus autem excitatis tamen has altitudo puppium ex barbaris navibus superabat, ut neque ex inferiore loco satis commode tela adigi possent et missa a Gallis gravius acciderent. una erat magno usui res praeparata ab nostris, falces praeacutae insertae adfixaeque longuriis, non absimili forma muralium falcium. his cum funes qui antemnas ad malos destinabant, comprehensi adductique erant, navigio remis incitato praerumpebantur. quibus abscisis antemnae necessario concidebant, ut cum omnis Gallicis navibus spes in velis armamentisque consisteret, his ereptis omnis usus navium uno tempore eriperetur. reliquum erat certamen positum in virtute, qua nostri milites facile superabant, atque eo magis quod in conspectu Caesaris atque omnis exercitus res gerebatur, ut nullum paulo fortius factum latere posset. omnes enim colles ac loca superiora, unde erat propinquus despectus in mare, ab exercitu tenebantur.)
The sail yards [of the enemy], as we have said, being brought down, although two and [in some cases] three ships [of theirs] surrounded each one [of ours], the soldiers strove with the greatest energy to board the ships of the enemy; and, after the barbarians observed this taking place, as a great many of their ships were beaten, and as no relief for that evil could be discovered, they hastened to seek safety in flight. And, having now turned their vessels to that quarter in which the wind blew, so great a calm and lull suddenly arose, that they could not move out of their place, which circumstance, truly, was exceedingly opportune for finishing the business; for our men gave chase and took them one by one, so that very few out of all the number, [and those] by the intervention of night, arrived at the land, after the battle had lasted almost from the fourth hour till sun-set.
(Deiectis ut diximus antemnis, cum singulas binae ac ternae naves circumsisterent, milites summa vi transcendere in hostium naves contendebant. quod postquam fieri barbari animadverterunt, expugnatis compluribus navibus, cum ei rei nullum reperiretur auxilium, fuga salutem petere contendebant. ac iam conversis in eam partem navibus quo ventus ferebat, tanta subito malacia ac tranquillitas exstitit, ut se ex loco movere non possent. quae quidem res ad negotium conficiendum maximae fuit opportunitati. nam singulas nostri consectati expugnaverunt, ut perpaucae ex omni numero noctis interventu ad terram pervenirent, cum ab hora fere quarta usque ad solis occasum pugnaretur.)
By this battle the war with the Veneti and the whole of the sea coast was finished; for both all the youth, and all, too, of more advanced age, in whom there was any discretion or rank, had assembled in that battle; and they had collected in that one place whatever naval forces they had anywhere; and when these were lost, the survivors had no place to retreat to, nor means of defending their towns. They accordingly surrendered themselves and all their possessions to Caesar, on whom Caesar thought that punishment should be inflicted the more severely, in order that for the future the rights of embassadors might be more carefully respected by barbarians; having, therefore, put to death all their senate, he sold the rest for slaves.
(Quo proelio bellum Venetorum totiusque orae maritimae confectum est. nam cum omnis iuventus, omnes etiam gravioris aetatis, in quibus aliquid consilii aut dignitatis fuit, eo convenerant, tum navium quod ubique fuerat unum in locum coegerant. quibus amissis reliqui neque quo se reciperent neque quemadmodum oppida defenderent habebant. itaque se suaque omnia Caesari dediderunt. in quos eo gravius Caesar vindicandum statuit quo diligentius in reliquum tempus a barbaris ius legatorum conservaretur. itaque omni senatu necato reliquos sub corona vendidit.)
While these things are going on among the Veneti, Q. Titurius Sabinus with those troops which he had received from Caesar, arrives in the territories of the Unelli. Over these people Viridovix ruled, and held the chief command of all those states which had revolted; from which he had collected a large and powerful army. And in those few days, the Aulerci and the Sexovii, having slain their senate because they would not consent to be promoters of the war, shut their gates [against us] and united themselves to Viridovix; a great multitude besides of desperate men and robbers assembled out of Gaul from all quarters, whom the hope of plundering and the love of fighting had called away from husbandry and their daily labor. Sabinus kept himself within his camp, which was in a position convenient for everything; while Viridovix encamped over against him at a distance of two miles, and daily bringing out his forces, gave him an opportunity of fighting; so that Sabinus had now not only come into contempt with the enemy, but also was somewhat taunted by the speeches of our soldiers; and furnished so great a suspicion of his cowardice that the enemy presumed to approach even to the very rampart of our camp. He adopted this conduct for the following reason: because he did not think that a lieutenant ought to engage in battle with so great a force, especially while he who held the chief command was absent, except on advantageous ground or some favorable circumstance presented itself.
(Dum haec in Venetis geruntur, Q. Titurius Sabinus cum iis copiis, quas a Caesare acceperat, in fines Unellorum pervenit. his praeerat Viridovix ac summam imperii tenebat earum omnium civitatum, quae defecerant, ex quibus exercitum magnasque copias coegerat; atque his paucis diebus Aulerci Eburovices Lexoviique senatu suo interfecto, quod auctores belli esse nolebant, portas clauserunt seseque cum Viridovice coniunxerunt. magnaque praeterea multitudo undique ex Gallia perditorum hominum latronumque convenerat, quos spes praedandi studiumque bellandi ab agri cultura et cotidiano labore revocabat. Sabinus idoneo omnibus rebus loco castris se tenebat, cum Viridovix contra eum duorum milium spatio consedisset cotidieque productis copiis pugnandi potestatem faceret, ut iam non solum hostibus in contemptionem Sabinus veniret, sed etiam nostrorum militum vocibus nonnihil carperetur; tantamque opinionem timoris praebuit, ut iam ad vallum castrorum hostes accedere auderent. id ea de causa faciebat quod cum tanta multitudine hostium, praesertim eo absente qui summam imperii teneret, nisi aequo loco aut opportunitate aliqua data legato dimicandum non existimabat.)
He sends before him Caius Volusenus with a ship of war, to acquire a knowledge of these particulars before he in person should make a descent into the island, as he was convinced that this was a judicious measure. He commissioned him to thoroughly examine into all matters, and then return to him as soon as possible. He himself proceeds to the Morini with all his forces. He orders ships from all parts of the neighboring countries, and the fleet which the preceding summer he had built for the war with the Veneti, to assemble in this place.
(Ad haec cognoscenda, prius quam periculum faceret, idoneum esse arbitratus C. Volusenum cum navi longa praemittit. Huic mandat ut exploratis omnibus rebus ad se quam primum revertatur. Ipse cum omnibus copiis in Morinos proficiscitur, quod inde erat brevissimus in Britanniam traiectus. Huc naves undique ex finitimis regionibus et quam superiore aestate ad Veneticum bellum fecerat classem iubet convenire.).
While those things are carried on at Alesia , the Gauls, having convened a council of their chief nobility, determine that all who could bear arms should not be called out, which was the opinion of Vercingetorix, but that a fixed number should be levied from each state; lest, when so great a multitude assembled together, they could neither govern nor distinguish their men, nor have the means of supplying them with corn. They demand thirty-five thousand men from the Aedui and their dependents, the Segusiani, Ambivareti, and Aulerci Brannovices; an equal number from the Arverni in conjunction with the Eleuteti Cadurci, Gabali, and Velauni, who were accustomed to be under the command of the Arverni; twelve thousand each from the Senones , Sequani, Bituriges, Sentones, Ruteni, and Carnutes; ten thousand from the Bellovaci; the same number from the Lemovici; eight thousand each from the Pictones, and Turoni , and Parisii , and Helvii; five thousand each from the Suessiones, Ambiani, Mediomatrici, Petrocorii, Nervii, Morini, and Nitiobriges; the same number from the Aulerci Cenomani; four thousand from the Atrebates; three thousand each from the Bellocassi, Lexovii, and Aulerci Eburovices; thirty thousand from the Rauraci, and Boii; six thousand from all the states together, which border on the Atlantic, and which in their dialect are called Armoricae (in which number are comprehended the Curisolites, Rhedones, Ambibari, Caltes, Osismii, Lemovices, Veneti, and Unelli). Of these the Bellovaci did not contribute their number, as they said that they would wage war against the Romans on their own account, and at their own discretion, and would not obey the order of any one: however, at the request of Commius, they sent two thousand, in consideration of a tie of hospitality which subsisted between him and them.
(Dum haec apud Alesiam geruntur, Galli concilio principum indicto non omnes eos qui arma ferre possent, ut censuit Vercingetorix, convocandos statuunt, sed certum numerum cuique ex civitate imperandum, ne tanta multitudine confusa nec moderari nec discernere suos nec frumentandi rationem habere possent. Imperant Aeduis atque eorum clientibus, Segusiavis, Ambivaretis, Aulercis Brannovicibus, Blannoviis, milia XXXV; parem numerum Arvernis adiunctis Eleutetis, Cadurcis, Gabalis, Vellaviis, qui sub imperio Arvernorum esse consuerunt; Sequanis, Senonibus, Biturigibus, Santonis, Rutenis, Carnutibus duodena milia; Bellovacis X; totidem Lemovicibus; octona Pictonibus et Turonis et Parisiis et Helvetiis; [Suessionibus,] Ambianis, Mediomatricis, Petrocoriis, Nerviis, Morinis, Nitiobrigibus quina milia; Aulercis Cenomanis totidem; Atrebatibus [IIII milibus]; Veliocassis, Lexoviis et Aulercis Eburovicibus terna; Rauracis et Boiis bina; [XXX milia] universis civitatibus, quae Oceanum attingunt quaeque eorum consuetudine Armoricae appellantur, quo sunt in numero Curiosolites, Redones, Ambibarii, Caletes, Osismi, Veneti, Lemovices, Venelli. Ex his Bellovaci suum numerum non compleverunt, quod se suo nomine atque arbitrio cum Romanis bellum gesturos dicebant neque cuiusquam imperio obtemperaturos; rogati tamen ab Commio pro eius hospitio duo milia una miserunt.)
N a t u r a l H i s t o r y
by Pliny the Elder
Book 4, Chapter 32
(or Book 4, 107)
That part of Gaul which is known as Lugdunensis contains the Lexovii, the Vellocasses, the Galeti, the Veneti, the Abrincatui, the Ossismi, and the celebrated river Ligeris, as also a most remarkable peninsula, which extends into the ocean at the extremity of the territory of the Ossismi, the circumference of which is 625 miles, and its breadth at the neck 125. Beyond this are the Nannetes, and in the interior are the Ædui, a federal people, the Carnuti, a federal people, the Boii, the Senones, the Aulerci, both those surnamed Eburovices and those called Cenomanni, the Meldi, a free people, the Parisii, the Tricasses, the Andecavi, the Viducasses, the Bodiocasses, the Venelli, the Cariosvelites, the Diablinti, the Rhedones, the Turones, the Atesui, and the Secusiani, a free people, in whose territory is the colony of Lugdunum.
(Lugdunensis Gallia habet Lexovios, Veliocasses, Caletos, Venetos, Abrincatuos, Ossismos, flumen clarum Ligerem, sed paeninsulam spectatiorem excurrentem in oceanum a fine Ossismorum circuituDCXXV, cervice in latitudinem CXXV. ultra eum Namnetes, intus autem Aedui foederati, Carnuteni foederati, Boi, Senones, Aulerci qui cognominantur Eburovices et qui Cenomani, Meldi liberi, Parisi, Tricasses, Andecavi, Viducasses, Bodiocasses, Venelli, Coriosvelites, Diablinti, Riedones, Turones, Atesui, Segusiavi liberi, in quorum agro colonia Lugudunum.)
Book 4, Chapter 33
(or Book 4, 108 & 109)
In Aquitanica are the Ambilatri, the Anagnutes, the Pictones, the Santoni, a free people, the Bituriges, surnamed Vivisci, the Aquitani, from whom the province derives its name, the Sediboviates, the Convenæ, who together form one town, the Begerri, the Tarbelli Quatuorsignani, the Cocosates Sexsignani, the Venami, the Onobrisates, the Belendi, and then the Pyrenæan range. Below these are the Monesi, the Oscidates a mountain race, the Sibyllates, the Camponi, the Bercorcates, the Pindedunni, the Lassunni, the Vellates, the Tornates, the Consoranni, the Ausci, the Elusates, the Sottiates, the Oscidates Campestres, the Succasses, the Tarusates, the Basabocates, the Vassei, the Sennates, and the Cambolectri Agessinates. Joining up to the Pictones are the Bituriges, a free people, who are also known as the Cubi, and then the Lemovices, the Arverni, a free people, and the Gabales.
(Aquitanicae sunt Ambilatri, Anagnutes, Pictones, Santoni liberi, Bituriges liberi cognomine Vivisci, Aquitani, unde nomen provinciae, Sediboviates. mox in oppidum contributi Convenae, Begerri, Tarbelli Quattuorsignani, Cocosates Sexsignani, Venami, Onobrisates, Belendi, saltus Pyrenaeus infraque Monesi, Oscidates Montani, Sybillates, Camponi, Bercorcates, Pinpedunni, Lassunni, Vellates, Toruates, Consoranni, Ausci, Elusates, Sottiates, Oscidates Campestres, Succasses, Latusates, Basaboiates, Vassei, Sennates, Cambolectri Agessinates. Pictonibus iuncti autem Bituriges liberi qui Cubi appellantur, dein Lemovices, Arverni liberi, Vellavi liberi, Gabales.)
Again, adjoining the province of Narbonensis are the Ruteni, the Cadurci, the Nitiobriges, and the Petrocori, separated by the river Tarnis from the Tolosani. The seas around the coast are the Northern Ocean, flowing up to the mouth of the Rhine, the Britannic Ocean between the Rhine and the Sequana, and, between it and the Pyrenees, the Gallic Ocean. There are many islands belonging to the Veneti, which bear the name of “Veneticæ,” as also in the Aquitanic Gulf, that of Uliarus.
(rursus Narbonensi provinciae contermini Ruteni, Cadurci, Nitiobroges Tarneque amne discreti a Tolosanis Petrocori. Maria circa oram ad Rhenum septentrionalis oceanus, inter Rhenum et Sequanam Britannicus, inter id et Pyrenaeum Gallicus. insulae conplures Venestorum et quae Veneticae appellantur et in Aquitanico sinu Uliaros.)
G e o g r a p h y
Book 2, chapter 7 (Gallia Lugdunensis)
[first mentions the Vidana harbor, Aregenua of the Venelli, Crociatonnum, Olina River and the Lexubi before proceeding as follows:]
The Caletae inhabit the north coast from the Sequana river, whose town is Iuliobana 20 15 51 20. Next to these are the Lexubi, then the Venelli, after these the Biducasi and the Osismi extending as far as the Gabaeum promontory, whose town is Vorganium 17 40 50 10. The Veneti occupy the western coast below the Osismi, whose town is Darioritum 17 20 49 15. Below these are the Samnites who extend as far as the Liger river. In the interior toward the east from the Veneti are the Aulircii Diablitae, whose town is Noedunum 18 50.
[Later also mentions the Aulirci Cenomani whose town is Vindinum; then mentions the Namnetae]
E p i t o m e o f H i s t o r y
by Lucius Annaeus Florus
Book 3, Chapter 10 (The Gallic War)
“When Asia was subdued by the efforts of Pompey, Fortune conferred what remained to be done in Europe upon Caesar. There were still left the most savage of all nations, the Gauls and Germans; and Britain, though separated from the whole world, had yet one to conquer it. The first commotion in Gaul arose from the Helvetii, who, lying between the Rhone and the Rhine, and finding their country insufficient for them, came forth, after setting fire to their cities, (an act equivalent to an oath that they would not return,) to ask of us new settlements. But Caesar, having asked for time to consider of their application, prevented them, meanwhile, from getting off, by breaking down the bridge over the Rhone, and straightway drove back this warlike nation to their former abodes, as a shepherd drives his flocks into the fold. The next affair was a war with the Belgae, which was attended with far more bloodshed, as being a struggle with men fighting for their liberty. In the course of it were displayed many brave acts among the soldiery, and a remarkable one of the general himself, who, when his troops were on the point of flight, having snatched a buckler from a retreating soldier, hurried to the front of the army, and restored the battle by his own extertions. Then followed a naval war with the Veneti, but there was a greater struggle in it with the Ocean than with the ships of the enemy; for the vessels were rude and ill-shaped, and were shattered as soon as they felt our beaks; but the contest was obstructed by the shallows, as the Ocean, retiring by its usual ebbs during the engagement, seemed disposed to put a stop to the war.”
“There were also other diversities of operation, according to the nature of the people and the ground. The Aquitani, a crafty nation, betook themselves to their caverns; Caesar ordered them to be shut up in them. The Morini dispersed themselves among their woods; he ordered the woods to be set on fire.”
“Let no one say that the Gauls are mere senseless warriors; for they act with cunning. Indutiomarus called together the Treviri, Ambiorix the Eburones; and the two, in the absence of Caesar, having entered into a conspiracy, fell upon his lieutenant-generals. Indutiomarus was valiantly repulsed by Dolabella, and his head carried from the field. Ambiorix, however, placing an ambuscade in a valley, gave us by that contrivance a defeat, so that our camp was plundered, and our treasure carried off. Then we lost Cotta, and Titurius Sabinus, one of the legates. Nor was any revenge afterwards taken on Ambiorix, as he lay in peretual concealment beyond the Rhine…”
R o m e
by Cassius Dio
The following is contained in the Thirty-ninth Book of Dio’s Rome:—
How Decimus Brutus, Caesar’s lieutenant, conquered the Veneti in a sea-fight (chapters 40‑43)
Caesar in the consulship of Marcellinus and Philippus made an expedition against the Veneti, who live near the ocean. They had seized some Roman soldiers sent out for grain and afterward detained the envoys who came in their behalf, in order that in exchange for these they might get back their own hostages. Caesar, instead of giving these back, sent out different bodies of troops in various directions, some to waste the possessions of those who had joined the revolt and thus to prevent the two bands from aiding each other, and others to guard the possessions of those who were under treaty, for fear they too might cause some disturbance; he himself proceeded against the Veneti. He constructed in the interior the kind of boats which he heard were of advantage for the tides of the ocean, and conveyed them down the river Liger, but in so doing used up almost the entire summer to no purpose. For their cities, established in strong positions, were inaccessible, and the ocean surging around practically all of them rendered an infantry attack out of the question, and a naval attack equally so in the midst of the ebb and flow of the tide. Consequently Caesar was in despair until Decimus Brutus came to him with swift ships from the Mediterranean. And he was inclined to believe he would be unable to accomplish anything with those either, but the barbarians through their contempt for the small size and frailty of the boats incurred defeat.
For these boats had been built rather light in the interest of speed, after the manner of our naval construction, whereas those of the barbarians surpassed them very greatly both in size and stoutness, since amid the ever-shifting tides of the ocean they often needed to rest on dry ground and to hold out against the succession of ebb and flow. Accordingly, the barbarians, who had never had any experience of such a fleet, despised the ships as useless in view of their appearance; and as soon as they were lying in the harbour they set sail against them, thinking to sink them speedily by means of their boat-hooks. They were swept on by a great and violent wind, for their sails were of leather and so carried easily the full force of the wind.
Now Brutus, as long as the wind raged, dared not sail out against them because of the number and size of the ships, the force with which they were driven by the wind, and their own attack, but he prepared to repel their attack near the land and to abandon the boats altogether. When, however, the wind suddenly fell, the waves were stilled, and the boats could no longer be propelled as they had been with the oars but because of their great bulk stopped motionless, as it were, then he took courage and sailed out to meet them. And falling upon them, he caused them many serious injuries with impunity, delivering both broadside and rear attacks, now ramming one of them, now backing water, in whatever way and as often as he liked, sometimes with many vessels against one and again with equal numbers opposed, occasionally even approaching safely with a few against many. At whatever point he was superior to them in . . . he stuck to them closely; he sank some by ripping them open, and boarding others from all sides, he engaged in a hand-to‑hand conflict with the crews and slew many. If he found himself inferior anywhere, he very easily retired, so that the advantage rested with him in any case.
For the barbarians did not use archery and had not provided themselves beforehand with stones, not expecting to have any need of them; hence, if any one came into close quarters with them, they fought him off after a fashion, but with those who stood at a little distance from them they knew not how to cope. So the men were being wounded and killed, even those who were unable to repel any one, while the boats were unable to repel any one, while the boats were in some cases rammed and ripped open, in other cases were set on fire and burned; still others were towed away, as if empty of men. When the remaining crews saw this, some killed themselves to avoid being captured alive and others leapt into the sea with the idea that they would thus either board the hostile ships or in any event not perish at the hands of the Romans. For in zeal and daring they were not at all behind their opponents, but they were terribly angry at finding themselves betrayed by the sluggishness of their vessels. The Romans, to make sure that the wind when it sprang up again should not move the ships, employed from a distance long poles fitted with knives, by means of which they cut the ropes and split the sails. And since the barbarians were compelled to fight in their boats as if on land, while the foes could use his ships as at sea, great numbers perished then and there, and all the remainder were captured. Of these Caesar slew the most prominent and sold the rest.
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