Dum paucos dies ad Vesontionem rei frumentariae commeatusque causa moratur, ex percontatione nostrorum vocibusque Gallorum ac mercatorum, qui ingenti magnitudine corporum Germanos, incredibili virtute atque exercitatione in armis esse praedicabant (saepe numero sese cum his congressos ne vultum quidem atque aciem oculorum dicebant ferre potuisse), tantus subito timor omnem exercitum occupavit ut non mediocriter omnium mentes animosque perturbaret. hic primum ortus est a tribunis militum, praefectis, reliquisque qui ex urbe amicitiae causa Caesarem secuti non magnum in re militari usum habebant; quorum alius alia causa inlata, quam sibi ad proficiscendum necessariam esse diceret, petebat ut eius voluntate discedere liceret; non nulli pudore adducti, ut timoris suspicionem vitarent, remanebant. hi neque vultum fingere neque interdum lacrimas tenere poterant: abditi in tabernaculis aut suum fatum querebantur aut cum familiaribus suis commune periculum miserabantur. vulgo totis castris testamenta obsignabantur.
(Caesar, De Bello Gallico 1.39.1-5)
During a few days’ halt near Vesontio for the provision of corn and other supplies, a panic arose from inquiries made by our troops and remarks uttered by Gauls and traders, who affirmed that the Germans were men of a mighty frame and an incredible valour and skill at arms; for they themselves (so they said) at meetings with the Germans had often been unable even to endure their look and the keenness of their eyes. So great was the panic, and p61so suddenly did it seize upon all the army, that it affected in serious fashion the intelligence and the courage of all ranks. It began first with the tribunes, the contingent-commanders,3 and the others who had followed Caesar from Rome to court his friendship, without any great experience in warfare. Advancing various reasons which, according to their own statement, obliged them to depart, some sought his permission to leave; some were compelled by very shame to stay, to avoid the suspicion of cowardice. They were unable to disguise their looks, or even at times to restrain their tears; they hid in their tents to complain of their own fate, or to lament in company with their friends the common danger. Everywhere throughout the camp there was signing of wills. (tr. Henry John Edwards)