Erant eiusmodi fere situs oppidorum ut posita in extremis lingulis promunturiisque neque pedibus aditum haberent, cum ex alto se aestus incitavisset, quod accidit semper horarum XII spatio, neque navibus, quod rursus minuente aestu naves in vadis afflictarentur. 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 appulso, cuius rei summam facultatem habebant, omnia sua deportabant seque in proxima oppida recipiebant: ibi se rursus isdem opportunitatibus loci 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.
(Caesar, De Bello Gallico 3.12)
The positions of the strongholds were generally of one kind. They were set at the end of tongues and promontories, so as to allow no approach on foot, when the tide had rushed in from the sea—which regularly happens every twelve hours—nor in ships, because when the tide ebbed again the ships would be damaged in shoal water. Both circumstances, therefore, hindered the assault of the strongholds; and, whenever the natives were in fact overcome by huge siege-works—that is to say, when the sea had been set back by a massive mole built up level to the town-walls—and so began to despair of their fortunes, they would bring close in shore a large number of ships, of which they possessed an unlimited supply, and take off all their stuff and retire to the nearest strongholds, there to defend themselves again with the same advantages of position. They pursued these tactics for a great part of the summer the more easily because our own ships were detained by foul weather, and because the difficulty of navigation on a vast and open sea, with strong tides and few—nay, scarcely any—harbours, was extreme. (tr. Henry John Edwards)
Pompeius paucis post diebus in Thessaliam pervenit contionatusque apud cunctum exercitum suis agit gratias, Scipionis milites cohortatur ut parta iam victoria praedae ac praemiorum velint esse participes. receptisque omnibus in una castra legionibus suum cum Scipione honorem partitur classicumque apud eum cani et alterum illi iubet praetorium tendi. auctis copiis Pompei duobusque magnis exercitibus coniunctis pristina omnium confirmatur opinio, et spes victoriae augetur, adeo ut quicquid intercederet temporis id morari reditum in Italiam videretur, et si quando quid Pompeius tardius aut consideratius faceret, unius esse negotium diei sed illum delectari imperio et consulares praetoriosque servorum habere numero dicerent. iamque inter se palam de praemiis ac de sacerdotiis contendebant in annosque consulatum definiebant, alii domos bonaque eorum qui in castris erant Caesaris petebant.
(Caesar, De Bello Civili 3.82.1-3)
Pompeius reached Thessaly a few days later, and, haranguing his whole army, thanks his own men and exhorts those of Scipio to consent to share the plunder and prizes of war when once the victory is won, and after getting all the legions into one camp, he shares his official dignity with Scipio and gives orders that the bugle should be sounded before him and a second pavilion erected for his headquarters. By this accession to the forces of Pompeius and the joining of two large armies into one, the old confidence of the troops is confirmed and their hope of victory increased, so that the interval that separated them from battle seemed merely a postponement of their return to Italy; and whenever any action of Pompeius showed some degree of slowness and deliberation, they declared it was only a single day’s task, but that he was making the most of his imperial command and treating men of consular and praetorian rank as though they were slaves. Already they openly contended for rewards and priesthoods and apportioned the consulship for successive years, while others clamoured for the houses and property of those who were in Caesar’s camp. (tr. Arthur George Peskett)
Neque enim temere praeter mercatores illo adit quisquam, neque eis ipsis quidquam praeter oram maritimam atque eas regiones quae sunt contra Gallias notum est. itaque vocatis ad se undique mercatoribus neque quanta esset insulae magnitudo, neque quae aut quantae nationes incolerent, neque quem usum belli haberent aut quibus institutis uterentur, neque qui essent ad maiorum navium multitudinem idonei portus, reperire poterat.
(Caesar, De Bello Gallico 4.20)
In fact, nobody except traders journey thither without good cause; and even traders know nothing except the sea-coast and the districts opposite Gaul. Therefore, although he summoned to his quarters traders from all part, he could discover neither the size of the island, nor the number or the strength of the tribes inhabiting it, nor their manner of warfare, nor the ordinances they observed, nor the harbours suitable for a number of large ships. (tr. Henry John Edwards)
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)
Gallorum eadem atque Belgarum oppugnatio est haec. ubi circumiecta multitudine hominum totis moenibus undique in murum lapides iaci coepti sunt murusque defensoribus nudatus est, testudine facta portas succedunt murumque subruunt. quod tum facile fiebat. nam cum tanta multitudo lapides ac tela conicerent, in muro consistendi potestas erat nulli.
(Caesar, De Bello Gallico 2.6.2-3)
The Gauls and the Belgae use one method of attack. A host of men is set all round the ramparts, and when a rain of stones from all sides upon the wall has begun, and the wall is stripped of defenders, the attackers form a “tortoise”, move up to the gates, and undercut the wall. This was easily done on the present occasion; for when so vast a host hurled stones and darts, no man might stand firm on the wall.
(tr. H.J. Edwards)