The Celtic Literature Collective

The Lives of the Twelve Caesars
Suetonius

Julius Caesar

XXIV. [55 B.C.] When, however, Lucius Domitius, candidate for the consulship, openly threatened to effect as consul what he had been unable to do as praetor, and to take his armies from him, Caesar compelled Pompeius and Crassus to come to Luca, a city in his province, where he prevailed on them to stand for a second consulship, to defeat Domitius; and he also succeeded through their influence in having his term as governor of Gallia made five years longer. Encouraged by this, he added to the legions which he had received from the state others at his own cost, one actually composed of men of Gallia Transalpina and bearing a Gallic name too (for it was called Alauda), which he trained in the Roman tactics and equipped with Roman arms; and later on he gave every man of it citizenship. After that he did not let slip any pretext for war, however unjust and dangerous it might be, picking quarrels as well with allied, as with hostile and barbarous nations; so that once the senate decreed that a commission be sent to inquire into the condition of the Gallic provinces, and some even recommended that Caesar be handed over to the enemy. But as his enterprises prospered, thanksgivings were appointed in his honor oftener and for longer periods than for anyone before his time.

XXV. [58-49 B.C.] During the nine years of his command this is in substance what he did. All that part of Gallia which is bounded by the Pyrenees, the Alps and the CÚvennes, and by the Rhine and Rhone rivers, a circuit of some 3,200 miles, with the exception of some allied states which had rendered him good service, he reduced to the form of a province; and imposed upon it a yearly tribute of 40,000,000 sesterces. He was the first Roman to build a bridge and attack the Germans beyond the Rhine; and he inflicted heavy losses upon them. He invaded the Britons too, a people unknown before, vanquished them, and exacted moneys and hostages. Amid all these successes he met with adverse fortune but three times in all: in Britannia, where his fleet narrowly escaped destruction in a violent storm; in Gallia, when one of his legions was routed at Gergovia; and on the borders of Germania, when his lieutenants Titurius and Aurunculeius were ambushed and slain.

XLIX. ...Finally, in his Gallic triumph his soldiers, among the bantering songs which are usually sung by those who follow the chariot, shouted these lines, which became a by-word:

"All the Gauls did Caesar vanquish, Nicomedes vanquished him;
Lo! now Caesar rides in triumph, victor over all the Gauls,
Nicomedes does not triumph, who subdued the conqueror."

LI. That he did not refrain from intrigues in the provinces is shown in particular by this couplet, which was also shouted by the soldiers in his Gallic triumph:

"Men of Rome, keep close your consorts, here's a bald adulterer.
Gold in Gallia you spent in dalliance, which you borrowed here in Rome."

LVIII. In the conduct of his campaigns it is a question whether he was more cautious or more daring, for he never led his army where ambuscades were possible without carefully reconnoitering the country, and he did not cross to Britannia without making personal inquiries about the harbors, the course, and the approach to the island. But on the other hand, when news came that his camp in Germania was beleaguered, he made his way to his men through the enemies' pickets, disguised as a Gaul. He crossed from Brundisium to Dyrrachium in winter time, running the blockade of the enemy's fleets; and when the troops which he had ordered to follow him delayed to do so, and he had sent to fetch them many times in vain, at last in secret and alone he boarded a small boat at night with his head muffled up; and he did not reveal who he was, or suffer the helmsman to give way to the gale blowing in their teeth, until he was all but overwhelmed by the waves.

LXXVI. ...With the same disregard of law and precedent he named magistrates for several years to come, bestowed the emblems of consular rank on ten ex-praetors, and admitted to the Senate men who had been given citizenship, and in some cases half-civilized Gauls. He assigned the charge of the mint and of the public revenues to his own slaves, and gave the oversight and command of the three legions which he had left at Alexandria to a favorite of his called Rufo, son of one of his freedmen.

LXXX. It was this that led the conspirators to hasten in carrying out their designs, in order to avoid giving their assent to this proposal. Therefore the plots which had previously been formed separately, often by groups of two or three, were united in a general conspiracy, since even the populace no longer were pleased with present conditions, but both secretly and openly rebelled at his tyranny and cried out for defenders of their liberty. On the admission of foreigners to the Senate, a placard was posted: "God bless the Republic! let no one consent to point out the Senate to a newly made senator." The following verses too were sung everwhere:---

"Caesar led the Gauls in triumph, led them to the senate house;
Then the Gauls put off their breeches, and put on the latus clavus."

SOURCE
Suetonius, 2 vols., trans. J. C. Rolfe, (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, and London: William Henemann, 1920), Vol. I, pp. 3-119 The Fordham U. Ancient History Sourcebook

Back to Classical Texts
Back to CLC