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CÆSAR WINS A GREAT VICTORY OVER THE NERVII
 ARIOVISTUS was a great warrior and he was not afraid of the Roman
army, but he was startled by the speed with which it
reached his camp. He had thought that the marshlands
through which it must go, and the forests through which
it must penetrate, would have delayed it long on its
But if Ariovistus was unafraid, it was easy to see that
his soldiers were not over glad to see the Roman army.
If they might have attacked the enemy at once, they
would have felt less gloomy. But there were
soothsayers in the camp, and these went from tent to
tent, bidding the soldiers wait until the new moon
appeared before they fought.
Cæsar may have known what the soothsayers had said,
but in any case, he saw that the Germans were not ready
to fight, so he determined to attack their camp.
When the Romans began to advance, the Germans were
roused to Fury. They forgot the words of the
soothsayers, or, if they remembered, they paid no heed
to them, for they dashed furiously upon the enemy and
tried to break its ranks.
Again and again they hurled themselves upon the foe,
but Cæsar's legions stood firm, and at length they, in
their turn, attacked the Germans with irresistible
force. The Germans could not stand the onslaught;
they broke their ranks and fled.
If they could but reach the river Rhine and cross it
they would be safe, but the river was about thirty-five
 Still that was the direction in which they fled,
followed and cut down not only by the Romans but by the
Gauls, whose enemies they had always been.
Ariovistus himself was almost captured, but he at
length succeeded in crossing the river with a few
troops, and was then soon beyond the reach of the Roman
legions. This was Cæsar's second great victory in
The Nervii, with whom he fought his next battle, were
perhaps the most terrible foes he encountered during
the many years he spent among the barbarians.
So determined were the Nervii to fight, that they did
not even wait to see if the Romans meant to attack
them, but assembled in great numbers on the left bank
of the river Sambre, a tributary of the Meuse.
The home of this fierce tribe was in the thick forests
of their country, and here they had hidden their wives,
their children, and their property, when they set out
to seek for the Romans.
Cæsar soon reached the right bank of the Sambre,
opposite the enemy, and ordered his men to encamp on a
hill which sloped toward the river.
The Romans had put up their tents and were preparing to
fortify the camp, when suddenly a party of the Nervii,
that had been in ambush, dashed upon them. Almost at
once they were followed by overwhelming numbers, who
had crossed the river and now swarmed up the hill and
passed into the camp.
Amid the wild confusion Cæsar was calm and undismayed.
He ordered the bugle to be sounded to recall those who
had gone in search of wood, then speedily gathering his
men together he gave the signal to advance.
Bravely the Tenth Legion fought that day. Once, when
it was posted on the hill, it saw that its beloved
general was in danger, and swift as an arrow it sped to
When it seemed as though the battle must indeed be
lost, Cæsar snatched a buckler from one of his men and
 himself led them on to victory. For seeing their
general before them the soldiers fought with new and
They could not indeed force the Nervii to flee, for the
barbarians scorned to turn their back to an enemy, but
they could cut them down as they stood at bay. Out of
60,000, only 500, it is said, were left alive after the
terrible slaughter on the banks of the Sambre.
Belgium and the whole of the north-west of France was
now in the hands of the Romans, for one of Cæsar's
officers had conquered Normandy and Brittany.
Rome was jubilant with delight when she heard of
Cæsar's great victory over the Nervii. The Senate
resolved to celebrate it with unusual festivities. For
fifteen days the city was ordered to give itself up to
rejoicing, and the people, who adored Cæsar, were able
to show their pleasure in his success. Feasts and
games followed each other day after day, while
bounteous sacrifices were offered to the gods.
Winter had now come and Cæsar resolved to go to Lucca,
a town near to the river Po. Here he was near enough
to Rome to find out all that had been going on in the
city during his absence.
Many Romans too went to Lucca to visit the victorious
general, and at one time he entertained 200 senators.
Among the visitors in 56 B.C. came Pompey and Crassus,
to renew the Triumvirate.
It was agreed that Pompey and Crassus should be Consuls
the following year, while Cæsar should hold Gaul as
his province for five years longer, from 53 B.C. to 48
Toward the end of that time he was to stand for the
consulship and be permitted to do so, without, in the
usual way, first entering the city.