Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
CÆSAR PRAISES HIS TENTH LEGION
 THE years which Cæsar spent in Gaul were so full of
hard-fought battles and well-earned victories, that
even his love of adventure and glory must surely have
Gaul at this time was divided into two parts, Cisalpine
and Transalpine Gaul.
Cisalpine Gaul was the name given to the Gallic
settlements in northern Italy, and here Cæsar spent
only a short time.
It was in Transalpine Gaul, or Gaul beyond the Alps,
that Cæsar's great work lay, and the countries that we
now call France and Switzerland were included in this
part of Gaul.
When the Roman army reached Transalpine Gaul it found
that two tribes, the Helvetians and the Ligurini, had
burnt their villages and towns because the land around
their dwellings was covered with marsh and forest.
They were now going to journey in search of a better
country, even thinking that they might invade Italy and
The tribes were fierce and brave, but Cæsar determined
to meet them and keep them from setting foot in Italy.
So he sent his chief officer against the Ligurini and
they were defeated. But the Helvetians succeeded in
surprising Cæsar as he was marching, and fell upon him
before he had time to arrange his men in a good
As the Romans prepared to repulse the Gauls, Cæsar's
horse was brought to him, but he refused to mount,
 "When I have won the battle I will use my horse for
the chase." He then led the charge on foot.
The struggle was fierce, for the Helvetians were
fighting for all that they counted most dear. But at
length the Romans drove them from the field and pursued
them to their wagons.
Here, not men alone, but women and children joined in
the fight, and fiercely the battle raged once more. It
was only after a desperate onslaught that the Gauls
resolved to submit.
Many of the Helvetians had fallen in the battle, but
Cæsar sent for those who had escaped, and bade them go
back to the country from which they had come, and
rebuild their towns and villages.
The conquered people had expected to be cut to pieces
or to be made slaves for the rest of their lives, and
they could scarcely believe what they heard.
Cæsar saw that they were bewildered, so again he told
them to go and live peacefully in their old homes. And
this he did because he did not wish the Germans, who
were a powerful people, to seize the district the
Helvetians had forsaken and make it theirs.
This victory over the Helvetians made the other Gallic
tribes afraid of Cæsar. Yet perhaps, they thought, as
he was so brave and strong, he would be willing to
protect them from Ariovistus, king of the Germans, who
was their most terrible foe. So some of the tribes
sent messengers to Cæsar to beg for his protection.
This Cæsar promised to give them, but when he had
conquered Ariovistus, he determined that he would next
subdue the tribes that had just appealed to him and
make their land a province of Rome.
Some of the Roman officers were very angry when they
heard that Cæsar meant to march against the German
king. They were young nobles who had been brought up
in luxury and had joined the army, dreaming of the
riches that they
 would gain, and the victories which would make their
names famous. Of the long terrible marches that would
be necessary, of the hardships of the camp, they had
not thought, and so now they grumbled.
And what was worse, they not only grumbled themselves,
but they tried to make the soldiers dissatisfied. The
example of their brave commander should have shamed
Cæsar was not strong, yet he was always to be found
where the danger seemed the greatest. Nor was he ever
heard to say that because his health was poor he must
have more comfort than his men enjoyed.
Indeed when his soldiers marched, he marched at their
side, if they ate coarse food, he made the same his
daily fare, and often he would share their rough camp
bed. He was much more than the commander of his men,
he was their friend. It was he who taught them too to
care for the wounded and the sick.
Once a fierce storm
drove him to seek shelter in the cottage of a poor man.
When he saw that there was only one room, he ordered it
to be given to an officer who was ill, while he and the
troops slept in a shed.
For deeds like this, the soldiers worshipped their
brave general, and were ready to follow where he chose
But the pleasure-loving officers grumbled. Cæsar had
no need of such men in his army, and he determined to
teach them a lesson.
So, first assembling the army, he sent for the
discontented nobles, and when they came, he bade them,
before all the soldiers, to go back to Rome, if they
were afraid of difficult marches and battles with
"As for me," he added, "I will take only the Tenth
Legion with me, and with it I will conquer the
barbarians, for I do not expect to find them more
terrible than the Cimbri whom Marius conquered, nor am
I a general inferior to him."
 The Tenth Legion was proud indeed as it listened to
these words. It never forgot how Cæsar had boasted of
its courage and had trusted its devotion. Some of the
members of the Legion were sent to thank him for the
words he had spoken. And from that day, as you will
easily understand, it fought with unfaltering zeal and
such fierce determination that the enemy could seldom
withstand its fury.
After the foolish young officers had listened to
Cæsar's rebuke they were ashamed, and begged him to
allow them to march with him against Ariovistus, that
they might redeem their honour in the eyes of the army.
As for the other legions they had not waited for orders
from their officers, but had already begun to prepare
for the march. For the soldiers had never wished to
desert Cæsar, and now after listening to his praise of
the Tenth Legion, they were more than ever anxious to
win his approval. So it was a united army that set out
on the long and perilous march to the camp of