14.3 Caesar, Gallic War, Book 5, Part I, Chapters 30-32

5 min readjanuary 25, 2023



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Use this study guide as a refresher after instruction from your professional Latin instructor/teacher. As it is AP Latin, you will be expected to learn the grammar in class except for questions which we will go over again. The main purpose of this study guide is to provide 80% literal, 20% interpretative translations and to break down the text, context, and grammar. What interpretative means is that it is not the literal Latin translation but that it has been restructured in some way to better fit the modern English vernacular.

Comentarii de Bello Gallico, Book 5, Chapters 30-32

Original Passage

] 1 Hac in utramque partem disputatione habita, cum a Cotta primisque ordinibus acriter resisteretur, "Vincite," inquit, "si ita vultis," Sabinus, et id clariore voce, ut magna pars militum exaudiret; 2 "neque is sum," inquit, "qui gravissime ex vobis mortis periculo terrear: hi sapient; si gravius quid acciderit, abs te rationem reposcent, 3 qui, si per te liceat, perendino die cum proximis hibernis coniuncti communem cum reliquis belli casum sustineant, non reiecti et relegati longe ab ceteris aut ferro aut fame intereant."
] 1 Consurgitur ex consilio; comprehendunt utrumque et orant, ne sua dissensione et pertinacia rem in summum periculum deducant: 2 facilem esse rem, seu maneant, seu proficiscantur, si modo unum omnes sentiant ac probent; contra in dissensione nullam se salutem perspicere. Res disputatione ad mediam noctem perducitur. 3 Tandem dat Cotta permotus manus: superat sententia Sabini. Pronuntiatur prima luce ituros. 4 Consumitur vigiliis reliqua pars noctis, cum sua quisque miles circumspiceret, quid secum portare posset, quid ex instrumento hibernorum relinquere cogeretur. 5 Omnia excogitantur, quare nec sine periculo maneatur, et languore militum et vigiliis periculum augeatur. 6 Prima luce sic ex castris proficiscuntur, ut quibus esset persuasum non ab hoste, sed ab homine amicissimo Ambiorige consilium datum, longissimo agmine maximisque impedimentis.
] 1 At hostes, posteaquam ex nocturno fremitu vigiliisque de profectione eorum senserunt, collocatis insidiis bipertito in silvis opportuno atque occulto loco a milibus passuum circiter duobus Romanorum adventum exspectabant, 2 et cum se maior pars agminis in magnam convallem demisisset, ex utraque parte eius vallis subito se ostenderunt novissimosque premere et primos prohibere ascensu atque iniquissimo nostris loco proelium committere coeperunt.

Questions about the Latin

1. What is the subject of the sentence in Chapter 30, "Sed Labieno nihil esse negotii, si ea quae imperasset exsequeretur"?
2. What is the verb of the sentence in Chapter 31, "Igitur neque sibi consuli neque legatis suis praescribere imperium patitur"?
3. What is the object of the sentence in Chapter 32, "Itaque his rebus cognitis Caesar naves longas, quas apud Menapios requisierat, labentibus in flumen inferiore alveo traducere instituit"?
4. What is the adverb modifying in the sentence in Chapter 30, "Hoc idem Labieno imperat, ut eam partem pontis, quam paucis ante diebus reliquerat, quam primum reficiat"?
5. What is the adjective modifying in the sentence in Chapter 31, "Erant in ea legione fortissimi viri, qui et propter vitae periculum et propter dignitatem summa animi alacritate pugnabant"?

Answers about the Latin

1. Labieno
2. patitur
3. naves longas
4. reliquerat
5. fortissimi, summa


Chapter 30
This discussion having been held on the two sides, when opposition 
was offered strenuously by Cotta and the principal officers, "Prevail," 
said Sabinus, "if so you wish it;" and he said it with a louder voice, 
that a great portion of the soldiers might hear him; "nor am I the person 
among you," he said, "who is most powerfully alarmed by the danger of death; 
these will be aware of it, and then, if any thing disastrous shall have 
occurred, they will demand a reckoning at your hands; these, who, if it 
were permitted by you, united three days hence with the nearest winter-quarters, 
may encounter the common condition of war with the rest, and not, as if 
forced away and separated far from the rest, perish either by the sword 
or by famine."
Chapter 31
They rise from the council, detain both, and entreat, that "they 
do not bring the matter into the greatest jeopardy by their dissension 
and obstinacy; the affair was an easy one, if only they all thought and 
approved of the same thing, whether they remain or depart; on the other 
hand, they saw no security in dissension." The matter is prolonged by debate 
till midnight. At last Cotta, being overruled, yields his assent; the opinion 
of Sabinus prevails. It is proclaimed that they will march at day-break; 
the remainder of the night is spent without sleep, since every soldier 
was inspecting his property, [to see] what he could carry with him, and 
what, out of the appurtenances of the winter-quarters, he would be compelled 
to leave; every reason is suggested to show why they could not stay without 
danger, and how that danger would be increased by the fatigue of the soldiers 
and their want of sleep. At break of day they quit the camp, in a very 
extended line and with a very large amount of baggage, in such a manner 
as men who were convinced that the advice was given by Ambiorix, not as 
an enemy, but as most friendly [toward them].
Chapter 32
But the enemy, after they had made the discovery of their intended 
departure by the noise during the night and their not retiring to rest, 
having placed an ambuscade in two divisions in the woods, in a suitable 
and concealed place, two miles from the camp, waited for the arrival of 
the Romans: and when the greater part of the line of march had descended 
into a considerable valley, they suddenly presented themselves on either 
side of that valley, and began both to harass the rear and hinder the van 
from ascending, and to give battle in a place exceedingly disadvantageous 
to our men.

Translation sourced from http://classics.mit.edu/Caesar/gallic.5.5.html

Wrapping these lines up:

Remember that despite these lines being a dry read, they describe the thought processes' of one of the greatest men in terms of power and influence in Roman history. Keep that in mind as you are moving forward.

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