14.4 Caesar, Gallic War, Book 5, Part I, Chapters 33-35

6 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 33-35

Original Passage

] 1 Tum demum Titurius, qui nihil ante providisset, trepidare et concursare cohortesque disponere, haec tamen ipsa timide atque ut eum omnia deficere viderentur; quod plerumque eis accidere consuevit, qui in ipso negotio consilium capere coguntur. 2 At Cotta, qui cogitasset haec posse in itinere accidere atque ob eam causam profectionis auctor non fuisset, nulla in re communi saluti deerat et in appellandis cohortandisque militibus imperatoris et in pugna militis officia praestabat. 3 Cum propter longitudinem agminis minus facile omnia per se obire et, quid quoque loco faciendum esset, providere possent, iusserunt pronuntiare, ut impedimenta relinquerent atque in orbem consisterent. 4 Quod consilium etsi in eiusmodi casu reprehendendum non est, tamen incommode accidit: 5 nam et nostris militibus spem minuit et hostes ad pugnam alacriores effecit, quod non sine summo timore et desperatione id factum videbatur. Praeterea accidit, quod fieri necesse erat, ut vulgo milites ab signis discederent, quae quisque eorum carissima haberet, ab impedimentis petere atque arripere properaret, clamore et fletu omnia complerentur.
] 1 At barbaris consilium non defuit. Nam duces eorum tota acie pronuntiare iusserunt, ne quis ab loco discederet: illorum esse praedam atque illis reservari quaecumque Romani reliquissent: proinde omnia in victoria posita existimarent. 2 Erant et virtute et studio pugnandi pares; nostri, tametsi ab duce et a fortuna deserebantur, tamen omnem spem salutis in virtute ponebant, et quotiens quaeque cohors procurrerat, ab ea parte magnus numerus hostium cadebat. 3 Qua re animadversa Ambiorix pronuntiari iubet, ut procul tela coniciant neu propius accedant et, quam in partem Romani impetum fecerint, cedant (levitate armorum et cotidiana exercitatione nihil eis noceri posse), 4 rursus se ad signa recipientes insequantur.
] 1 Quo praecepto ab eis diligentissime observato, cum quaepiam cohors ex orbe excesserat atque impetum fecerat, hostes velocissime refugiebant. 2 Interim eam partem nudari necesse erat et ab latere aperto tela recipi. 3 Rursus cum in eum locum unde erant egressi reverti coeperant, et ab eis qui cesserant et ab eis qui proximi steterant circumveniebantur; 4 sin autem locum tenere vellent, nec virtuti locus relinquebatur, neque ab tanta multitudine coniecta tela conferti vitare poterant. 5 Tamen tot incommodis conflictati, multis vulneribus acceptis resistebant et magna parte diei consumpta, cum a prima luce ad horam octavam pugnaretur, nihil quod ipsis esset indignum committebant. 6 Tum Tito Balventio, qui superiore anno primum pilum duxerat, viro forti et magnae auctoritatis, utrumque femur tragula traicitur; 7 Quintus Lucanius, eiusdem ordinis, fortissime pugnans, dum circumvento filio subvenit, interficitur; Lucius Cotta legatus omnes cohortes ordinesque adhortans in adversum os funda vulneratur.

Questions about the Latin

1. What is the subject of the sentence in Chapter 33, "Hac re cognita Caesar naves longas, quas apud Menapios requisierat, labentibus in flumen inferiore alveo traducere instituit"?
2. What is the verb of the sentence in Chapter 34, "Igitur equitatum omnem, quem habebat, in frontem constituit"?
3. What is the object of the sentence in Chapter 35, "Itaque hac re gesta, cum equitatu Caesar in fines Eburonum contendit"?
4. What is the adverb modifying in the sentence in Chapter 33, "Ea tempestate, qua Caesar Menapios adiit, flumen Rhenum minimum esse solitum"?
5. What is the adjective modifying in the sentence in Chapter 34, "Quod ubi animadvertit, statim ad Caesarem litter misit"?

Answers about the Latin

1. Caesar
2. constituit
3. hac re gesta
4. solitum
5. statim


Chapter 33
Then at length Titurius, as one who had provided nothing beforehand, 
was confused, ran to and fro, and set about arranging his troops; these 
very things, however, he did timidly and in such a manner that all resources 
seemed to fail him: which generally happens to those who are compelled 
to take council in the action itself. But Cotta, who had reflected that 
these things might occur on the march, and on that account had not been 
an adviser of the departure, was wanting to the common safety in no respect; 
both in addressing and encouraging the soldiers, he performed the duties 
of a general, and in the battle those of a soldier. And since they [Titurius 
and Cotta] could less easily perform every thing by themselves, and provide 
what was to be done in each place, by reason of the length of the line 
of march, they ordered [the officers] to give the command that they should 
leave the baggage and form themselves into an orb, which measure, though 
in a contingency of that nature it was not to be condemned, still turned 
out unfortunately; for it both diminished the hope of our soldiers and 
rendered the enemy more eager for the fight, because it appeared that this 
was not done without the greatest fear and despair. Besides that happened, 
which would necessarily be the case, that the soldiers for the most part 
quitted their ensigns and hurried to seek and carry off from the baggage 
whatever each thought valuable, and all parts were filled with uproar and 
Chapter 34
But judgment was not wanting to the barbarians; for their leaders 
ordered [the officers] to proclaim through the ranks "that no man should 
quit his place; that the booty was theirs, and for them was reserved whatever 
the Romans should leave; therefore let them consider that all things depended 
on their victory. Our men were equal to them in fighting, both in courage 
and in number, and though they were deserted by their leader and by fortune, 
yet they still placed all hope of safety in their valor, and as often as 
any cohort sallied forth on that side, a great number of the enemy usually 
fell. Ambiorix, when he observed this, orders the command to be issued 
that they throw their weapons from a distance and do not approach too near, 
and in whatever direction the Romans should make an attack, there give 
way (from the lightness of their appointments and from their daily practice 
no damage could be done them); [but] pursue them when betaking themselves 
to their standards again.
Chapter 35
Which command having been most carefully obeyed, when any cohort 
had quitted the circle and made a charge, the enemy fled very precipitately. 
In the mean time, that part of the Roman army, of necessity, was left unprotected, 
and the weapons received on their open flank. Again, when they had begun 
to return to that place from which they had advanced, they were surrounded 
both by those who had retreated and by those who stood next them; but if, 
on the other hand, they wish to keep their place, neither was an opportunity 
left for valor, nor could they, being crowded together, escape the weapons 
cast by so large a body of men. Yet, though assailed by so many disadvantages, 
[and] having received many wounds, they withstood the enemy, and, a great 
portion of the day being spent, though they fought from day-break till 
the eighth hour, they did nothing which was unworthy of them. At length, 
each thigh of T. Balventius, who the year before had been chief centurion, 
a brave man and one of great authority, is pierced with a javelin; Q. Lucanius, 
of the same rank, fighting most valiantly, is slain while he assists his 
son when surrounded by the enemy; L. Cotta, the lieutenant, when encouraging 
all the cohorts and companies, is wounded full in the mouth by a 

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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