7.2 Caesar, Gallic War, Book 5, Chapters 41-43

6 min readjanuary 26, 2023



AP Latin 🏛

24 resources
See Units

How to use this Study Guide:

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 41-43

Original Passage

] 1 Tunc duces principesque Nerviorum qui aliquem sermonis aditum causamque amicitiae cum Cicerone habebant colloqui sese velle dicunt. 2 Facta potestate eadem quae Ambiorix cum Titurio egerat commemorant: omnem esse in armis Galliam; 3 Germanos Rhenum transisse; Caesaris reliquorumque hiberna oppugnari. 4 Addunt etiam de Sabini morte: Ambiorigem ostentant fidei faciendae causa. 5 Errare eos dicunt, si quidquam ab his praesidi sperent, qui suis rebus diffidant; sese tamen hoc esse in Ciceronem populumque Romanum animo, ut nihil nisi hiberna recusent atque hanc inveterascere consuetudinem nolint: 6 licere illis incolumibus per se ex hibernis discedere et quascumque in partes velint sine metu proficisci. 7 Cicero ad haec unum modo respondit: non esse consuetudinem populi Romani accipere ab hoste armato condicionem: 8 si ab armis discedere velint, se adiutore utantur legatosque ad Caesarem mittant; sperare pro eius iustitia, quae petierint, impetraturos.
] 1 Ab hac spe repulsi Nervii vallo pedum IX et fossa pedum XV hiberna cingunt. 2 Haec et superiorum annorum consuetudine ab nobis cognoverant et, quos clam de exercitu habebant captivos, ab eis docebantur; 3 sed nulla ferramentorum copia quae esset ad hunc usum idonea, gladiis caespites circumcidere, manibus sagulisque terram exhaurire nitebantur. 4 Qua quidem ex re hominum multitudo cognosci potuit: nam minus horis tribus milium pedum XV in circuitu munitionem perfecerunt 5 reliquisque diebus turres ad altitudinem valli, falces testudinesque, quas idem captivi docuerant, parare ac facere coeperunt.
] 1 Septimo oppugnationis die maximo coorto vento ferventes fusili ex argilla glandes fundis et fervefacta iacula in casas, quae more Gallico stramentis erant tectae, iacere coeperunt. 2 Hae celeriter ignem comprehenderunt et venti magnitudine in omnem locum castrorum distulerunt. 3 Hostes maximo clamore sicuti parta iam atque explorata victoria turres testudinesque agere et scalis vallum ascendere coeperunt. 4 At tanta militum virtus atque ea praesentia animi fuit, ut, cum undique flamma torrerentur maximaque telorum multitudine premerentur suaque omnia impedimenta atque omnes fortunas conflagrare intellegerent, non modo demigrandi causa de vallo decederet nemo, sed paene ne respiceret quidem quisquam, ac tum omnes acerrime fortissimeque pugnarent. 5 Hic dies nostris longe gravissimus fuit; sed tamen hunc habuit eventum, ut eo die maximus numerus hostium vulneraretur atque interficeretur, ut se sub ipso vallo constipaverant recessumque primis ultimi non dabant. 6 Paulum quidem intermissa flamma et quodam loco turri adacta et contingente vallum tertiae cohortis centuriones ex eo, quo stabant, loco recesserunt suosque omnes removerunt, nutu vocibusque hostes, si introire vellent, vocare coeperunt; quorum progredi ausus est nemo. 7 Tum ex omni parte lapidibus coniectis deturbati, turrisque succensa est.

Question about the Latin

1. What is the subject of the verb "dicunt" in the first sentence of [41]?
2. What is the subject of the verb "agerat" in the fourth sentence of [41]?
3. What is the subject of the verb "cognoverant" in the second sentence of [42]?
4. What is the subject of the verb "comprehenderunt" in the second sentence of [43]?
5. What is the subject of the verb "vocare" in the sixth sentence of [43]?

Answers about the Latin

1. Duces principesque Nerviorum
2. Ambiorix
3. Nervii
4. Hae (casas)
5. Centuriones


Chapter 41
Then these leaders and chiefs of the Nervii, who had any intimacy 
and grounds of friendship with Cicero, say they desire to confer with him. 
When permission was granted, they recount the same things which Ambiorix 
had related to Titurius, namely, "that all Gaul was in arms, that the Germans 
had passed the Rhine, that the winter-quarters of Caesar and of the others 
were attacked." They report in addition also, about the death of Sabinus. 
They point to Ambiorix for the purpose of obtaining credence; "they are 
mistaken," say they, "if they hoped for any relief from those who distrust 
their own affairs; that they bear such feelings toward Cicero and the Roman 
people that they deny them nothing but winter-quarters, and are unwilling 
that the practice should become constant; that through their [the Nervii's] 
means it is possible for them [the Romans] to depart from their winter-quarters 
safely and to proceed without fear into whatever parts they desire." To 
these Cicero made only one reply: "that it is not the custom of the Roman 
people to accept any condition from an armed enemy: if they are willing 
to lay down their arms, they may employ him as their advocate and send 
embassadors to Caesar: that he believed, from his [Caesar's] justice, they 
would obtain the things which they might request."
Chapter 42
Disappointed in this hope, the Nervii surround the winter-quarters 
with a rampart eleven feet high, and a ditch thirteen feet in depth. These 
military works they had learned from our men in the intercourse of former 
years, and, having taken some of our army prisoners, were instructed by 
them: but, as they had no supply of iron tools which are requisite for 
this service, they were forced to cut the turf with their swords, and to 
empty out the earth with their hands and cloaks, from which circumstance, 
the vast number of the men could be inferred; for in less than three hours 
they completed a fortification of ten miles in circumference; and during 
the rest of the days they began to prepare and construct towers of the 
height of the ramparts, and grappling irons, and mantelets, which the same 
prisoners had taught them.
Chapter 43
On the seventh day of the attack, a very high wind having sprung 
up, they began to discharge by their slings hot balls made of burned or 
hardened clay, and heated javelins, upon the huts, which, after the Gallic 
custom, were thatched with straw. These quickly took fire, and by the violence 
of the wind, scattered their flames in every part of the camp. The enemy 
following up their success with a very loud shout, as if victory were already 
obtained and secured, began to advance their towers and mantelets, and 
climb the rampart with ladders. But so great was the courage of our soldiers, 
and such their presence of mind, that though they were scorched on all 
sides, and harassed by a vast number of weapons, and were aware that their 
baggage and their possessions were burning, not only did no one quit the 
rampart for the purpose of withdrawing from the scene, but scarcely did 
any one even then look behind; and they all fought most vigorously and 
most valiantly. This day was by far the most calamitous to our men; it 
had this result, however, that on that day the largest number of the enemy 
was wounded and slain, since they had crowded beneath the very rampart, 
and the hindmost did not afford the foremost a retreat. The flame having 
abated a little, and a tower having been brought up in a particular place 
and touching the rampart, the centurions of the third cohort retired from 
the place in which they were standing, and drew off all their men: they 
began to call on the enemy by gestures and by words, to enter if they wished; 
but none of them dared to advance. Then stones having been cast from every 
quarter, the enemy were dislodged, and their tower set on 

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

Wrapping these lines up:

Keep going! You've got this.
Browse Study Guides By Unit
🔥Unit 3 – Vergil, Aeneid, Book 2
🏇Unit 4 – Caesar, Gallic War, Book 4
👑Unit 5 – Vergil, Aeneid, Book 4
☠️Unit 8 – Vergil, Aeneid, Books 6, 8, & 12
⚔️Unit 1 – Vergil, Aeneid, Book 1
🥗Unit 2 – Caesar, Gallic War, Books 1 & 6
🥊Unit 6 – Caesar, Gallic War, Book 5, Part I
🧄Unit 7 – Caesar, Gallic War, Book 5, Part II, Book 6, & Book 7
📚Study Tools

Stay Connected

© 2024 Fiveable Inc. All rights reserved.

© 2024 Fiveable Inc. All rights reserved.