7.4 Caesar, Gallic War, Book 5, Chapters 47-48

4 min readjanuary 26, 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 47-48

Original Passage

] 1 Hora circiter tertia ab antecursoribus de Crassi adventu certior factus eo die milia passuum XX procedit. 2 Crassum Samarobrivae praeficit legionemque attribuit, quod ibi impedimenta exercitus, obsides civitatum, litteras publicas frumentumque omne quod eo tolerandae hiemis causa devexerat relinquebat. 3 Fabius, ut imperatum erat, non ita multum moratus in itinere cum legione occurrit. 4 Labienus interitu Sabini et caede cohortium cognita, cum omnes ad eum Treverorum copiae venissent, veritus, si ex hibernis fugae similem profectionem fecisset, ut hostium impetum sustinere posset, praesertim quos recenti victoria efferri sciret, litteras Caesari remittit, quanto cum periculo legionem ex hibernis educturus esset; rem gestam in Eburonibus perscribit; docet omnes equitatus peditatusque copias Treverorum tria milia passuum longe ab suis castris consedisse.
] 1 Caesar consilio eius probato, etsi opinione trium legionum deiectus ad duas redierat, tamen unum communis salutis auxilium in celeritate ponebat. Venit magnis itineribus in Nerviorum fines. 2 Ibi ex captivis cognoscit, quae apud Ciceronem gerantur, quantoque in periculo res sit. 3 Tum cuidam ex equitibus Gallis magnis praemiis persuadet uti ad Ciceronem epistolam deferat. 4 Hanc Graecis conscriptam litteris mittit, ne intercepta epistola nostra ab hostibus consilia cognoscantur. 5 Si adire non possit, monet ut tragulam cum epistola ad amentum deligata intra munitionem castrorum abiciat. 6 In litteris scribit se cum legionibus profectum celeriter adfore; hortatur ut pristinam virtutem retineat. 7 Gallus periculum veritus, ut erat praeceptum, tragulam mittit. 8 Haec casu ad turrim adhaesit neque ab nostris biduo animadversa tertio die a quodam milite conspicitur, dempta ad Ciceronem defertur. 9 Ille perlectam in conventu militum recitat maximaque omnes laetitia adficit. 10 Tum fumi incendiorum procul videbantur; quae res omnem dubitationem adventus legionum expulit.

Questions about the Latin

1. What is the subject of the verb "procedit" in line 1?
2. What case is the noun "Samarobrivae" in line 2?
3. What is the subject of the verb "remittit" in line 4?
4. What is the object of the verb "persuadet" in line 3?
5. What is the verb tense used in line 7?

Answers about the Latin

1. The subject of the verb "procedit" in line 1 is "Hora."
2. The noun "Samarobrivae" in line 2 is in the ablative case.
3. The subject of the verb "remittit" in line 4 is "Labienus."
4. The object of the verb "persuadet" in line 3 is "cuidam ex equitibus Gallis."
5. Imperfect


Chapter 47
Having been apprised of the arrival of Crassus by the scouts at 
about the third hour, he advances twenty miles that day. He appoints Crassus 
over Samarobriva and assigns him a legion, because he was leaving there 
the baggage of the army, the hostages of the states, the public documents, 
and all the corn, which he had conveyed thither for passing the winter. 
Fabius, without delaying a moment, meets him on the march with his legion, 
as he had been commanded. Labienus, having learned the death of Sabinus 
and the destruction of the cohorts, as all the forces of the Treviri had 
come against him, beginning to fear lest, if he made a departure from his 
winter-quarters, resembling a flight, he should not be able to support 
the attack of the enemy, particularly since he knew them to be elated by 
their recent victory, sends back a letter to Caesar, informing him with 
what great hazard he would lead out his legion from winter-quarters; he 
relates at large the affairs which had taken place among the Eburones; 
he informs him that all the infantry and cavalry of the Treviri had encamped 
at a distance of only three miles from his own camp.
Chapter 48
Caesar, approving of his motives, although he was disappointed 
in his expectation of three legions, and reduced to two, yet placed his 
only hopes of the common safety in dispatch. He goes into the territories 
of the Nervii by long marches. There he learns from some prisoners what 
things are going on in the camp of Cicero, and in how great jeopardy the 
affair is. Then with great rewards he induces a certain man of the Gallic 
horse to convey a letter to Cicero. This he sends written in Greek characters, 
lest the letter being intercepted, our measures should be discovered by 
the enemy. He directs him, if he should be unable to enter, to throw his 
spear with the letter fastened to the thong, inside the fortifications 
of the camp. He writes in the letter, that he having set out with his legions, 
will quickly be there: he entreats him to maintain his ancient valor. The 
Gaul apprehending danger, throws his spear as he has been directed. Is 
by chance stuck in a tower, and, not being observed by our men for two 
days, was seen by a certain soldier on the third day: when taken down, 
it was carried to Cicero. He, after perusing it, reads it out in an assembly 
of the soldiers, and fills all with the greatest joy. Then the smoke of 
the fires was seen in the distance, a circumstance which banished all doubt 
of the arrival of the legions.

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

Wrapping these lines up

Congratulations on finishing the Latin translations for this unit. You will be reading Books 6 and 7 in English. Keep going!

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