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Quote of the day: Even Gaius Caesar 's disordered intellec
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The Gallic War (De Bello Gallico) by Julius Caesar
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book VII Chapter 77: Caesar and Vercingetorix. Speech of Critognatus.[52 BC]
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But those who were blockaded at Alesia, the day being past, on which they had expected auxiliaries from their countrymen, and all their corn being consumed ignorant of what was going on among the Aedui, convened an assembly and deliberated on the exigency of their situation. After various opinions had been expressed among them, some of which proposed a surrender, others a sally, while their strength would support it, the speech of Critognatus ought not to be omitted for its singular and detestable cruelty. He sprung from the noblest family among the Arverni, and possessing great influence, says, "I shall pay no attention to the opinion of those who call a most disgraceful surrender by the name of a capitulation; nor do I think that they ought to be considered as citizens, or summoned to the council. My business is with those who approve of a sally: in whose advice the memory of our ancient prowess seems to dwell in the opinion of you all. To be unable to bear privation for a short time is disgraceful cowardice, not true valor. Those who voluntarily offer themselves to death are more easily found than those who would calmly endure distress. And I would approve of this opinion (for honor is a powerful motive with me), could I foresee no other loss, save that of life; but let us, in adopting our design, look back on all Gaul, which we have stirred up to our aid. What courage do you think would our relatives and friends have, if eighty thousand men were butchered in one spot, supposing that they should be forced to come to an action almost over our corpses? Do not utterly deprive them of your aid, for they have spurned all thoughts of personal danger on account of your safety; nor by your folly, rashness, and cowardice, crush all Gaul and doom it to an eternal slavery. Do you doubt their fidelity and firmness because they have not come at the appointed day? What then? Do you suppose that the Romans are employed every day in the outer fortifications for mere amusement? If you can not be assured by their dispatches, since every avenue is blocked up, take the Romans as evidence that there approach is drawing near; since they, intimidated by alarm at this, labor night and day at their works. What, therefore, is my design? To do as our ancestors did in the war against the Cimbri and Teutones, which was by no means equally momentous who, when driven into their towns, and oppressed by similar privations, supported life by the corpses of those who appeared useless for war on account of their age, and did not surrender to the enemy: and even if we had not a precedent for such cruel conduct, still I should consider it most glorious that one should be established, and delivered to posterity. For in what was that war like this? The Cimbri, after laying Gaul waste, and inflicting great calamities, at length departed from our country, and sought other lands; they left us our rights, laws, lands, and liberty. But what other motive or wish have the Romans, than, induced by envy, to settle in the lands and states of those whom they have learned by fame to be noble and powerful in war, and impose on them perpetual slavery? For they never have carried on wars on any other terms. But if you know not these things which are going on in distant countries, look to the neighboring Gaul, which being reduced to the form of a province, stripped of its rights and laws, and subjected to Roman despotism, is oppressed by perpetual slavery."

Events: Caesar and Vercingetorix, War of Gauls and Cimbri and Teutones

[77] At ei, qui Alesiae obsidebantur praeterita die, qua auxilia suorum exspectaverant, consumpto omni frumento, inscii quid in Aeduis gereretur, concilio coacto de exitu suarum fortunarum consultabant. Ac variis dictis sententiis, quarum pars deditionem, pars, dum vires suppeterent, eruptionem censebat, non praetereunda oratio Critognati videtur propter eius singularem et nefariam crudelitatem. Hic summo in Arvernis ortus loco et magnae habitus auctoritatis, "Nihil," inquit, "de eorum sententia dicturus sum, qui turpissimam servitutem deditionis nomine appellant, neque hos habendos civium loco neque ad concilium adhibendos censeo. Cum his mihi res sit, qui eruptionem probant; quorum in consilio omnium vestrum consensu pristinae residere virtutis memoria videtur. Animi est ista mollitia, non virtus, paulisper inopiam ferre non posse. Qui se ultro morti offerant facilius reperiuntur quam qui dolorem patienter ferant. Atque ego hanc sententiam probarem (tantum apud me dignitas potest), si nullam praeterquam vitae nostrae iacturam fieri viderem: sed in consilio capiendo omnem Galliam respiciamus, quam ad nostrum auxilium concitavimus. Quid hominum milibus LXXX uno loco interfectis propinquis consanguineisque nostris animi fore existimatis, si paene in ipsis cadaveribus proelio decertare cogentur? Nolite hos vestro auxilio exspoliare, qui vestrae salutis causa suum periculum neglexerunt, nec stultitia ac temeritate vestra aut animi imbecillitate omnem Galliam prosternere et perpetuae servituti subicere. An, quod ad diem non venerunt, de eorum fide constantiaque dubitatis? Quid ergo? Romanos in illis ulterioribus munitionibus animine causa cotidie exerceri putatis? Si illorum nuntiis confirmari non potestis omni aditu praesaepto, his utimini testibus appropinquare eorum adventum; cuius rei timore exterriti diem noctemque in opere versantur. Quid ergo mei consili est? Facere, quod nostri maiores nequaquam pari bello Cimbrorum Teutonumque fecerunt; qui in oppida compulsi ac simili inopia subacti eorum corporibus qui aetate ad bellum inutiles videbantur vitam toleraverunt neque se hostibus tradiderunt. Cuius rei si exemplum non haberemus, tamen libertatis causa institui et posteris prodi pulcherrimum iudicarem. Nam quid illi simile bello fuit? Depopulata Gallia Cimbri magnaque illata calamitate finibus quidem nostris aliquando excesserunt atque alias terras petierunt; iura, leges, agros, libertatem nobis reliquerunt. Romani vero quid petunt aliud aut quid volunt, nisi invidia adducti, quos fama nobiles potentesque bello cognoverunt, horum in agris civitatibusque considere atque his aeternam iniungere servitutem? Neque enim ulla alia condicione bella gesserunt. Quod si ea quae in longinquis nationibus geruntur ignoratis, respicite finitimam Galliam, quae in provinciam redacta iure et legibus commutatis securibus subiecta perpetua premitur servitute."