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Julius Caesar, Chapter 68: Military genius.
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|In this way he made them most devoted to his interests as well as most valiant. When he began the civil war every centurion of each legion proposed to supply a horseman from his own savings, and the soldiers one and all offered their service without pay and without rations, the richer assuming the care of the poorer. Throughout the long struggle not one deserted and many of them, on being taken prisoner, refused to accept their lives, when offered them on the condition of consenting to serve against Caesar. They bore hunger and other hardships, both when in a state of siege and when besieging others, with such fortitude, that when Pompeius saw in the works at Dyrrachium a kind of bread made of herbs, on which they were living, he said that he was fighting wild beasts; and he gave orders that it be put out of sight quickly and shown to none of his men, for fear that the endurance and resolution of the foe would break their spirit. How valiantly they fought is shown by the fact that when they suffered their sole defeat before Dyrrachium, they insisted on being punished, and their commander felt called upon rather to console than to chastise them. In the other battles they overcame with ease countless forces of the enemy, though decidedly fewer in number themselves. Indeed one cohort of the sixth legion, when set to defend a redoubt, kept four legions of Pompeius at bay for several hours, though almost all were wounded by the enemy's showers of arrows, of which a hundred and thirty thousand were picked up within the ramparts. And no wonder, when one thinks of the deeds of individual soldiers, either of Cassius Scaeva the centurion, or of Gaius Acilius of the rank and file, not to mention others. Scaeva, with one eye gone, his thigh and shoulder wounded, and his shield bored through in a hundred and twenty places, continued to guard the gate of a fortress put in his charge. Acilius in the sea-fight at Massilia grasped the stern of one of the enemy's ships, and when his right hand was lopped off, rivalling the famous exploit of the Greek hero Cynegirus, boarded the ship and drove the enemy before him with the boss of his shield.||Quibus rebus et deuotissimos sibi et fortissimos reddidit. ingresso ciuile bellum centuriones cuiusque legionis singulos equites e uiatico suo optulerunt, uniuersi milites gratuitam et sine frumento stipendioque operam, cum tenuiorum tutelam locupletiores in se contulissent. neque in tam diuturno spatio quisquam omnino desciuit, plerique capti concessam sibi sub condicione uitam, si militare aduersus eum uellent, recusarunt. famem et ceteras necessitates, non cum obsiderentur modo sed et si ipsi alios obsiderent, tanto opere tolerabant, ut Dyrrachina munitione Pompeius uiso genere panis ex herba, quo sustinebantur, cum feris sibi rem esse dixerit amouerique ocius nec cuiquam ostendi iusserit, ne patientia et pertinacia hostis animi suorum frangerentur. Quanta fortitudine dimicarint, testimonio est quod aduerso semel apud Dyrrachium proelio poenam in se ultro depoposcerunt, ut consolandos eos magis imperator quam puniendos habuerit. ceteris proeliis innumeras aduersariorum copias multis partibus ipsi pauciores facile superarunt. denique una sextae legionis cohors praeposita castello quattuor Pompei legiones per aliquot horas sustinuit paene omnis confixa multitudine hostilium sagittarum, quarum centum ac triginta milia intra uallum reperta sunt. nec mirum, si quis singulorum facta respiciat, uel Cassi Scaeuae centurionis uel Gai Acili militis, ne de pluribus referam. Scaeua excusso oculo, transfixus femore et umero, centum et uiginti ictibus scuto perforato, custodiam portae commissi castelli retinuit. Acilius nauali ad Massiliam proelio iniecta in puppem hostium dextera et abscisa memorabile illud apud Graecos Cynegiri exemplum imitatus transiluit in nauem umbone obuios agens.|