Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

Keecooco

[ocr errors]

CRIMAV

the west was concentrated round that place, which the Gauls besieged, and the Romans advanced to relieve. The lieutenant Caninius had hastened thither from the frontiers of the Province with two legions : Caesar sent him twenty-five cohorts more, under the command of Fabius. The allies, fearing lest they should be shut in between the stronghold and two Roman armies, tried to regain the Loire. Just as they were crossing it, the cavalry of Fabius appeared and threw them back to the left bank; there the cohorts reached them, and this army, too, was destroyed. The Andes, the remnant of the Carnutes, and the Armorican cities gave hostages.

There were brave men who did honor to these last days of Gaul. Let us piously recall their names; for history, like “ Old Mortality,” should seek through woods and over mountains the spots where martyrs have fallen, should clear away the moss and brambles from the stone of their sepulchres, and bring back to life their forgotten names. Correus, chief of the Bellovaci, who fell in an ambuscade, fought gallantly. The river and the forests were near : he might have fled; he would not, but struck down every

legionary who dared approach him, holding his ground until the enemy overwhelmed him from a distance with a shower of

Gutruatus was the chief of the COTUATUS, CHIEF OF THE Carnutes, and, like Correus and Vercin

getorix, was the instigator of the desperate war which his tribe waged against the Romans. Caesar required that he should be given up, and ordered his lictors to beat with rods and then behead the man who had defended his country against him. Drapethis, a Senonian chieftain, had armed his very slaves for the war of liberty. Even after the last disasters, he continued to attack the Romans; being taken prisoner by them, he starved himself to death. Dumnacus, chief of the Andes, plunged into the

COIN OF CORREUS, CHIEF

OF THE BELLOVACI.1

arrows.

COIN OF GUTRUATUS, OR

CARNUTES.2

1 Correus, named Cricirus upon coins. Head with helmet and winged horse. (De Saulcy, Numismatique, etc., No. 73.)

2 Cotuatus, or Gutruatus, war-chief of the Carnutes in the seventh and eighth campaigns. Head of Venus and a monogram. On the reverse, a winged lion. (De Saulcy, Ibid. No. 22.)

:

swords.

KOMA

[ocr errors]

COIN OF COMMIUS, CHIEF
OF THE ATREBATES AND

MORINI.

woods, when there was no longer any hope, and left no trace behind him : like Ambiorix, he died unknown, but free. Commius, king of the Atrebates, had expiated by brilliant services to the Gallic cause his error in having at first been Caesar's friend. Labienus, dreading his influence, had enticed him to an interview. It was agreed that at the moment when the Roman officer Volusenus took the Gaul's hand, the centurions who accompanied him should fall

upon Commius, and despatch him with their

But his friends averted the blow; and Commius, though grievously wounded, escaped. When his people were treating for peace, and wished, in order to save him, to include him among the hostages, he refused.

“I have sworn,” said he, “never to meet a Roman face to face again ;” and he disappeared into the depths of the woods. Some fugitives joined him there. He continued the war with them, infesting the neighborhood of the camps, and cutting off convoys on their way to the quarters of the legions. One day he met the prefect Volusenus at the head of a detachment of cavalry. The sight of his enemy aroused his anger. The Gauls were fewer in number; but Commius entreated them to help him in his vengeance. By feigning flight, he drew Volusenus far ahead of his men, then wheeled round, fell furiously upon him, and wounded him with a javelin. The Romans hastened up. Commius could not despatch his enemy; but his vengeance was satisfied. He sent deputies to Antony, and offered to lay down his arms on condition of being allowed to live where he would be sure of never meeting a Roman.

The last resistance was offered by an obscure town. The invasion of Caninius in the west had obliged Lucterius, the former lieutenant of Vercingetorix, to give up the idea of another invasion of Gallia Narbonensis, and he had thrown some troops into the little stronghold of Uxellodunum? (probably Puy d'Issolu), in the territory of the Cadurci (Quercy).

2

1 Head with helmet. On the reverse, a horse running free. Coin of Commius, chief of the Atrebates and Morini. (De Saulcy, Numismatique, etc., No. 34.)

2 At Uxellodunum, Caesar was on the frontier of Aquitania, where he had not yet made his appearance: he went and passed the summer there with two legions, visited Gallia

Caninius immediately laid siege to it. The fortress, built amid steep rocks, was so strong that Caesar had time to arrive from Belgica, and it was only by cutting off the supply of water from the besieged that they were forced to surrender. The proconsul, whom such a war would have ruined in the end, was desirous of making a terrible example of these last defenders of Gallic liberty. All who had borne arms in Uxellodunum had their hands cut off ; then, scattered throughout Gaul, they proclaimed to all men the fate reserved by the Romans for rebels. Lucterius, who had escaped, was later given up to Caesar by an Arvernian (51 B.c.).

This atrocity was the last act of the Gallic war. No struggle left greater memories in the ancient world. “During these eight years,” says Plutarch, “Caesar stormed more than eight hundred towns, subdued three hundred nations, and conquered three millions of men, of whom a third perished on the battlefield, and another third were sold.” It matters little if the figures are exaggerated :

. they show how the minds of the ancients were impressed by these gigantic combats. Gaul had an end worthy of the renown that so many victories and conquests had given her; and her sons may be permitted to honor that heroic resistance.

But, after this homage paid to the courage of our forefathers, it is to be acknowledged, that, in view of the general interests of the world, Caesar had brought to a glorious close the list of conquests of the Roman Republic. A great war was ended and a great work commenced. The Roman frontier advanced from the Alps to the Rhine, German barbarism driven back and restrained, Graeco-Latin civilization spread along the banks of the Saône, the Loire, and the Seine, and thus gaining a sufficiently wide base to prevent its ever, in days of misfortune, being crushed out by invaders — such was the service rendered by Caesar, not only to Rome, but to humanity. In this work he had employed eight years, eleven legions, the inexhaustible resources of Roman discipline, his own genius, and his incomparable activity. Till then

Narbonensis, again traversed the whole of Gaul, and stopped at Nemetocena, among the Atrebates, in the heart of Belgica. Before the end of the winter, 51-50 B.C., he returned into Gallia Cisalpina.

Napoleon III., Histoire de César, pl. 30.

Gaul had been like the untamed horse we see stamped on Nervian coins, - free and fiery in its movements: he had curbed it. But, as soon as the new condition was accepted, Caesar set himself to obliterate the memory of the great defeat and to heal the wounds of that terrible war. He spent a whole year in visiting the principal cities in order to win over men's minds and tranquillize their hearts. There were no confiscations giving the land over to his soldiers, for he had not bought them with ten years of victories and booty to make them, on the eve of Pharsalia, peaceful husbandmen in the Gallic plains. No heavy tribute was imposed, only that which the new province had consented to pay during the war (forty million sesterces); and even then there were numerous exemptions in favor of allies and towns who had secured that privilege, especially of the Gallic nobles who were to form in each city a devoted faction, and remain clients of Caesar. To these favors he added what Rome's subjects had hardly ever known,

respect for the conquered, for their glory, for their trophies, even those raised at his own expense. He had lost his sword in battle: one day his soldiers found it hung up in a Gallic temple, and proposed to snatch it down. “Let them keep it,” said he: “it is sacred.” He left them much more than this, — their priests, their religion, their laws, and, after the victory, he seemed to remain among them only to impose public peace upon them, and to associate them with Roman greatness.

In truth it was for his interest now to attach to himself this valiant race. The conquest of Gaul had provided him with an army well inured to war and at the same time devoted to himself, with vast wealth, and immense influence in the Republic. He could no longer re-enter Rome as a mere citizen, for he had risen too high not to rise higher still.

[ocr errors]

1 Bust of a man, with an unexplained inscription. On the reverse, a horseman holding a lance in rest. (De Bell. Gall. viii. 44; De Sauley, Campagnes de Jules César en Gaule,

No. 51.)

COIN OF EPASNĄCTUS, CHIEF OF THE ARVERX1.1

A. 35

« IndietroContinua »