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YAIUS JULIUS CAESAR, the author of these Commen
taries, has been pronounced “the greatest man of antiquity.” He possessed talents and ambition which would have secured him distinction in any age or country, and in any field that might have engaged the powers of his extraordinary mind. He was born on the 12th of July, Æ C. 100, and was killed in the Senate-house on the 15th of March, C. 44.
“Caesar was in his fifty-sixth year at the time of his death. His personal appearance was noble and commanding; he was tall in stature, of a fair complexion, and with black eyes full of expression. He never wore a beard, and in the latter part of his life his head was bald. His constitution was originally delicate, and he was twice attacked by epilepsy while transacting public business; but by constant exercise and abstemious living he had acquired strong and vigorous health, and could endure almost any amount of exertion." (Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.)
Caesar espoused the popular side in Roman politics, and soon became a general favorite. He passed rapidly through the different grades of office, having successively become quæstor, ædile, high-priest, prætor, and consul. After his consulship, he had assigned to him, by a vote of the people, the administration of Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum for five years, to which the Senate added Transalpine Gaul, and the period was afterwards increased to ten years. His career of conquest among the nations of Gaul forms the principal subject of these Commentaries, which, by universal consent, are written in the purest Latin, in a style characterized by great simplicity, ease, and elegance. It is said that in the course of his military career he conquered three hundred nations, took eight hundred cities, and defeated three millions of men. He twice crossed the Rhine, and twice invaded Britain. The name of the Roman month Quintilis, in which he was born, was, in honor of him, changed to July (Julius), and the reform known as the Julian Calendar was entirely due to him. He excelled in everything that he undertook: he was an eminent lawgiver, jurist, and statesman; he displayed great ability as an orator, mathematician, poet, and architect; and as an historian and general he is confessedly unsurpassed. He was the author of numerous literary works, on a great variety of subjects; of these, all that have come down to us are his Commentarii De Bello Gallico, and De Bello Civili.
As Caesar sided with the people, the aristocracy at length became alarmed at his immense power and popularity, and they resolved to destroy him. A body of conspirators, at the head of whom was Brutus and many Roman Senators, attacked him in the Senate-house. Caesar valiantly defended himself until he saw his intimate friend Brutus draw his sword, when, exclaiming, Tu quoque Brute! he covered his face with his toga and fell, pierced with twentythree wounds.
C. JULII CAESARIS
COMMENTARII DE BELLO GALLICO.
1. GALLIA est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Belgae, aliam Aquitani, tertiam, qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli appellantur. Hi omnes lingua, institutis, legibus inter se differunt. Gallos ab Aquitanis Garumna flumen, a 5 Belgis Matrona et Sequana dividit. Horum omnium
fortissimi sunt Belgae, propterea quod a cultu atque
humanitate provinciae longissime absunt, minimeque ad eos mercatores saepe commeant, atque ea, quae ad effeminandos animos pertinent, important; 10 proximique sunt Germanis, qui trans Rhenum incoIunt, quibuscum continenter bellum gerunt: qua de causa Helvetii quoque reliquos Gallos virtute praecedunt, quod fere quotidianis proeliis cum Germanis contendunt, cum aut suis finibus eos prohibent, aut ipsi in 15 eorum finibus bellum gerunt. Eorum una pars, quam Gallos obtinere dictum est, initium capit a flumine Rhodano; continetur Garumna flumine, Oceano, finibus Belgarum; attingit etiam ab Sequanis et Helvetiis flumen Rhenum; vergit ad septentriones. Belgae 20 ab extremis Galliae finibus oriuntur; pertinent ad inferiorem partem fluminis Rheni; spectant in septentriones et orientem solem. Aquitania a Garumna