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Roman Civilization and Culture




Gaius Julius Caesar was born on July 12, 100 b.c., the only son of a distinguished patrician family in Rome. Caesar traced his ancestry back to lulus, son of the Trojan hero Aeneas, who in turn was reputed to have been the son of the goddess Venus.


Caesar's early education was similar to that of other young Roman aristocrats. He received in­struction, both in school and privately at home, in grammar, rhetoric, oratory, philosophy, literature, music, and Greek. Later, as a young man, to perfect himself in oratory, he traveled to the island of Rhodes to study under the celebrated teacher, Apollonius Molo. He was then prepared for the only career suitable for a young patrician, namely, service to the Republic, either through public office or the military.


In 83 b.c. Caesar married Cornelia, the daughter of Cinna, who was one of the leaders of the popu­lar, or democratic, party. They had one daughter, Julia, who later became the wife of Pompey. In 67 b.c. Cornelia died, and Caesar married Pompeia, a cousin of Pompey. This marriage ended in divorce a few years later, and in 59 b.c. Caesar entered into his final marriage, with Calpurnia, daughter of Lucius Piso.


The two dominant political parties in Rome in Caesar's time were the Optimates (the aristocratic party) and the Populates (the popular, or democratic, party). The Optimates, under the leadership of Sulla, wanted power kept in the hands of the Senate. The Populares, led by Marius, championed the rights of the common people. Though aristocratic by birth, Caesar nevertheless joined the Populares and thus incurred the anger of Sulla.

In 68 b.c., by being elected quaestor, Caesar started on the cursus honorum, a series of political offices leading to the consulship. In 62 b.c. he became praetor, and in 59 b.c. was elected consul. As quaestor he was sent to Spain, where he attended to the financial duties of that office. As praetor he presided as judge over a Roman court.

Between the time that he was quaestor and the time that he was consul, Caesar held several other important positions. In 65 b.c., as aedile, he was in charge of public games and amusements. Although not a requirement in the cursus honorum, the aedileship nevertheless gave Caesar an opportunity to bestow favors on the people and thus win them over to his political side. His lavish personal spending on festivals and games brought him heavily into debt, and forced him to borrow money from Crassus, then the wealthiest man in Rome.

In 63 b.c. Caesar was appointed to the lifetime post of pontifex maximus, the head of the Roman state religion. This was chiefly an honorary position. Finally, in 61 b.c., he held the office of propraetor (governor) in Spain, where he demonstrated his administrative and military ability.

On his return from Spain in 60 b.c., Caesar, together with Pompey and Crassus, entered into a political alliance known as the First Triumvirate, or three-man rule. The aim was to gain control of the government. Caesar furnished political experience, Pompey military prestige, and Crassus his wealth. Through the influence of the Triumvirate, Caesar became proconsul (governor) of Gaul in 58 b.c., a position that he held for ten years.

Caesar began his military career in 81 b.c. as a soldier in the war against Mithridates, King of Pontus, in Asia Minor. It was during this campaign that he won the corona civica (civic crown) for saving the life of a fellow citizen in battle. In 74 b.c., as military tribune, he assisted in overthrowing Sulla's constitution.
It was while governor of Gaul that Caesar made military history destined to rank him among the greatest generals of all time. As proconsul of Cisalpine Gaul, Transalpine Gaul, and Illyricum, Caesar had no legal right to exercise his power outside the boundaries of these provinces. However, on the ground that the Gallic migrations—that started when he arrived in Gaul—would eventually become a threat to the provinces and to Rome itself, Caesar acted swiftly and decisively, and fought the Gauls with consummate generalship. In seven years of the Gallic War, he completed the conquest of Gaul, Romanized the region, and invaded Germany and Britain.

The Civil War was the next important episode in Caesar's exploits as a general. With the death of Crassus in 53 b.c., and a cooling of relations between Caesar and Pompey, the Triumvirate had come to a virtual end. Pompey began to view Caesar's successes in the field with distrust and alarm. In 49 b.c. war broke out between these two mighty leaders, and once again Caesar displayed his military genius, this time fighting against Roman generals. Pompey was defeated at Pharsalus in Greece in 48 b.c., and fled to Egypt where he was murdered.

The next war that occupied Caesar's time was called the Alexandrine War, in which Caesar sup­ported the claims of Cleopatra to rule in common with her brother Ptolemy. This war ended victoriously for Caesar in 47 B.C.

Other famous military successes of Caesar were:

1. The Battle of Zela in 47 B.C. in Pontus, an area in Asia Minor, where Caesar easily defeated King Pharnaces.

2. The Battle of Thapsus in north Africa, 46 B.C., Caesar won a complete victory over the remnants of the Pompeian forces.

3. The Battle of Munda in Spain, 45 B.C.., where Caesar annihilated the army commanded by the sons of Pompey.
By 45 B.C. Caesar was undisputed master of the Roman world, and the Senate, whose members were now mainly of his own choosing, conferred many honors upon him. He became Dictator for life (a title heretofore bestowed in times of emergency for a six-month period) and Imperator (the origin of the word emperor).

With so much authority centered in one man, it was inevitable that some influential Romans, moved by envy and fear, would form an opposition. On the Ides of March (March 15), 44 B.C., while presiding over a meeting of the Senate, Caesar was assassinated by a group of Roman citizens headed by Cassius and Brutus.



When Caesar married Cornelia (whose father was a leader of the Populares) in 83 B.C., he was threatened with death by the dictator Sulla unless he divorced her. Caesar refused and fled from Rome, but was later pardoned. However, Sulla, suspicious of Caesar whose uncle was Sulla's archfoe Marius, said of Caesar, "I see in him many a Marius."


On his way to Rhodes in 76 B.C., Caesar was captured by pirates and held for ransom. While a prisoner he vowed that he would return some day and crucify them. The pirates laughed at what they considered a huge joke. Shortly after his release, Caesar manned some vessels, overpowered the pirates, and, true to his word, had them crucified.


When Caesar was consul in 59 B.C., his colleague in office was Marcus Bibulus. Bibulus was a very weak executive, compared to the towering Caesar, and made vain attempts to oppose him. Bibulus was content to shut himself up in his house and was so rarely seen in public that the term of office came to be jokingly known as the consulship of Julius and Caesar.


After the successful conclusion of the Gallic War in 49 B.C., Caesar was ready to return to Rome as a victorious general. The Senate, however, first ordered him to give up command of his army. Realizing that he had many enemies back home, and that without an army he was defenseless, Caesar defied the Senate, crossed the Rubicon, a small stream separating his province from Italy, and began his march to Rome. The famous words he uttered at the time, "Alea iacta est" (The die is cast), signified that he had made his decision and that there was no turning back.


On his way home from the East in 47 B.C., Caesar attacked Pharnaces, King of Pontus, and de­feated him in the Battle of Zela with such ease that he informed the Roman Senate of his victory with the words, "Vēnī, vīdī, vīcī" (I came, I saw, I conquered).


On the Ides of March (March 15), 44 B.C., Caesar was stabbed to death by a group of conspirators. Among them was Marcus Brutus, who had lived with him on terms of the most intimate friendship. When Caesar saw his close friend with dagger in hand, he is said to have exclaimed, "Et tu, Brute!" (Even you, Brutus!)


Physically, Caesar was tall and of commanding presence. He was bald in his later years and was so sensitive to this condition that he usually wore a laurel crown to conceal his baldness. He displayed astonishing powers of endurance and, by example, inspired his men to feats of heroism. He was a strict, though fair, disciplinarian and won the loyalty of his soldiers.

Brilliant in mind, swift in action, cool and resourceful in times of crisis—these were some of the qualities that made Caesar invincible. To balance the picture, he was considered overambitious, cruel in war, and unscrupulous in politics.


Caesar is considered by many the greatest Roman of them all, by some "the most complete man." History ranks him as one of the most outstanding men because of the far-reaching influence of his achievements. These achievements were:

Caesar was a military genius, on a par with Alexander the Great, Scipio, Hannibal, and Napoleon. A master strategist, he was expert at moving large forces rapidly. He believed in taking the offensive and in using the surprise attack. He extended the Roman Empire by his conquest of Gaul, invasions of Britain and Germany, and successes in the East. His military achievements freed Rome from the fear of aggression for centuries.

As a statesman Caesar's name looms large in the history of Rome. After peace had been established, Caesar set himself the task of completely reorganizing the Roman state and its administration. He aimed at an efficient and stabilized central government, ruling over Italy and the provinces. He im­proved the legal system and began codification of the laws. He revised the method of taxation, estab­lished a program of public works, initiated a building campaign to beautify Rome, and planned an extensive highway system. Unfortunately, death prevented the completion of all these projects.

As pontifex maximus Caesar undertook the long overdue reform of the calendar, introducing a solar year of 365 days (the Julian calendar). He was subsequently honored when the month of his birth, Quīnctīlis, was changed to July, after Julius. (Later the Emperor Augustus was given a similar honor when the month Sextilis was changed to August.) The name Caesar also survives in the titles of recent monarchs, Kaiser in Germany and Czar in Russia.


Caesar's writings, most of which have been lost, covered a wide range of subjects. These included works on grammar, astronomy, philosophy, and poetry. It is in the field of history, however, that Caesar is best known. His Commentaries on the Gallic War furnish important information not only on the wars themselves, but on the geography of western Europe, and the economy, government, religion, and customs of the people living there. Caesar also wrote Commentaries on the Civil War. Both accounts were written in a simple, clear, vivid style and have served as models of military histories.

As an orator Caesar ranked next to Cicero, the most eloquent of all Romans. Unfortunately, Caesar's orations have disappeared, but Cicero himself described them as remarkably logical, lucid, and persuasive.


100 Born July 12, in Rome.

83 Married Cornelia, daughter of China, one of the leaders of the popular party (Populates).

82 Incurred the enmity of Sulla, leader of the senatorial party (Optimates), for refusing to divorce


81 Fled to Asia Minor, where he served in the war against Mithridates.

80 Awarded the civic crown (corona civica) for saving the life of a fellow citizen in battle.

76 Studied oratory at Rhodes under Apollonius Molo. On the way he was captured by pirates, and

later released.
74 Military tribune.
68 Quaestor in Spain.

67 Death of Cornelia; Caesar married Pompeia.

65 Aedile.

63 Pontifex maximus.

62 Praetor; divorced Pompeia.

61 Propraetor (governor) in Spain.

60 First Triumvirate (Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus).

59 Consul with Bibulus; married Calpurnia; Caesar gave his daughter Julia in marriage to Pompey.

58-49 Proconsul (governor) of Cisalpine and Transalpine Gaul and Illyricum.

58 Defeated the Helevetians and Ariovistus, German leader.

57 Conquered the Belgians.

56 Conquered the Veneti in a naval campaign.

55 First invasions of Germany and Britain.

54 Second invasion of Britain; death of Julia.

53 Second invasion of Germany; end of the Triumvirate. .

52 Surrender of the Gauls under Vercingetorix; fall of Alesia.

49 Caesar crossed the Rubicon; "Alea iacta est" (The die is cast); civil war between Caesar and


48 Consul second time; Pompey defeated at Pharsalus, Greece.

47 Defeated Ptolemy, King of Egypt; conquered the country of Pontus in Asia Minor and reported

the victory with the words "Vēnī, vīdī, vīcī."

46 Consul third time.
45 Dictator for life.
44 Assassinated on the Ides of March (March 15).


A. Matching: In the space before each item in column A, write the letter of the matching item in column B.
Column A Column B

____________ 1. Civil War a. Caesar's teacher

____________ 2. Marius b. leader of the Optimates

____________ 3. Apollonius Molo c. Spain, 45 b.c.

____________ 4. Cornelia d. Caesar and Bibulus

____________ 5. Battle of Thapsus e. Caesar's uncle

____________ 6. consulship f. Caesar's final marriage

____________ 7. Sulla g. wealthy Roman

____________ 8. Calpurnia h. Caesar and Pompey

____________ 9. Battle of Munda i. Africa, 46 B.C.

____________ 10. Crassus j. Caesar's first marriage
B. If the italicized term in each of the following statements is correct, write true. If the italicized term is incorrect, write the correct term.

1. Caesar's final marriage was with Calpurnia. ___________________________________________

2. Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March, 44 B.C. ___________________________________________

3. Mithridates was defeated by Caesar at Pharsalus, Greece. ___________________________________________

4. Cicero attested to Caesar's achievements in philosophy. ___________________________________________

5. Caesar traced his ancestry back to the goddess Venus. ___________________________________________

6. By allying himself with the Optimates, Caesar angered Sulla. _____________________________________

1. Caesar held the position of propraetor of Gaul for ten years. ________________________________________

8. Caesar won the corōna cīvica for saving a fellow citizen in battle. ___________________________________

9. In Egypt Caesar supported the claims of Cleopatra. ___________________________________________

10. In reforming the calendar, Caesar introduced a lunar year of 365 days.____________________________________

C. Complete the following statements:
1. The First Triumvirate consisted of Caesar, Pompey, and ___________________________________________

2. By________________ B.C. Caesar was master of the Roman world.

3. Caesar was once captured and held for ransom by ___________________________________________

4. Caesar's name is commemorated by the month of___________________________________________

5. Caesar's daughter _________________________________________became the wife of Pompey.

6. The cursus honōrum consisted of quaestor, ___________________________________________and consul.

7. As head of the Roman state religion, Caesar held the office of ___________________________________________

8. Caesar was governor of Cisalpine Gaul, ___________________________________________and Illyricum.

9. Caesar was assassinated by a group of Roman citizens headed by Cassius and _______________________________

10. Caesar usually wore a laurel crown to conceal his ___________________________________________

D. Indicate the proper chronological sequence of the following events by numbering them from 1 to 10:

_______defeat of Pompey _______consulship with Bibulus _______invasion of Britain _______praetorship _______war with the Helvetians _______ quaestorship in Spain _______fall of Alesia _______First Triumvirate _______aedileship _______fought against Mithridates

E. Underline the word or expression in parentheses that will complete the statement correctly.

1. The saying "Alea iacta est" is associated with the (Battle of Thapsus, crossing of the Rubicon, Alexandrine War, invasion of Germany).

2. As aedile Caesar was concerned with (public games, the courts, the treasury, religion).

3. In the First Triumvirate Pompey furnished (money, political experience, oratorical ability, military prestige).

4. Caesar completed the conquest of Gaul in (3, 5, 7, 10) years.

5. Civil war between Caesar and Pompey broke out in (51, 49, 47, 45) B.C.

6. The sons of Pompey were decisively beaten in the Battle of (Munda, Thapsus, Zela, Pharsalus).

7. Caesar's victory over Pharnaces, King of Pontus, was proclaimed with the words ("Excelsior"; "Vēnī, vīdī, vīcī"; "E pluribus unum"; "Et tu, Brute!").

8. The term of office known as "the consulship of Julius and Caesar" was so called in derision of (Crassus, Brutus, Cassius, Bibulus).

9. Caesar served in Spain in the capacities of quaestor and (praetor, propraetor, consul, proconsul).

10. Caesar studied oratory in (Spain, Gaul, Rhodes, Asia Minor).

These were the peditēs (infantry) who formed the backbone of the Roman army. This group con­sisted of Roman citizens between the ages of seventeen and forty-six, most of whom volunteered to serve for twenty years as professional soldiers. Infantry units were organized as follows:
1. legiō (legion), the largest unit, often compared to a division or brigade in the United States Army. Originally consisting of 6000 men, the legion in Caesar's army averaged 3600 men, divided into ten cohorts. In the Gallic War Caesar had as many as ten legions. His favorite one was the Tenth (Decima), commanded by Labienus.
2. cohors (cohort), a tenth of a legion, or 360 men, divided into three maniples. A cohort is roughly the equivalent of a battalion in the United States Army.
3. manipulus (maniple), a third of a cohort, or 120 men, divided into two centuries.
4. centuria (century), the smallest unit. It consisted of 60 men, or one-half of a maniple. As the name implies, it originally had 100 men.
Peditēs (infantry troops). These were soldiers drawn from allied and subject peoples, or hired as mercenaries from independent nations. They included:
1. levis armātūrae peditēs (light-armed foot soldiers), mostly from Gaul and Germany.
2. funditōrēs (slingers), from the Balearic Islands.
3. sagittāriī (bowmen or archers), from Crete and Numidia.

Equitēs (cavalry). A contingent of cavalry generally accompanied each legion. These horsemen were noncitizens from Gaul, Spain, and Germany who served for pay. Caesar used about four or five thousand cavalry in the Gallic War for purposes of scouting, starting battle, and pursuing the enemy, as well as for surprise attacks. The cavalry was organized as follows:

1. āla, a squad of about 300 men.
2. turma, a squad of about 30 men, or one tenth of an āla.
3. decuria, a squad of 10 men, or one-third of a turma.
1. cālōnēs, slaves who performed menial tasks for the camp and the officers.
2. mercātōrēs, traders who conducted canteens outside the camp, selling the soldiers extra provisions and buying booty from them.
3. mūliōnēs, muleteers who took care of the pack animals and the heavy baggage.
4. fabrī, engineers or mechanics who were employed to construct bridges, ships, engines of war, etc.
5. explōrātōrēs (scouts) and speculātōrēs (spies) who were sent ahead of an army on the march to reconnoiter and secure

information about the enemy and the terrain. They were usually mounted.

1. Dux (commanding officer or general). After his first important victory he had a right to the title imperātor (commander-in-chief). Caesar used the title imperator from the time he defeated the Helvetians in 58 B.C. until his death.
2. Lēgātī (staff officers). The lēgātus was next in rank to the dux, equivalent to the lieutenant-gen­eral in the United States Army. Lēgātī were men of senatorial rank appointed by the Roman Senate. Their duties were to command one or more legions, to advise the general, to serve as envoys or ambassa­dors on special missions, and to be in charge of hiberna (winter quarters).
3. Quaestōrēs (quartermasters). They were also of senatorial rank, elected for one year by the Roman people. The quaestors handled pay, military equipment, and the food supply. Sometimes a quaestor commanded a legion in battle.

4. Tribūnī mīlitum (military tribunes). They were the lowest-ranking commissioned officers, and numbered six to a legion. They were men of good families, without previous military experience, who gained appointment for political or personal reasons. Their duties included: command of a legion in camp or on the march, supervision of drill exercises, and muster and discharge of soldiers.

5. Centūriōnēs (centurions or captains). They were noncommissioned officers of plebeian origin, equivalent in rank to sergeants in the United States Army. Unlike military tribunes, centurions were experienced soldiers who rose from the ranks by virtue of courage and ability on the battlefield. There was one centurion in each century, and sixty in a legion.
6. Praefectī (prefects). They were in command of the auxiliaries of cavalry.
7. Decuriōnēs (decurions). They were in command of the decuriae.

1. tunica (tunic), a short-sleeved woolen undergarment, reaching almost to the knees.
2. sagum, a woolen cloak for severe weather, which could also serve as a blanket.
3. caligae, leather shoes with heavy hobnailed soles, fastened on by straps.


1. lōrīca, a cuirass, or breastplate, made of leather and strengthened with metal bands,
2. galea, a helmet, made of leather or metal, often ornamented with a crest.
3. scūtum, a curved, rectangular shield, made of wood. It was strengthened with leather on the outside and with a rim of metal at the edges. It was about 4 feet long and 2| feet wide, and weighed about 20 pounds.
1. pīlum, a javelin, or pike, about 6 feet long, weighing approximately 10 pounds. It consisted of two parts, a wooden shaft about 4 feet long, into which was fitted a 2-foot iron shaft with pointed head. A pīlum could be hurled a distance of about 75 feet with deadly effect.
2. gladius, a heavy, pointed, two-edged sword, about 2 feet long. It was used in close combat and was very effective for stabbing.


Frūmentum (grain) was the main food ration of the legionary. It consisted mostly of wheat, which the soldier ground in a hand mill for making bread or cereal. About thirty pounds of frūmentum were portioned out every fifteen days. Thus, a soldier consumed about two pounds a day. This diet was supplemented with meat and vegetables.

Army pay was very small, equivalent to about $45 a year. However, a soldier could increase his income by receiving bonuses, gifts of money, and a share of the booty (praeda).

1. aquila (eagle), the standard of the legion. It was made of silver or bronze, mounted on a pole, and carried by the eagle-bearer, the aquilifer. The loss of the eagle was considered a catastrophe.
2. signum, the standard of the cohort or maniple, also mounted on a pole. Its bearer was called the signifer.
3. vexillum, a rectangular banner or flag, attached to a staff. Vexilla served as standards for the auxiliaries. A red vexillum over the commander's tent was the signal to prepare for battle.

The usual battle formation of a Roman legion (10 cohorts) was the aciēs triplex (triple line), arranged as follows:

1. prīma aciēs (first line), consisting of 4 cohorts of experienced soldiers. These were the first to engage in battle.

2. secūnda aciēs (second line), consisting of 3 cohorts stationed about 150 feet behind the first line. Their duty was to relieve the wounded or fallen soldiers of the first line.
3. tertia aciēs (third line), consisting of the remaining 3 cohorts stationed farther back. They were used as a reserve and as a defense against an attack from the rear.
To give signals in battle, the Romans used the following:

1. tuba (trumpet), a straight instrument, about three feet long, made of metal.

2. cornū (horn), a large curved instrument, also made of metal.

The army on the march comprised three sections:

1. prīmum agmen, the vanguard, consisting of scouts, cavalry squads, and light-armed infantry­men.

2. agmen, the main column of legionary troops.

3. novissimum agmen, the rear guard, consisting of the least experienced legionaries.

The impedimenta (heavy baggage) usually followed each legion. It was carried on pack animals (horses and mules) or in wagons, and consisted of extra weapons, food, clothing, artillery, tools, tents, etc.
The sarcina (personal pack of a soldier) was carried over the left shoulder in a bundle tied to a forked pole. It contained clothing, cooking utensils, rations, tools, rampart stakes, and other personal equipment. When carrying his sarcina, the soldier was referred to as impedītus (encumbered); without his pack, he was expedītus (unencumbered).
An average day's march (iter), from sunrise to noon, covered about 15 miles. An iter magnum (forced march) covered approximately 25 miles.

The castra (camp) was built after a day's march as a protection and place of retreat. The location, selected by an advance party, was preferably on the slope of a hill, near an ample supply of wood and water. The camp, usually in the shape of a rectangle, had two viae prīncipālēs (main streets) at right angles to each other. At opposite ends of each street were portae (gates), four in all.
In the fortification of a castra, the following terms were used:
1. fossa, a ditch or trench dug around the camp, from 7 to 10 feet deep and from 12 to 18 feet wide.
2. agger, an embankment constructed from the earth of the fossa, about 10 feet high and 10 feet wide, surrounding the entire camp.
3. vāllum (rampart), the entire defensive wall, composed of the agger and a row of strong wooden stakes or palisades firmly driven in at the outer edge of the agger.
4. praetōrium, the general's tent or quarters, situated near the middle of the camp.

5. tabernācula, the tents of the soldiers, made of leather. Each tabernāculum was occupied by ten men.


The camp was carefully guarded by sentries day and night. For patrols the night was divided into
four vigiliae (watches), from sunset to sunrise. Watches lasted three hours each, and were distributed as

1. prīma vigilia (first watch): from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

2. secūnda vigilia (second watch): from 9 p.m. to 12 midnight.
3. tertia vigilia (third watch): from 12 midnight to 3 a.m.


4. quarta vigilia (fourth watch): from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m.

Many a Roman camp often became the center around which a permanent settlement sprang up. Thus, the word castra survives today, in one form or another, in names of English cities. Examples are Chester, Manchester, Lancaster, Worcester, etc.

An attack (oppugnātiō) upon a fortified place, such as a walled town, and a siege (obsidiō) involved the following devices and tactics:

1. agger (same term used in the construction of a camp), a sloping plane made of earth, stones, and logs, begun at a distance from the enemy's wall, and gradually lengthened and raised until the top was on a level with the top of the wall. The agger was used as a means of approach and for moving up siege machines.
2. ariēs, a battering ram made of a heavy log with a metal head, used for battering down the enemy's wall or making a breach in it. The aries (literally ram) derived its name from the metal head that was usually in the form of a ram's head.
3. pluteus, a small, movable, wooden screen, used as a protection for a group of soldiers advancing under attack.
4. scāla, a ladder for scaling walls.

5. testūdō, a protective screen formed by the overlapping of shields held above the heads of soldiers as they moved forward in close formation. The term was also applied to a wooden shed with a slanting roof, used to cover soldiers near the enemy wall. The testudo (literally tortoise) derived its name from its resemblance to the shell of a tortoise.

6. turris ambulātōria, a huge, movable, wooden tower, several stories high, with a platform for the besiegers to reach the top of the enemy wall. The turris, the height of which varied from 50 to 180 feet high, was moved forward on rollers.
7. vīnea, a heavy, movable shed, mounted on rollers. Several were often placed together along the agger to protect the men fighting close to the walls of the enemy. The vīnea (literally vineyard) derived its name from its resemblance to a grape arbor.

In storming a town the Romans made use of tormenta (artillery), of which there were three com­mon types:

1. ballista, a machine for hurling heavy stones and blocks of wood.
2. catapulta (catapult), a machine for hurling large arrows and javelins.
3. scorpiō, a light catapult for hurling stones and darts.


In his naval campaigns, Caesar used the following types of ships:

1. nāvis longa, a battleship or war galley, propelled by oars and sails. It had a sharp metal beak (rostrum) at the prow, which was used to ram enemy ships. The most common type of battleship was the trireme, a vessel with three banks of oars.
2. nāvis oneraria, a transport, broader and slower than the battleship. It was used to carry soldiers, horses, and provisions, and was propelled chiefly by sails.


A. In the space before each number, connected with Roman warfare, in column A, write the letter of the matching item in column B.

Column A Column B

_____________ 1. 2 a. men in a cohort

_____________ 2. 3 b. men in Caesar's legion

_____________ 3. 4 c. main streets of a camp

_____________ 4. 10 d. watches in a night

_____________ 5. 15 e. cohorts in a legion

_____________ 6. 25 f. original strength of a legion

_____________ 7. 120 g. miles covered on a forced march

_____________ 8. 360 h. hours in a watch

_____________ 9. 3600 i. men in a maniple

_____________ 10. 6000 j. miles covered on an average day's march

E. Each item below is followed by four words or expressions. In each group draw a line through the word or expression that does not belong.
1. Roman siege terms: agger, vigilia, catapulta, ariēs

2. noncombatants: auxilia, mercātōrēs, explōrātōrēs, fabrī

3 .unit of a Roman legion: cohors, manipulus, centuria, equitēs

4. defensive armor: lōrīca, pīlum, scūtum, galea

5. articles of clothing of the legionary: toga, tunica, sagum, caligae

6. auxiliary infantry troops: sagittāriī, funditōrēs, speculātōrēs, levis armātūrae peditēs

7. Roman artillery: ballista, vīnea, scorpiō, catapulta

8. military standards: aciēs, signum, aquila, vexillum

9. divisions of the cavalry: turma, ala, decuria, tuba

10. parts of a camp: vāllum, fossa, pluteus, tabernācula

C. Complete the following statements:

1. The vanguard in a marching formation was called ______________________________________________

2. The general term for a Roman battleship was ______________________________________________

3. After his first important victory, a dux had a right to the title ______________________________________________

4. Two important offensive weapons were the gladius and the ______________________________________________

5. A protective trench built around a camp was called a ______________________________________________

6. There was one centurion in each century, but each legion had ___________________________________ centurions.

7. The main food ration of the legionary soldier was called in Latin ______________________________________________

8. Army pay was very small, amounting to about ____________ dollars a year.

9. A red vexillum over the general's tent was the signal to ______________________________________________

10. To give signals in battle, the Romans made use of musical instruments, such as the tuba and the ____________________

D. If the italicized term in each of the following statements is correct, write true. If the italicized term is incorrect, write the correct term.
1. The Latin name for a line of battle was aciēs. ______________________________________________

2. Slingers and bowmen were part of the auxilia. ______________________________________________

3. Traders who sold provisions to the soldiers were called cālōnēs. _______________________________________

4. Military tribunes were the lowest-ranking noncommissioned officers. _________________________________

5. Caligae were heavy leather shoes worn by Roman soldiers. ______________________________________________

6. A soldier burdened with his sarcina was referred to as expedītus ______________________________________________.

7. A castra was generally built with two portae. ______________________________________________

8. The tertia vigilia lasted from 12 midnight to 3 a.m. ______________________________________________

9. A battering ram used in an assault was called a pluteus. ______________________________________________

10. The metal beak on the prow of a Roman battleship was called a scorpiō. _____________________________________

E. Each incomplete statement below is followed by four words or expressions in parentheses. Underline the word or expression that will complete the statement correctly.
1. The officer who was often sent as envoy on a special mission was the (quaestor, lēgātus, praefectus, centuriō).

2. Tormenta were used to (punish deserters, guard the artillery, hurl missiles, signal a battle).

3. A nāvis onerāria was a Roman (transport, war galley, cavalry squad, standard).

4. The branch of the armed forces on which Caesar chiefly relied was the (auxilia, equitēs, sagittāriī, peditēs).

5. The smallest division of the Roman army was the (maniple, legion, century, cohort).

6. Caesar's favorite legion, commanded by Labienus, was the (5th, 7th, 10th, 12th).

7. Explōrātōrēs were used chiefly to (perform camp services, conduct drills, care for the baggage, reconnoiter the terrain).

8. The name given to the heavy, movable shed, mounted on rollers, and used in a siege was (agger, vīnea, testūdō, scāla).

9. The officer in charge of pay, supplies, and equipment in the Roman army was the (tribūnus, lēgātus, quaestor, praefectus).

10. The winter camp used by the Roman army was known as (lōrīca, hīberna, pīla, praeda).

F. In the following passage, ten words or expressions are italicized and repeated in the questions below. Underline the alternative that best explains each of these ten words or expressions as it is used in the passage.

Upon reaching the required age, Lūcius, the son of a prominent Roman lēgātus, enlisted in the army. Through political connections he received an appointment as a commissioned officer, even though he lacked military experience. His legion, headed by Caesar's most trusted lieutenant, was preparing for a forced march into enemy territory. The soldiers were adjusting their personal packs prior to setting out. They had each been given their proper allotment of frūmentum distributed every 15 days. The bearer of the eagle was assigned a safe position near the baggage. The signal was given at the beginning of the second watch, and the march was on.

1. required age

1 17
2. lēgātus

1 quartermaster
3. commissioned officer

1 centuriō

4. most trusted lieutenant

1 Cicero
5. forced march

1 10 miles
6. personal packs

1 sarcīnae

7. proper allotment

1 10 pounds

8. eagle

1 lōrīca
9. baggage

1 expedīta
2 21

2 captain

2 quaestor

2 Pompey

2 15 miles

2 ālae

2 20 pounds

2 vexillum

2 impedimenta
3 25

3 lieutenant-general

3 praefectus

3 Labienus

3 25 miles

3 galeae

3 30 pounds

3 aquila

3 agmina
4 30

4 commander-in-chief

4 tribūnus mīlitum

4 Sabinus

4 40 miles

4 turmae

4 40 pounds

4 caliga

4 itinera

10. beginning of the second watch

1 9 p.m. 2 12 midnight 3 3 a.m. 4 6 p.m.

Caesar wrote the Commentaries on the Gallic War for two main reasons:
1. to put in writing an authoritative account of a very important period in Roman history;

2. to justify to the Roman people his military actions in Gaul, Germany, and Britain.

In order to give The Gallic War an appearance of detached objectivity, Caesar refers to himself in the third person. As far as the factual content is concerned, few historians question the substantial accuracy of the account.

The Gallic War is divided into seven books, each book narrating the campaigns of one year. An eighth book, containing the events of 51 and 50 B.C. in Gaul, was later added by Aulus Hirtius, one of Caesar's generals. The following summary relates the main incidents:
BOOK 1—58 B.C.
The Geography of Gaul. Three divisions: the Belgians, the Aquitanians, and the Celts or Gauls. Caesar considers the Belgians the bravest: "Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae." He cites these reasons for their bravery: their distance from the refinements of the Roman province, little contact with traders who bring luxuries to weaken men's courage, constant wars with the neighboring Germans.
War With the Helvetians. The Helvetians (a warlike tribe living in what is now Switzerland) feel
restricted in their small territory. Aroused by a powerful chief, Orgetorix, they decide to migrate into
western Gaul. Caesar, on learning of the proposed migration and of the conspiracy of Orgetorix to gain
control of all Gaul, hastens to Geneva. Finally defeated by Caesar, the Helvetians are forced to abandon
their migration and return home.
War With the Germans. Gallic tribes, especially the Aeduans, are worried by the invasion of Ger­mans and ask Caesar's help in driving them from Gaul. Caesar wages a campaign against the Germans, who are led by their haughty and powerful chief, Ariovistus. The Germans are routed and flee across the Rhine River.



BOOK 11—57 B.C.

War With the Belgians. When the Belgian tribes form a confederacy as a defensive alliance against the Romans, Caesar attacks them and forces them to disperse. He breaks the resistance of the tribes, completing a successful campaign with the defeat of the Nervii.

Naval War With the Veneti. The seafaring Veneti lead a group of coastal tribes in northwestern Gaul in revolt. Caesar has a fleet built and defeats the Veneti in a naval campaign.
First Invasion of Germany. After routing the German tribes that had crossed into northern Gaul, Caesar bridges the Rhine, leads his army across the river, and devastates the land of the Germans in order to terrorize them. After only eighteen days in Germany, he returns to Gaul.

First Expedition to Britain. Similarly, to impress the Britons, who have given protection to re­bellious Gauls, Caesar invades Britain with a fleet. He stays there about three weeks, successfully meets the Britons in battle, is impressed by their fighting from war chariots, and gets firsthand infor­mation about the people and their island.

BOOK V—54 B.C.
Second Expedition to Britain. Caesar invades Britain for the second time with a larger force. He meets more resistance than on the first expedition, and his legions are halted by the war chariots of the Britons, led by Cassivellaunus. After about ten weeks, he succeeds in imposing peace terms upon the enemy, and then embarks for Gaul without making any permanent conquests.

Massacre of Sabinus and Cotta. The Gauls, under the leadership of Ambiorix, revolt and attack the camp of Caesar's lieutenants, Sabinus and Cotta. The lieutenants are treacherously ambushed and slain, together with a large number of their troops.

Defense of Quintus Cicero's Camp. Another attack is made by the Gauls on the camp of the lieutenant Quintus Cicero, who valiantly defends the besieged camp until Caesar arrives and turns the tide of battle to victory.

Second Invasion of Germany. After reinforcing his army and checking revolts in northern Gaul, Caesar invades Germany for the second time.

The Customs of the Gauls and the Germans. Caesar gives an interesting and informative descrip­tion of the customs and life of the Gauls and Germans.

He finds many opposing factions among the Gauls. The people are ruled by Druids (or priests) and by Knights (or warriors). The Druids are very influential, learned men who control not only the religious but also many other aspects of the life of the Gauls. They are teachers and also act as judges. Human sacrifice is part of their rites.

The Germans are a warlike people with little interest in agriculture. Their land is owned in com­mon, under government supervision. Caesar describes the Hercynian forest and the extraordinary ani­mals found there.

Pursuit of Ambiorix. On his return to Gaul, Caesar quells revolts and tries to capture his enemy, Ambiorix, who succeeds in escaping.

Revolt and Defeat of the United Gauls. All the Gauls, united under the leadership of the brilliant chief of the Arvernians, Vercingetorix, rebel against Roman rule. Caesar suffers severe losses in this fierce campaign.

Vercingetorix finally retreats to the town of Alesia. After a desperate siege of the town by Caesar, the Gauls are forced to surrender.

The battle of Alesia is the last decisive battle of the Gallic War. The gallant Vercingetorix, who is often considered the first national hero of France, was taken to Rome in Caesar's triumphal procession and, after several years of imprisonment, was executed.
The Greek writer Plutarch sums up the results of the Gallic War as follows: "Caesar was engaged in the Gallic War for less than ten years. In that time he captured more than eight hundred towns, subdued three hundred tribes, fought against three million foes, killed a million, and took a million prisoners."
With the final defeat of the Gauls, Rome colonized western Europe. Her culture and language spread throughout the area. From Latin there gradually developed the modern Romance languages, including French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Rumanian.
Ambiorix. A chief of the Eburones. He started a revolt and led the ambush of the troops of Sabinus and Cotta. Ambiorix succeeded in escaping Caesar.
Ariovistus. An arrogant German chief whom Caesar defeated and drove from Gaul back into Germany.
Cassivellaunus. Leader of the Britons. He finally surrendered to Caesar.

Casticus. A chief of the Sequanians. He joined with Orgetorix and Dumnorix in the conspiracy to gain control of Gaul.

Cicero, Quintus Tullius. Brother of the famous orator. One of Caesar's best lieutenants, Quintus won renown by resisting a siege of his winter quarters by the rebellious Gauls.

Commius. King of the Atrebates, a Belgian tribe friendly to Caesar. He was sent by Caesar as an envoy to Britain in 55 b.c., where he was thrown into chains, but later released.
Diviciacus. A prominent pro-Roman Aeduan. Unlike his brother, Dumnorix, he was loyal to Caesar.
Dumnorix. An influential and ambitious anti-Roman Aeduan who continually opposed Caesar. Dumnorix was finally killed in an attempt to escape from Caesar's camp.
Eporedorix. An Aeduan noble, loyal to Caesar at first. Eporedorix later joined Vercingetorix as one of the leaders of the Gallic army that went to relieve the siege of Alesia.
Labienus, Titus. Caesar's right-hand man and most trusted lieutenant in the Gallic War. During the Civil War, however, he fought against Caesar and was killed at Munda.
Orgetorix. Wealthiest of the Helvetian chiefs. He planned the migration into western Gaul. Orgetorix attempted to seize control of Helvetia and plotted with Casticus and Dumnorix to conquer all Gaul. When arrested by the Helvetians, he is said to have taken his life.
Pullo, Titus and Vorenus, Lūcius. Rival centurions who acted heroically at the siege of Quintus Cicero's camp.

Sabinus, Quintus and Cotta, Lūcius. Lieutenants of Caesar who were killed in ambush during the revolt of the Gauls under Ambiorix.

Vercingetorix. Chief of the Arvernians. He united all the Gauls against Caesar in the last campaign of the Gallic War. He was finally defeated and captured at Alesia. Vercingetorix is regarded as the first national hero of France.
Volusenus, Gaius. A tribune in Caesar's army. He was sent by Caesar to Britain on a scouting expedition in 55 B.C.



Aquitania. The southwestern part of Gaul, separated from Spain by the Pyrenees Mountains. Aquitania was one of the three main divisions of Gaul.

Belgium. Land of the Belgae, another of the three main divisions of Gaul. It was located in the northern part of Gaul.
Britannia. The island of Britain, described by Caesar as "triangular in shape."
Gallia. A general term comprising modern France and parts of Switzerland, Belgium, and Holland; all the territory between the Pyrenees Mountains and the Rhine River. When referring to Gallia, Caesar usually means the central or Celtic part of Gaul, the third main division of Gaul.
Gallia Cisalpīna (Citerior). Cisalpine Gaul, extending north from Italy proper to the Alps.
Gallia Trānsalpīna (Ulterior). Transalpine Gaul; also called Prōvincia. It is now known as Provence, a region of southeastern France.
Germānia. Germany, a country of indefinite extent, east of the Rhine River.
Helvētia. The homeland of the Helvetii, divided into four cantons; modern Switzerland.
Hispānia. Ancient Spain, which included modern Spain and Portugal.
Illyricum. A narrow province that bordered Cisalpine Gaul at the head of the Adriatic Sea; modem Yugoslavia and Albania.
Alesia. Chief city of the Mandubii, a Gallic tribe. It was here that Vercingetorix, uniting all the Gauls against Caesar, made his last stand.
Genava. Geneva, located on Lake Geneva in Switzerland.
Lutetia. Modern Paris; a city of the tribe named Parisiī on an island in the Seine River.
Arar. The modern Saône River, a tributary of the Rhone.
Axona. The modern Aisne, a river in the southern part of Belgic Gaul.
Garumna. The modern Garonne, a river of southwestern France.
Lemannus. Lake Geneva in Switzerland.
Liger. The modern Loire, the largest river in Gaul.

Matrona. The modern Marne River, a tributary of the Seine.

Rhēnus. The Rhine River, separating Gaul and Germany.
Rhodanus. The Rhone River, which flows through Lake Geneva and empties into the Mediter­ranean.
Sēquana. The modern Seine, the principal river of northern France.
Alpes. The Alps, separating Cisalpine Gaul from Transalpine Gaul and Germany.
lūra. The Jura, a range of mountains extending from the Rhine to the Rhone.
Pyrēnaeī. The Pyrenees, separating Gaul from Spain.


A. Identify each place-name by putting a check in the proper column.

1. Liger _______ _______ _______ _______

2. Helvetia _______ _______ _______ _______

3. Iūra _______ _______ _______ _______

4. Sēquana _______ _______ _______ _______

5. Lutetia _______ _______ _______ _______

6. Aquītānia _______ _______ _______ _______

7. Axona _______ _______ _______ _______

8. Alesia _______ _______ _______ _______

9. Pyrēnaeī _______ _______ _______ _______

10. Illyricum _______ _______ _______ _______

B. Each item below is followed by four words or expressions. In each group draw a line through the word or expression that does not belong.

1. leaders of a conspiracy to seize control of Gaul: Dumnorix, Diviciacus, Casticus, Orgetorix

2. contents of Book I of The Gallic War: war with the Belgians, war with the Germans,

war with the Helvetians, geography of Gaul

3. lieutenant-generals in Caesar's army: Labienus, Sabinus, Quintus Cicero, Commius

4. Romance languages: Spanish, French, Greek, Rumanian

5. in his second invasion of Britain, Caesar: was impressed by British war chariots, met greater resistance than previously,

made a permanent conquest, imposed peace terms on the enemy

6. Gallic leaders: Volusenus, Eporedorix, Ambiorix, Vercingetorix

7. reasons for the bravery of the Belgians: little contact with merchants, superior weapons,

distance from the Roman province, constant wars with the Germans

8. customs of the Gauls: rule by Druids and Knights, human sacrifice, no religious life, existence of many opposing factions

9. rivers in Gaul: Rhodanus, Garumna, Arar, Lemannus

10. in his first invasion of Germany, Caesar: fought many naval battles, bridged the Rhine,

stayed only eighteen days, devastated German territory
C. Matching: In the space before each Latin place-name in column A, write the letter of its English equivalent
in column B.

Column A Column B

______ 1. Matrona a. Lake Geneva

______ 2. Hispania b. Rhine River

______ 3. Lemannus c. Garonne River :

______ 4. Rhodanus d. Switzerland

______ 5. Alpes e. Saône River

______ 6. Garumna f. Marne River

______ 7. Helvetia g. Paris

______ 8. Rhenus h. Alps Mountains

______ 9. Lutetia i. Rhone River

______ 10. Arar j. Spain

D. If the italicized term in each of the following statements is correct, write true. If the italicized term is incorrect, write the correct term.

1. Historians generally agree that the content of Caesar's Gallic war is substantially accurate. _________________________

2. Volusenus, a Roman tribune, was sent by Caesar to Germany on a scouting expedition in 55 B.C.____________________

3. Britannia was described by Caesar as rectangular in shape.__________________________________________________

4. Gallia Cisalpina was also called Gallia Citerior. __________________________________________________

5. Lutetia was located on the flumen Sēquana. __________________________________________________

6. The Pyrenees Mountains separated Gaul from Germany. __________________________________________________

7. The Gallic War is divided into seven books, each narrating Caesar's campaign with one tribe. _______________________

8. It was at Alesia that Orgetorix united all the Gauls against Caesar. ___________________________________________

9. By the end of the Gallic War, Caesar had captured over eight hundred towns. ________________________________

10. Caesar defeated the tribe called Venetī in a naval campaign in 56 B.C. ________________________________________

E. Underline the word or expression in parentheses that will complete the statement correctly.

1. The Druids were (merchants and tradesmen, priests and teachers, soldiers and farmers, politicians and lawyers).

2. During the siege of Quintus Cicero's camp in Book V of The Gallic War, Caesar tells of the rivalry between (Pullo and Vorenus, Sabinus and Gotta, Labienus and Commius, Volusenus and Casticus).

3. Caesar's lieutenant who fought against him in the Civil War was (Pompey, Brutus, Cicero, Labienus).

4. In describing the customs of the Germans in Book VI of The Gallic War, Caesar says that they (believed in private ownership of land, had little interest in agriculture, were a peace-loving people, engaged in wars only when attacked).

5. The leader of the Britons was (Orgetorix, Dumnorix, Cassivellaunus, Ariovistus).

6. In The Gallic War Caesar refers to himself in the third person in order to (glorify the name Caesar, simplify the Latin, remove any charge of egoism, appear objective).

7. Caesar's three divisions of Gaul were inhabited by the Belgae, the Celtae, and the (Etrusci, Aquitani, Helvetii, Sequani).

8. Stamps and coins with the imprint Helvetia are issued by (France, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium).

9. In Book VII of The Gallic War, Caesar tells of (the siege of Alesia, his second expedition to Britain, the defense of Cicero's camp, his campaign against Ariovistus).

10. Caesar wrote "Horum omnium fortissimi sunt" to describe the (Aeduī, Celtae, Belgae, Aquitani).

11. Caesar's first expedition to Britain took place in (58, 55, 53, 51) B.C.

12. A Belgian king who was sent by Caesar as an envoy to Britain was (Eporedorix, Ambiorix, Casticus, Commius).

13. In Book II of The Gallic War, Caesar says that he attacked the Belgians because they (sent spies to his camps, formed an alliance against him, crossed the Channel into Britain, invaded Celtic Gaul).

14. Orgetorix was a leader of the (Britons, Helvetians, Aeduans, Germans).

15. The Gallic leader who is considered the first national hero of France was (Vercingetorix, Volusenus, Ariovistus, Diviciacus).


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