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The Gallic Wars

Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres... It is, perhaps, the most famous opening line of any memoir in Western civilization. What Caesar and the Romans called "Gaul," although we usually think of it as France, also comprised Belgium, the German lands west of the Rhine, southern Holland, and much of Switzerland. This is the only military campaign of the ancient world for which we have a chronicle written by the general who conducted it, and Julius Caesar is an insightful historian, with a keen eye for detail. This commentary occurs during the years 58-50 B.C.

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Famous First Lines, chapter 1, Book 1

This chapter is by far the easiest to translate Latin Text 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 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, proximique sunt Germanis, qui trans Rhenum incolunt, quibuscum continenter bellum gerunt. Rendering All Gaul is divided into three parts, in one dwell the Belgae, in another the Aquitans, and in the third, those that call themselves Kelts, known to us as Gauls. All these differ in language, institution, and law. The Gauls are separated from the Aquitans by the River Garonne, while the Belges by the Marne and Seine rivers. Of all these the most powerful are the Belgae because, for long they have been far-removed from civilized human pursuits, least frequented by merchant imports that effeminate their rational soul, and their proximity to the Germans, living across the Rhine, with whom they are perpetually locked in battle. Traditional Rendering All Gaul is divided into three parts, one of which the Belgae inhabit, the Aquitani another, those who in their own language are called Celts, in our Gauls, the third. All these differ from each other in language, customs and laws. The river Garonne separates the Gauls from the Aquitani; the Marne and the Seine separate them from the Belgae. Of all these, the Belgae are the bravest, because they are furthest from the civilization and refinement of Province, and merchants least frequently resort to them, and import those things which tend to effeminate the mind; and they are the nearest to the Germans, who dwell beyond the Rhine, with whom they are continually waging war.

Gallic Customs; chapter 18, Book 6

chapter 18 of Book 6 Latin Text Galli se omnes ab dite patre prognatos praedicant idque ab druidibus proditum di****. Ob eam causam spatia omnis temporis non numero dierum sed noctium finiunt; dies natales et mensum et annorum initia sic observant ut noctem dies subsequatur. In reliquis vitae institutis hoc fere ab reliquis differunt, quod suos liberos, nisi cum adoleverunt, ut munus militiae sustinere possint, palam ad se adire non patiuntur filiumque puerili aetate in publico in conspectu patris adsistere turpe du****. Rendition All Gauls themselves proclaim descent from a Father God, the selfsame character Druid priests reveal in speach. For this reason the lengths of all time are bound not by numbered days but nights; a birthday and the beginning of a month or year are thus noted as days that follow night. Concerning their customs they’ve instituted this nearly distinct element which is dissimilar as far as their childern. Unless when inflamed to suffer military service one can not approach as men don't endure a sons childish years in public, to stand against a father’s fixed eye brings disgrace.

A different take on Caesar's Gallic War, chapter 1, book 4

From Ancient to Medieval Latin, then on to Modern English I’ve a slightly different take on chapter 1, Book 4…. From: Ea quae secuta est hieme, qui fuit annus Gnaeo Pompeio, Marco Crasso consulibus, Usipetes Germani et item Tencteri magna cum multitudine hominum flumen Rhenum transierunt, non longe a mari, quo Rhenus influit. Causa transeundi fuit quod ab Suebis complures annos exagitati bello premebantur et agri cultura prohibebantur. Sueborum gens est longe maxima et bellicosissima Germanorum omnium. Hi centum pagos habere di****ur, ex quibus quotannis singula milia armatorum bellandi causa ex finibus edu****. Reliqui, qui domi manserunt, se atque illos alunt; hi rursus in vicem anno post in armis sunt, illi domi remanent. Sic neque agri cultura nec ratio atque usus belli intermittitur. Sed privati ac separati agri apud eos nihil est, neque longius anno remanere uno in loco colendi causa licet. Neque multum frumento, sed maximam partem lacte atque pecore vivunt multum sunt in venationibus; quae res et cibi genere et cotidiana exercitatione et libertate vitae, quod a pueris nullo officio aut disciplina adsuefacti nihil omnino contra voluntatem faciunt, et vires alit et immani corporum magnitudine homines efficit. Atque in eam se consuetudinem adduxerunt ut locis frigidissimis neque vestitus praeter pelles habeant quicquam, quarum propter exiguitatem magna est corporis pars aperta, et laventur in fluminibus. To: During the winter, in the year of Gnaeus Pompey and Marcus Crassus's consulship, the Germanic Usipetes and Tencteri, together with a large related rabble crossed the River Rhine not far from where it empties into the sea. This affair was due to the Swabians, whom for several years had stirred up war, overwhelmed, and prohibited their holding farmsteads. The nation of Swabia is by far the largest and most warlike of all Germany. It's said they hold one hundred districts and every year from each, one thousand armed warriors are educed to expand their domain. Furthermore, remaining households feed the levy and themselves, one and all. Hence, these conscriptions are annually altered according to rank and correspondingly those once armed return home. Therefor, this routine insures that neither sustenance nor the pursuit of war is neglected. Indeed amongst them are no private or separate homesteads. Neither are they allowed to remain in place to farm for more than a year. In fact, having few crops they normally live off milk and beef whilst many hunt. Herein events and rations daily give birth to the labors of freedom. They are as youth, unaccustomed to obligation or discipline; disinclined and altogether opposed to bring about a common will. To this end they nurture violence to produce a huge collection of savage humanity. All together, according to traditions developed in frigid realms of such great want, all wear not cloth but pelts, til hidden body parts expose to bathe amidst a running stream. As one may note a result far removed from the traditional 19th century example. McDevitte, W. A., and W. S. Bohn 1869 The following winter (this was the year in which Cn. Pompey and M. Crassus were consuls), those Germans the Usipetes, and likewise the Tenchtheri, with a great number of men, crossed the Rhine, not far from the place at which that river discharges itself into the sea. The motive for crossing was, that having been for several years harassed by the Suevi, they were constantly engaged in war, and hindered from the pursuits of agriculture. The nation of the Suevi is by far the largest and the most warlike nation of all the Germans. They are said to possess a hundred cantons, from each of which they yearly send from their territories for the purpose of war a thousand armed men: the others who remain at home, maintain themselves and those-engaged in the expedition. The latter again, in their turn, are in arms the year after: the former remain at home. Thus neither husbandry, nor the art and practice of war are neglected. But among them there exists no private and separate land; nor are they permitted to remain more than one year in one place for the purpose of residence. They do not live much on corn, but subsist for the most part on milk and flesh, and are much in hunting; which circumstance must, by the nature of their food, and by their daily exercise and the freedom of their life (for having from boyhood been accustomed to no employment, or discipline, they do nothing at all contrary to their inclination), both promote their strength and render them men of vast stature of body. And to such a habit have they brought themselves, that even in the coldest parts they wear no clothing whatever except skins, by reason of the scantiness of which, a great portion of their body is bare, and besides they bathe in open rivers. Any questions or comments?

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