Apud Helvetios longe nobilissimus fuit et ditissimus Orgetorix. Is M. Messalla et M. Pisone consulibus regni cupiditate inductus coniurationem nobilitatis fecit et civitati persuasit, ut de finibus sui cum omnibus copiis exirent:  perfacile esse, cum virtute omnibus praestarent, totius Galliae imperio potiri. Id hoc facilius eis persuasit, quod undique loci natura Helvetii continentur:  una ex parte flumine Rheno latissimo atque altissimo, qui agrum Helvetium a Germanis dividit; altera ex parte monte Iura altissimo, qui est inter Sequanos et Helvetios; tertia lacu Lemanno Helvetiis dividit. His rebus fiebat ut et minus inferre possent; qua ex parte homines bellandi cupidi magno dolore adficiebantur. Pro multitudine autem hominum et pro gloria belli atque fortitudinis angustos se fines habere arbitrabantur, qui in longitudinem milia passuum CCXL, in latitudinem CLXXX patebant.

Among the Helvetii the noblest man by far and the most wealthy was Orgetorix. In the consulship1 of Marcus Messalla and Marcus Piso, his desire for the kingship led him to form a conspiracy of the nobility, and he persuaded the community to march out of their territory in full force, urging that as they excelled all in valour it was easy enough to secure the sovereignty of all Gaul. In this he persuaded them the more easily, because the Helvetii are closely confined by the nature of their territory. On one side there is the river Rhine, exceeding broad and deep, which seperates the Helvetian territory from the Germans; on another the Jura range, exceeding high, lying between the Sequani and the Helvetii; on the third, the Lake of Geneva and the river Rhone, which seperates the Roman Province from the Helvetii. In such circumstances their range of movement was less extensive, and their chances of waging war on their neighbours were less easy; and on this account they were greatly distressed, for they were men that longed for war. Nay, they could not but consider that the territory they occupied--to an extent of 240 mileslong and 180 broad--was all too narrow for their population and for their renown of courage in war.

161 B.C.

Translation and notes by H.J. Edwards

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