Caesar primum suo, deinde omnium ex conspectu remotis equis, ut aequato omnium periculo spem fugae tolleret, cohortus suos proelium commisit. Milites e loco superiore pilis missis faclie hostium phalangem perfregerunt. Ea disiecta gladiis destrictis in eos impetum fecerunt. Gallis magno ad pugnam erat impedimento, quod pluribus eorum scutis uno ictu pilorum transfixis, et colligatis, cum ferrum se inflexisset, neque evellere, neque sinistra impedita satis commode pugnare poterant, multi ut diu iactato brachio praeoptarent scutum manu emittere et nudo corpore pugnare. Tandem vulneribus defessi et pedem referre et, quod mons suberat circiter mille passuum, eo se recipere coeperunt. Capto monte et succedentibus nostris Boii et Tulingi, qui hominum milibus circiter XV agmen hostium claudebant et novissimis praesidio erant, ex itinere nostros latere aperto adgressi circumvenere, et id conspicati Helvetii, qui in montem sese receperant, rusus instare et proelium redintegrare coeperunt. Romani conversa signa bipertito intulerunt: prima et secunda acies, ut victis ac summotis resisteret, tertia, ut venientes sustineret.
Caesar first had his own horse and then those of all others sent out of sight, thus to equalise the danger of all and to take away hope of flight. Then after a speech to encourage his troops he joined battle. The legionaries, from the upper ground, easily broke the mass-formation of the enemy by a volley of javelins, and, when it was scattered, drew their swords and charged. The Gauls were greatly encumbered for the fight because several of their shields would be pierced and fastened together by a javelin-cast; and as the iron became bent, they could not pluck it forth, nor fight handily with the left arm encumbered. Therefore many of them preferred, after continued shaking of the arm,1 to cast off the shield and so to fight bare-bodied. At length, worn out with wounds, they began to retreat, retiring towards a height about a mile away. They gained the height; and as the Romans followed up, the Boii and Tulingi, who with some fifteen thousand men brought up the rear and formed the rearguard, turned from their march to attack the Romans on the exposed2 flank, and overlapped them. Remarking this, the Helvetii, who had retired to the height, began to press again and to renew the fight. The Romans wheeled, and advanced in two divisions, the first and second line to oppose the part of the enemy which had been defeated and driven off, the third to check the fresh assault.
1i.e. to shake off the javelin.
2i.e. the right, unshielded side.
Translation and notes by H.J. Edwards
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