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Please note that Mommsen uses the AUC chronology (Ab Urbe Condita), i.e. from the founding of the City of Rome. You can use this reference table to have the B.C. dates


V. The Establishment of the Military Monarchy

From: The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Old Rome

Chapter VII - The Subjugation of the West


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Page 115

Caesar before Arvaricum

According to his intention, Avaricum (Bourges), the rich and strong capital of the Bituriges, was to meet the same fate; but the majority of the war-council yielded to the suppliant entreaties of the Biturigian authorities, and resolved rather to defend that city with all their energy. Thus the war was concentrated in the first instance around Avaricum, Vercingetorix placed his infantry amidst the morasses adjoining the town in a position so unapproachable, that even without being covered by the cavalry they needed not to fear the attack of the legions. The Celtic cavalry covered all the roads and obstructed the communication. The town was strongly garrisoned, and the connection between it and the army before the walls was kept open.

Caesar's position was very awkward. The attempt to induce the Celtic infantry to fight was unsuccessful; it stirred not from its unassailable lines. Bravely as his soldiers in front of the town trenched and fought, the besieged vied with them in ingenuity and courage, and they had almost succeeded in setting fire to the siege apparatus of their opponents. The task withal of supplying an army of nearly 60,000 men with provisions in a country devastated far and wide and scoured by far superior bodies of cavalry became daily more difficult.

The slender stores of the Boii were soon used up; the supply promised by the Haedui failed to appear; the corn was already consumed, and the soldier was placed exclusively on flesh-rations. But the moment was approaching when the town, with whatever contempt of death the garrison fought, could be held no longer. Still it was not impossible to withdraw the troops secretly by night and destroy the town, before the enemy occupied it. Vercingetorix made arrangements for this purpose, but the cry of distress raised at the moment of evacuation by the women and children left behind attracted the attention of the Romans; the departure miscarried.

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