02. War with the German King
June 04, 2001
Well, we had the assembly - it was hopelessly uneventful. Afterwards, however, Diviciacus and some of the other tribe leaders asked to meet privately. It looks like the Germans are threatening to overrun Gaul.
You see, a few years ago, the Aedui (led by Diviciacus) were locked in battle with the forces of the Arverni and Sequani for mastery of Gaul. The Averni and Sequani weren't doing so well, so they hired German mercenaries to help them. The Germans are genuinely terrifying in battle, and they defeated the Aedui repeatedly. Those who were defeated were forced to give hostages and swear oaths that they would not seek Roman help. Diviciacus was one of the few who did not swear an oath - thus he was the one doing all the talking today.
Things were even tougher on the victors.The German hordes claimed a third of the Sequani's country, and settled there. They preferred the climate, land, and way of life in Gaul to that of their own nation. The German King, Ariovistus, proved to be a cruel leader. He demanded that all the Sequani men of rank hand over their children as hostages, and wouldn't hesitate to torture them with the least provocation.
Now, Ariovistus is bringing thousands more Germans into Gaul, and has demanded that the Sequani abandon another third of their land. The Gauls are terrified - as well they should be.
I reassured all of the leaders and told them I would deal with Ariovistus. Rome has an existing deal with him; he's considered a "Friend of the Roman People." However, I really don't want hundreds of thousands of Germans pouring into Gaul. Eventually, they will want to get into the Province. They did it before, 40 years ago.
June 05, 2001
I've sent an envoy to Ariovistus saying that there's important business for us to discuss, and proposing that we meet at a location halfway between our two camps.
June 07, 2001
The response from Ariovistus: "If I wanted something from Caesar, I would go to him. If he wants something from me, he should come here." He stated he would not feel safe coming to a meeting without his army, but to bring it involved considerable planning and expense. Also, he apparently couldn't imagine what we had to meet about, or why the Romans wanted to enter territory that was his by right of conquest.
So, I have sent back a response. I reminded him that the people of Rome had bestowed an honour upon him. I asked whether his refusal of a perfectly civilized meeting was his way of repaying us. I gave him an ultimatum:
1. Stop bringing men into Gaul.
2. Send back the Aeduan hostages.
3. Cease war with the Aedui and their allies.
We'll see what he thinks of that.
June 09, 2001
Ariovistus has replied, and the diplomacy continues. Presumably not for much longer, given the direction these negotiations are going.
In short: he will not hand back the Aeduan hostages; he will not make war as long as they keep up their payments to him; and it seems he plans to continue bringing more Germans into Gaul. He doesn't think I should be meddling in his affairs. The Aeduans lost to him, he says, and he can rule them as he wishes. Their status as "Brothers of the Roman People" doesn't impress him at all.
And it all ended with this passage:
Attack whenever you like. You'll discover what German valour is capable of. We have never known defeat, we have hardened ourselves in battle, and for fourteen years haven't sheltered beneath a roof.
Of course, I don't care at all where he sleeps at night. But I think my troops can give him a taste of defeat.
June 10, 2001
More bad news. Representatives of the Aedui and the Treveri arrived to tell me that more Germans had come into their territories, and seem intent on making war. So it's true that Ariovistus has ignored all my demands.
Now it's time to act. The Germans who have just come into the Treveri's land are called the Suebi, and they are led by a man called Nasua. Rather than let them meet up with Ariovistus' main force, I've decided to head out and engage them as quickly as possible.
June 11, 2001
I've learned that Nasua is aiming for BesanÁon, which is the Sequani's largest town. It's loaded with military supplies and its natural defences are quite strong. (It's surrounded on three sides by a river, the remaining side is blocked by a large hill.) Accordingly, I'm heading there as fast as possible - hopefully I can get there first and ward off the Germans.
June 13, 2001
Forced march all day, but we're still a day away from BesanÁon. I hope we're not too late.
Something - the possiblity of fighting at a disadvantage, maybe - is making me think about Julia, my daughter. I hope Pompey is treating her well.
Arrived at BesanÁon. The Germans didn't get here yet, so no fighting today. I am relieved, especially upon seeing how easy this town would be to defend. Luckily we will have the advantage.
June 14, 2001
Scouts report that Nasua is nowhere nearby. Once some supplies have been gathered and loaded, then, I'll leave a garrison here and advance further. I don't want the German reinforcements to meet up with Ariovistus, after all.
Mad rumours of German power are circulating amongst the locals. The people of this town are afflicted by fear, and I fear my men are becoming infected.
June 15, 2001
There are always a bunch of upper class men, senators, quaestors, and so on, who follow a general around on his campaigns. These men know nothing of war, and simply want to become 'close friends' with someone like myself. Today a group of them began making up excuses why they needed to return to Rome. Some of the tribunes acted strangely as well, claiming that the terrain ahead was impassable, we would lose our supply train, and so forth. It turns out my suspicions yesterday were right. The locals here have convinced the less battle-hardened of my men that the Germans are unbeatable. The Germans can defeat armies with their deathly stares alone, or so they say. They are the best-trained men on the planet, they are masters of speed and surprise, and to make matters worse there are millions upon millions of them... and so on.
I gave this matter some thought, and decided I would gather all the centurions for a council tomorrow.
June 18, 2001
I held a council as planned. I spoke to the centurions about what they really feared. After all, Roman armies defeated German forces twice in recent memories. On one of those occasions (the slave rebellion led by Spartacus), the German forces had even been trained by their Roman masters. Furthermore, the Helvetii, who we recently crushed, had themselves defeated German forces a few times. And lastly, these Gauls were afraid of Ariovistus because he defeated them recently. But looking at the circumstances of that defeat, it's clear that the Gauls were worn down after a long war between the Aedui and Sequani. When Ariovistus attacked, it was not some magical powers that won the battle, it was superior strategy - he surpise-attacked and split the Gaul forces. While his strategies might work against Gauls, they would be no match for those used by our advanced Roman armies.
So, I said that if some men were unwilling to fight, I wasn't worried by that. When men abandon their general, it's the general's fault. Either he is viewed as unsuccessful and unlucky, or he is dishonest and corrupt in some way. I reminded them that I was neither of these things. So, I would advance, knowing that my trusty 10th legion would accompany me, if no one else - and that was more than enough men than I needed to defeat Ariovistus.
The result of this little speech was quite positive. The 10th legion was very happy, of course. The other centurions were inspired to reassure me that they would always fight by my side, and would convince the rest of the men that they should do the same. So, for the time being, foolish fears have been dispelled.
Divciacus is going to work out a good route for our advance. I trust him, and he knows the terrain well. We should be leaving tomorrow.
June 19, 2001
We set off this morning. Diviciacus' route will take us through open country, so we should make good time.
I may have time today to catch up on some correspondence with those in Rome. I have to make a concerted effort not to lose touch. Although I may be far away, it's vital that I remain involved with politics. I have to keep a close eye on certain senators.
My scouts just reported that Ariovistus is only 23 miles away.
June 20, 2001
Ariovistus has sent a messenger. Now that we're so close, it appears that he doesn't mind meeting up after all. However, he says he's afraid of a trap, so he suggests neither of us bring infantry, only cavalry. We're going to meet tomorrow.
June 22, 2001
After a whole lot of back-and-forth about our meeting arrangements, I finally met with Ariovistus. I decided to accept his condition about only bringing cavalry, but I made my Gallic cavalry hand over their horses to the 10th legion. It was a bit awkward for the men, as they're wholly unused to riding, and it was a bit sneaky of me, but nonetheless I considered it the best option.
Perhaps foolishly, I had high hopes for this meeting. I thought the German King had put aside his usual belligerence. Upon arrival I reminded him that the Aedui were strong allies of Rome, and I repeated my original demands. He didn't so much reply to them as prattle on again about his own righteousness; and he took the liberty of claiming that I had somehow encroached upon his sovereignty by bringing my army into the area. I reminded him that the entire region had been conquered by Rome 60 years ago, but the decision had been made to let the people here rule themselves. So, if it was an issue of "who got here first," Rome has a much stronger claim than he.
As we argued, I received word that some of Ariovistus' horsemen had been riding up to the rear of our unit, throwing rocks and spears. I broke off the negotiations and went back to ensure my men did not retaliate. (If the discussions fell apart, I didn't want anyone to be able to claim that I was the aggressor.) When I returned to the front, Ariovistus had left.
Today Ariovistus sent word that he wanted to resume the dialog. I am not sure whether I want to, as my patience is wearing thin. Either he can't control his men, or he encouraged them to harass us during negotiations - whatever it is, I am not impressed.
June 24, 2001
I decided I wouldn't go back to continue discussions with Ariovistus. Instead I sent a couple of young men who could speak the Gallic language, and who Ariovistus could have no quarrel with. Scouts say that when they arrived, he shouted out that they were spies, and when they tried to say otherwise, he had them tied up and imprisoned.
I've just heard that he's brought his army in closer. It looks like he's attempting to cut off my supply routes. If I can get close enough today, I'll see if I can force a battle.
June 26, 2001
I've been lining up my troops for battle each day, and each day leading them back into camp untested. Ariovistus seems unable to commit. He's sent out his cavalry the odd time for some skirmishing, but that's not going to settle this matter. I don't know why he is so hesitant. I had heard he was more than capable of decisive action.
June 27, 2001
Yesterday a small battle broke out. I've been trying out a few techniques, arranging my men in different ways to see if any one of them provokes a response from Ariovistus. So, I broke off a smaller formation and set up a second camp at some distance. He decided to attack it, but with a similarly-sized force. How strange. Well, the battle was a vicious one, and I almost brought in my larger force before he finally broke off.
Later, Some German prisoners explained what had been happening. It's a custom for some of their elder women to draw lots before a battle, as a form of divination. This time, the results predicted they would lose if they attacked before the next full moon. Hence, Ariovistus' reluctance to attack.
June 30, 2001
A couple days ago, after learning the reason for Ariovistus' unwillingness to fight, I drew my entire army out into formation right in front of the German camp. They had no choice but to fight. In fact, once they were in formation, they made a line of their wagons behind their men so that no one could flee. I had a general head up each of my five legions, so the men would know that their bravery would not go unnoticed. Spotting that the enemy was weakest on the left side, I strengthened my right flank and attacked there first. My men charged with such power - and the Germans with equal ferocity - that there was no time to throw spears. They tossed them aside and went in with their swords immediately. At first the German phalanxes held up, but my men managed to tear the shields from the enemy's hands and drive their swords home.
Ariovistus' left flank was destroyed. However, at the same time, great numbers of Germans pressed hard on the right. Young Publius Crassus spotted the predicament and brought up the third line, and once again our forces surged. They broke the German line. Ariovistus' entire army fell apart and ran back towards the Rhine, a good 15 mile distance. Some managed to cross the river - sadly, Ariovistus was one of them - but most were hunted down and slaughtered by our cavalry as they fled.
I'm a little preoccupied with post-battle arrangements at the moment. I think this may be a good time to end this years' campaigning, however. We have had two major victories, and there are things going on in Rome I need to turn my attention to.
July 02, 2001
I'm bringing my army into winter quarters. It's earlier than normal, but that's justified by the completion of two campaigns. I'll leave my men in the country of the Sequani, and then travel to Cisalpine Gaul to take care of some matters.
July 03, 2001
There are indeed CSS errors.
Or so I hear, anyway. Any feedback on how this page is displaying would be appreciated.
July 05, 2001
When I was twelve, I went looking for my father one day, so that we could go down to the Forum together, as was our daily custom. When I asked him, I saw fear in his eyes. He explained that the Forum was being occupied by Sulla's army. Of course, I didn't really understand what that meant.
A few hours later, I saw the cold stares of Sulla's centurions as they marched by. I saw how everyone I knew was suddenly terrified. A few years later, my own name was on one of his lists. Lists of those to be killed.
Before Sulla's men took Rome, I never thought we needed to choose sides. I thought we were all Romans.
July 06, 2001
We are almost back on Roman soil.
Still thinking about Sulla. The incredible thing about that man is that no one expected him to act the way he did. From what I have learned, he was a light-hearted fellow. He spent his time with actors, musicians and the like. He enjoyed practical jokes. He loved to eat and drink. No one imagined that he could lead a Roman army against Rome for the first time. That he could seize absoute power. Or that he could order the death of tens of thousands of citizens.
In fact, I don't think he enjoyed his own cruelty at all. I think he felt it was his duty.
July 08, 2001
Finally arrived in Cisalpine Gaul.
Sulla, of course, is considered a hero today by the Senate, since he restored many of their powers and stripped the tribunes of many of theirs. But at the time, since he bypassed their authority, they hated him.
The Senate will only support those whose ends and means are identical to their own. This means, practically, that the Senate only supports the Senate. Pompey's ends are one with theirs, but his means are not, so they pushed him away. This was not in their best interests. Had they embraced him, he would have had no need to join the so-called triumvirate with Crassus and myself.
But in the end, I have much more to fear from the Senate, as my ends differ from theirs. They also can tell that I have little respect for them.
July 10, 2001
My good friend Sallust has informed me that he has updated the info section.
July 11, 2001
From what I can tell, all is well in Rome. I won't be going back to the city, however. Just as well; I have many friends in Rome who will safeguard my interests, and I need to stay in the province to supervise tax collection. But Julia reports that Pompey is well, which is of course important to me.
Other things I have learned: there are plans to build a rotating theatre. I am curious about this and will enquire further. There is further instability in Egypt. Clodius will run for tribune next year; I plan to support him, even though he has gotten a reputation for thuggery on account of his street gang. The Senate is more or less quiet, and there are no plans to repeal my land laws. Neither is there any further talk of prosecuting me because of certain actions while I was consul, but of course nothing could be done while I hold office anyway. I hope that nonsense is behind me.
July 13, 2001
Some feel I should explain the reference to "certain actions while I was consul" in my last post.
As consul, I brought a land law before the senate. The law was designed to provide lands for certain well-deserving veterans, as well as some of the impoverished plebians living in Rome. Quite honestly, it was a meticulously-crafted bill, by no means partisan or offensive in any way to even the most conservative senators. But certain senators will not accept anything proposed by Caesar. Cato, in particular, wasted the senate's time by filibustering for hours. I was not even given the chance to present my arguments, so all reason was put aside and chaos reigned.
I can play at chaos, too. I had Cato arrested. This is the crux of what some find objectionable about my year as consul. (There were some other popular revolts and the like that many try to blame on me, but I cannot claim responsibility there.)
What's the difference between a legal abuse of the system and an extralegal attempt to restore the system to order? Especially when the laws are rigged to defend the rights of the patriciate, anyway?
July 14, 2001
Learned more about the rotating theatre I mentioned earlier. There will be two circular units, each with a stage and seating area. The two sections will face inwards for gladitorial games. Then, they can be rotated to face away from each other, and theatre can be staged in them - two shows at once. They're planning to use mules to power them, but if that doesn't work, they'll go with slaves.
Pompey is planning a large theatre on the outside of the city. I've decided that I should have some buildings made myself. The campaigns in Gaul should provide enough revenue.