Dan Carlin's Hardcore History - Show 60 - The Celtic Holocaust

Episode Date: August 10, 2017

Julius Caesar is our travel guide as he takes us through his murderous subjugation of the native Celtic tribal peoples of ancient Gaul. It sounds vaguely like other, recent European colonial conquests......until the natives nearly win.

Transcript
Discussion (0)
Starting point is 00:00:00 It's hardcore history. If I asked you to get a piece of paper and something to write with and to make a numerical list of all the things that you would be willing to die for, how long is your list and what's on it? This is kind of an exercise and you run into these things elsewhere, I'm sure, to clarify your life and priorities exercise. Another one I've heard is, go write your own obituary now. You can see how that might help you get a sense of, oh gee, this is what I'd like to
Starting point is 00:00:44 be someday and here's how far I am from that now and help you figure out how you're doing. What would you be willing to die for question is a priority question, helps you figure out what are the most important things to me and if you think about lists like that, I mean I think we probably all have pretty similar things at least at the top of the list, wouldn't we? I mean, wouldn't loved ones be on that list right near the top? I would be willing to die for my wife and children or parents. I have to believe that's pretty common in any era in history and then likely something
Starting point is 00:01:24 on that list near the top would be possessions of one kind or another. Land comes to mind right off the top of my head. This farm's been in my family for three generations, I would give my life for it. The number of conflicts that were land ownership based since time immemorial is uncountable, isn't it? Pretty common. Other kinds of possession you might think of is like money. How long down on your list though does it go before you get to things that are a little
Starting point is 00:01:54 harder to get your hands on tangibly? I mean, where's something like freedom on your list? And it's funny because if you go and look all throughout human history, there are slogans like New Hampshire's state motto, which is live, free, or die and you go and you look at like revolutionary France and all these other movements throughout history and some form of give me liberty or give me death, live, free, or die is on the list. I mean, people willing to give their own lives based on the idea that an unfree life isn't worth living.
Starting point is 00:02:31 So willing to die for a concept, but a concept that means everything when you talk about your day to day life. And we should point out that freedom has always meant different things to different people and has meant different things in different eras. The two big definitions you run into is the obvious one. Freedom is my right to personal control and autonomy and sovereignty. The other one though is a political sort of freedom that says as long as no outside people or power or state or entity is controlling my people, then we're free.
Starting point is 00:03:03 We may live in a dictatorship, but it's our dictatorship, that kind of thing. So freedom involves freedom from outside control. Now, let me change the parameters of our little question though here for a minute. What if instead of giving your own life and what you would be willing to die for, the new list is what would you be willing to lose everything for? And by everything, I certainly mean your life. That's a given, but the lives of all your loved ones, one way or another, either through outright death or having them sold into a life of slavery, your little kids sold into
Starting point is 00:03:43 a life of slavery and all your possessions taken and all your stuff stolen and your community devastated and your culture mortally wounded. That's pretty much everything, isn't it? What's worth that? Some of the greatest human tragedies, both on a personal and on a society-wide level throughout history have happened when some of the things on the list that you'd be willing to die for become the cost of preserving other things on your list that you'd be willing to die for.
Starting point is 00:04:20 You see this all the time in the 20th century, look at how many people, in order to protect their society's freedom, sent their own children off to die in a war. So this is part of the human condition. But unless you've lived through near genocidal conditions, most of us haven't had to deal with the kind of threat that people throughout history have had to deal with to everything. That general who coined New Hampshire's state motto, live free or die, was a revolutionary war general, for example. He wrote that phrase decades after the war and in total freedom and safety.
Starting point is 00:05:06 Now I have no doubt he would have been willing to give his life in the service of what was a brand new country during the Revolutionary War. But he could also take some comfort in the idea that he wasn't going to have to give much more than that. I mean, the British were not going to come into the country and after they hanged him, burned his teenage sons and rape his wife and his children and send them off to slavery, burned down his house, destroy his town and stamp out his church. They weren't going to do that.
Starting point is 00:05:42 That's a different kind of risk, isn't it? That's genocide and people still deal with that even as I'm speaking right now, somewhere in the world. Now, obviously, genocides come in many different shades and colors and variations and circumstances. I mean, take the Jews and the Gypsies in the Second World War during the Holocaust. That's an example where the people who were being victimized had absolutely no choice and no options. No one said to them, either do this or we're going to kill you all.
Starting point is 00:06:19 A choice was never offered. Sometimes though, it is. Choice A is you do this. Choice B is we committed genocide or a near genocide or an absolute crime against humanity by modern day standards against you. I mean, for most of human history, that's the choice that cities have when enemy armies show up outside their walls. Here before the siege weapons start being used, and you can maybe go free, maybe carry
Starting point is 00:06:53 some of your personal possessions with you, maybe not, but the deal is that as soon as the siege starts, in most of these cases, they could do whatever they wanted to you. Sometimes they might still let you go. Sometimes they might have a negotiation three weeks from now and say, okay, do you want to stop it now? We'll make a deal. But oftentimes the deal was implicit. I mean, historian Hans Van Weese says that this is the standard understanding throughout
Starting point is 00:07:19 most of pre-gunpowder history and even into gunpowder era history, that if you don't surrender when called upon and the city goes under siege, that you could have an absolute genocide at least on a city-wide level afterwards, and everyone will understand that that's just how it goes. They weren't doing that to civilizational equals much by the 18th century, which of course the British would have considered the colonists who five minutes ago had been subjects of the same king as the British. But when you were dealing, for example, with savages or barbarians, those are obviously
Starting point is 00:08:02 slur terms. All bets were off in the history of the laws of war. There's a term for that, a Latin term, bellum romanum, which basically means war the way the Romans did it. Total war. The legal definition I got from one place said that bellum romanum is all out war without restraint as the Romans practiced it against groups they considered to be barbarians. And let's understand, if the British crown in 1775 were dealing with Native Americans,
Starting point is 00:08:38 might have been a very different situation. All of a sudden you can treat them the way Rome treated barbarians. Oftentimes with what we would call today genocide. But oftentimes with choices, unlike the Jews and the Gypsies and the Second World War's Holocaust, oftentimes the choice was surrender and accept subjugation without rebellion and live or do any of those other things and see everyone either killed or sold into slavery, what passes for a city in your culture destroyed, and maybe your culture itself taken apart piece by piece.
Starting point is 00:09:24 There's something very strange maybe about me, but I see a certain romance, doomed sort of romance. The same sort of thing you see with the Native Americans sometimes where you'll watch this story that is a calamity and at times the behavior of the human beings in it make a tear rolled on your cheek and touch something deep in your soul. Those who are willing to say, yes, we know that you'll kill all of us or destroy our civilization if we don't subjugate ourselves to you, but we're going to take the chance here and try to live free or die.
Starting point is 00:09:58 Now, I'm not the only one that sees the obvious entertainment value or the compelling nature of the extreme situation, a choice like that, you know, puts human beings into because it's a Hollywood cliche, isn't it? A storytelling trope, they would say, maybe in academic circles, a recurring theme. I mean, it would be very easy to tell this story and turn it into Braveheart. We will try very hard not to do that. But it's an old theme and it's easy to become sort of enured to it over time, sort of numb. The other problem is that these situations that we're talking about, the reality of them
Starting point is 00:10:41 is actually so intense and so extreme that any portrayal or discussion of them can't help but somehow minimize or trivialize or hype in a different way for entertainment value, what the people were actually going through. I always try to think to myself, imagine if that list that we mentioned a minute ago, that genocide list, imagine if only one of those things was going to happen to me in my cushy life here, where I am in no danger of, say, having my culture wiped out. I can't even imagine what that would mean, make blue jeans illegal, no more iPhones and they start destroying the Christian religion.
Starting point is 00:11:20 I mean, I'm not quite sure in the modern sense in the United States where I live, how that even, you can't even get your mind around it. Maybe in some weird, emotionally voyeuristic way, that's what makes it kind of intriguing. As I've always said, you watch people deal with something you can't imagine dealing with yourself. The story that I would like to use to highlight that has a very familiar ring because we've seen this movie historically speaking before over and over again. Broadly speaking, it's the story of a European power using its technological and civilizational
Starting point is 00:12:01 advantages to dominate, take over, and colonize the land of a tribal people, a less sophisticated politically speaking tribal people, and to destroy broad elements of their culture as part of doing so. Obviously, over the last 500 or so years, we've seen this movie play out in the Americas with European colonization and conquest. We saw it play out in Africa too, same thing. The difference here is that the people, the tribal people on the receiving end of European conquest and colonization are themselves European, and this didn't happen a couple of hundred
Starting point is 00:12:47 years ago, this happened more than 2,000 years ago. The reason that I wanted to talk about this story as opposed to any of the others with similar themes is because this is one of the times where you look at the odds, and you say there's a halfway decent chance here of the people on the receiving end of the European colonization to fight back and win. The Native Americans, for example, never had a chance, never a chance ever. If for no other reason, and there's a lot of other ones, just the disease alone. If you're about to have a hemispheric civilizational conflict between the New World and the Old
Starting point is 00:13:32 World, you don't want to lose maybe, I mean, I saw an estimate that said 98%, I think that's got to be high, but let's just say 85% of the entire population of the hemisphere to disease right off the bat. There are a bunch of experts who've tried to explain what the situation must have been like in these tribes in the center of the Americas that were still untouched by European contact, but the diseases managed to find them, and were just like shell-shocked traumatized remnants by the time Europeans got to the interior of the Americans, because these tribes had basically been wiped out by disease.
Starting point is 00:14:11 It's like a magic that imagined the bubonic plague in Europe, but worse from the Middle Ages. I've seen numbers that say that in the, in say 1800, they were estimating what the tribal population of North America was. Now not the North America that constituted the United States in that area back then, because that was just a sliver compared to today, but the native population throughout, you know, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and what's now the United States. Some estimates are as low as 600,000 people.
Starting point is 00:14:43 That's a pretty unfair fight right there, isn't it? Not just that, as we all know. That's not 600,000 people all smooshed into one state right next to the 13 colonies when the United States becomes a state, right? It's not like the U.S. has to deal with 600,000 natives next door. They're spread out in small groups, you know, the width and breadth of the territory, able to be picked off, divided and conquered one by one over time, which is what happened. I mean, it still blows my mind to realize, you know, how small the number of Native American
Starting point is 00:15:17 warriors there are fighting against the encroachment of manifest destiny at any time, and how well they did based on how small they were. I mean, do you know if you get 1500 North American Native American warriors in one place at one time, that's a sizable force. The highest estimates I've ever seen for the largest Native American force of warriors ever assembled is between 4,000 and 5,000 people. The little bighorn, a lot of people think that's the biggest battle. The largest numbers I've ever seen are just under 5,000.
Starting point is 00:15:51 5,000? When the Spanish conquistadors found the Aztec Empire, the Aztecs could raise tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of warriors. Now, obviously, they're a different state organizational system, which plays into this story. But at the same time, it's also first contact, basically, and the disease had not had time to take hold. And then fast forward a couple hundred years, and all of a sudden you go from hundreds of
Starting point is 00:16:19 thousands of warriors, maybe, to 1500 being a sizable force. And look how long it took the U.S. to deal with that. And to be fair, it wasn't like the United States had 100,000 people against 1500 Natives. The forces of the European powers fighting in the New World were very small also. In 1500 U.S. forces fighting these Native American tribes, half of which might be local militia, that was not uncommon either. Even in the big wars, like the American Revolution, the numbers are smaller than you would think. I mean, again, 25,000 would be a ton in the American Revolution.
Starting point is 00:16:59 So you wonder how the U.S., or before them, the British and French explorers would have fared if they were exploring the interior, say, of North America. And they came upon some people that had not been impacted by the disease. I mean, what if the Aztec Empire, instead of being in the middle of Mexico, was on the opposite side of the Mississippi to be run into by the Europeans at some point? Or better yet, let's make it an interesting combat. Let's put ancient Gaul on the western side of the Mississippi. You know what Gaul is, right?
Starting point is 00:17:31 Gaul is what the Romans called an area about the size of Texas in the ancient world that comprised, well, most of northwestern Europe, modern-day France, a lot of Belgium, western strip of Germany, some of Switzerland during one part of this period, northern Italy even. Estimates of the ancient population range from three to seven million people and the kind of armies that they could put in the field. Well, let's just say I'd imagine they're pretty close to the kind of numbers that the Aztecs probably could put in the field. An army of 40,000 or 50,000 Gaulic peoples, five or 10,000 of which might be mounted,
Starting point is 00:18:11 was not unusual. Imagine those armies that are used to brushing aside 1,500 natives, maybe on a really bad day, 2,500 natives having to deal with 40,000 or 50,000 of them instead. Now, I have no doubt, given the technological advantages and more importantly, the state organizational advantages of a place like the early United States or before them the British and the French, I have no doubt they would conquer this latter-day version of Gaul at some point, but I wonder if they could conquer it as quickly as Caesar did in the real thing 2,000 years before.
Starting point is 00:18:55 And if they couldn't, what does that say? Well, rather than attribute it to any failings or shortcomings of the European or American forces in North America, maybe it says how incredibly awesome Julius Caesar was. But awesome doesn't mean good. And up until relatively recently, what he did in Gaul was celebrated, and in fact, going back 100 or 200 years in the era where the great powers, especially the great powers of Europe, are celebrating the idea of doing exactly what Julius Caesar and the Romans were doing to the tribal peoples north of them in their own era, they tended to see
Starting point is 00:19:47 Caesar as the good guy. The story I want to talk about today is narrated by Julius Caesar. It's a little like hearing the Star Wars saga as told by Darth Vader, and it is designed to have the audience cheer when the plucky little republics are crushed. And a hundred years ago, a lot of people did. The beginning to my recent translation of Caesar's war commentaries from his command in Gaul, the Caroline Hammond translation, feels the need at the beginning of the work to explain why yet another translation of Caesar's account of his, well, I had one professor
Starting point is 00:20:38 in school in the 80s who called it a Celtic Holocaust, why a new translation was needed, and Hammond points out because the views of the audience are different than they used to be, she writes, quote, a new translation of the Gaulic war does call for some explanation, not least because a number of versions are already available, yet each generation needs its own translation of any classic text. The culture and mores of the translator's own time are bound to leave their mark, besides the subject matter of the Gaulic war is potentially distasteful, even immoral for the modern reader, the drive to increase territorial holdings, high civilian as well as military casualties,
Starting point is 00:21:22 and the predominance of economic motives for organized aggression. All these belong to an accepted norm of international activity in the ancient world, and hence need careful introduction and explanation as well as up-to-date translation, end quote. Of course what she's basically saying is that once upon a time this was written for an audience who was expected to cheer what was going on, nowadays we look at things sort of differently and can't help but notice that in the process of achieving these glorious and almost impossible military victories, Julius Caesar is killing reportedly a million of the inhabitants of Gaul and enslaving another million.
Starting point is 00:22:16 As Celtic expert archaeologist Barry Cunliffe says, if you take the low numbers of the entire population of Gaul, that means Caesar killed a third of the population and enslaved another third. Is that genocide? In the Americas, the disease did most of the damage in terms of the overall death rate. In Gaul, in the 50s BCE, Caesar did. And as I say that I can hear sort of in the back of my head, the screaming objections of the ancient Roman lawyers from the grave of the way that I'm framing this whole thing,
Starting point is 00:23:04 comparing Roman efforts against the Celtic peoples north of them to the Holocaust in the Second World War would be an insult to Roman honor, although there were some who complained about it, Cato I think. Nonetheless, they would say that to suggest that doing what Caesar did to the Gauls is the same as what happened to the Jews and the Gypsies and the Jehovah's Witnesses and the gay folks and all the other people persecuted in the Holocaust. Roman Catholic priests, Polish folks, those are like lambs, innocent, led to the slaughter. What Caesar did, he did to a people that were like lions, dangerous lions, lions that
Starting point is 00:23:51 had attacked before and might do so again. If you are forced as a state or a people or what have you to commit genocide in order to protect yourself, is that sort of a get out of jail free card in any sort of genocidal court situation? I mean, in a judgment call, would you say, well, listen, they had to do it, anybody would have done it. At the same time, of course, what Caesar was suggesting and we'll get to that in a minute was that they needed a preemptive war because these lions could attack at any time.
Starting point is 00:24:26 So it gets murky quickly, but there's no denying that these Celtic peoples all over Europe were dangerous. They are Vikings a thousand years before there are Vikings and I don't mean in the in the pirate like sense, I mean in the European barbarian stereotype sense. And the Vikings are like version 3.4 or something because the the Celts are the alpha version of the European northern European barbarian type. They exhibit all the typical traits. They get crazy in battle, supposedly, and they fight with enormous amounts of like ferocity.
Starting point is 00:25:08 The geographer Strabo said that they are war mad. The ancient sources also point out that the Celts are headhunters, which is always a little bit unnerving. Ancient peoples are always more comfortable with head shopping than we are in the modern world. But in the more settled societies, when it was done, it was sort of there was not they didn't enjoy it, they didn't revel in it, they didn't take pride in it. It wasn't something you showed off to visitors.
Starting point is 00:25:34 But in the Celtic world, according to the ancient sources that were not Celtic, this was something that was done. Posidonia says he's visiting Celtic homes and they want to bring out the heads of slain enemies that they've kept in a chest, you know, soaked in cedar oil so everything stays nice and pristine and you can still recognize the features. And they have found, by the way, the archaeology has shown that there are these, for example, pillars that they find with little cubby holes, with skulls still in some of them, by the way, and little hangers to affix the skull to the back of these things.
Starting point is 00:26:08 I mean, this may be a religious thing, but to the settled people cutting the heads off people, keeping them and adorning your temples and whatnot with heads, that's just freaky. And was even then, by the way, Posidonia says he would get used to it after a while, but never quite got comfortable with people treating human heads the way some people treat, you know, the antlers of that deer they shot last fall. Put it up on the wall, mounted with a name tag underneath it, talk to it sometimes. Always give that great story about how you killed this dude. I should also point out that besides the religious significance of the heads, Caesar says that
Starting point is 00:26:45 the Gauls believed in the theory of reincarnation sort of, maybe you could call it, it was similar to what a major philosophical group in Greece always believed, but the Gauls kind of believed that when you die in this world, you're just born into the other one, and then when you die in the other one, you're just born back into this one. I think I understood that correctly. Caesar says that this is part of the reason why they're so fearless in battle, because instead of being worried about having your existence snuffed out and you're just, you know, in oblivion, you're just going to be born in the next world.
Starting point is 00:27:16 Just to avoid confusion, by the way, because it can be very confusing. The terms Gaul and Kelt are used by the ancient sources in a way where it's impossible not to get everything confused. Archaeologist John Collis has a whole rundown of the various ways you can interpret this. The most common way is the way we're going to do it. We're going to assume that when we say Kelt, we mean Celtic people across the width and breadth of areas that have Celtic language and culture. If we say Gauls, we specifically mean the Celts in, you know, ancient Gaul, modern-day
Starting point is 00:27:50 France, et cetera, et cetera. They are like all these Northwestern European barbarian types. White, they are strong, they are tall, especially to all the peoples writing in the Mediterranean. They always look tall. They might have only been like six feet if we could go back in a time machine, but if that's five or six inches taller than your average Mediterranean type, it's still like fighting giants in battle, isn't it? And that's what made fighting these Celtic peoples, you know, scary too.
Starting point is 00:28:17 It's not just their enormous numbers, according to the ancient authors. But listen, if you're in a 21st century army, and I tell you, listen, we're going to go to battle, we're going to fight another 21st century army, and oh, by the way, everyone in that army is six inches taller than all of us. You might think to yourself, dang, that doesn't sound so good. I don't like the sound of that. At the same time, you know, you realize seven foot tall people or whatever they are go down from bullets and shellfire and bombs, just like shorter people do.
Starting point is 00:28:44 So it's not that big of a deal. But in the ancient world, when you say you're going to fight an army of people that is on average five inches taller and proportionately stronger to all the rest of us, when you're doing that in a hand to hand sense, it can make a huge difference. The Celtic people were scary when they had scared Rome before. And all the modern historians point out that this was somehow a scar that ran through in the Roman psyche, so that even after the Celts really weren't that dangerous to the Romans anymore, they still felt the memory of lion attacks a long time ago and never quite got
Starting point is 00:29:23 over them. You know, if you look at Roman history, there are a couple of famous dates. One of them is 410 AD, right, the famous fall of Rome to the Germanic barbarians. A lot of people like to make that the exclamation point of the end of the Western Roman Empire. Always debatable, of course. But the reason it's such a big deal is basically Rome had been on a huge winning streak. The Joe Di Maggio hitting streak of, you know, ancient runs in the sense that Rome hadn't been sacked by a foreign conqueror in almost a thousand years, right?
Starting point is 00:29:57 That's a pretty big deal in the ancient world. The last time, though, that they were sacked, it was these Celtic people that did it. And the Romans never forgot it, and there's a famous phrase that sort of sums up the whole period, and I've always wondered if the ancient author writing when the Roman Empire was around kicking everybody's butt didn't have a sly reason for putting it in there, pointing out that, you know, if the Celts could say that back then, well, we can live by those same rules. The line was, fivictus, or why wictus?
Starting point is 00:30:29 And the translation usually used is woe to the vanquished, because that's what happened to the Romans famously as a day forever after remembered as an inauspicious day in Rome, July 18th. The first Celtic army that the Romans had ever encountered supposedly in their history bore down on the city itself and were coming at speed to a Rome completely unprepared to meet them. There are a bunch of different ancient historians who have written an account of what happened here.
Starting point is 00:31:06 Livy is, of course, the most famous, most romantic, and goes into the most detail about this interesting battle where, you know, I love ancient battles, and you try to recreate what happened, and it's kind of impossible. I mean, people do their best, but the physics of the whole thing are just not understood, and ideas and concepts go in and out of fashion as to what really happened. But there are elements of humanity on an individual level, things like fear and intimidation, and very hard to quantify sides of human beings that are part of when you take those things collectively, right?
Starting point is 00:31:46 What does fear do when you magnify it, you know, into a whole group of people as opposed to one individual? This is the parts of human history that make history hard to turn into any kind of hard science, because how do you quantify things like that? How do you say that one side in a battle was more scared than another side in a battle, and that that's what made the difference? Or that one side was tougher, and that's what made the difference? Because clearly, the ancient writers, and let's be honest, historians writing even
Starting point is 00:32:16 50, 100 years ago had no problem saying this, but when you need evidence to prove it, there are certain parts of humanity infused into history that you just can't quantify. I mean the most logical way, if you want to follow the sources anyway, especially Livy, to view this battle that's about to happen when the Romans and the Celtic armies first clash, supposedly, is to say that the Romans were terrified, and that 2300 plus years later it actually seeps through. Can you imagine that you could walk up to one of them that day and say, listen, as afraid as you are, it'll be recorded, and people thousands of years from now will know how
Starting point is 00:32:58 scared you are of this alien people coming down from the north. Aliens are a key word too, so you add the fact that these are obviously big people, but the entire look and feel of them has an alien quality that just is scary, and understand, barbarians are always scary to settled societies. Not just scary, sometimes a little sexy. You can see styles that catch on, like in Rome they'll start wearing those tight German pants that the barbarians wear. There's a certain element to them that's a little Clint Eastwood at times, but I like
Starting point is 00:33:30 to think that there's a barbarian scale, one to ten, one being most barbaric, ten being one step away from being a Roman with a mustache, and so it depends on where you are. The really cool barbarians walking around Rome in leather jackets, they're more like a nine or a ten on the scale, if they get drunk they could hurt somebody, but otherwise they pretty well behave. You take a one or a two and put them in there and they're going to be like a bull on a china shop, and that in 390 or 387 BCE is what the Romans are facing on the opposite side of the battlefield, and by the time they get there, according to Livy, the battlefield's
Starting point is 00:34:06 already swarming with these people, so you don't even have time to get your lines all straight and everything all figured out, and okay, let's brace ourselves, you are essentially having an encounter battle with a Celtic army heading down toward Rome, and it's about 11 miles away from the city. In all fairness, this is not the Roman Empire or even the Romans of the Julius Caesar era that we normally think of, those terrible badasses that are absolutely frightful. This is a militia army, and at this battle, it's also about half of it, it's just the citizens, a citizen sort of raising, so you have your militia farmers who do all your
Starting point is 00:34:42 fighting for you anyway, and then you have townsfolk and other people, but it's an emergency, and it happened so quickly there was no time, and so they raised this army hastily. Rome at this time is merely a city in Italy, probably the predominant city, but they just had a long conflict with an arch enemy, a Truscan city that they had just recently defeated, and it was only like 10 miles from the city of Rome, so you can see the small scale they're operating on in this era, but this early Roman army of militia and sort of a citizen contingent as well, meets this army of huge, tall, extremely scary barbarians, and we're told it takes little time before they are fleeing in abject terror.
Starting point is 00:35:34 Livy seems to say pretty openly that he thinks the commander of the Romans at this battle was incompetent, he makes the Celtic commander out to be pretty darn good. No one knows how many people died at this battle, that will be called the Battle of the Elia, or the Battle of the Elia River, and no one knows how many people fought there either, and there are all kinds of different estimates. The low ones are probably right though, because in this time period, I know it's hard to imagine this, but Rome is a true city state, probably only controls maybe 30 miles around the city, somewhere in that area, so this is a really small scale, very early version of Rome, they
Starting point is 00:36:17 probably didn't have too many soldiers to defend them. The problem is, regardless of how many of those soldiers there were, they weren't there anymore after that battle, which means Rome is totally undefended, and a panic sets in in the city, we're told. People stream out of it, and the religious artifacts are evacuated, and these terrible choices we are told are made, this reminds you of the list of what you would be prepared to die for, we are told by residents in the city where the fighting men are going to be separated from the useless mouths, including women and young people and old people, you
Starting point is 00:36:54 know, to be the ones who defend the center citadel of the city, I mean it's the story of impending doom. My favorite piece of Livy maybe in its entirety though, is what happens when the Gauls, the Celtic people, the army, the first army that the Romans supposedly had encountered of these alien northerners shows up outside the gates of Rome, and they're open. The city seems both deserted and simply left unlocked and unguarded, and Livy paints a picture of a scene that's like something out of the twilight zone, you have these maybe superstitious natives, like I said they're often portrayed very similarly to how you
Starting point is 00:37:38 would see the Native Americans or African tribesmen as somehow extremely superstitious, and both savage and skittish and unpredictable and childlike, I mean it's these interesting stereotypes. But here's the story that Livy paints, and it involves the great old men of Rome from another time, the ancient ones who are still around with long beards as he says after the fashion of their day, they're neither useless mouths nor able to fight in the citadel. So they decide Livy says that they're going to set an example by simply sacrificing their lives in the hopes that that somehow maybe helps things with the gods or what not. He says these generals from the past who celebrated triumphs a long time ago, and these senators
Starting point is 00:38:27 and August people who are now the elders in society put on their most elaborate and decorated robes of higher office, went to their homes in the posh section of Rome and sat in their chairs of high office, their ivory chairs, and waited like silent statues for death to find them. Here's how Livy describes the Celts coming into the city of Rome, and it's like a ghost town with the gates open and they don't know what to do and they freak out a little bit and then an incident happens that's wild, that touches off the forest fire of gallic impetuosity.
Starting point is 00:39:06 Just by the way, from the Arbri to Selincor translation, here's what Livy writes, quote, A night having passed without action, the Gauls found their lust for fighting much abated. At no time had they met with any serious resistance, and there was no need now to take the city by assault. And therefore they entered on the following day, it was coolly and calmly enough, the Colleen gate was open, and they made their way to the forum, looking with curiosity at the temples and at the citadel, the only place to give an impression of a city at war. They left a reasonably strong guard in case of attack from the fortified heights and then
Starting point is 00:39:44 dispersed in search of plunder, finding the streets empty, crowds of them broke into the first houses they came to, others went farther afield, presuming supposedly that buildings more remote from the forum would offer richer prizes, but there the very silence and solitude made the money easy, separated as they were from their companions, and suggested the possibility of a trap so they soon returned, keeping close together, to the neighborhood of the forum. Here they found the humbler houses locked and barred, but the mansions of the nobility were open, the former they were ready to break into, but it was a long time before they could bring themselves to enter the latter, something akin to awe held them back at what met their
Starting point is 00:40:26 gaze. Those figures seated in the open courtyards, the robes and decorations august beyond reckoning, the majesty expressed in those grave calm eyes like the majesty of gods. They might have been statues in some holy place, and for a while the Golic warriors stood entranced, then on an impulse one of them touched the beard of a certain Marcus Papyrus, it was long as was the fashion of those days, and the Romans struck him on the head with his ivory staff. That was the beginning, the barbarian flamed into anger and killed him, and the others
Starting point is 00:41:02 were butchered where they sat, from that moment no mercy was shown, houses were ransacked and the empty shells set on fire. Whether or not that happened, that's a pretty cool and interesting scene, and a romantic and super-Roman patriot like Livy probably saw it that way too. Nonetheless, who knows what sources he was working from. As the story goes on, basically the Gauls saccharome set fire to a bunch of it and start this siege because they can't take the fortified citadel in the middle. The ancient sources differ on what happens next, but the famous story is that a siege
Starting point is 00:41:42 develops, both sides want to call the siege off, they come to an agreement, a thousand pounds of gold, right? If the Romans will pay a thousand pounds of gold, the Gauls will leave, and then as they're weighing the gold out, one of the Romans famously complains that the weights have been doctored with and the Gauls are falsifying the weights to their advantage, and the king of this tribe walks up to the scale, takes his big heavy sword, throws it on the Gaul side of the scale and says, woe to the vanquished, meaning what are you going to do if the weights are loaded in our favor?
Starting point is 00:42:21 You lost. Pay up. Now, I was reading a fantastic book on early Rome called War and Society in Early Rome by Jeremy Armstrong, and he floats an idea that a lot of others have floated to. The idea that basically it's this conquering and sacking of the city of Rome, a thousand years almost before the next time that they will do it, that will create the Rome we all know. What's that line from the Batman series where the Joker says to him, you made me?
Starting point is 00:42:54 It's the same thing we said with this woe to the vanquished line that Livy throws in, right? It's almost like the Romans hundreds of years later saying, hey, you set the rules. So we're playing by them. Woe to the vanquished. That doesn't genocide what we're doing in Celtic land when the Julius Caesar conquers all these tribes. This is playing by the rules that you set up when you first conquered us.
Starting point is 00:43:13 You made me. And Armstrong points out that the actual sacking of Rome may not have been too terrible because the archaeological evidence doesn't seem to support some, you know, terrible Carthaginian solution type burning to the ground or anything. But for the Romans, that probably wasn't the problem. It was probably a lot more what a lot of the writers who write about the Romans quite a bit point out that they have this inability to accept defeat and humiliation. And whereas most people probably would write something off and move along with their lives,
Starting point is 00:43:50 the Romans fester and focus on things and remember old slights and wounds. And the psychological seeds for that, if not planted, may have been heavily watered as a result of Roman experience after losing to supposedly this first Celtic army they ever fought at the Battle of the Aelia and then seeing their city sacked by them. By the way, I should point out because I think it's cool that the old idea that this is a tribe of Celtic people that has shown up to sack Rome is challenged by a lot of historians and there's, you know, people on both sides who suggest that the evidence shows that this may have been a group of hired mercenaries instead that have been hired by a ruler on
Starting point is 00:44:34 the modern day Highland of Sicily to fight with him and that Rome was just on the way and what the heck will sack it pick up a couple of extra bucks to eat on the way, you know, while we're doing it. So this idea that what we have here is a tribe may be wrong and it's kind of important because when Caesar's conquering Gaul hundreds of years later, they'll be talking about, yeah, that tribe over there, those are the ones that, you know, sacked our country 340 years ago. Hmm.
Starting point is 00:45:01 Those Romans have long memories, unfortunately, not just for the Celts, but for everyone. It's worth pointing out that, you know, in 390 when this battle happens, the Celtic peoples of Europe are very powerful and they're all over the place and who they are is a great question. Once upon a time when it was easy to classify these things in ways that sounded easy to understand but now seem totally ridiculous, they were a race. Celts were a race like Anglo-Saxons were a race, right? I mean, all these, you divide the world into the different racial groups and these are
Starting point is 00:45:34 the yellow people and these are the black people and these are the white people. I mean, a hundred years ago you opened up a history book and that's how they do it. As the complexities mounted and that whole way of looking at things went out of fashion 50 years ago, 40 years ago, the Celts are an ethnic group or a people. That's how I grew up reading a guy like Michael Grant who, like everyone else, sort of insinuated most of the time that these Celtic people were probably all related by blood. Those people that sacked Rome in 390 BCE are the ancestors of the people in Ireland, you know, 500 years later or today.
Starting point is 00:46:08 Nowadays, that's a pretty tough argument to make given the way it's seen amongst most of the experts and I don't mean to speak for them because there, I mean, this Celtic study stuff is fascinatingly debatable and the passion with which the experts go at it is fun to watch from the sidelines but it means you have to be really careful and there are a lot of people out there who are very passionate about their view of who a Celt is and who is not a Celt. I love the way Barry Cunliffe, who we mentioned earlier, puts it because it gets me out of all kinds of trouble to say it the way he said it.
Starting point is 00:46:43 He said a Celt is a person who believes him or herself to be Celtic. I thought of a t-shirt that I should mark and I'm going to make it green, of course, and I'm going to say Celtic, it's not a nationality, it's a way of life, but the point is the same. The modern view of a lot of the experts on this and their archaeologists, linguists, historians, I mean, they all kind of look at this and differ is that what we're looking at here is a culture, a shared culture and similar language, maybe, like blue jeans, you know, rock and roll and beer drinking.
Starting point is 00:47:17 I mean, it's something that spread sort of in prehistory to a bunch of different peoples. The foundation of which might have been in place since the last Ice Age, if you think about it, and then over time succeeding waves of people and immigrants and in-marrying and all that adds layers of spice to the original, but when they do DNA tests today, it's hard to not find lots of people who have been there since, lots of DNA strands that have been there for a very long time, much earlier than the Celtic era in history. In fact, maybe you could look at the entire Celtic period in ancient history in Europe as a fashion era, right?
Starting point is 00:47:53 It's the era of bell bottoms in Europe. I mean, this is an era where a certain culture dominated. If you go 3,000 years before it's not there and after Caesar, it's mortally wounded. But truthfully, even if Caesar is the one you could say mortally wounds the Celtic culture, the Romans have been like kryptonite to this culture for a couple hundred years before Caesar. I mean, if you look at a map of where Celtic culture predominates at the time that story happened, we just told you the sack of Rome in 390 BCE and where it is after Caesar does
Starting point is 00:48:28 what Caesar does, it's some kind of terrible ethnic cleansing. I mean, the Celtic culture stretched all the way from Portugal on one side, well, I was going to say to the Balkans, but truthfully, there was a tribe or a group of tribes that went all the way into modern-day Turkey. They were called the Galatians and they're famous because a couple hundred years after they settled down and go from a one array two on the Dan-Carlin tribal scale, they're up to a nine or a 10 and St. Paul will be writing his famous letter to the Galatians. They have found Celtic cultural remains up as far north as like Poland, all around the
Starting point is 00:49:07 Hungarian plains, southern Germany, modern Austria, all the way into northern Italy, which is a real Celtic country for a while, and then, of course, all of modern-day France. And whether or not the British Isles and Ireland should fall into this, anybody's guess, a lot of people argue, and let's remember before you send me an angry letter, a Celtic is a person who believes him or herself to be Celtic, right? It might get out of jail free card. I love the way, you know, Deodorus though, Deodorus Siculus describes the Celts. And by the way, most of these accounts come from the same guy, supposedly, the eyewitness
Starting point is 00:49:43 accounts of a person who was an expert in many different subjects, one of the great figures of the ancient world whose writings have not come down to us, a guy named Poseidonius. But we don't have his exact work. What we have is whatever he wrote down and put into the local libraries everybody else used. So we have his eyewitness accounts, as told through a bunch of other different people, for example, Deodorus Siculus, who says of these Celtic peoples describing an ancient culture, something National Geographic today would certainly be cataloging all the time.
Starting point is 00:50:14 See, that's who Poseidonius is. He's the National Geographic explorer of his day. And through Deodorus Siculus, we hear supposedly what Poseidonius saw when he visited Celts. Deodorus writes, quote, The galls are tall of body, with rippling muscles and white of skin, and their hair is blonde, and not only naturally so, but they also make it their practice by artificial means to increase the distinguishing color which nature has given it. For they are always washing their hair in lime water, and they pull it back from the
Starting point is 00:50:47 forehead to the top of the head and back to the nape of the neck, with the result that their appearance is like that of satyrs and pans. It's the treatment of their hair makes it so heavy in course that it differs in no respect from the mane of horses. Some of them shave their beard, but others let it grow a little, and the nobles shave their cheeks, but they let the mustache grow until it covers the mouth, end quote. If you haven't looked at the wonderful art, the Pergamene art that includes this figure called the dying gall, go take a look at it because it's beautiful, but it describes
Starting point is 00:51:21 sort of maybe a stereotype, but maybe not the classic look of these people, the warriors anyway, as just described by Deodorus. They look like punk rockers, first of all, with the haircut, and you have to imagine the bleach blonde hair that he just described there, because that's what the lime water would have done to it. Bleached it like bleach blonde hair, and if you've ever had like I have before the bleach blonde hair, it gets all horse mane like after a while. So this figure in the art is sitting there with like wounds in its side, and remember
Starting point is 00:51:50 it's statue stone colors, so you have no colors, but you can see the blood dripping down and he's holding his wounds and the broken, I think it's a broken sword by his side. He's also got a mustache though, that's not very punk at the time, but the punk haircut, the mustache, and the build is interesting because it's the difference between the modern weightlifting muscles today and the life natural muscles, but he's muscular, but also sort of sinewy and long, and there was actually the ancient sources say that at least in the period we're talking about, a lot of these Celtic tribes had rules, and they would find warriors if your belly drooped over your belt line, so they were required sort of to be
Starting point is 00:52:27 in shape supposedly. This guy is heroically nude as it's called, and it's hard to figure out because the Romans like portraying barbarians as heroically nude, but they sometimes like portraying themselves heroically nude, so it's hard to figure out what's a convention and what's real, and this may have had religious overtones or other things going on, nonetheless some historical evidence to back up the heroically nude concept. But there are multiple incidents that talk about Celtic warriors, especially select groups of Celtic warriors stripping off all their clothes and fighting absolutely nude except
Starting point is 00:53:04 for a gold torque around the neck, which is just like a giant armlet or anklet or something, I guess you would describe it, so he's got no clothes on, he's got the punk haircut, he's got the mustache, he looks about six foot five, about two hundred pounds of raw muscle, and you know, naked with the torque around his neck, I'm sorry, visually it's striking and cool, and if not naked then you get those wonderful Celtic fashions, right, supposedly the striped clothing, the checked clothing, what we would call today the plaid clothing, they are wonderfully colorful, interesting, cool people. Get to that the women, see the Celtic women, once again we get absolutely shafted by the
Starting point is 00:53:45 fact that these Celts did not leave a historical written record, that we could get their views on things and historians had to scrap and try to find any little piece that might help us to understand their personality better in their own words as opposed to hearing from people who often despise them, certainly belittled them, but I mean they thought for example in the Mediterranean that Celtic women were beautiful, but I guess you could say maybe the way that you describe them today as their attitudes were that they were also uppity and somewhat ferocious, I think sometimes in the descriptions it reminds me of the old stereotype and it's an old one now of the housewife and the hen pecked husband and
Starting point is 00:54:25 the housewife was kind of burly and had a rolling pin in her hand and would smack the husband upside the head sometimes with it, amongst some of the people out there that are sort of the people that think of the Celts as sort of a new age kind of thing that there's a view out there that women were equal to men in these societies and Barry Cunnliffe among others said that that's a misperception because they're only more free than women in the Mediterranean are for example Greek and Roman women by comparison. So maybe a bit uppity by Greek and Roman standards but as Cunnliffe points out the husband still has the power of life and death over his wife, the law in most of these places allows the
Starting point is 00:55:04 wife to be tortured to find out how a husband died so not exactly equal rights but maybe a bit uppity by Mediterranean standards. I will say that the ancient sources talk about these women as every bit as tall and strong and athletic as the men, they talk about a society where there's more sexual freedom and these women have more freedom to be what the Greeks and the Romans would consider to be promiscuous. Usually there are famous Celtic women warriors, maybe the most famous ever, the warrior Queen Boudicca from the British tribes and remember these stories may not be true but they're
Starting point is 00:55:45 playing to an audience and their stereotypes. So if I told you this story about a particular Celtic woman and you heard it and you said something like, yep, that sounds like what these Celtic women are like, be careful, don't marry a Celt and there you go, I mean it's a stereotype, one wonders how much of that is true but that's the image and by the way you think of a fiery Irish redhead today in the stereotypes, I mean when I grew up, this is Moreno Hera in The Quiet Man, just give her a bow and arrow and an ax or a maybe rolling pin and stay out of her way, she could probably kick the hell out of you.
Starting point is 00:56:24 One of my favorite stories about Celtic women is the one about Chiamara or Chiamara is probably closer to the right way to pronounce it. She was a noble woman, not a queen or anything but a noble woman of a Galatian tribe and when her tribe was conquered by the Romans she became a prisoner and here's the way Deodorus tells the story of Chiamara and her husband Ortayagon and well I mean the end message is clear right, first of all the audience would listen to this and go yep that sounds like a Celtic woman to me, the second one is they are not to be trifled with obviously. Deodorus writes, this by the way the C.H.
Starting point is 00:57:08 Oldfather translation, quote, Chiamara the wife of Ortayagon was captured along with the other Galatian women when the Romans under Gnaeus Manlius conquered the Asiatic Galatians. The centurion responsible for her took advantage of his soldierly power and raped her. This man was an ignorant beast who loved both pleasure and money but in the end his love of money won out. With a large ransom having been agreed upon he led her to a certain river across from agents of her own people, the Galatians crossed over and gave him the money but after they did so Chiamara signaled them to strike down the centurion as he was making a friendly
Starting point is 00:57:50 farewell, one of her countrymen obeyed and cut off his head. She took the head, wrapped it in her cloak and went home. When she returned to her husband she threw the head down at his feet, Ortayagon was amazed and said, my wife it is important to deal honorably, yes she said but it is more important that only one man who has slept with me should remain alive. End quote Dang, those Celtic women are fierce. The sack of Rome by the Celtic peoples is more than 300 years before the time period
Starting point is 00:58:30 that this story is about to take place in and a lot has changed. Many of the Celtic groups in other parts of Europe have been pacified, might be the way Caesar would put it, brought under Roman control, their ability to break out and cause destruction. Nearby communities curtailed because if you look at the history of the Celts right after that battle of the Elia where Rome is sacked, that's sort of their debut on the historical stage. I like the way H.G. Wells put it, he says that the northern people came down into the light of history for the first time with the Celts.
Starting point is 00:59:10 Peter Beresford Ellis puts it this way, he says the Celts were the first European people north of the Alps to emerge into recorded history. Okay, but that emergence comes at the head of armies and those armies broke into various parts of Europe and caused wide scale problems for centuries. In 275 they went down there, smashed into Greece and caused all kinds of problems. The Romans would fight them over and over and over again in various places, winning most, losing some. There would be a big battle that crushed Celtic power in a whole region called the Battle
Starting point is 00:59:47 of Telemann in 225 BCE and that one the famous accounts say that the problem for the Celts was that they got trapped between two Roman armies coming from different directions and the highlight of the battle if you like these sorts of things is the Celtic army supposedly if you believe the ancient sources turning back to back so they could face both armies attacking them at the same time ferociously falling basically almost wiped out. Then when Hannibal and his Carthaginians happened and all these great wars for survival, the ancient version of World War II breaks out, those of course being the world famous Punic wars of which there were three.
Starting point is 01:00:30 The Celtic peoples for the most part but not exclusively that are anywhere nearby side with Hannibal and look at it as a good way to get back at those Romans which just makes them seem more dangerous treacherous and unreliable to the Romans. After Hannibal's invasion of Italy is beaten back you get a hundred years of Roman conflict with various Celtic peoples. They will play the lead role but not necessarily the only one in eliminating Galatian freedom in Asia Minor in that area in the Balkans also although the Galatians had made a lot of enemies and the Romans had plenty of help most famously from one of the kings fighting
Starting point is 01:01:14 the Galatians where he invited the entire Galatian leadership supposedly anyway this is the story invites the Galatian leadership to dinner and then massacres them all while they're eating that's a good way to devastate the command and control of your enemies. The Celtic peoples of Northern Italy are defeated and absorbed by the Romans and that area will become so Roman so quickly they'll start calling that toga wearing gall the Romans will be forced basically that's how they would look at it to conquer a nice chunk of the south of France from the Celtic peoples there because it controls access road access to Spain and they have to get to Spain now because after the Second Punic War they're left there with
Starting point is 01:02:01 a lot of really ferocious tribes of several different cultures by the way some are Celtic but some aren't some are supposedly a mix and what do you get when you cross a Celt with an Iberian a Celtiberian or a Celtiberian nonetheless the Romans will get involved in a war there that one might compare to a 200 year long Vietnam war guerrilla fighting atrocities wholesale massacres and the disillusionment of some in Rome to this ongoing commitment that they had signed up for that was just draining them in about the year 115 BCE which is about 15 years before Julius Caesar's birth some tribes appear from the north seemingly out of nowhere their origins are not understood even today by the way but their numbers are
Starting point is 01:03:04 reportedly outrageously large once again we could filter out all of the exaggerations that have happened at the time and since and still come to what we must suspect is a larger than normal number since it's one of the main things that's pointed out continually arguments persist on whether or not these people should be called Germanic or Celtic or a mix of the two because a lot of times where different early European cultures come together there's like a cultural estuary between them where they mix we already talked about Celtiberians or Celtiverians you could have Kelto Germans Kelto Thracians Barry Conniff is one of those people that keeps trying to point out two things about talking about Celtic people one they're
Starting point is 01:03:56 different all over the place Celtic peoples existing in what's now you know the modern-day area around the Adriatic are not necessarily going to be very much like the ones near modern-day Portugal except that they're all kind of Celtic with local variations and also the time is elapsing this idea that barbarians so-called barbarians are stuck in neutral in terms of civilizational or political organizational development is wrong too they're all in different spots on the scale and all evolving and changing at different speeds some of it based on how close you are to more sophisticated civilizations in this case these peoples that come down about 115 BCE are always sort of portrayed as a one on the Dan Carlin tribal scale I mean the most barbarian of
Starting point is 01:04:48 the barbarian types and there's hundreds of thousands of them now if you think about this as a national security problem for the Romans it's interesting because even today if you could somehow sneak let's just play with 200,000 as a round number 200,000 hostile people right on the border of the United States so that when we wake up one morning there they are or they're there in a very short period of time that would still be a major crisis today if that's how many people were talking about in this earlier era I don't know how they fed them but you could certainly see how you would have a situation on your hands where the first thing you thought of is where did these people come from the second thing you thought of is what are we going to do about them and the third thing you
Starting point is 01:05:36 thought of is how do we prevent this from happening again if we don't know what's to the north of us right we we conquered everything next to us thought we had a buffer zone and then these people from the north that we didn't even know about come in and smash right through our buffer zone and threaten Rome itself between the years 115 and about 100 BCE these Teutons and Kimberi and related tribes as they're called destroyed Roman army after Roman army I think the final grand total is something like four Roman armies they scare the heck out of everybody they march around seemingly going where they want to go and doing what they want to do raiding here and there into Roman territory out of Roman territory go to Spain for a couple of years head on back to Italy finally in desperation
Starting point is 01:06:29 the Romans you know put this guy in command who had just finished mopping up guerrilla war fair problems in what's now north Africa famous person in the entire Roman story named Gaius Marius Gaius Marius Marius by the way is the uncle by marriage of Julius Caesar he's a major player in the final stages of the death throes of the Roman Republic that begin to accelerate and pick up speed with his appearance on the scene one of the things that Marius famously does before he fights these peoples that have already destroyed four Roman armies is change the Roman army one of the benchmarks in Roman military history is something called the Marian reforms now to be fair I've seen some writings out there and some thinking that the guy gets way too much
Starting point is 01:07:19 credit for this for what he did because what he did these people would say was simply codify and formally institutionalize practices the Romans had been doing on an ad hoc basis improvisationally for decades filling needs as they came up any way they could and now Marius was basically saying oh you know those things we're doing to to fill those needs let's just make that how we do it nonetheless I'd say most people still give Gaius Marius a ton of credit for for taking the Roman the late Roman republican army and let's be honest and call it what it is turning it into the Roman the first Roman imperial army because it has imperial problems and trying to deal with imperial problems with a republican army has been killing it now for
Starting point is 01:08:07 some time and damaging society too in spin-off ways Marius opens up the legions to everybody it's no longer based on how much land you own a farm your wealth anything like that and these people don't go home they're professionals it's a permanent army now what this does is completely change the institutional memory of the force this and this is something most people don't think about but I mean the thing you lose the most when you send the citizen army back home because the war is over is so much of what you learned and the cohesion that you gained from training together I mean how much math does your kid forget over the school summer right now magnify that times a thousand I mean by keeping an army together all the time building experience as units
Starting point is 01:08:59 drilling continually and not stopping you are building capability and institutional memory so that five years from now your cohort is going to be that much better these Roman armies are a huge leap forward in terms of effectiveness what they could do on the field and how much they outclassed the competition he then took this new model army out and proceeded to butcher over the course of a couple years both those tribes and their subsidiary friends that they brought with them the butchery is supposed to be intense after all if you have these massive numbers of people which made these people so particularly dangerous to begin with what happens to all of them if you don't kill them bellum romanum right war the way the romans did it against people they consider to be barbarian
Starting point is 01:09:56 I read one story that said that some of the survivors of one of these battles were more than a hundred thousand were supposed to have been left dead on the battlefield they ran to a nearby Celtic tribe for sanctuary and the romans pursued him and told the Celts to turn them over and when the Celts turned them over they butchered them on the spot after one of these battles supposedly the peace terms for some of the people that were left over were that 300 of their married wives had to be sold to the romans as slavery and in a famous story the wives reportedly strangled each other to avoid that fate now at the time the chismarius is destroying these Germanic or Celtic or Celto-Germanic tribes people Caesar's being born that's the time frame here so that by the time
Starting point is 01:10:44 Caesar is an adult mature man trying to argue about you know what you do about this problem we have with barbarians north of us he's able as are many other generals and politicians to make use of this deep-seated fear that the romans have about a potential invasion from the north one that goes all the way back to the sack of Rome in 390 here's the way historian nick fields explains what the memory of the kimber in the two-tone invasion a generation before meant to somebody trying to exploit fears in the Rome of the 50s BCE he writes quote the vivid memory of the near disaster remained however and served as a frightening reminder to Rome that a new northern barbarian threat could suddenly emerge at any time barbarian migrations were the stuff of
Starting point is 01:11:37 roman nightmares and Caesar made good use of it by playing up the quote end quote Germanic menace in his writings more to the point he writes he also had the wit to revive fears of the Gauls that dated from the sack of Rome in 390 BCE and advertised them as a race without civilization who were not above burning alive their prisoners of war end quote so in effect the near disaster against these tribes peoples that were sprung on the romans unexpectedly was to deepen widen and reopen a scar that maybe you could say had been a piece of the roman psychological reality since at least 390 BCE and you know as early roman writers kind of said there's a belief that Rome sort of conquered an empire in self-defense i think it was Livy who originally threw a version
Starting point is 01:12:39 of that line out there conquering the world in self-defense but his other historians have pointed out i read one that he got a great line he pointed out that look Rome is looking for secure borders and security and the problem is that every time they conquer a new unstable region and pacify it thinking that okay now we're safe over there they inadvertently create a new frontier whatever the kingdom they just conquered you know whatever their neighbor was is now Rome's neighbor and it's another unstable frontier so they keep getting sucked farther away from the center as they continually try to make sure that they're safe not sure i buy that there's a whole lot of wealth and money and all kinds of other things involved here that explain things at
Starting point is 01:13:21 least as well as the idea that we're just trying to be safe but if i were a super roman patriot like Livy maybe that's how i would defend the conquest of the world myself we just try to be safe anybody do it but truthfully the biggest threat to Rome in the 50s when Caesar is a mature man playing his role in the decline and fall of the roman republic the biggest danger to Rome is no outside force it's inside it's tearing itself apart and reaching the boiling point in a story that is well known and impacts this story only obliquely but if you believe Caesar and by the way there's some confirmation from Cicero and some other places Rome's not the only place reaching the political boiling point with instability looming apparently galls in terrible shape that way as
Starting point is 01:14:16 well in 63 62 or 61 bce a member of one of the more powerful influential gallic tribes a tribe which by the way is a friend of the roman people that's their diplomatic designation so they're kind of like allies shows up to inform the roman senate about something that's been going on deeply in the heartland of his territory because the romans don't always know they know what's going on in nearby gall but sometimes you get to the barbarian heartland and they find out when people tell them and that's what this guy is there to do his name is de vicicius and he is we are told about the closest thing i'm ever going to find in a historical situation to king arthur's merlin and we are told that de vicicius is a druid and that he can see the future now a little side note
Starting point is 01:15:19 here the druids are one of the wonderfully famous very compelling sides of the whole caltic culture it's connected to the religious side and they have been called all sorts of things generally thought of to be the priests of the caltic religion but so many other titles and positions are mentioned on the good side the admirable side the civilized side you'll hear them called teachers supposedly you were not allowed to write down druidic knowledge and so it was 20 years of study for an acolyte to become a druid they're a little like philosophers too and as a matter of fact sissaro i think he calls him a philosopher philosophy though is something that's often attributed to them this is caltic philosophy they are also called judges
Starting point is 01:16:15 and that for example if you have a murder trial or something going on you'll take it to a druid for adjudication most of the modern archaeologists and people like that that i've read seem to think it's a pretty good bet that the druids are sort of the intellectual class of gall if you will they study things like astronomy herbal or they may be the oral traditionalist and historians of their people i've heard them called natural scientists before and the magic that they're supposed to use if indeed magic it is is sort of nature magic if you will they're like gandalf or dumbledore but it's all nature magic sissaro and the people who do mention druids seem to have quite a lot of respect
Starting point is 01:17:06 for them there is of course also the more lurid um side of it where it's more akin to shaman and medicine men and maybe even witch doctors when you get to that stage they are supposedly the kind of people that if not conducting it are supposed to be there for legal reasons the human sacrifices that the Celts are supposed to participate in or at least once did unclear whether or not by caesar's time they still do much of that although caesar's the one that mentions the wicker man himself you've heard of that one haven't you the one where they build the giant hollow see-through wicker figure you know if they imagine something like 20 feet 30 feet tall wicker but with holes in it so you could see inside then they fill it with people caesar says they prefer criminals and convicts
Starting point is 01:17:55 but they're not picky if they run out of those and then maybe throw in some other live animals and some hay and other combustibles then light the whole thing on fire and supposedly the druids have to be around to witness that now the thing you'll hear blamed on the druids or the class right below them is a certain form of divination where you stab somebody and then you look at the convulsions as they're dying and that explains what's going on the funny thing about the ancient world is that the romans can sit there and scoff at these barbarian superstitions and all that kind of stuff you know as the so-called superior culture looking down on the childlike superstitious natives but then at the same time make sure to point out that listen if you ever need a flock of birds analyzed for what
Starting point is 01:18:41 the movements of the flock of birds means and how that foretells the future the Celts are the best in the business at that in other words showing you know that one person's superstition is another person's magic and vice versa i remember getting a great piece of advice from one of my professors ones in how to see the ancient world differently because we were talking about something he said well what about the impact of magic and there was long pause as my brain tried to figure out the proper answer to that and i said well there's no such thing as magic and he says i know that and you know that but the people in this story didn't know that and they believed otherwise and because they believe these things to be real and true it impacts reality because they act upon those
Starting point is 01:19:22 beliefs i think he may have called it the tinkerbell effect or something but the idea was similar that because you believe in this as reality you base your moves and and how you behave on that and that that changes real history nonetheless this guy deficacious was there to explain to the romans that a terrible battle had occurred in the deep dark barbarian country there must have been thousands upon thousands of these battles throughout history don't you think these ones that happened you know where great deeds were performed and amazing things occurred but they happened in the deep darkness of prehistory somewhere between tribal people you don't know anything about them unless somehow they come to light well there's this battle that you can look up now that exists
Starting point is 01:20:06 that's real called the battle of megatobriga but you know about it because this guy this druid showed up to explain to the romans that his people lost that battle it was against one of their traditional Celtic enemies and again we think of native american tribes where there were just tribes that were long-standing enemies of each other right long-standing crow and Lakota as a perfect example apache and comanche i mean it didn't matter what you did they would ally with an outside power to go against them rather than you know unite with their historic enemies in this case it may have been a war that was over trade rights like who could charge tolls on this area of a river i mean something really been all like that but in this battle the Celtic tribe fighting
Starting point is 01:20:52 the druid who showed up in roams people brought in outside help they had solicited the assistance of some germans were told certainly some of these tribes that caesar calls german although let's be honest the roman ethnographers are a little bit sloppy and sometimes they just add they're all Celts they're all Celts to me they all look the same those barbarians nonetheless this is the story right they are germans and they come in and they tip the scales in favor of this other tribe leading to de vicicius's tribe getting decimated on the battlefield and if you believe him then nobility massacred so you lose basically your entire aristocratic class in the stroke of a sword or a bunch of swords this druid basically is is pleading for help from his allies the
Starting point is 01:21:42 romans and pointing out that the entire area is destabilized because these germans who came in to help this Celtic tribe decided that they don't want to leave they like it and go they're going to stay and that's causing a domino effect as they become the neighbors of all the Celtic people around them all of a sudden gall seems extremely destabilized and that could prove to be a very dangerous situation in Rome it could also prove to be extremely profitable and a potential opportunity in fact there's a way of looking at this story and a lot of people do that this is Julia Caesar's account of what's going on in Gaul and making it seem like a destabilized national security threat is something that works out in his favor if he's trying to
Starting point is 01:22:29 build a case for why he should go in and fix it all and as far as theories about why it's broken in the first place why are they having all this destabilization well Caesar has a theory and even though it's impossible to prove it's one of those lenses that you can look at this whole thing through that's rather interesting but it brings up other questions and I'd like to point out that the only reason I'm qualified to discuss this is because I don't have a reputation as a historian to protect every now and then not being a historian works out in my favor doesn't it in this case it allows me to examine things that used to be valid theories once upon a time until they required things like you know supporting evidence for valid theories once upon a time
Starting point is 01:23:17 a historian could say listen Caesar said this happened and without something that makes me think he's a liar I'm going to believe him if you do that here's how you can explain the instability in Gaul but remember this guy has a vested interest in convincing you that Gaul needs his help but the way this story is told by Caesar and other earlier historians is that the reason the Celts are having some problems and that that whole area of Gaul most of which is still outside of Roman control is having problems is because slowly but surely due to the infusion of you know Roman and Greek and Mediterranean luxuries and culture and whatever these Celts are getting for lack of a better word soft Caesar by the way points to wine more than once as the
Starting point is 01:24:12 leading softening agent involved here and actually says that some tribes prohibit the importation of Italian wine for just that reason that it's known to take the edge off the Celts were saddled with the same reputation as drunkards that you often see associated with other tribal peoples Native Americans for example have had to live with that stereotype forever our friend Deodorus Siculus said this about them this by the way the ch old father translation of the work quote the Gauls are crazy for wine and consume unwatered amazing amounts imported by merchants their unrestrained consumption often leads them to fall into a drunken stupor or sink into morose depression therefore many Italian merchants see Gaul as the land of opportunity
Starting point is 01:25:04 for quick riches these traders bring the wine by boat on the rivers and by wagons through the plains in return they make an amazing profit for they receive a slave in return for each jar of wine they deliver end quote when I was growing up there was a widespread belief among Native American groups themselves that the importation of alcohol had done damage to the traditional culture it would not be surprising at all if that happened amongst the Gauls as well and in the case of wine specifically it's designed to take the edge off people drink it for that reason here's the problem what if that edge is required to survive in a world that is basically dog eat dog in geopolitical terms if only the strongest survives what if you have your people being impacted by your proximity to a
Starting point is 01:26:05 luxury filled culture nearby who is weakening you in a way that will eventually cause you to lose everything to somebody what if you're taking the edge off and the ferocious tribes next to you aren't in this case those tribes were called by the Romans the Germani often translated to Germans today but whether or not they're related to modern-day Germans is just as contentious a discussion as whether or not Celts are related to modern-day peoples in the regions where they used to be but these Germans are portrayed as like hyenas ready to pounce on any weak animal in the geopolitical herd they're portrayed as rough they're tough they're nasty and they're interfering in the Celtic world in a way that threatens if you believe Caesar's account and
Starting point is 01:27:03 of course his war commentaries are told from the point of view of Darth Vader and this is his excuse for getting involved in this whole thing is that these Germans are destabilizing the whole region and this is what this druid comes to Rome to say and he's asking for help and in a couple of years Caesar comes to help and you want to have that Star Wars music start playing the ominous kind because Caesar's going to stop the warfare in the region but he's going to do it in a way that you could easily make a case should be called the Celtic Holocaust now the idea of any society getting soft is impossible to quantify it falls into that category we discussed earlier about these human qualities that historians have to steer clear of because
Starting point is 01:27:52 you can't make any sort of case there's no data but a hundred years ago the wonderful professorial military historian Hans Delbrook had no problem laying it out to you in a way that he treated as you know scientific you couldn't say this today but it sets up this you know fun idea I want to throw out there as the fool of history a hundred years ago actually back in 1908 I think it was Delbrook wrote about this question of civilization versus barbarism in terms of the military pros and cons he said quote when modern peoples he means the people in his era 1908 come into conflict with barbarians the outcome is determined from the start by the differences in weapons technology in antiquity this relationship was not so simple here we may wonder he writes in what manner the
Starting point is 01:28:43 roman military system was really superior to that of the barbarians vis-a-vis civilized people barbarians have the advantage of having at their disposal the warlike power of unbridled animal instincts of basic toughness civilization refines the human being he writes making him more sensitive and in doing so it decreases his military worth not only his bodily strength but also his physical courage these natural shortcomings must be offset in some artificial way sharnhorst he writes was perhaps the first one to state that the main service of the standing army consisted of making civilized people through discipline capable of holding their own against the less civilized if a given group of romans normally living as citizens or peasants had been put up against a
Starting point is 01:29:33 group of barbarians of the same number the former would have undoubtedly have been defeated in fact they probably would have taken flight without fighting it was only the formation of the close knit tactical body of the cohorts that equalized this situation end quote it's an old idea right that civilization allows you to compensate for what you lose when you give up that whole warrior society thing now remember the military trade-off for losing this barbarian edge is supposed to be you know the ability to control troops with officers and instill drill and organization and the logistical ability to concentrate you know food and supplies and keep armies in the field all those wonderful benefits but what if you get hit you know when you've lost the barbarian edge part
Starting point is 01:30:27 but you haven't quite gained the benefits of civilization yet what if you get hit when you're in transition at the vulnerable point between the two kinds of approaches i mean for example have you ever heard what a beam sea is when your ship is beam to to the sea it means a ship is getting hit broadside with the waves and that's a really dangerous thing to have happened you want to have your your nose pointed or your stern pointed but you don't want to be sideways onto big waves but if you have to turn around in the sea then there'll be that danger point when for a second you're side onto the waves i wonder if one could make a case that some of these Celtic tribes in Gaul had been contacted by the Romans enough to be semi-civilized which dulled their barbarian edge
Starting point is 01:31:14 against their less civilized neighbors without yet providing the benefits that the more centralized urbanized state-like systems have what if the Celts got caught in a beam sea and to be fair this is not really my idea my idea is a knockoff of the very one seizures proposing here too he's talking about the beam sea idea in different terms the problem is is if you're trying to defend this from a historical viewpoint how do you do it and there's no doubt at all that historians are a thousand percent right when they say that these are classic recurring themes in ancient literature that the audience expected absolutely correct but does that mean that you can automatically rule out all of them is what Caesar says here so implausible and if so does Caesar know it
Starting point is 01:32:08 is he deliberately trying to lie to us or is he just misconstruing things because of his own biases from his own era in any case the beam sea idea may not be quite originally mine i'm just academically safe enough because i don't have any credentials at all to be able to suggest that maybe there's more to it than is often acknowledged these days Caesar in his war commentaries explains several times that certain tribes used to be more feared and more tough and now weren't in other words implying that there is movement on the softness versus toughness scale and what he doesn't really tell us because maybe it's common knowledge is how advanced some of these Golic tribes were including the one that this druid defecitius came from this is the way historian adrian goalsworthy
Starting point is 01:33:05 explains sort of the system in gall which is hard to describe because it has so many different tribes and all these tribes are in different states of development in fact the most advanced of them maybe shouldn't be called tribes at all but as goldworthy explains whether you call them states or tribes neither one of those words is a good translation for the latin that Caesar uses here's the way goalsworthy puts the situation after he explains that gall is essentially organized in tribes divided into clans but you could call some of them states quote the basic political unit was the clan and several of these usually made up a tribe he gives the latin word for both of them by the way and then he says that neither english word is
Starting point is 01:33:48 entirely appropriate and some scholars would prefer state to tribe but no one has really come up with anything better he then says quote the importance of the tribe seems to have increased markedly in the century before Caesar's arrival in gall and some scholars would like to see them as comparatively recent inventions more probably the changing political and economic climate in gall had simply given new importance to loose ties of kinship and ritual that were very long established even so he writes the degree of unity between the clans of one tribe very considerably and there were a number of cases during the gallic wars when individual clans acted independently kings appear in some tribes and perhaps also with the clan level but not in others and the
Starting point is 01:34:34 majority meaning the majority of these groups seem to have been governed by councils or senate's with day to day running of affairs being placed in the hands of elected magistrates Rome's oldest ally the edui which is where this druid was from had a supreme magistrate called the vergebrett who held office for a single year no man could be elected twice to this post nor could any member of his family hold the office during his lifetime thus preventing any individual or group from monopolizing power the similarity of this ideal to the roman republic system is striking and in many ways the tribes of gall resembled the city states of the Mediterranean world though perhaps at an earlier stage of development end quote that's a really good
Starting point is 01:35:23 concise way to explain that situation and there are books written about Caesar's book and more on this in a second because that's what we're going to follow and get into that describes his rationale for arguing about why we have to have this conflict against the galls now and why it has to be preemptive as opposed to waiting until they all attack us and he says it's because Caesar is making the argument that some of these tribes are becoming more like us and we have to get them before they do because they're going to then combine you know the warlike irrationality that they have now in their spirit with greater capability which by the way is a reason that some historians give for why the Germanic peoples you know fast forward to the fall of Rome will
Starting point is 01:36:11 eventually be able to defeat the roman legions that they will learn enough fighting the romans over time and develop enough of a state-like system that they could truly be dangerous andrew m rigs being his book Caesar in gall and Rome war in words points out that Caesar's argument in his book is that we have to get the galls now before they do precisely that he says that in Caesar's work and as part of the propaganda the people he calls galls and the people he calls germans serve different purposes rigsby writes quote in the same way the two northern groups are dangerous for complementary reasons in the case of the germans the problem is their fluidity of people who do not recognize boundaries social or geographic
Starting point is 01:36:58 cannot be trusted to stay in their own territory and to not make war on the romans with the galls the problem is not randomness but a more specific tendency to wage war they are prone to fighting both individually and collectively their temerity makes them unable to check violent impulses even when that would be the prudent course of action whatever the source of danger the romans will respond preemptively as chapter six discusses he writes this is an important source of justification for military actions furthermore the semi-civilized galls provide a special kind of threat their similarity to the romans grows over the course of the work if they are not conquered now the threat will only increase hence the preemptive strike is
Starting point is 01:37:43 required now the characterization of both peoples he writes legitimizes their conquest the specific nature of the galls makes them particularly attractive candidates end quote and why would Caesar want to conquer them ah yes that gets us to some of the problems that motivate this story that push it along that add the booster rockets to the whole thing because I mean let's be honest what's the likelihood that as Rome becomes more powerful it doesn't absorb these tribal areas to their north that's like saying that you could expect somehow via treaties and good faith and everything else the 13 us colonies to have just stayed over where they were on the eastern seaboard and never advance into the native territory that's
Starting point is 01:38:32 a what if that you can hardly even plausibly play with right I mean what's the likelihood well what's the likelihood that the romans don't absorb these tribes to the north and conquer that territory because the money that is available in land and let's not forget this because it's huge slaves is so tempting and Caesar's need is so great at this time that it's impossible to imagine that that giant pot of gold that is gall wouldn't be taken by somebody and the attitude that these romans had and it's part of something we discussed in another program this insane and yet wonderfully merit based system where you claw your way to the top like it's a mafia crime family and only the strong survive had created by this time in roman history a three-headed
Starting point is 01:39:23 monster that's what the romans called it we know it is the first triumvirate today and essentially what it is is a conspiracy one of the great conspiracies in all world history it is Caesar and the other two most powerful men in Rome and their allies essentially against the rest of the roman government and they are so powerful and they control so many people and one of these guys in this three-headed monster is the richest man in Rome and he's spreading money everywhere and that makes a huge difference that by this time period as long as these three men Caesar Pompey and Crassus agree on something it's going to happen and all three men want something so all three men support each man getting what they want what Caesar wants is a chance to conquer something he is the least
Starting point is 01:40:10 grand at this time period of those three people he doesn't have a whole lot of military conquest to his record or his name yet and he owes so much money that at one point we're told he's not even allowed to leave Rome the creditors basically grab him and and say either you're paying up or you're not going anywhere and Crassus one of the members of the three-headed monster the rich guy comes in and pays off the debt so Caesar can go and do what he needs to do which is find a way to get the money to pay off the debts and also to spread it around in Rome to make more friends because these politicians and that's what Caesar is they're deadly politicians they're politician generals but spreading money around Rome throwing games and all kinds of other things is how you get your
Starting point is 01:40:53 name out there and it's a large part of the reason why Caesar is in such great debt and there's two ways of looking at the Golic situation at the time one is to say uh-oh there's all that land and all those slaves there for the taking the Gauls seem vulnerable and the Germans are coming in and doing it and the attitude being if somebody's going to get that it's going to be us the other way of looking at it is that this whole idea of a German threat is part of a manufactured plot a reason that provides Caesar with an excuse to go in there and scoop up all that wealth himself and to do so right for the glory and defense of Rome this brings us to the actual war commentaries because we're going to have to rely on these and yet I mean it I'm not sure you could
Starting point is 01:41:45 find if you had to be stuck with one main source I'm not sure you could find a better one it is one of the great works of literature of all time and in military history there's very few things like it that's historian Michael Grant says about it quote it was the best account of warfare that had ever been written by a Roman and it retained this supremacy for at least another four centuries end quote he also wrote that because of Caesar's I mean Caesar was one of the great writers of all time so much of the of his other qualities are overshadowed by his military reputation and but the concise sort of prose that he used and everything made his work a staple of you know first-year Latin courses all throughout the western civilized educational world I mean
Starting point is 01:42:35 everybody knew Caesar's work once upon a time Michael Grant also said quote Caesar's formidable intellect and lucid concise Latin transforms these ostensibly modest works into masterpieces his unique inside knowledge carries extraordinary authority end quote it's very rare to have essentially the war dispatches of one of the great commanders of all time I mean you have nothing like this from Alexander the Great for example or most of the other people I mean where's jingas cons one of the ones that you can have fun reading today for example is if you go read the second world war series as penned by Winston Churchill you get a similar sort of feel because instead of having somebody tell you the story they're basically
Starting point is 01:43:25 telling you the story from within the story and there's a lot of I said and then he said to me and then I mean it's a completely different way to view history and you know it's completely biased I mean Churchill even said I know history shall treat me kindly because I shall be writing that history well that's what Caesar's doing too and one of the parts that will screw you up the most if you never read it before is he refers to himself 99% of the time in the third person Caesar did this Caesar did that it's a little strange but if you understand and I've read several books just on that book and it's fascinating the way they tear it apart and and look at all the angles because Caesar's playing three-dimensional chess here with this work
Starting point is 01:44:05 he's writing it for a contemporary audience and for the future the little intricacies that you would have to actually not just speak Latin but archaic Latin and have a really good idea of context these experts will point out that just based on the way Caesar's using the Latin language he may have been writing there may have been a political purpose to it because instead of writing maybe for the aristocracy of Rome and the power brokers in the senate Caesar was a populare he was one of these people that made his political name supposedly appealing to the needs of the people as opposed to the wealthy people in Rome and so he may have written this maybe not even to be read maybe to be read aloud to the crowds in Rome in a language that was straightforward that they
Starting point is 01:44:48 would understand and pulling themes and ways of approaching the story out for example praising the average Roman soldier quite a bit as something to curry favor with the crowd this is a political document it's a document of personal aggrandizement it is a piece of propaganda and it is also the best source of military conduct that you are going to get to the Byzantines maybe the best source you're going to get in the entire ancient world for a man as Michael Grant says whose authority is absolutely unmatched in this I mean who would you rather if you could only have one account who would you rather have it from an unbiased observer would be nice but when Caesar tells you about the intricacies of this war he's telling it to you you know as the man who decided on things
Starting point is 01:45:40 so he's biased as hell but he's an absolutely unbelievable source to be able to hear from in a first person sense Caesar gets the command he wants from the three-headed monster he was looking at a place called Dacia over near the Adriaticus maybe a place to to involve himself that's a good place where I can conquer some people make some names you know secure realms borders but trouble brood over in Gaul instead and it flared up in an indirect way if you believe the sources because of this new German situation a tribe that was located whose territory I'm going to call them tribes but some of these places were really proto states or states so let's understand tribes is a bad word but as Goldsworth he says we're kind of stuck with it but this tribe
Starting point is 01:46:27 located in what's now modern-day Switzerland Caesar says decided that they were going to move they didn't like being neighbors of the Germans and they felt too constrained in this land hemmed by mountains and not enough territory they were going to move and they were going to move in a way where they were going to cross Roman territory this southern France area that the Romans had to take had to take of course to protect this road to Spain they called it the province province today I think um Caesar just always called it the province and this group of Gauls from modern-day Switzerland numbering the ancient sources said in excess of 350 000 people in a migration you know men women children the whole thing burn your possessions burn your towns
Starting point is 01:47:13 three years in the makings and leave 350 plus thousand people are going to cross Roman territory and Caesar and the Romans basically say no they're not now this is where Caesar's narrative begins where he starts explaining you know the Gaulic wars the first thing he does is for a paragraph or two he lays out the land for your average Roman consumer of his media we would say today because once Caesar gets away from the close parts of Gaul right Toga wearing Gaul the next is short haired Gaul once you head on into long haired Gaul you are continually moving into less and less well known territory the farther you go Caesar becomes a bit like a Lewis and Clark expedition at some point in this endeavor a very heavily armed one it must be said but he sort of has to lay out
Starting point is 01:48:03 initially the lay of the land for the people in Rome when he talks about three big cultural groups that inhabit this whole area and the differences between them in one of the more famous passages in all ancient literature Napoleon all the greats read that Caesar in the doesn't matter which translation you use it's it's suitably awe-inspiring in my opinion in all of them I'll use the Carolyn Hammond translation for this but you know here he is laying out the land for you and by the way notice how he's also kind of beginning the transition idea the softening idea that Roman luxuries soften these people and by the way I'm going to say belgay you can say belgay some people say belg and there's an old saying that there's a right way and a wrong way to mispronounce Latin
Starting point is 01:48:54 so hopefully we're mispronouncing it the right way in this program most of the time Caesar says and it's amazing to think about the Caesar writes you have Caesar's writings it's crazy to me Caesar writes quote the whole of Gaul is divided into three parts one of which the belgay inhabit the aquitanni another and the third a people who in their own language are called Celts but in ours Gauls they all differ among themselves in respect to language way of life and laws the river Garon divides the Gauls from the aquitanni and the Marne insane rivers separate them from the belgay of these three the belgay are the bravest for they are farthest away from the civilization and culture of the province meaning the roman province merchants rarely travel to them
Starting point is 01:49:45 or import such goods as make men's courage weak and womanish they live moreover in close proximity to the Germans who inhabit the land across the Rhine and they are continually at war with them for this reason the Helvedi also exceed the other Gauls in bravery because they are embroiled in almost daily battles with the Germans either when they are warding them off from their own frontiers or when they themselves take the fight into enemy territory end quote historian Andrew M Rigsby goes to great lengths to point out that Caesar is actually establishing his own boundaries for his own purposes here and that these may not have been boundaries that were recognized in other places necessarily I mean Caesar is creating boundaries so that he can come to natural extensions
Starting point is 01:50:33 of them and stop I mean it's all very interesting but the point is is that take what Caesar says with the grain assault as always but he's basically telling you the lay of the land in Gaul and then right after he does that he starts talking about a conspiracy a conspiracy that will legitimize actions in Gaul beyond stopping the migration of this tribe but according to Caesar it's behind the migration of the Helvetians these 350,000 people or more that Caesar says burned their 400 villages and 12 towns maybe some of which may have been proto cities before setting off so that they would know that we're not going home right it's the same old thing when the captain of the ship you know the ship wreck burns the ship so you don't think of going home we're going to
Starting point is 01:51:18 burn these villages and there'll be no going back and Napoleon referred to this as part of Caesar as being simply incomprehensible Hans Delbrook scoffed that there could be all these tribal peoples on the march like this he was you know talking about the logistical disaster it would be but a couple of modern-day historians had an interesting way of looking at it kind of comparing it to the way you would have compared people who showed up for the Woodstock rock concert in the 60s right small groups of people sort of migrating at a time carrying most of what they needed on their back or with a single wagon and having the migration take a longer period of time so instead of having like one army moving around you have groups of people migrating and and the way Caesar
Starting point is 01:52:03 tells the story it sounds more like that now these are it should be pointed out probably heavily armed migrants so let's not make a bunch of lions out to be little lambs right but Caesar claims that the migration is all part of a plan and that a leader of this tribe of Helvetians is trying to become a king but the tribe doesn't have kings anymore they have magistrates and elected officials and some sort of aristocratic oligarchic senate of a sort and the punishment for trying to turn the society back to a kingship is to be burned alive Caesar says now I should point out that this information is delivered to us by Caesar on like the very beginning of his commentaries right after he lays out the way the Gaul is divided into different groups he then explains this story
Starting point is 01:53:01 the story involves three Gaulic noblemen powerful guys in three different powerful Gaulic tribes he then describes a scenario that a couple of historians you know point out and it's obvious and ironic and there's some sort of psychological thing maybe going on with Caesar but he describes a three-headed Gaulic first triumvirate if you will in other words he's explaining that these Gaulic noblemen are working together to help each other get what they want in terms of more power a situation Caesar's involved in back in Rome with those two other guys that make up the first triumvirate right and he's a lot more critical of their triumvirate than he is of his own he makes it out to be sinister and he says that these three Gaulic noblemen are plotting to take over
Starting point is 01:53:48 all of Gaul which you know again if we're looking at it from the point of view of the Gauls isn't that what you'd want them to be doing and by the way it had already been done by other Gaulic tribes in other areas that the Romans had already taken over in Spain by the way it was common there's a national hero of Portugal that did it too consolidated the tribes and the locals and fought the Romans for a long time happened in happen in Galatia too happened in the Balkans too so it's sort of standard from the Gaulic point of view these three guys might have been national heroes like Winston Churchill type saying the Romans are coming the Romans are coming quickly we have to combine it's a national security question but Caesar plays it off to be a raw grab for power
Starting point is 01:54:29 by these three guys and one of them is the Helvetian ruler and the reason he's moving his people is much more sinister than just they need more territory it's part of the plot either Roman diplomacy or the tribe's own people find out that he's involved in this plot and the Helvetians are about to have a big trial and they're gonna burn this guy and he shows up with like 10,000 of his best friends you know his retainers and whatnot to the court and the court basically has to gulp and let him go and then Caesar says then a civil war is about to start and then mysteriously the dude dies his name was Orgederics but the tribe's still gonna move because it was in the plan and so that starts this chain of events that will eventually lead to Celtic culture
Starting point is 01:55:11 in what's now France being mortally wounded so what's the cause of all this if you're at a war crimes trial and they're saying how did this ethnic cleansing or whatever come to be well it all starts with the rationale and here's how Caesar lays it out in my S.A. Hanford translation quote the foremost men among the Helvetiae in rank and wealth was Orgederics in the consulship of Marcus Masala and Marcus Piso he was induced by the hope of obtaining royal power to organize a conspiracy of noblemen and persuaded his countrymen to emigrate en masse telling them that they were the best fighters in Gaul and could very easily conquer the whole country end quote he then explains that this Orgederics sort of leads the entire movement to get it together to burn the
Starting point is 01:56:01 homes eventually and emigrate en masse and then as part of the process of negotiating with nearby tribes you know that they would have to pass through he starts making a couple of important friends at these other tribes they decide to work together as Caesar says quote Orgederics convinced them these other two aristocrats that these schemes were quite easy of achievement by telling them that he intended to usurp the sovereignty of his own state which he said was beyond question the most powerful in Gaul and then he would use his wealth and military strength to secure them the possession of their thrones his arguments proved effective the three men sworn oath of mutual loyalty hoping that once they had made themselves kings the great power of the warlike peoples they ruled
Starting point is 01:56:48 would enable them to get control of all Gaul end quote if you're looking at this from a pro-Gaulic perspective though that might be a good idea Caesar portrays it as otherwise but remember in this story it's Darth Vader's account that we get to have Celtic expert Barry Cunliffe you know offers an idea or a way to look at this where the people of Gaul were unusually threatened during this time period and maybe in a crisis situation if you will in which case the migration of the Helvetians might have been much more like a Cherokee trail of tears if you want to compare it to something from the Native American terminology he says that Caesar's oft quoted rationalization that Gaul would have to be taken over by the Romans if it were not to become Germanic he says
Starting point is 01:57:47 quote may have been an unbiased interpretation of the evidence he had before him end quote Cunliffe also points out that events quite a distance from here could be having effects ripple effects for example he talks about the Dacians which are a barbarian people that may or may not be Germanic also having a huge offensive against another Celtic people in the Hungarian plain which has a domino effect or an accordion effect that you know Caesar ends up dealing with the end result of you know as these Helvetians start to move because tribes to the east of the Helvetians are being displaced so the Celtic peoples of Europe and Gaul specifically are threatened from multiple directions and different peoples this tribe the Helvetians would have been on like
Starting point is 01:58:34 the bleeding edge of what maybe was starting to look like the sick man of Europe for this time period and they were having pieces of their territory bitten off from every direction the Germans from the east the Dacians from the southeast and now the Romans from the south darn right you'd be talking about consolidating your power to try to resist this if you could Caesar's great period in his history begins when he confronts this 350,000 person column of humanity if you believe either the numbers of the way they showed up but Roman doors over a river with a bridge that Caesar had just destroyed basically this group of people the front end of this tribe has reached Caesar and now they're going to have to ask him for permission to come
Starting point is 01:59:33 into the province Caesar's going to say let me think about it go over there camp out while I think about it meanwhile while they're doing that he's you know organizing the raising of armies far away he's got the troops within building a giant 16 mile or something long fortification with guard towers at regular intervals no doubt with some Roman bolt throwers in them and when the tribe comes back for their answer you know after they've been how are they eating you know they mean you could have lots of people dying on this little baton death march from the Swiss Alps to where Caesar was and they say okay can we cross now and Caesar now with this giant fortification behind him and more troops with them says no now I'm just curious if you're in this gallic
Starting point is 02:00:21 mass of people and you've been camping out eating up maybe what little of your food is left and you're waiting for a Roman decision and more people are showing up as the trail of the mass of humanity keeps arriving and you're waiting and you're waiting and the Romans are building these fortifications and you show up and you say well can we please cross now and then they say no what do you do Caesar says that small groups of people in the night and the daytime try to cross over themselves over the river to get on the other side it doesn't sound like a big armed mass of humanity it sounds like a bunch of people desperately in like small family groups and but not trying to cross over and overwhelm the defenses or sneak by on any given point and the Romans concentrate
Starting point is 02:01:05 missile fire they say and you know kill all these people in the water and drive them back here's how historian Adrian Goldsworthy describes the situation he says quote when the Helvetii returned for Caesar's decision he bluntly informed them that he's quoting Caesar now according to the custom and precedent of the Roman people he could not permit anyone to journey through the province and that he would stop them if they tried to force their way through Goldsworthy then says the new fortifications were there to demonstrate that he meant what he said however it was difficult for such a great mass of people suddenly to change direction and purpose the period of waiting by the river had also probably been very frustrating and many of the
Starting point is 02:01:46 Helvetii were determined to keep going especially after the years of preparation and the willing destruction of their old homes small groups began to cross the Rhon either using the fords or rigging up rafts to carry themselves their animals and vehicles it is possible that these were deliberate probes sent by the chieftains to test the strength of Caesar's defenses but more likely they reflected the loose central authority and individual independence that seemed to be characteristic of many of the tribes of Gaul they were certainly not full-fledged assaults on the lines of fortifications most of the crossings took place under the cover of darkness but a few parties were bold enough to risk the attempt in daylight none succeeded for Caesar's men were able to
Starting point is 02:02:27 concentrate and meet each group in turn overwhelming many of them with missiles as they struggled to cross end quote it seems to be that Goldsworthy too is maybe leaving open the possibility that this is more of a humanitarian situation than Caesar let on eventually the Celtic tribe will move away they have a plan B which they tried to avoid because it's a much tougher route and they have to get the permission of a bunch of different other tribes but they start heading away and Caesar decides maybe he can't let them migrate to the other location that they want to do even if they don't have to pass the Roman territory could be a problem anyway then he says that one of these conspirators one of the Gaulic triumvirate the three-headed Gaulic monster is working with
Starting point is 02:03:17 the Helvetians to negotiate and you know pass over all these differences between these tribes right smoothing it out maybe so they could work together more and they organize a situation where the Helvetians promise we won't do anything we'll be very nice as we cross over your territory we won't do anything bad and then they go through the territory of these tribes that are allies of Rome and then they start breaking stuff and stealing stuff and devastating the territory and so these Gaulic tribes that are allied to Rome say to Caesar or so Caesar says help us how can you let this happen to your allies right when you have an army right here and Caesar says hmm I can't let that happen to my allies he justifies it in the book that way and then he goes after the Helvetians
Starting point is 02:04:00 Caesar will go raise some more armies real quickly he'll catch up to the Helvetians as they're migrating across another tribe's territory Caesar will come upon the tribe while while they're in the process of crossing a river and he says three quarters of the tribe had already crossed he says it took 20 days shows you how long this mass of humanity is taking to move whatever the real numbers we're talking about here might be because Caesars must be inflated but it's a lot of people one way or the other and they're hard to feed and Caesar comes upon he says this tribe where three quarters of the tribe had crossed but one quarter was still on the other side waiting that was the side Caesar was on to so he attacked them killed a bunch this is women children wagons warriors a
Starting point is 02:04:45 bunch of them ran into the forest and now the tribe comes to Caesar and basically says you know what do you want from us Caesar says this that and the other thing reparations and oh yeah a bunch of hostages now this is a moment we should just discuss this for a second because it's wild also this practice of hostages for good behavior this is very common in the ancient world but I always think to myself what if this happened today what if that's how we ensured good behavior today what if when we were having problems with Sudan Hussein and you have your first gulf for it at the end of it he stays in power but in order to stop fighting you demand a couple of his sons as hostages would be an interesting way to handle modern diplomacy wouldn't it but that's what Caesar
Starting point is 02:05:31 says he wants from this tribe and I want hostages and they're always going to be like the sons and daughters of the nobility so the people he's negotiating with are the ones who have to give the sons and daughters and they say hey hey hey don't get cocky just because you beat us in a situation where we were you know refugees over a river we're basically still undefeated heck we beat you a couple generations ago we're in the practice of taking hostages not giving them and so the meeting broke up the Hovishians who would not provide hostages go back along their merry way continuing their migration the Romans go back to tailing them and Caesar now is looking for a way to strike at them because they haven't accepted his terms before he can manage to do it
Starting point is 02:06:13 though he begins to have severe supply problems more on that in a minute it forces him he says to break off the pursuit and go in an opposite direction towards a friendly Golic city where he can get supplies and Caesar says when they change course away from the migrants the migrants turn around and come after them so Caesar stops he puts his entire force on a hill where it's covering the hill with legionaries in the traditional three line formation he's preparing for the battle Caesar says in a very grandiose move for the folks back home but one that has real world dividends to be paid Caesar will get off his horse and send it to the rear and take his place in the front line with the soldiers sharing their fate encouraging them and remember at this
Starting point is 02:07:07 stage in his career Caesar is not the great general that we know as Julius Caesar he's seen a lot of fighting but this is really his first true command and this is where he's making his name and part of making his name is showing that he's something special Napoleon did a bunch of things like this and so did Alexander it's a typical general move but it can work wonders over the long haul Caesar's earning the trust of his army and he says that these Golic troops these ferocious soldiers come charging uphill at the Romans so you already sense disaster right this is not a good move but the Gauls are not known for tactical brilliance in fact it almost seems like the inevitable trade-off in the price you pay for being these out of control impetuous warriors
Starting point is 02:07:55 that lose your mind in battle lust is that you're inevitably less tactically cohesive and less concerned about things like making sure you save enough energy to be able to fight for a while the traditional book the playbook the opposition handbook on fighting Gauls says that the initial charge of these people is ferocious wild and hard to hold but if you can stay strong and hold the initial charge they begin to get tired and then they begin to get disheartened and that impetuosity fades and then the lack of the armor that they normally have the fact that they've totally lost cohesion after a little while all this stuff begins to tell so if you can sit through and weather the initial storm you tend to be okay charging uphill at a bunch of Romans throwing
Starting point is 02:08:46 heavy javelins downhill not a good start Caesar says that the Roman pila got stuck in the shields of the Gauls of course it has that little narrow weak neck deliberately designed to bend so that all of a sudden it's dragging down the shields of these Gauls Caesar says they shake their arms for a long time then throw their shields down so you take a people already not heavily armored and take away the shields and then the Romans charge down at them with swords and it begins to be you know a typical Roman battle against Gauls where they're going to get chopped up pretty good he says you never see their back they don't run but they conduct a fighting withdrawal up to a nearby hill and when the Romans pursued them they're hit in the flank by two other tribes that were nearby
Starting point is 02:09:30 now we should point out Caesar has every interest to exaggerate how dangerous this enemy is and how difficult the conditions he faced were because obviously if he prevails and wins well it's that much greater of a victory to cite to the folks back home nonetheless when Caesar is hidden the flank he says the people that he was pursuing charge at him from the front again so he's surrounded and his flank is hit if this is a Greek army instead of a Roman army it's done for at this point because the Romans could do what the Romans could do a tactical flexibility that was pretty much unique in the ancient world Caesar's able to take one of the three lines of the Roman army the one that's not yet fighting and shift its facing so it's now facing the enemy
Starting point is 02:10:18 that has hit the Romans in the flank now they're facing Romans from the front so in a hard fought battle now Caesar's troops get the upper hand the warriors will retreat to a wagon fortress they've taken all the wagons that they're migrating with and they've put them in a giant circle and it's defended by all the non-combatants and whatnot and the Romans attack it that's sort of the last stand of the battle and by the time the whole thing is over the Romans may have killed 200,000 of these people by hand if you believe those numbers historian Michael Sage says this about the numbers quote in the aftermath of the battle Caesar claims that tablets were found in the Helvetian camp written in Greek characters containing lists of men of
Starting point is 02:11:13 military age women boys and the elderly who had joined in the migration there were also counts of the other tribes who accompanied the Helvetians for a grand total of 368,000 people of whom 92,000 were capable of bearing arms Caesar then records a census taken when the Gauls returned home which totaled 110,000 it is difficult to assess the accuracy of these figures and this is the only case in the Gaulic war where Caesar refers to such lists the Gauls did write Celtic in Greek letters numerous inscriptions in Celtic written in Greek characters have been preserved the figure of 92,000 warriors is plausible if the total of 368,000 is accepted in pre-modern populations about one quarter of the population consisted of males of military age the total number for all those
Starting point is 02:12:04 migrating is also in the realm of possibility the 110,000 survivors representing a third of those who set out is more of a problem the loss of more than two-thirds is possible but it must have had a number of causes the migration from beginning to end probably consumed about three months with the final battle in late May early June many especially the sick and the infirm may have perished along the way and others simply settled along the route of migration once the battle casualties are included which Caesar does not give the figure for losses still seems too high but there's no other evidence and at least it's in the realm of possibility end quote by the way Sage's book I enjoyed immensely on this but his point is well taken we don't know how many
Starting point is 02:12:50 people really were there and you don't know how many people really came back and it might have been more of a trail of tears type situation a baton death march as we said type situation where a lot of people died along the way rather than have Caesar snuff out their lives but you can be sure that since the Helvetians were one of the great tribes of Gaul that we're talking about a lot of people here and you're not just talking about combatants at all the end stages of this battle with Caesar had the Roman legionaries assaulting the wagons brought up into a great fortification with all of the stuff that these people owned in the middle of them the Gauls and the Germans on a bunch of occasions were said by ancient sources to have the women staying back
Starting point is 02:13:35 by the wagons yelling encouragement to their men deriding the behavior of cowards providing first aid and medicine help to those who staggered back from the battle line wounded so when the Romans you know drive back the fleeing routers after they've just decimated their formations and those people run back to the wagons pursued by the Roman army what do you think the Roman army does when they get to the wagons they kill everybody where they try to one of the main things that actually protects lives on a battlefield like this is the prospect of selling the people that you can capture the one thing a person on a battlefield facing the battle lust of other people has in their favor and you know the only thing they can work is I'm worth more alive than dead and there's no doubt that
Starting point is 02:14:25 lots of slaves were sold after this battle and you can hear in your mind a cash register you know ding every time one of those people sold because one of the reasons Caesar's there if you recall is he has these horrible debts at home one of the ways for a great Roman to pay off these debts is with a successful profitable campaign and one of the main things you profit off of is the people you sell afterwards nonetheless the reason Caesar came to this entire area to begin with has just been dealt with after the battle the televisions essentially what's left of them come to Caesar and say you know we're in your power we'll do whatever you want he sends him home he sends him back to where they came from and he feeds him on the way arranges for food and
Starting point is 02:15:06 everything good old Caesar I'll take care of you but the end result is you lose hundreds of thousands of people to return things to the status quo so why doesn't Caesar go home now well he's noticed something he says in his works that's been brewing for a while and he's been doing some investigations and he's uncovered a bunch of well stuff that the people in Rome should know about stuff that he can't overlook for example he was already noticing that weird stuff was happening with the Golic troops the friendly Golic troops he was using in his army the Romans for example don't produce cavalry anymore during this period they produced legionaries heavy infantry men armed with a heavy throwing javelin and a devastatingly nasty sword the cavalry is raised from you know
Starting point is 02:15:52 local friendly peoples in this case a lot of Celtic peoples with tribes allied to Rome but they're doing things in the battlefield that make Caesar suspicious that maybe just maybe they're not altogether loyal I mean one famous thing that Caesar talks about he has thousands of these Golic cavalry and they go up against a few hundred of the enemies and then all of a sudden flee in terror he got very suspicious then and started doing some inquiries then while he's pursuing the Helvetian columns the Helvetian columns begin moving away from rivers and stuff where Caesar can get supplies shouldn't matter because all these friendly tribes that ask Caesar you know to come up here and save us from these people that are stealing and despoiling our land
Starting point is 02:16:35 they were supposed to provide the food but the food's not coming and he says he keeps getting these excuses oh it should have been here oh we're still raising it oh it's on the way watch you didn't get it I mean that kind of stuff so he starts investigating that too calling some of these nobles into his office and saying where the hell's the food what's going on here and it all comes to a head after this battle with the Helvetians because he says that all the other with a few exceptions big Golic leaders come to his location to congratulate him on his victory and all these kinds of stuff and then they say to him can we see you in the back room privately so he calls them into the back room privately and they instantly all fall to their feet you know beseeching him
Starting point is 02:17:12 tears in their eyes and they give him he says this sob story about please please please you have to save us from this German king who's taking over Gaul we told you about this guy right he was the guy who was brought in when these two tribes of Gauls that were historic enemies were looking for an edge and so the one tribe thought let's invite these Germans over and they'll give us the edge it will win the battle which they did and they you know destroyed the nobility of the other side but then the Germans didn't leave as we said in fact according to this group of people that comes to Caesar he's taken all their children hostages and anytime they move the wrong way he tortures them and does bad things to them Caesar is now speaking to a Roman audience and basically saying
Starting point is 02:17:54 can you believe what this German king is doing to these poor Gauls who are allies and friends of the Roman people can Caesar stand for that of course Caesar can't stand for that what's more these Celts have been telling Caesar stories that they've got people in their own tribes who are disloyal right you know the tribes that are enemies of Rome are disloyal but these are people in tribes that are nominally friends of Rome but they have huge numbers of fifth columnists that want to work for the Gaulic cause instead now again Caesar's portraying this as sinister and bad to a Roman audience it's hard not to see these troublemakers that Caesar talks about though as anything other than Gaulic patriots if you're looking at it from their point of view I mean the
Starting point is 02:18:39 people that are here beseeching Caesar for help these are like the Quizlings aren't they the traders of the Gaulic cause but just like the Native American tribes just like the tribes in Africa these people have historic enemies amongst their own kind with disputes and memories of tit for tat revenge cycle killings that go back forever and these were able to be exploited in Africa and the new world by European powers in Gaul by the Romans exquisitely I mean it is the Romans who invented the phrase that we use today to divide and conquer that's what they're doing in Gaul and Caesar's using some tribes against the others and these tribal leaders are telling him we just want you to know we have large factions in our own tribes that are working against you they're the
Starting point is 02:19:31 ones that kept the food from coming to you they were the ones leading your cavalry when the thousands of your cavalry turn in flood and terror from a few hundred of the enemy in other words Caesar's got them all around him and this becomes an excuse to stay what's more when Caesar says this German king is oppressing all these people he basically says so the Gauls want us to stay I have to stay to defend them and the enemy has just shifted from Gaulic people to a new people now let's understand whether or not these new people really were a new people is open for debate Caesar makes them a new people in his writing because it serves the purposes of his writing it's an outside power Caesar's going to use it to defend now these people that are closer to home these people he's
Starting point is 02:20:22 just killed a hundred thousand or more people of he's now the savior of the Gauls and he's staying now I should point out that there's no consensus at all over Caesar's decision making at this point right everyone seems to agree that at some point Caesar decides he's going to take all of Gaul over and most seem to think that that was not his initial plan once he originally set out to change the course of the hell vision migration but there's a lot of disagreement over at what point Caesar crystallized this idea that the heck with it I'm taking it over for many historians have spoken about this Andrew Rigsby for example this tendency in Caesar's writing sometimes to give a hint of the idea that Gaul is maybe kind of doomed anyway
Starting point is 02:21:16 and that it's like a vulnerable you know animal and the geopolitical herd and somebody's going to get it and better us than the Germans it's the Germans that form this new counterpoint in the story when they appear on the scene because up until now Caesar hasn't really had an antagonist when you're stopping a migration of a tribal people who's the bad guy in that right even though Caesar had some bad guys involved in the conspiracy initially by the time he's involved they're dead so he's never having any sort of a one-to-one Darth Vader versus another Sith Lord confrontation then of course he's also got that conspiracy this shadowy thing going on you know where it's almost like a guerrilla war now and he can't trust you know the Celtic people who are his
Starting point is 02:22:02 friends don't know who your friends are your enemies are they all look the same but again not a single opponent for Caesar to really measure himself with until he comes face to face with this German king Ariovistus king of the Suebi now let's step back a minute for the sake of those who are huge Julius Caesar fans because how can we ignore how quickly everything here has happened that's a hallmark of Caesar by the way the the moving with speed and determination focusing on you know the core issues and the most decisive points and whatnot I mean this is all happening in the year 58 BCE the dealing with the Helvetian migration is during the same year and let's remember they hardly ever campaign in the winter so this is really like an eight maybe nine month campaigning
Starting point is 02:22:51 season and right after he deals with the Helvetians and has those what was a huge battle he now you know marches to another part of this area to where the German king is and begins to deal with him in Caesar's narrative this guy is sort of the root cause of everything here I mean why is Caesar even having to do all of this in Gaul well because the Germans destabilized the whole situation came in there with their 120,000 warriors or whatever began settling in Gaul and has set the whole place in motion so when Caesar confronts Ariovistus he's confronting the root of the problem and if Caesar were a less ambitious man this could be the end of his story this could be the culmination he goes to the root of the problem you know solves it comes home celebrates
Starting point is 02:23:39 a triumph and lives happily ever after I do have to remind myself though how this has a feel of Caesar's kind of being at the end of the earth we said earlier that he's like a heavily armed version of the Lewis and Clark expedition he feels the need in the narrative to tell the people back at home you know what these Germans he calls them are like what are their customs what gods do they believe in what do they look like how do they fight supposedly the Romans had dealt with these people militarily before right at the time Caesar's born remember the Kimbrie and the two tones invaded from the north unexpectedly a national security crisis if you've forgotten Caesar will remind you over and over again in his commentaries it's a great way to justify going out for the
Starting point is 02:24:23 Germans to remind you that every now and then they come after us but other than that not a lot to go on so Caesar explains to the folks back home you know that these Germans are essentially like the galls on steroids the galls are tall the Germans are that much taller the galls are blonde the Germans are a blonder if the galls fight in a war mad berserker crazy frenzy the Germans do that more often and their frenzies deeper than the galls and Caesar kind of says that compared to the galls the Germans are primitive so if we're using our tribal scale and the galls are moving up to like threes and fours and fives the Germans are a one just you know Caesar would have you believe just graduated from caveman status he says they don't even really practice agriculture which
Starting point is 02:25:11 none of the modern histories or you know stuff by archaeologists that I've read none of them believe that they all think the Germans practiced agriculture but there you go Caesar says that the galls used to be able to stand up to the Germans in battle but that they can't anymore essentially saying that they're gun shy that they've lost so many battles that they've lost the psychological edge if you will and that becomes another one of those unquantifiable things doesn't it that affects human history you know we talked about intimidation on a personal level but you know what happens when you get a group of skittish scared unpredictable human beings together and then try to quantify the impact of the mass amount of psychological
Starting point is 02:25:55 intimidation I mean if you've lost three battles to the Germans already and you're lining up to fight your fourth how much does the history of how you've done against them recently play into your ability to stand up to them now and of course if the Celtic people can't stand up to the Germans anymore in a dog eat dog world well what does that mean for the long-term ability of gall to remain free and independent so if you're looking at this from the Roman viewpoint you can kind of see how they might come to the conclusion uh-oh we're going to have all these German people right next to us in gall soon so Caesar goes and begins a conversation with this German leader where he essentially tells the German leader okay all this stuff has to stop he says he begins a correspondence he
Starting point is 02:26:41 sends a message to me he says can we please meet halfway between our two locations because we have important matters to discuss but this is all in Caesar's commentaries by the way he says that the German king replied by saying essentially if I have something to say to you I come to you if you have something to say to me you come to me and then begins a line of discussion that's hard to understand if you're looking at this from Caesar's point of view because the German leader begins to question Caesar about maybe you could say the legality as they would understand it in the ancient world for all these things he's doing and cites legal arguments that you couldn't use now I mean you'd have to be a Nazi to use arguments like right of conquest today but that was something
Starting point is 02:27:31 that was actually sometimes part of the rules back then and this German leader will cleverly say over and over again we're not doing anything you don't do you know so why are you interfering the arguments that Ariovistus makes through the pen of Caesar are just as compelling as the ones that the Helvetians kind of made when they were trying to ask the Romans can we please come through your territory it's a humanitarian crisis maybe and a modern readership has a whole different feel for it maybe than Caesar's audience would because Ariovistus looks to the modern reader maybe to be making some really good points when Caesar tells him in the next letter which is much more direct you will do this you will do that or we're gonna have problems he says you're gonna
Starting point is 02:28:18 release the hostages of our allies you're gonna stop attacking our allies you're gonna stop bringing more Germans from over the Rhine River and Ariovistus straight up answers him Caesar basically says with defiance but here's the problem the only information you have about this is from Caesar and in one sense he's the best person in the world to give it to you because he met this guy face to face and talk to him on the other hand he's the worst person in the world to tell this to you because nobody has more of a vested interest in slanting in his way Caesar says that the message that came back from this barbarian again not sounding very much like a barbarian maybe barbarian lawyers helping him out with the legalese he says to Caesar this is from the essay handford edition
Starting point is 02:29:01 of Caesar quote in reply Ariovistus said that it was the recognized custom of war for victors to rule the vanquished in any way they pleased and that the Romans acted on this principle by governing their conquered subjects not according to the dictates of any third party but at their own discretion since he did not dictate to them how they were to exercise their rights he ought not to be interfered with in the exercise of his it was because the edui that tribe that's allied to Rome it's because the edui had tried the fortune of war and were the losers in the fight that they had to pay him tribute and Caesar was doing him a serious wrong in coming to Gaul and causing him a loss of revenue he would not return the hostages to the edui but would refrain from making any
Starting point is 02:29:48 wanton attack upon them or their allies if they kept their agreement and paid the tributes regularly every year if they did not the title of brothers of the roman people would not save them from the consequences i am not impressed he concluded by Caesar's threat to punish my in quotes oppression of these people no one has ever fought me without bringing destruction upon himself let him attack whenever he pleases he will discover what german valor is capable of we have never known defeat we have had superb training in arms and for 14 years we have never sheltered beneath the roof end quote in Caesar's mind that's basically the equivalent of saying it's on and so he starts to send his army toward the german he says the german starts to send his
Starting point is 02:30:37 army towards Caesar there's this strategic town that ends up between the two armies so Caesar you know basically going day and night you know pushing his men to get there first gets there first like all great generals he understands the value of speed and they lock themselves in this Celtic town and they're prepared to defend it and all looks pretty good for Caesar except that the people that have taken over this town his soldiers start talking to the local Gaulic people and those people start telling Caesar's troops about these germans and what they're like and how they can't even look them in the face without you know running away and Caesar says all of their gossip makes his army scared and the rumors of what the Germans are like freak him out and he specifically
Starting point is 02:31:22 singles out you have to love this the folks back home in Rome probably did too those young men on the make sort of the sons of the rich senators and whatnot who need a little military experience on their resume before they start their running for Roman office and nothing too scary you understand so maybe just a nice you know we could go after some migrants with Caesar look good on the resume and all will be well Caesar says that when they're looking at facing these ferocious scary unknown beasts from the edge of the world that the Gaulic people who normally scare the Romans a little have said oh they scare us Caesar says these young men on the make all of a sudden are finding good reasons why they're urgently needed back in Rome he says the fear spreads
Starting point is 02:32:06 to the rest of the ranks and people start drawing up their wills and he says they're breaking into tears you know at strange times and they're bemoaning their fate and all these kind of stuff which of course let's be honest now Caesar's built up this enemy so that when he conquers them he'll be that much greater he's also creating a need in the army for him because he's going to go in there and with a combination of shaming people but also logical arguments throw in a little bit of theater and you know you can Caesar says anyway whip the army into shape and let's be honest we've seen this with other great generals also it's often a quality that people associate with great general ship right the ability to turn around the morale of your troops and rally them
Starting point is 02:32:48 Caesar says then as soon as the German approaches that the king of the Germans are he vistas okay now that i'm here we can have this discussion you wanted to have and Caesar has this wonderful moment where they meet on like a hill in the middle of a giant you know flat area and they weren't allowed to bring their armies close to each other so their armies are like in the distance and only 10 guys on horseback are supposed to accompany each leader and we're told they have the conversation in Golic so this German king supposedly speaks Golic and Caesar probably had a good friend who could translate for him Caesar says basically the same thing he'd said in the note to the German ruler and the German ruler says something similar
Starting point is 02:33:24 to what he said before back you know questioning Caesar's right to do this pointing out that we all live by the same rules you conquer your people and you decide what happens to him afterwards that's the rule we live by and then he says and it's a wonderful line where he questions Caesar's motives and he says i think all this is just so much pretense for you coming here to crush me and then he says and unless you take your army out of this country right now you know he's gonna finish Caesar and then he tells him but if you do leave right now i'll be happy to be your muscle man here in Germany and in Gaul and anytime you need a favor you won't even have to lift a finger and i'll do it for you so it's a little bit of a carrot and stick sort of offer and once again if
Starting point is 02:34:10 you were a neutral arbitrator you might say something like hey that's not a bad deal so let's stop for a minute and say that you're really dying at this point in the story for an outsider's viewpoint anyone else besides Caesar here because he's really tough to read at this point why is he putting these sorts of you know accusatory good arguments into the mouth of one of his characters that he wants you to want him to conquer we mentioned earlier there were a couple of roman writers that came after Caesar a seatonius is one and that's not very long after Caesar about a century and a half or two centuries afterwards there's a guy named Cassius Dio and Dio has a much more gritty
Starting point is 02:34:52 view of Caesar and his motivations and essentially is one of those guys that falls into the camp that sees Caesar doing this for the most base reasons you can think of he's involved in this monumental gamble in the politics of Rome where his involvement in this region risking his life and and devoting his entire existence year after year to this cause in Gaul is only because of what benefits he can glean from it in the politics of Rome and he's desperately in need of things like money and conquests and honors and he's got to keep this military command going because the moment that his term in office is over he's prosecutable by his enemies and they're licking their chops back in Rome waiting to get to him at the same time you know at least at this point
Starting point is 02:35:43 in history he has to assume that this is not a permanent command so he's on a bit of a time clock if Caesar really wants to do these great things he's going to end up doing in Gaul he's got a limited amount of time to do it and Cassius Dio is one of the people that says that everything Caesar is doing here is the equivalent of poking the Germans with a stick trying to get them all roused up so you'd have an excuse to go in there and kill a bunch of them Dio by the way confuses us entirely by saying that Ariovistus isn't a king of the Germans he's a king of the Celts that means one of two things either Cassius Dio is a lazy Roman ethnographer and there were plenty and doesn't really draw a distinction but if he's accurate then you have to say well why did Caesar
Starting point is 02:36:31 call him a German what's the point of Caesar doing that what does he gain by creating this new group of people that may have been a generic name that once upon a time only applied to one tribe in modern day Germany this from my Herbert Baldwin foster edition by the way and I should point out that Dio's pronouns and use of pronouns is sometimes confusing so I'm going to insert the name of the person he's talking about in place of the pronouns so it makes more sense Dio writes quote now Ariovistus was the ruler of those Celts his dominion had been ratified by actions of the Romans and he had been registered among their friends and allies by Caesar himself in his consulship in comparison however with the glory to be derived from the war and the power which that glory would bring the
Starting point is 02:37:23 Roman general Caesar he did none of those considerations except as in so far as he wished to get some excuse for the quarrel from the barbarian so that it should not be thought that there was any grievance against him Caesar at the start therefore he sent for Ariovistus pretending that he wanted to hold some conversation with him Ariovistus instead of obeying replied and this is close to Caesar's own description by the way if Caesar wishes to tell me anything let him come himself to me I am not in any way inferior to him and a man who has need of anyone must always go to that person at this Caesar showed anger on the grounds that Ariovistus had insulted all the Romans and Caesar immediately demanded of Ariovistus the hostages of the allies and forbade him either
Starting point is 02:38:12 to set foot on their land or to bring against them any auxiliary force from home this Caesar did not do with the idea of scaring him but because he hoped to make him furious and by that means to gain a great and fitting pretext for the war what was expected took place the barbarian enraged at the injunctions made a long and outrageous reply so that Caesar no longer bandied words with him end quote that's a completely different view isn't it Cassius Dio also gives a very different account of Caesar rallying his terrified Romans in the Gallic town that we just discussed rather than being one of the few non-terrified people who could then spread his lack of fear to his entire army Dio basically has the troops looking at what
Starting point is 02:39:06 they're up against and thinking maybe that they shouldn't even be up against them they're not so mad at the Germans they're mad at the guy who put him in a situation where they should be fighting the Germans and according to Dio they are very aware of what role they play in this whole thing they're the pawns in Caesar's game to further Caesar's career and they also seem to realize politically speaking that this is outside the boundaries maybe of what the Romans themselves would consider a legal military venture Cassius Dio says that when these Romans are scared in that Gallic town they're scared because they keep hearing about the Germans and the Germans are coming he says it leaves them deeply dejected and then he says quote alarmed by the stature of their
Starting point is 02:39:55 enemies by their numbers their boldness and consequent ready threats they were in such a mood as to feel that they were going to contend not against men but against uncanny and ferocious beasts and the talk was that they were undertaking a war which was none of their business and had not been decreed merely on account of Caesar's personal ambition and they threatened also to leave him in the lurch if he should not change his course end quote that's not a bunch of scared soldiers who get their fear rallied out of them by a charismatic leader this is a bunch of troops who fully realize what's going on here are angry at their leader for putting them in this position and are threatening mutiny if he doesn't change the course he's on i mean that's a very different
Starting point is 02:40:45 story right there isn't it i'm not sure it really matters though in terms of how it reflects on Caesar's reputation because either way it really says something about the guy that he was able to rally those troops and put them in a position in a state of mind where they could face this German leader either a king or maybe Ariovistus was an elected war leader for a confederation of tribes it's argued about but that's a guy Ariovistus who has the entire at least central part and in fact you could say most of Gaul cowed by his power and authority and Caesar turns these either mutinous or petrified with fear or some combination of the two troops and gets them out in the field against this guy now the way the battle shapes up supposedly as it starts with a bunch of maneuvering this is
Starting point is 02:41:37 the very unsexy side of military history people like yours truly who like to cut right to the chase we like our nice you know well organized and set up field battles in a nice level valley where you've had a lot of time for both sides to set up and then you have your super big encounter but truthfully in real history if one of the generals had done his job or her job you should have the other side beaten by the time you get to that point and it's sometimes the big maneuvering on the strategic level that does that but sometimes it's just the little shading here and the slight advantage there and they all add up generals throughout history have been almost neurotic about figuring out the little elements you know to gain advantage and there are quite a few different periods in history
Starting point is 02:42:28 where because of the military technology and the limitations if both sides didn't actively want to fight a battle sometimes it didn't happen if one side wanted to avoid it oftentimes it was easy to do the 17th and 18th century probably like the high watermark of that a few hundred years ago where because of the way things were you know if one side didn't want to fight a battle it almost never happened so in this period Caesar and the German commander are both sort of jockeying for position and maneuvering and one of the things about the Romans that makes them so you know again another unsexy side of military history but the Roman soldiers are about half devastating soldier and about half construction worker and these people could set up fortifications in real time
Starting point is 02:43:16 in a way that actually affected the battles in a day to day situation I mean in the case with aria vistas the maneuvering actually takes the form of both sides trying to march around the other and camp on their lines of supply so cut them off when the Germans did it they would take wagons and whatnot supposedly with them and sort of you know put them in a circle like pioneers in the old west used to do of course they had a lot more wagons we're talking about a lot bigger structures but when the Romans would build a camp even a small sub camp they would build it like an old fort in the old american west you know I mean we're talking about with timber and guard towers and maybe even artillery in the guard towers and the Romans were so good at this and often did it
Starting point is 02:44:03 every night when they were out in the field that they had this down to a science I mean everybody knew exactly where to go and how to do and what it was going to look out in the layout was always the same so when the Romans camped on your line of supply you'd wake up the next morning and there would be a fort there where there was open country the day before so then after the initial maneuverings once the Romans had this fort and too good of a position the Germans are launching attacks against the fort and those are beaten off and there's a bunch of this kind of preliminary but still pretty large-scale skirmishing before Caesar maybe some historians think is beginning to have supply problems himself there's a lot more of the natives around him here and he seems to be
Starting point is 02:44:45 in danger and needing to fight a battle or get out and so he says he draws the army up in battle formation and marches it out toward the Germans on several occasions by the way by this time period the Roman battle formation by the way is three big lines deep usually and Caesar says that's the way he lines up and just so you know that means a different thing from ranks ranks are the number of troops that are lined up you know one behind the other and oftentimes each of these lines is between and this is not just for Romans for anyone four to like 16 ranks deep a pike formation maybe 12 or 16 ranks the Romans more four to eight but then there'll be a dead zone of maybe 50 yards 30 yards 100 yards and then there'll be another line of men lined up in ranks so this would be
Starting point is 02:45:34 the Roman second line and then the Romans would often have a third line this seems like common sense when you think about it today but in the ancient world this was very unusual the Romans have reserves and time and again it will save them in these battles because they will find out oh something's going wrong someplace and oh guess what we have about 20 to 25 percent of our total force unengaged just sitting back there throw them into the troubled area and time and again it saves them in this battle Caesar is very cut and dried remember this is not a true history he's writing this is supposed to be sort of in the format of you know dispatches from the front and sometimes he'll talk about you know what's going on in the battle at length but you would think with a really
Starting point is 02:46:17 important one like this one he'd go into great detail and he doesn't he basically says when the real clash of arms comes this battle is supposed to have been fought most historians thinking what's now Alsace but no one's sure probably on the west bank of the Rhine somewhere the Romans probably had in the neighborhood of 30 000 men the Germans who knows you usually see from 50 to 100 thousand although you get the occasional outlier I love Hans Delbrook as you know and he's usually a great neutral arbitrator unless there's Germans involved in which case he's got his homer glasses on and he doesn't see things quite as unbiased and he thinks the Romans outnumbered the Germans but he's unusual so we'll set him aside there and just assume the Romans were probably somewhat out
Starting point is 02:47:05 numbered perhaps two to one in the worst case scenario Caesar says that the battle takes place so quickly there's no time for the usual exchange of missiles the Romans love to throw those heavy javelins they do a lot of damage when you throw them you know all at once hundreds of thousands of men throwing these heavy javelins all at once but the Germans and the Romans end up charging each other too quickly for that and it gets right to a sword slog right away Caesar says that the flank he's on begins to push the German flank opposite them back but that the other Roman flank on the far side of the battlefield is being overwhelmed by the German numbers he then says that a Roman officer that he names by name because he's on horseback can see the problem
Starting point is 02:47:52 from a distance and realize uh-oh somebody better order the third line that's not doing anything right now in to fix this situation and he does so and he saves the battle Caesar by the way names this person as the son of the richest guy in Rome Crassus who if you recall is one of the members of the first triumvirate along with Caesar and Pompey so you see in a way Caesar still doesn't forget you know where his bread is buttered and how to play the wonderful game of politics and you scratch my back and I scratch yours remember Caesar was allegedly not able to leave Rome at one point because his creditors wouldn't let him out of the city until Crassus paid the bill well now all of a sudden here in this battle where Caesar doesn't go into depth
Starting point is 02:48:40 about much of anything he goes out of his way to mention a single individual the son of the guy who paid the debts for him and oh by the way he's basically saying without that guy you know we lost that battle against the Germans that's a little bit of a honor to the family isn't it so maybe paying back a favor or maybe putting Crassus in debt for a future one nonetheless Caesar's never far from playing the game in this case the game is deadly as you might imagine these Germans once again are supposed to have come with the wagons and the families and the women on the wagons you know with the disheveled hair screaming at the men please don't let us fall into slavery the problem with having all these women and wagons on the battlefield is
Starting point is 02:49:26 obviously that at some point the battle moves from where it started to the wagons and the people in the wagons and once again we have a battle where it's implied more than laid out for you but that the Romans kill a lot of civilians including some of the relatives of Ariovistus who somehow gets away but we don't hear any more from him the Germans will run miles to the Rhine Caesar says there will be more Germans that are just about to come over and help and as soon as they hear about the big defeat of Ariovistus they turn around and go home what Caesar's doing here from a macro perspective though if you think about it is that there were a bunch of powers that were the power brokers in this region before Caesar intervened and that would have been last year so think about
Starting point is 02:50:12 how quickly everything's happening Caesar has essentially neutered one of them the Helvetian one of the most powerful tribes of the Celts is now a shadow of what it was just months before because of what Caesar did do it and now this player from outside the Stratigo or risk map board who'd come in and intervened in Gallic politics is smashed and sent packing back over the Rhine this thing that Caesar portrays as a border what's crazy to think about is that all of this has happened in the year 58 BCE because when you think about the ancient world you think about a world that in many cases moves much more slowly than the modern one and yet Caesar has a blitzkrieg going on in gall he says and some historians will will date three battles some
Starting point is 02:51:01 some will date two battles depending on whether you consider that first slaughter of the Helvetians when a quarter of their number were caught on on the far side of the river to be a battle or not but nonetheless in that one really six to eight months because they don't campaign most of the time in the winter Caesar's done all this damage and changed the you know power structure of this region if he thought it was destabilized before he got involved and that was the excuse for getting involved he's totally destabilized it now but winter's coming so what does Caesar do well he puts his army in winter quarters and he goes back to the area just north of Rome to keep an eye on Roman politics and sort of think about his next move now here's the thing you could make a case
Starting point is 02:51:44 if you wanted to and some have that everything Caesar just accomplished was done you know in a crisis situation in hot pursuit whether it was the migration of the Helvetians which is you know as we said earlier it's like if you woke up this morning and found 200,000 people you know on your border just unexpectedly it'd be some sort of a crisis so that's the way Caesar portrays it so if you give him the benefit of the doubt just say well you know he had to react you couldn't go back to Rome and ask for votes and authority you just that's part of what you do is a head of the province you go in there and you you roll with the punches so Caesar had to do that and then the Germans and their involvement I mean that was also the same thing I mean they were coming over the border
Starting point is 02:52:21 it was getting worse you had it was a critical situation but now you're taking the winter off we go from a hot blood situation to cold blood where you can think about what you want to do now I love the way Tom Holland as an author he's great at building this sense of suspense and he portrays the Gauls at this point in his book Rubicon as sort of waking up together to the fact that they're in the process of being conquered it's a strange thing but it's happening so quickly and because the Gaulic tribes are you know separate from each other if they conquer the tribe next to you does that mean you're being conquered well not necessarily and you might not be too panicked but if enough of the big tribes near you are being conquered and if you
Starting point is 02:53:06 happen to know just a little of the history of Roman behavior in other Celtic areas Spain for example or northern Italy or what's now southern France you understand that these Romans have a track record they come in they defeat the Celtic people they begin to settle and in a generation or two the Celtic people become short-haired Gauls and in a couple generations after that they become Togo wearing Gauls and Tom Holland presents this case where once Caesar puts his troops in winter quarters in the middle of Gaul it sends a signal to everyone that hey wait a minute he's here to stay and if we're going to prevent a complete takeover as has happened to other Celtic peoples it's time to get serious about defending this place Tom Holland writes quote
Starting point is 02:53:57 that winter of 58 57 bc rather than withdrawing his legions back into his province Caesar left them billeted a hundred miles north of the frontier deep in the territory of a supposedly independent tribe once again an illegal measure was justified by the proconsul as an active forward defense this was an argument that may have satisfied public opinion back in Rome but it did nothing to ease a mounting sense of outrage in Gaul itself the full implications of Caesar's new policy were by now starting to hit home what precisely would satisfy the roman's desire for a defensible frontier if the Rhine to the east then why not the channel to the north or the Atlantic coast to the west across frozen forests and fields from village to village
Starting point is 02:54:46 from chieftains hall to chieftains hall the same rumor was born the romans were aiming to pacify all Gaul that in quotation marks as warriors burnished their glittering jewel wrought shields and striplings eager to prove themselves ready for battle forwarded ice sheeted streams with full armor on their backs so rival tribes sought to patch up their differences free Gaul prepared itself for war end quote i think a sure sign of the way Caesar was thinking during this time period is his excuse for going back into Gaul and continuing to fight even though these things you know these crisis moments that had forced him to respond are done with he says the very act of these people deciding to work together against him justified him going after them
Starting point is 02:55:46 this is from my carol and Hammond translation when Caesar refers to Caesar he's talking of himself in the third person and when he talks about the belgay he's talking about this kind of Celtic people as he describes it to the north of the area he's been campaigning the people that actually make up what was the population modern day belgium part of the netherlands part of germany and part of northeastern france a much larger area than modern day belgium and some of them may have migrated across the channel to southeastern britain too but it's these tribes of belgay that are uniting against Caesar so he points out that well obviously it's a conspiracy the Hammond translation says quote as we mentioned above Caesar was in nearer Gaul
Starting point is 02:56:35 where he heard a host of rumors confirmed by a letter from labienus that all the belgay who make up one third of Gaul as we said before were hatching a plot against the roman people and exchanging hostages the reason for this plot were as follows first they were afraid that our army would march against them now that all the rest of Gaul had been subdued secondly they were being stirred up by a number of the Gauls some of whom had been unwilling for the germans to have any further involvement in Gaul and were equally reluctant for the army of the roman people to overwinter and become established there others were of a volatile and unstable disposition the sort of men who delight in changes of rule yet another group incited the belgay to conspire
Starting point is 02:57:18 because it was common in Gaul for men who possessed some degree of power and the means to higher support to seize regal power something which would be more difficult to achieve under our rule end quote now if we look at this as a neutral arbitrator here once again Caesar is essentially indicting these people for doing exactly what they should be doing if you think about this logically because Caesar's just smashed one of the most powerful tribes in Gaul he's got the support of another who are roman allies he just kicked the dreaded germans out if you believe that these really were germans and he's taken the surrender and submission of a bunch of other Gaulic tribes who are cowed now by what he's accomplished and these people to the north all these tribes that
Starting point is 02:58:06 Caesar says are he kind of implies that they're part Celtic and part German but this is free Gaul at this point these are the tribes that have the ability to raise a lot of troops and still fight Caesar and Caesar says and it's not hard to believe that these fifth columnists from friendly tribes and and tribes that have already submitted are you know secretly whispering in the ear of the belgay too in other words there is an anti-roman insurgency in Gaul and Caesar's talking about it here and once again the simple fact that it exists legitimizes his involvement in the region to stop it allegedly this tribal confederation in the north these belgay tribes will be able to put together almost 300 000 warriors not women children old people and all that but warriors
Starting point is 02:58:58 once again you can't help but contrast that with what the native americans are trying to resist you know expansion in north america with you know 1500 or maybe 2000 on a really good day warriors and here Caesar's trying to figure out how to tackle with no guns right with no cannon nothing like that 300 000 native peoples even if that number is high what if it's 200 000 one of my favorite stories which kind of in my mind shows how you know you can do things in different ways and accomplish the same goals when you think of the really bureaucratic ancient states when you think of an egypt or a china or in a syria or a rome even and you think okay when they needed an army how did they muster it how did they put it together how did they raise it you think of a
Starting point is 02:59:44 really bureaucratic affair the only thing missing are the ipads for these people i mean there'll be paper records there'll be all kinds of stuff it's a modern you know organizational situation where you raise armies so how did tribes do it especially tribes that had lots of people well there's an ancient source that says that the Celtic method for this was a variation if you will on the idea of last one in is a rotten egg it's last one who arrives to the muster gets tortured to death in front of the army isn't that wickedly efficient and yet in a decentralized sort of tribal way we're not going to get to uh we're not going to get too specific about it there's not going to be written records not going to do all that but the last guy who shows up to the muster yeah we kill him
Starting point is 03:00:29 by slow torture in front of the whole army just so you know see you soon i love that i hope that's true just because that's that's wonderfully colorful and yet the problems that these tribes have is that they need all these people to resist roman encroachment but the larger these so-called barbarian armies get the harder they are to feed i mean just imagine instead of 300 000 we'll play with a nice smaller number 200 000 well that's what two three modern football stadiums how long can you feed that with barbarian logistics hand style brook you know i love to quote because he's so materialistic and down to earth and scoffs and everything he points out that this is where the unsexy advantage of the of the so-called civilized bureaucratic states really is the ability to feed people in
Starting point is 03:01:20 the field so that they're there to fight doesn't matter how many people your opponent has if they're starving they're not going to be that good or if the army has to break up because they can't find food well you're not really an army of 300 000 people then are you you're a bunch of smaller armies spread out over a wider area trying to find enough stuff to keep your troops from starving to death and that means the enemy can defeat you bit by bit which is what caesar does caesar will also have his gallic allies attack individual tribes that are part of this belgay confederation and keep them busy while he concentrates on other ones once again caesar says that these people are particularly ferocious and once again he blames it on the fact that they're not corrupted by
Starting point is 03:02:03 roman luxuries that they're a long way from rom which keeps them somewhat insulated and i've read archaeological works that do say that the farther north you go from rom the smaller the towns get the less urbanized sort of core you have the more the governments begin to resemble governments that have gone out of fashion in the parts of gall closer to rom like aristocracies and kings so maybe there's some truth to it it's hard to explain why these belgay people were so much tougher than the surrounding galls if indeed they were they don't seem to have been more numerous or better led they don't have better equipment or training they don't have more money i mean none of none of the things where you might be able to say well there's a legitimate reason
Starting point is 03:02:52 why these people lorded over the gallic neighbors caesar says it's basically because they're tougher and more ferocious if you don't accept that because that's a stereotypical rhetorical trope and it is well how do you explain it a friend of mine that was a military history major i went to college with he had the best answer i'd ever heard to this his answer was he just wasn't buying any of it he wasn't believing any of this stuff caesar said in his mind any question about how tough this tribe was versus how tough that tribe was is all stuff caesar throws in there to make caesar look better he says you can never know about that kind of stuff so he's going to use the only you know facts that you have out there on the table to form a most likely scenario he said the
Starting point is 03:03:44 one fact on the table here that is clear from everything and that screams through the sources is that this roman army was incomparably better than the foes that they faced it's not a very good story though if you talk about how you know you pitted the roman army maybe the best of the roman armies arguably the best of the roman armies that was ever fielded if you say that yes our army came it cut through the barbarians like butter it was no competition a child could have commanded the romans and destroyed the barbarians that's not a very good way to frame your self-promotional piece that you're sending back to roam is it and my friend just doesn't buy any of that in his mind the only thing you know for sure
Starting point is 03:04:30 is that these battles sound like slaughters and even though caesar usually tries to throw in a near-run moment yes it was touch and go for a while but then we crush them it doesn't really seem that way and the roman advantages are hard for most modern people certainly for me to really understand because there's something about the way we're raised in this technological error that we live in that whenever you talk about vast differences between military capabilities we assume it's got to be mostly technological and that's easy for us to conceptualize if you say one side of this battle had machine guns and the other had bows and arrows our modern brain goes oh well that's a slaughter right the technological difference is going to equal a certain outcome
Starting point is 03:05:13 but if you tell us that two armies you know two thousand years ago were really different in terms of what they could do to each other and how you know nasty they were but they're very similar in terms of actual weapons technology it's hard for us to understand what it is that makes up the differences that could account for that and of course all the experts who really understand and there are few experts on real ancient warfare but they'll tell you you know this is what drill and discipline does this is what equipping basically most of your troops with armor and metal helmets does and we used an example once I've imagined two NFL teams deciding to have a football game but one team's not allowed any pads or helmets or anything and now imagine that both sides are
Starting point is 03:05:57 actually playing with edged weapons and it's a lot more nasty even than pro football you could see where that might be a big advantage also so you throw that in with the drill with I mean there's a lot that goes into it but it's not as I said a very good story if you say the Romans came and destroyed the barbarians and it was no trouble at all and in my friend's mind that's why you need to keep pumping up this next tribe that Caesar's gonna face and you thought that was bad this one's even worse because it begins to get a little monotonous Caesar's not losing any of these battles and he's not even coming close really until you end up with one of these tribes doing what common sense would dictate at a certain point you should do which is if Caesar's got this
Starting point is 03:06:43 incomparably fantastic army and if it's eating you alive on the battlefield stop facing it you don't have to right it's not prescribed and it's hard for certain cultures sometimes because when you get to these warrior cultures that have a heroic sort of personal ethos where how you do in battle and bravery and conspicuous bravery right out in front of other people and fair fights and duels and all that is part of your makeup to talk about sub-diffusion ambushing and stuff like that well it doesn't always mesh so well with the warrior spirit but believe me necessities the mother of invention and when Caesar goes to take on the various tribes of the belgay the belgay by the way is another way to pronounce it the first thing that happens is they get these
Starting point is 03:07:33 large numbers of people together which they can't feed so Caesar apparently waits them out there'll be some skirmishing a little bit of this a little bit of that but it looks like Caesar's plan is to just sit there and absorb all the food he can from his own logistical services while he watches the enemy around him supposedly in the 300 000 numerical range begin to starve so of course I have to quote Hans delbrook here because he's the logistical guy delbrook explains Caesar's foray into northern gall where the belgic or belgic people live and says quote the belgay also belgay had a premonition of their impending danger united their forces and when Caesar crossed their borders moved out against him with a large allied army but civilization has means of warfare that are
Starting point is 03:08:22 lacking to barbarians the belgay were no doubt capable of assembling a large army but not of holding it together and feeding it just as the kimberi and two tones those barbarians from Caesar's birth period had to split up on their campaign into italy and were defeated individually by Marius Caesar instead of moving immediately into a decisive battle against an army of the same size as his or perhaps considerably larger found the means of splitting up the allied army so that he could then deal with only individual tribes in the meantime delbrook writes Caesar had organized two new legions so that he now had a total of eight with his auxiliary troops of Numidians Cretans Belirics and Gallic cavalry his army may have well numbered fifty thousand combatants
Starting point is 03:09:09 and a grand total of eighty thousand to a hundred thousand souls in order to feed such a mass in one place for a rather long time one must have a very strong and reliable organization transport suppliers and finance system the romans had such means whereas the belgay did not and then he points out that wicked ability of the romans to sort of make stationary field fortifications a battlefield weapon delbrook says quote but Caesar had still other means at his disposal he set up a camp on the north bank of the ayn ayn river and his army was so well equipped with tools and his soldiers so well disciplined and so well trained in their techniques that within the shortest possible time an impregnable fortress stood there end quote to give you an idea of size and size varied depending
Starting point is 03:10:02 on how large the roman force that needed to be in the camp happened to be but some of these camps could be well over a hundred acres in size and they always had a ditch and they always had a rampard and the roman soldiers carried sharpened stakes when they marched so that at night they could stick those stakes into the earth and rampart so it became a pin cushion around the camp there were guard towers and walls and every day the camp stayed in the same spot and didn't move it became more sophisticated deeper more defensible more finished and if you were there long enough roman tents which were laid out on a prescribed roman road grid system which included a main street inside you know this little roman town is what it amounted to these tents would turn into cabins
Starting point is 03:10:46 if that camp were there long enough there'd be artillery and they could put it up so fast you know as we said earlier i believe the roman soldiers about half soldier and about half construction worker and that construction worker side was more important than you might think you fans of the romans know already though it's it's something that they brought to the table which was unusual there were other armies that could create uh camps and were obsessive about creating camps to to protect themselves for example went on campaign but the romans almost used their construction ability in an offensive way it's fabulous unless of course you're a gallic opponent in which case you know how disheartening is it to think okay we've got a nice relatively open
Starting point is 03:11:28 battlefield here where we're going to fight these romans tomorrow and then wake up in the morning to find fortifications on that battlefield and artillery and i should point out when we say artillery we obviously mean roman and greek style artillery nothing gunpowdery in this case a lot of it was what's called torsion devices and i've seen these things and i still don't understand the principle but it involves twisted sinews and it stores up a lot of energy and when it's released you can fling stones or projectiles that look like big heavy arrows or spears from these weapons and by the way these weapons come in all shapes and sizes and the very largest of them are rather enormous but in this case most of the ones we're talking about are lighter weapons
Starting point is 03:12:17 Caesar specifically in one of my translations refers to one of the uh artillery pieces involved as a one pounder and i had to go look that up a one pounder means the stone itself that this weapon flung weighed one pound but i read another source that talked about the fear error that these stones flying through the air at high speed and the sound they made the fear that that generated sometimes if you were on the receiving end of those maybe this is how you outclass an opponent when your weapons systems are not all that dissimilar i mean they're both using edged weapons that are metal they've both got spears they both you know use human sinew power for you know tactical battlefield stuff but the roman artillery is pretty awesome
Starting point is 03:13:01 and having the logistical and organizational capability to build a fortress overnight that's pretty important and effective too add to that what we've been talking about the ability to feed your army on campaign and it easily explains how Caesar's campaign against these tribes of belgay actually work out as we said he may be facing 300 000 of these warriors up in the north here near the english channel but how do you feed a barbarian army that large the answer is apparently you don't Caesar says the tribes come together and have a meeting and say um we got to go home everybody's got to go back to their own homes we know we can feed ourselves so we'll all go back to our own homes and when we get there if Caesar attacks any of us everybody will come to the aid
Starting point is 03:13:48 of the attack right historians are divided as to whether or not that is a realistic defense strategy some sort of pact or whether it is a cop out sham to cover up a every man for himself or every tribe for himself sort of attitude for those curious hands down brook falls into the latter category but these tribes decide to break up and go home well let's pretend it is 300 000 people when they decide to go home and they've been facing Caesar how do they even go about this i mean isn't like didn't we compare things to woodstock the woodstock rock concert earlier well what happens when woodstock breaks up well lots of people in large masses just sort of go streaming in the opposite direction so what do you do if you're Caesar and you're an opportunist
Starting point is 03:14:35 well you attack don't you and he sent his cavalry running through these crowds of people spearing them shooting them just running them dead killed untold numbers and all of these belgic tribes ran back to wherever their tribal homeland was they seem to have decided that they were going to hold up most of the time in these hill forts of theirs which by the way if you've never seen one go look at an aerial photo they're awesome basically what these peoples did was find you know nature's fortification where nature had crafted a wonderful area to defend and then added you know human touches some timber here some stonework there and what have you but if you have a nice flat giant hill and you have maybe a nice river that curves around a whole side of it forming a defensive
Starting point is 03:15:24 obstacle i mean you're you got a pretty good start and a lot of these tribes maybe thought that they could hold out in these locations and they were wrong apparently all Caesar had to do was show up to some of these nasty scary tribes that he talked about and the second they saw him they gave up one tribe big nasty tribe tens of thousands of warriors Caesar says they saw the roman siege weapons and went i'm out if you're gonna use those i'm out so overawed by roman technology there he says another one of those big nasty tribes he didn't even get within five miles of their hill fort and they were coming out to say we're done he says the last of the big tribes that was opposing him were this tribe called the nervy or the nervy eye way up in the north right the scary north he says that they
Starting point is 03:16:12 took their people their wives and their children and their elderly and their animals and their baggage and possessions and they took them into the deep dark swamps where the romans couldn't get them and we're gonna resist so of course Caesar takes the army into the land of the nervy eye and he says one day you know they're deciding where they're gonna camp for the night because we talked about that right they're a little obsessive about the camps but if you're as bad at scouting and reconnaissance as the romans are always joked about being as one of my friends also said if you're as bad at scouting as the romans are you better have a good camp with big walls and towers and in this case Caesar has his army arriving in a long column down a road
Starting point is 03:16:55 because where we like to talk about field battles all the time let's understand that most of the time these armies are on the move and when they're on the move they're stretched out in a long line like a snake all the way into the distance very vulnerable position to be in and when the head of the snake arrives at the campsite for the night Caesar tells those legions that are there first to start building the camp the legions at the very tail of the snake won't be arriving for some time Caesar chooses another one of these hills that if you've been paying attention he likes all throughout his writings he likes a nice hill that could put most of his army on it size wise he likes a nice gentle slope on one side he loves it if you can have a terrain feature to guard a flank
Starting point is 03:17:38 and in this case there's a river at the bottom of the softly sloping hill he says it's only about three feet deep but it's there then he says on the opposite side of the river is a mere image of his hill it slopes up from the river gently he says there's about 200 paces so think about a couple of football fields of um sort of open country and then there's a wood on the top of the hill so Caesar has the you know lead legions put down their packs you know put their military stuff aside get their hammers their nails the timber the shovels and begin making the camp and transform themselves into these amazing construction workers meanwhile he says and this could be open to question by the way first because what's about to happen here will earn Caesar some criticism
Starting point is 03:18:22 during his own lifetime and from military experts ever since but he says I put out my cavalry and my light troops and had them screening this whole operation right to protect the vulnerable legions that were you know under construction at the moment as more and more of my troops arrived from the column eventually Caesar will have six legions there building the fort with more on the way and he says my cavalry is skirmishing with some of the belgay cavalry and he says and then my baggage comes into view in the distance so the Roman baggage is in the middle of this long column and it comes over the horizon and everyone can see it and he says when that happens that's the signal for the ambush to start he says that there's an army of nervy eye in the woods on the
Starting point is 03:19:13 opposite hill from Caesar's an army as my friend said right if you're going to be so bad at scouting you miss the army of barbarians in the woods across from where you're building a camp you better have a strong camp in this case right around the time Caesar's cavalry gets close enough to the woods maybe to figure out what's in there what's in there charges out of the woods Caesar says at astonishing speed that's by Carolyn Hammett Carolyn Hammett has the great line astonishing speed Caesar then goes on to say that they brush aside his cavalry and light infantry screen like an insect basically and they come screaming down the hill now we have no idea how big this hill is all we can say is that they scream down that hill they cross the three-foot river they start up the
Starting point is 03:20:07 next hill and that's the hill Caesar and six legions are on not ready for this now we talked earlier about why we chose this as a subject and I said I was fascinated with the tribal people in the situation that we've seen all throughout history trying to resist the encroachment of a more technologically and organizationally superior or more efficient culture and I chose this one because unlike the Native American example or the African example these people had a chance to win now they were never the betting favorites and the way that they've performed so far in battles against the Roman army demonstrates that but the numbers are so much larger than what the North American Native Americans for example could have put together
Starting point is 03:20:52 that you can see why you got to give these people you know to quote a boxing line the puncher's chance good luck figuring out how many people there are here if you're going to believe Caesar you're going to get up to numbers that are like 75,000 those seem absurd but there's a lot of Romans there and that's pretty confirmable so it's not going to be too low if you said 20,000 that's going to be four times the largest Native American force I've ever heard of four times and we're talking about it charging out of the woods all at once 20,000 would also be about how many Zulus were at that famous battle in the late 1800s where they wiped out a force of 13 or 1400 soldiers from Britain but the truth is it's probably larger than that so if you said 35,000
Starting point is 03:21:46 35,000 men charging out of a woods within running distance from you and that's how long you have to get your act together before they hit you and try to blow you away like a wave blowing through a few bathers on the beach Caesar goes into overdrive at this point and you begin to see you know what makes the guy so special he's not Alexander the great grabbing a spear and leading the cavalry into the charge Caesar does grab a shield he says but he begins to go and demonstrate leadership he also says that these veteran troops do a lot for themselves and Caesar had left their officers with him and so all of them would simply throw down their work tools grab a weapon that they could find Caesar says their shields were still in the leather cases their helmets weren't often around
Starting point is 03:22:38 and they just ran to the nearest standards they forgot anything about going to their own unit they're just trying to form a block of human beings that can resist this on rush that's coming toward them at full running speed and let's understand something the nervii tribesmen here are participating in a huge gamble because they certainly know that they are going to be like blown horses by the time they reach the roman lines they're taking this gamble that there won't be any roman lines when they get there yet and that they're going to be able to attack these romans while they're still divided and in small clumps that are unconnected to each other in which case they should be able to just blow them away but the gamble is if they don't they're not
Starting point is 03:23:20 going to have a whole lot left if this turns into any kind of a long-term slog they're doomed Caesar says he grabs a flag he says a couple of words of encouragement to the unit that he's with before going to the next unit to talk to them but by the time he gets to the next unit they're already engaged this is a moment here where these legions and Caesar with them could easily be overrun and it allows us to play with some counterfactuals we haven't really been able to discuss yet the first counterfactual is what if Caesar loses here the second counterfactual is what if Caesar dies here in the first case you know we had said earlier that the roman expansion into the tribal territory the rich tribal territory to the north of them seemed inevitable just like
Starting point is 03:24:09 manifest destiny seemed inevitable but maybe the question to ask is how many deaths would it take to make something that seemed inevitable not inevitable anymore because we can see that only about 65 years after this battle the romans will be ambushed by another tribe of people or tribes of people this time in germany modern-day germany and they're probably what we could call germans they will destroy this roman army in a famous battle called the tuterberger vault in 9 ad i believe it is the roman commander will commit suicide on the battlefield to avoid falling into the hands of his barbarian opponents which if you believe the hyped up roman sources is a good thing to do because the romans conduct it it's legendary would be a good way to put it a legendary mission
Starting point is 03:25:03 a couple years after the defeat and debacle to recover what's left of their dead comrades and they go into the deep dark forest and supposedly the these lurid details of of roman skeletons you know stapled to the trees and piles of skulls and religious altars with you know dead romans and blood everywhere i mean just this horrible tribal nightmarish visitation of all shall we say the native frustration at the situation and you have the famous story of the roman emperor at the time who will beat his head against the wall and supposedly yelled the name of the general who killed himself verus and say verus give me back my legions but that was only about 15 000 dead romans and whatever happened there was one of the main
Starting point is 03:25:52 components supposedly that made the romans decide you know what we don't need to advance any farther in germany anymore that's a good place to just set the border and we'll expand elsewhere if that really played that large of a role in the romans deciding not to go into germany any farther what if cesar lost twice that many men at this battle and what is twice that many men in the larger scheme of things so if you say gee could the natives have ever done anything to short circuit manifest destiny well i don't know what if they killed 30 000 american soldiers in an afternoon i went and did the math and you know these numbers are debatable too but i went to some common sources and i added up all of the combat deaths that the united states has suffered
Starting point is 03:26:38 from the wars of independence when we got our independence in this country up until the first world war started and then i subtracted the civil war because those are crazy deaths and everybody on both sides dying is an american casualty so total us combat deaths excluding the civil war up to 1917 and it's almost certainly under 30 000 if you lost all the people you lost from independence to the first world war minus the civil war in an afternoon would that have slowed down manifest destiny at all how much if the united states ran into a gallic kingdom on the other side the western side of the mississippi early on and they inflicted a 30 000 death afternoon on the united states what's the ramifications of that who knows
Starting point is 03:27:26 but remember the romans have no guns they have no cannon they're on this hill trying to deal with these people that are going to smash into them and cesar is running from unit to unit trying to help help it's the most critical point of his career so far if he dies here which is very very possible does the roman republic fall does the empire ever start i mean the dominos start tumbling if there's no cesar you know at the end of this afternoon and remember cesar is going to maximize his chances of becoming a casualty by continually you know running over to whichever part of his battle line if you can even call it something as organized as that whichever part is the most threatened right wherever the 911 call is he's
Starting point is 03:28:15 going to go there when the belgay when the nervy i managed to hit his troops his troops on the left are able to get off he says a throw of their pila the heavy javelin and then charge down the hill at this one group of Celts or belgay they will beat them chase them down the hill chase them over the river the warriors will then regroup and charge the romans again only to be beaten by the left wing of the romans again and that left wing will start advancing up the hill towards where the Celtic camp is cesar's center will also weather the storm and manage to do something similar by beating in hand-to-hand combat the warriors that they run into to their front and will also advance now the problem is is with the left and the center advancing you end up with an open space
Starting point is 03:29:12 the roman right wing no longer has any protection they're uncovered on the flank you might say and cesar says a giant group of these nervy i tribesmen with the commander in like a giant hammerhead column push through this gap and then once they're past the center point some of them turn around and begin to smash into the flank of cesar's right hand units some of them go straight on ahead toward the roman camp with thoughts of looting and burning and pillaging so cesar's right hand legions are now in trouble he runs over to them to try to help meanwhile when the Celtic forces the belgue forces break into cesar's camp and start looting the people that see that think the battle's over cesar says his cavalry and and light troops that had been
Starting point is 03:30:08 brushed aside like insects and beaten so badly when this first starts are just now we're really struggling into camp they look up and they see the very people who just beat the hell out of them running rampant through cesar's camp and they go that's that and they run away all of the civilian and you know average joe camp followers run in fear we're told even that cesar is very tough supposedly uh Celtic allied cavalry sees these belgue running rampant through the roman camp and figures they're done too so they turn around and go home in other words you know cesar's bad situation is getting worse by the moment so he runs over to the right flank where these units are in desperate trouble and basically portrays the situation as dire and collapse of the right flank
Starting point is 03:30:58 as imminent here's the way cesar describes the difficulties on the right flank this from my essay handford translation and remember when cesar writes cesar he's talking about himself in the third person quote after addressing the tenth legion cesar had gone to the right wing where he found the troops in difficulties the cohorts of the twelfth legion were packed together so closely that the men were in one another's way and could not fight properly all the centurions of the fourth cohort as well as the standard bearer were killed and the standard was lost nearly all the centurions of the other cohorts were either killed or wounded including the chief centurion publicly a sextious baculus a man of very great courage who was so disabled by a number of severe wounds that he
Starting point is 03:31:45 could no longer stand the men's movements were slow and some in the rear feeling themselves abandoned were retiring from the fight and trying to get out of range meanwhile the enemy maintained unceasing pressure up the hill in front and were also closing in on both flanks as the situation was critical and no reserves were available cesar snatched a shield from a soldier in the rear he had not his own shield with him made his way into the front line addressed each centurion by name and shouted encouragement to the rest of the troops ordering them to push forward and open out their ranks so that they could use their swords more easily his coming gave them fresh heart and hope each man wanted to do his best under the eyes of his commander in chief
Starting point is 03:32:29 however desperate the peril and the enemy's assault was slowed down a little end quote but the legion next door to that was having even worse trouble so cesar ran over there he ordered the commanders of that force to put his soldiers into a square so that they couldn't be outflanked and attacked from the rear anymore and that stabilized that situation historian adrian goldsworthy writes about this moment saying that cesar had stabilized the situation on the right flank but the collapse was still imminent it was just a matter of time the you know Celtic force was battering these romans down but two things happened that ended up having the same effect on this battle as the romans having a third reserve line has done in
Starting point is 03:33:17 the previous battles remember they don't have a reserve line here because they don't have a line they're not deployed but what ends up happening is those romans that had been victorious initially on the left that had gone and captured the barbarian camp on the opposite hill we're now able to look down and see the problem that cesar was facing so they began to come down the hill to renew the fight themselves plus the legions in the very end of the column the the tail of the snake have finally you know gotten to the top of the hill and look down and see what's going on and they now enter the fray so even though cesar wasn't able to create the traditional roman third line the reserve line to throw in you know when everything was going to hell in a handbasket
Starting point is 03:34:00 the circumstances had in effect created one and the legion that came down after capturing the Celtic camp and the ones that came up from the rear of the baggage train turned the tide of the battle and remember these belgay these nervii and related tribes had sold their soul for that initial charge they were like blown horses as we said the arrival of fresh troops is the worst thing that could have happened to them but cesar says they were tough they were ferocious they would not give in even when he had them basically you know compressed into a disordered mob and he was he was killing them all with missile weapons so that he didn't even have to risk his troops he said the warrior stood on top of the corpses of their friends pulled the spears of the enemy out
Starting point is 03:34:50 of their shields or caught them in the air and turned around and threw them back you know yelling defiantly to the romans even as they know how the afternoon is going to turn out a ferocious warrior enemy allowing themselves to be absolutely decimated rather than running away once again let's remember cesar has every interest in portraying them to be as incredibly nasty and brave as possible nonetheless maybe they were cesar says that after the battle the families that had taken shelter in the deep dark woods or swamps came out sort of begging his clemency which cesar gives and was known for giving plenty of times let's point that out and be fair to him it was part of his act a little bit part of his shtick part of you know his je ne sais quoi sometimes i'll let you
Starting point is 03:35:40 live um but he did he also says though they gave him a rundown of what they suffered in the battle and he says that they told him out of 60 000 fighting men they only had 500 left who could carry arms now that doesn't tell you if those people are all dead or if they're incapacitated from wounds likely a combination of both but we have no idea what the breakdown is then they also point out that cesar has destroyed their leadership in this battle they say out of 600 and the different translations say different things one says senators and others as counselors and others as magistrates but out of 600 of these leading figures in the tribe these survivors tell cesar only three are alive so for all intents and purposes he has destroyed this tribe
Starting point is 03:36:30 now he did it in battle and that's going to make a crucial difference soon now there's one little bit of leftover business though that cesar accomplishes right at the end of this battle one of the tribes that was coming to help the nervy i never made it to the battlefield found out the results turned around and went home but that doesn't get you out of trouble with cesar who follows them back home he has a very confusing incident involving you know the deals of a surrender that maybe were misinterpreted nonetheless bad things happened so cesar eventually had to storm the town kill a lot of people he says he sold 53 000 people from the population into slavery and points out that he sold them all in one lot a roman version of storage wars or something
Starting point is 03:37:16 you know how much for this entire city of slaves hey you got 53 000 at a bargain price and the slaves now let's recall something this is money chaching you sell the slaves you make money it's one of the things that comprise booty money stuff you know whatever you can take and sell or whatever you can take for yourself sometimes cesar would gift slaves you know who weren't slaves five minutes ago let's point that out to his soldiers you know each one gets a slave that is a nice little christmas bonus if you're a roman soldier or any soldier and a couple of historians um say but no one knows because it's not like we have a financial statement on how cesar is doing each year um but you stop hearing about cesar's terrible
Starting point is 03:38:09 financial crunches now and he's he's seen distributing money more he's allegedly paying his troops more than the going rate and he's sharing the winnings with them which is pretty normal but if you're doing really well the winnings can be really good and as a side note all of you who know the roman story understand this there's a process underway here that will play you know mightily into the destruction of the roman republic very soon and that's the allegiance of this army not necessarily being 100 entirely to the senate and people of rome but increasingly more and more to this man julia cesar and he's far from the only roman general this is happening to his fellow members of the triumvirate are getting into similar situations
Starting point is 03:39:00 when the allegiance of the troops because you know how they're doing in life is so dependent on that single figure at the head of their particular army when their allegiance shifts from the state to a single individual you can see how the recipe for disaster is just well the chain reaction has already started right rome's problems go deep into the distance but that's a key component that has to happen and what i always tell people that think they see parallels with the united states today and the roman republic is yes there's there are some but you're missing that key component and it's important we don't have armies that are beholden to single you know military individuals more than they are the state increasingly as this army and cesar bond together and share the fruits
Starting point is 03:39:41 of their labor as they are so the question of whether cesar's in debt anymore seems to be that he probably isn't and in fact this little business venture in gall is working out pretty well indeed so cesar says after this little battle with the belgay he sends a message to rome and he says and let me point out not for the last time in his commentary gall is pacified now let me stop for a minute because if you say not for the last time is gall really pacified because again you have to wonder what cesar's doing here he may have had a whole lot of reasons for going back to rome at this time period and telling them hey the war's over and we won you can see some advisor going listen cesar you have no idea what it's like on the ground in rome right now we're
Starting point is 03:40:31 trying to get these people elected to the senate it would really help if the timing were good and you said we won in gall right i mean i guess what i'm saying is i trust cesar and his intelligence both his mental intelligence and his reconnaissance enough to think that i doubt whether he thought gall really was pacified because let's look at what just happened here in two campaign seasons so less than two years cesar conquered a place the size of texas plutarch says 300 tribes really and you expect it to stay subdued well if he did expect that he was wrong and if he didn't well there must have been another reason for telling the people back in rome that the war was over cesar in a rare obvious brag in the commentaries points out that when the romans heard
Starting point is 03:41:23 that cesar had just won in gall they proclaimed 15 days of thanksgiving in the capital which cesar points out is a longer amount of time than anyone before him had ever had a thanksgiving declared in their honor so maybe that accounts for it right there let's remember why cesars in gall doing all this to begin with because of how it's looking back home 15 days of thanksgiving an unprecedented amount that makes it all worth it right there doesn't it depends on what your goals are of course now the other thing that needs to be pointed out here is how victory has a way of forgiving everything because there is an undercurrent in rome amongst prominent individuals admittedly prominent individuals that don't like cesar anyway and would find something to get him
Starting point is 03:42:17 with if they could anywhere but that what cesar is doing is grossly illegal on many fronts he's raised legions out of his own pocketbook and without permission his opponents in rome have pointed out things that he's done during this campaign that are violations of roman honor and one or two of them will suggest maybe he should be handed over to the former roman enemies as a um well let's put it this way the romans have done that before where some roman general on the ground made a deal with another city came back the roman senate repudiated the deal sent the general back to the former opponents in chains left him out sort of in front of the front gate and said sorry he couldn't make a deal like that that's
Starting point is 03:43:03 against roman honor but since he did here you can have him do with him what you want and there were people you know of the cato camp that were maybe suggesting that cesar deserved treatment like that but very few people were listening you know why because the guy just conquered an area larger than all of italy itself in two campaign seasons you can hear the crowd going rome rome rome we're number one i mean come on when in human history have the populace not celebrated unbelievable victory it's almost weird to imagine the general public ever doing the opposite so what it took for cesar to get these victories legal or illegal are totally overshadowed by the result the result may be an illusion though cesar says that after he's done here he goes
Starting point is 03:43:54 and starts to look at the next big venture he's going to do he's finally going to go into illyria around where you know the modern adriatic is and he's going to start conquering some tribes there which had been a plan of his all along but now that gall is pacified he can you know put some time into it and he says while he's there gall erupts back into war it happened so fast you can't help but wonder if it was ever pacified at all and there have been some theories floated in a bunch of books i've read lately which i think is fascinating and i'm going to run it past you because it would make a lot of sense wouldn't it and it's the idea that maybe the reason gall almost immediately erupts into trouble after cesar says it's pacified is that maybe they
Starting point is 03:44:34 didn't fully understand what they were agreeing to when they said that they were going to submit to rome in other words rome is treating them as though they have signed a contract and if you break the contract the ramifications are you know mafia style in nature so don't break the contract and maybe like a bunch of native americans who are expected to read like a lawyer this treaty and yet they can hardly write their names in the white man's language maybe these Celtic leaders were essentially taken for a ride their barbarian lawyers not as good as the roman ones and maybe as soon as they started living under the real terms of the deal maybe it was a little different than they thought and one of these historians had a great line he said these tribes were accustomed
Starting point is 03:45:14 to making themselves clients of other barbarian peoples who very well may have treated them in a much more laissez-faire hands-off kind of fashion that might have been their idea of a client in their world but now the romans were coming in and these are going to send you know they'll send surveyors to your property let's see where the property line is here oh we're going to settle some former soldier veterans on part of your property we're going to take your son into the army and oh yeah taxes are going up this year and we need extra wheat because the army starving i mean whatever it might be the Golic people are chafing at what it's like to be a roman but now i think we get to the crux question that we started this talk out with you know what would
Starting point is 03:45:53 you be willing to sacrifice everything for if you're chafing isn't that the word i just used if you're chafing from roman domination at what point is the chafing bad enough for you to risk having the romans come back beat you in some sort of field battle kill you you know what did we say before kill you kill your sons rape your wife send your daughters off to slavery destroy you i mean at what point is chafing bad enough to earn that and you begin to get into this question of human motivations what is it that's worth risking that kind of terrible outcome for war cesar says it's liberty and freedom and independence and that's weird not because those are weird motivations but because cesar's the guy who's going to stamp out these people
Starting point is 03:46:45 and once again he's giving them aspirations that we can sort of relate to that make them sympathetic characters to us in the same way he's put you know the voice of an almost war crimes prosecutor in the mouth of his german opponent aria vistas he's going to put you know the words of people like patrick henry give me liberty or give me death and all those kinds of people into the mouths of these gallic opponents whose liberty he is smashing it's fascinating and again it's very complicated i don't fully understand it i enjoyed andrew and rigsby's book as i said on the on the whole analysis but no consensus exists they just analyze the three-dimensional chess game cesar's playing and of course the first question we all ask right is if cesar says
Starting point is 03:47:34 that these people are fighting for liberty and freedom and when he puts words into their speeches and they talk about liberty and freedom what the heck do people barbarian people two thousand years ago mean when they say that or if cesar's putting those words into their mouth and there's cesar's words what does cesar mean for it to mean well according to andrew rigsby it's just what you think it means maybe only more so he writes the word and then gives you the latin word cesar actually used he says quote freedom libertas was an even more politically charged term for the romans than it is generally today for it is deeply rooted in the pervasive social institution of slavery despite the many and varied situations to which it was applied libertas remained a
Starting point is 03:48:19 powerful slogan because of its unambiguously positive primary sense conversely slavery servetus recalled the degradation of slaves seen daily in a society which as we have already noted personal dignity was a fighting matter end quote in other words you know cesar's basically giving an excuse for these rebellions to the galls that he says right away right is a question of freedom versus slavery implying that romans understand that it would never settle to be slaves and that we today look at and go well i can fully see what the galls are about because i'd be on their side too it's a very interesting document and it says a lot about the tenor of the times in the audience he was writing for that he could position the whole story this way and still expect you to
Starting point is 03:49:09 cheer on his victories when he crushes these freedom loving galls right that's really what they were and just with every story of revolution by the way for every account you hear of the galls trying to preserve their own liberty and freedom in a very high-minded patrick henry sense you will read the accounts that get much more gritty and ascribe much more base values to the people who are doing these things you know this particular group run by this aristocrat wants more power within his tribe but roman domination you know thwarts his ambition so he's wanting a revolution or this other tribe who used to collect all the tolls on this river before the romans took over but now they favor the rival tribe and so you know receipts are down from the river tolls so we're
Starting point is 03:49:52 going to rebel to ones who are just plain fickle and tired of living under the same set of rules for a significant period of time cesar says that the galls all have a bunch of men who just delight in the change of governments and they get bored easily and so they're easily roused to some sort of change just for change's sake so who knows what the actual reasons are the bottom line though is cesar barely gets to enjoy the winter off before he's back in gall right recently pacified gall has exploded into problems three or four months after cesar declares mission accomplished there's a strain of historians who think this is all part of the plan and cesar doesn't want to give up his command remember he'd be vulnerable in rome plus there's
Starting point is 03:50:36 still places to conquer money to be made reasons to stay armies to keep assembled and in your hands but a pattern is going to emerge for the next couple of years and it's a pattern actually that's not that dissimilar from other roman conquest of Celtic peoples in other parts of europe before this time the pattern is charismatic leaders emerge who can manage to unite at least local groupings of tribes into larger confederacies who then challenge the romans by rebelling against them and the romans will respond with extreme violence it's actually a very interesting case study for modern people in if you're interested in military affairs and guerrilla warfare and civil wars and things like that to watch how cesar approaches and the romans during this period approach
Starting point is 03:51:30 how you quell domestic resistance you know by a population because when i was growing up in the wake of the vietnam war there was so much talk about if you'd only fought the vietnam war you know with the gloves off was the phrase used you know to take away these modern cultural inhibitions that tell you you know you can't do this and you can't do that you you go in there and you really just are ruthless and you'll change the battlefield scene overnight so the romans are an example of that in later roman history they will be very good you know at the game of the carrot and the stick and they'll learn how to bribe tribes and when it's better to spend money than to beat people over the head with a stick in the cesar period they're much more in the
Starting point is 03:52:11 beat the other people over the head with a stick mode and cesar will go back to gall and spend the next several years truly pacifying it the methods that cesar will use though to quell this resistance are rough one of the first people he'll deal with and it's a confederacy of peoples on the atlantic seaboard in 56 bce he will defeat he has to build a fleet to do it the romans are crazy good that way defeats the seafaring people um and because in cesar's mind all of this area has already been pacified we're now dealing with rebellions this isn't a contest of you know virtues on the battlefield may the best man win and you'll probably get clemency afterwards this is you are rebelling against the authority of the state you are setting a bad example for
Starting point is 03:53:00 other people we need to keep down so we have to make an example of you and on the main tribe called the venetai or sometimes veniti cesar killed their entire leadership beheaded them sold the population into slavery he will deal with a german incursion again or so he says in 55 bce so he launches what you might call a foray a raid a punitive expedition into germany meanwhile manages to have another battle against a german tribe this is the incident by the way that some of the cato crowd back in rom suggested that cesar maybe should be handed over to his german enemies in chains because what he did and he admits it freely in his commentaries is this leadership of this german tribe uh sounds like a large number of people
Starting point is 03:53:59 showed up to cesar maybe to negotiate what they thought was a surrender and instead cesar grabs them and holds them and sends his army out to attack the now leaderless and unexpected german tribe and the numbers that die here are crazy unbelievable and crazy i mean plutarch says wait for it 400 000 german tribes people died and cesar himself in the writing talks about a moment in the fighting where there's just crowds of women and children and what does he do he sends his cavalry to and this is a quote from the hamond translation hunt them down so perhaps we're moving from um one potential un war crimes tribunal set of charges when we're talking about free and understood warfare and a contest of arms and something like this
Starting point is 03:55:06 the most amazing things cesar does we have to point out the wow factors don't we is that he will build a bridge over the rine river right no small river that he will do it in 10 days and i mean it involves cranes and pylons and rams to put pillars into the river bed it's it's incredibly tribes come and submit to him simply because they've seen him build this he said he had to build it because boats did not seem like a good way to cross the river and he wasn't sure it was in keeping with roman dignity he said so you spend 10 days and you build a trestle bridge the romans crossed the bridge burned lots of villages you know killed quite a bit of people in these raids took 18 days comes back over the rine on the bridge they built
Starting point is 03:55:54 and then they destroy the bridge it's generally assumed that cesar was trying to send a message the message is at least one is clear and that's that we can come over this river anytime we want it's no barrier at all don't pretend like you're safe the other one which is what some historians have also said is that it was also cesar's way of saying and by the way this is the border you come over here expect a response not from these gallic peoples whom you've come to expect you can beat in battle but against us that you just lost yet another battle too how many dead 400 000 cesar says there were 430 000 people there and he talks about great numbers of them dying even michael grant says the numbers may be exaggerated but maybe not that much what do you do with cesar's
Starting point is 03:56:45 death ledger there it just went up by a lot didn't it and if you believe kato and that segment of the romans it wasn't something that had to happen cesar prompted it maybe wanted it after this defeat of the germans late in the campaign season right he should probably pack it in after that big german thing no he takes a fleet and crosses the english channel and goes where no Mediterranean army has ever gone before the foggy misty almost legendary in Mediterranean circles island of britain lands there talks about the natives being in chariots and painting themselves blue and cesar has a battle and of course it's you know near-run thing because of all kinds of problems but of course he wins the fleet almost gets destroyed by a storm there are howls of protests among his
Starting point is 03:57:37 contemporary political opponents and let's be honest armchair generals ever since going what the heck are you doing what does this have to do with anything how do you justify this and yet the publicity is outrageously good earlier we said he's leading this expedition like a heavily armed louis and clark exploration team well gee he just landed in britain and the people back home can't stop talking about it all those people that keep talking about him exceeding his wartime authority and what have you you know can hardly make themselves heard above all of the you know positive comments by the way little side note here the debate is ongoing whether or not these people in the british isles during this period should be classified
Starting point is 03:58:26 as Celtic or not and again we're not talking in terms of ethnicity as much as in culture it's a little confusing because Caesar says one of these tribes that lived on the now french side of the english channel did some migrating over so when Caesar goes to britain and describes people that sure sound Celtic they sound a lot like the people we've been talking about in terms of their dress and their styles and their their attitudes and their religion and whatnot you don't know whether or not he's running into that one tribe or whether or not the people all through the rest of and they all have Celtic names i mean again i'm not qualified to weigh into this ongoing debate apparently Caesar doesn't refer to them specifically as kelts and in the ancient world they used a
Starting point is 03:59:08 different name for them and i'm going to use my berry cunliffe get of a jail free card and say that a kelt is anyone who considers themselves to be Celtic i don't know now Caesar's obviously created a problem not a hard one to imagine happening either when he takes a big chunk of his army from what's now modern day france and takes it over into britain because that means it's no longer in what's now modern day france you can already feel you know 2000 plus years later sort of the rumblings going on right if cesar's not actively here you know the cauldron starts bubbling again the next year 54 bce cesar launches a much better prepared and significant um raid was what the earlier expedition to britain probably was this is more like a reconnaissance in force or a minor invasion
Starting point is 04:00:00 he lands there defeats a major british tribe and here's sort of i mean if you're following cesar's story and cesar's narrative throughout the entire narrative we said there's been this fifth column entity in gall itself people who are in these tribes certainly in the less friendly tribes but even in rome's greatest allies who don't like the romans and so cesar when he's going to go back to britain for the second time realizes that you know he's leaving all these troublemakers back in gall so in a very ancient typical roman thing he asks for them to come to he honored guest would probably be the way the invitation said but hostages is the way you know you would call it today hostages for good behavior we're going to take the troublemakers with us there's
Starting point is 04:00:45 a whole bunch of famous troublemakers in roman Celtic history these people that are like the geronimos of of Celtic resistance and in this case one of them you know not that i expect everyone to remember you know that magician gandalf dumbledore religious leader druid guy we talked about earlier he was sort of the reason this whole thing happened though if you believe the official narrative defecitius by the way you will also see defecaiacus and divisiacus but we're going to go with defecitius well defecitius is sort of a roman friend but he's got a brother think of like two heads of the same coin and his brother in this tribe that are rome's greatest friends in the region is anti roman and his druid brother's been covering for him all this time and cesar says he's been nice about
Starting point is 04:01:33 the whole thing because he he appreciates this druid guy and likes him and needs his support and his tribe is very important but this is one of the guys his name is doom norix one of the guys cesar wants to take with him to the british isle so that he's not causing trouble when cesar's away and this doom norix character decides that this at least you know once again we're going from cesar his cesar says doom norix thinks cesar's gonna take he and all the other troublemakers across the english channel and kill them there away from the prying eyes of his own people able to come back and make up any old excuse why they're not with him anymore and if doom norix doesn't believe this himself cesar says he's going to all these other you know tribal leaders and
Starting point is 04:02:17 saying you know don't go with cesar to to britney's gonna kill us there cesar then talks about you know many excuses that this doom norix makes you know of the sort that you know i get seasick and i can't go with you for all these other reasons cesar says finally when you know cesar corners him the guy bolts basically showing his true color cesar would basically have you understand he's just uncovered an unmasked this conspiracy he sends his men to go bring this guy back dead or alive they bring him back dead and this guy becomes just one of many troublemakers that cesar begins to go after now is his way of shutting down this gollic resistance right get rid of the the leaders of the resistance because you know some of these tribes have large numbers of people
Starting point is 04:03:02 that are of a different political opinion than what the majority eventually gets i mean one of these battles that cesar's facing he'll face a tribe that has reportedly killed all their senators who disagreed with the idea of rebellion so when we were saying what are you willing to die for what are you willing to lose everything for there might be disagreement in your community about that and cesar says one of these tribes killed all the senators that had a no vote on rebellion and went unified to go meet their fate against the romans the troublemaker that cesar had instructed be brought back to him dead or alive that doom norix guy he represents an example of a counter faction an opposition party if you will in his
Starting point is 04:03:47 own tribe and he must have been charismatic and he must have been dangerous in the roman eyes and he just becomes the latest victim in the roman standard policy of how you deal with these troublemakers everywhere you encounter them it's a sort of if you will a very mafia like approach to the situation but it's hard to argue about its efficacy when faced with you know charismatic tribal guerrilla leaders if you will kill them when you can the romans had done this many times either directly or indirectly i believe earlier we mentioned one of the national heroes of the people of portugal now when they were in their ancient version and he's one of these people that you know led a opposition to roman they managed to get him assassinated i believe by his own people
Starting point is 04:04:39 i believe that was a bribe of paid assassination in another case the romans ran into one of these leaders and this is in this conflict that was charismatic that they wanted to get and during a cavalry battle the roman this is from cesar by the way the roman leader on the site had instructed his cavalry remember this is at least hundreds of men against hundreds of men and maybe thousands of men against thousands of men that when you go out there on the field for this large cavalry battle don't pay any attention to any of the other people in front of you go right after that one guy and all i could think about was imagine being you know that guy and you're on the field with your hundreds and hundreds of cohorts thinking we're going to take on their
Starting point is 04:05:22 big formation and everyone in their formation is after you personally needless to say they brought his head back to the roman commander mission accomplished there and another influential maybe irreplaceable leader of the Celtic opposition is no more right out of the roman playbook and then in 54 bce you get one of the pretty good troublemakers right if these are all sparks this is a pretty good spark his name is ambiorix he was one of several important people in a revolt he's a national hero of belgium now and he fit this template of a of a charismatic Celtic figure who could unite a bunch of tribes together to oppose the romans he's a particularly successful one of these rebels in that he manages by hooker by crook to kill a bunch of romans they get like
Starting point is 04:06:21 15 cohorts like a legion and five cohorts something like that he gets out there and convinces them to leave the safety of their fort and then ambushes them when they're marching through some deep dark woods no doubt and the romans would be in trouble all the time during the winter when they would break up to the various areas they had to patrol and keep safe in these forts and it becomes like fort apache and anytime a rebellion happens you know these this isolated legion or two of romans will find themselves deep in indian country surrounded by angry natives and time and again this becomes part of the narrative but when caesar will go back and rescue all these people or avenge them a lot more of the golly folks die and you again have to ask yourself you know what's
Starting point is 04:07:06 going on here and and what do you form in terms of an opinion of whether or not it is a good idea if you are a follower of ambiorix for example to rebel against the romans because on one hand how could anybody say you didn't have a good enough cause when you're talking about your freedom and your independence right your liberty your political liberty the sovereignty of your own people whatever it is those are pretty high-minded causes but if you're in the meeting amongst your peers and your countrymen and you're having this discussion of do we rebel or don't we i mean are you a coward if you stand up and say listen we have very little chance of actually succeeding here and if we fail there's a hundred percent chance we're going to lose everything
Starting point is 04:07:53 that matters to us including the liberty that you're worried about now maybe we shouldn't do this those are the kind of choices as the old saying goes that try men's souls right and just to get an example of what it might mean in practice take a look at what happened to this ambiorix character right this latest spark a guy who when he destroyed these roman legions in the deep dark woods on the march you know caesar made it out to be like a custer's last stand situation with the officers and the men who are left over commit suicide because they're just they're trapped by the natives surrounded i mean it's it's a harrowing terrible story and caesar launches you know recriminations at certain commanders i mean it's a stain and so
Starting point is 04:08:38 the bad guy well probably hero in the golly guys but the bad guy the roman story ambiorix is going to be pursued as if to the ends of the earth and caesar has this ongoing you know attempt to track him down he finally has him getting away and riding off into the sunset with like only four bodyguards he says the only amount of people he would trust his life to of course it's a good end to the movie isn't it i mean the the geronimo figure here from the roman point of view gets away lives to ride another day off into the sunset whatever but unfortunately his whole tribe can't do that and caesar will wipe them out of existence well that's the way he frames it anyway historians are not sure if that was really what happened it's pretty fair to say
Starting point is 04:09:24 though that caesar treats this tribe the tribe that ambiorix was a leading figure in as harshly or more harshly than any other entity caesar punished in his career and so you might think to yourself okay now that these people have seen what almost everything is the romans after this period will start going after Celtic cultural things that they think are inciting revolt or bringing tribes together we mentioned druids earlier there's a pan tribal nature to these druids maybe where they come together from multiple tribes in meetings to debate things and at certain points after this period the romans will think that the druids are sort of a hotbed of resistance and target them the
Starting point is 04:10:11 romans could be very accommodating to your local traditions as long as you didn't mess with them if you caused trouble and they decided that these local traditions had something to do with it goodbye local traditions so this is where some who will say that maybe we're not talking about an actual genocide here as much as we're talking about a cultural genocide may have a point there here as we said before this genocide question is somewhat clouded by the fact that the people in this story have a choice unlike those involved in the second world war holocaust right the choices submit and stay quiet or die how does having a choice like that make this sort of a holocaust if indeed that's the proper term for it the Celtic holocaust
Starting point is 04:10:58 how does having a choice make it different because it obviously does from something like what the victims of the second world war holocaust went through i would also be remiss if i didn't at least point out that this idea of choice may have been an illusion for most of the people in this story Caesar himself said and i don't know how well we can believe him that there were really only three classes to use a modern term in the gallic society you had the knights you know basically the aristocracy and the nobility you had the druids and then you had everyone else and he said everyone else is basically a slave now this is probably roman hyperbole and and misinformation of what not archaeologists like Barry cunliffe and john collis will point out that there's a lot more
Starting point is 04:11:46 nuance to something like that than caesar points out but his point might be well taken how many people if you give the choice of you know if you just acquiesce to roman conquest and submit everything will be fine but if you don't you're all going to die and be sold into slavery how many people get to make that choice in that gallic society how many people are in on that decision i would submit that it's probably likely and common sense that most of the people in this situation are simply caught up in the gears of history like most people in any other period sometimes it seems like we're all just along for the historical ride doesn't it in this case caesar will spend the entire campaign season the 53 bce essentially punishing
Starting point is 04:12:34 punitive expeditions finishing off battles small things as adrian goldsworthy says he campaigns the entire campaign season in gall but he doesn't fight a major battle what's he doing pacifying and it's ugly brutal business on the ground and we don't have details but goldsworthy has an interesting line where he says that the archaeological record has shown that the quantities of gold and other precious materials found in sites in this area after caesar's time in gall plummet he says quote overall the archaeological record shows a marked decline in the quality and quantity of material culture and suggests that the region did not recover for at least a generation end quote so quelling the spirit of the population to resist that's an age old counterinsurgency
Starting point is 04:13:28 strategy you don't just go after the rank and file though the people you go after their leadership as we said and caesar determined that this one um it seems highly respected figure it's hard to draw any other conclusion considering what his demise created in terms of resentment but caesar determines that this gallic leader named echo or echo is in part responsible or was somehow involved in this resistance maybe secretly supplying them with something what have you and caesar decides he must die and so he has him flogged to death whipped to death that's the bull you think of a bull whip or an electrical cord hitting you until you die and then caesar had his head cut off which is an extra twist of the knife given the religious reverence the gallic
Starting point is 04:14:15 people and the Celtic people have for the head and then caesar gets swept back into the maelstrom of roman politics because all of a sudden you know if the roman ship of state has been foundering for a long time and taking on water all of a sudden in this year the ship just goes straight down in the bow the the stern of it sticks straight up in the air and all of a sudden it's teetering and caesar of course because this entire life of his revolves around roman politics and how he's doing it it gets drawn back into the situation there's riots there's killings the senate houses burned down and the gallic Celtic people hear of this and they think maybe caesar's not coming back at the same time they're upset about this nobleman being whipped to death they're upset about the
Starting point is 04:15:09 pacification there's a whole bunch of tribes adrian goldsworthy reminds me that are some of the most powerful tribes in gall some of the most sophisticated too the ones who have the most contact with rome which is why most of them are roman friends which is why up until this time they haven't really participated in the defense of gall because they're on the roman side but they're starting to realize that the roman side is going to control all of them at some point you may be a more favorite tribe under roman domination but you're still under roman domination goldsworthy does a great job explaining the situation he writes quote caesar's understanding and manipulation of tribal politics was generally good but over the winter of 53 52 bc his policy failed badly
Starting point is 04:15:55 there were a number of reasons for this failure but at its root was the growing sense of the extent to which his presence had changed things this was especially true of the Celtic gallic peoples of central and southern gall one of the three broad groups into which caesar's commentaries divided quote end quote the whole of gall these tribes had not yet fought against caesar to any meaningful degree although it was in their lands that the campaigns against the helvedi and aria vistas had been waged dominating the trade routes with the roman world tribes like the edui sequani and arverni were wealthier and more politically sophisticated than the peoples to the north they had aided caesar and he in turn had favored the tribes and leaders
Starting point is 04:16:39 most sympathetic to him and he had fought or at least so he claimed on their behalf against the helvedi and aria vistas now over the course of the next year virtually all of them would turn against him this was not simply a question of rebellion by those who would not receive the procouncil's favor and had watched as rivals were elevated above them the rebels eventually included many chieftains who had done rather well under roman domination that was at the heart of this new mood the realization that caesar and his legions were in gall to stay and would not be returning to the confines of the trans alpine province after a few swift campaigns roam now expected her power to be acknowledged on a permanent basis throughout gall the ally
Starting point is 04:17:22 had become the conqueror without ever facing serious resistance from the Celtic peoples end quote well of course they hadn't faced serious resistance because caesar had been practicing the divide and conquer strategy on them he'd been using these powerful tribes that were friendly to roam against the powerful tribes that weren't and now the ones that are friendly to roam realized that it doesn't matter you know which side you rely with you're going to be living under roman control either way and it makes them receptive to the ideas that come forward once it's clear that the political problems in roam may trap caesar there while his legions are wintering in gall what if all gall could unite against caesar especially while he was away
Starting point is 04:18:13 think of how crazy the movie idea would be if some screenwriter developed a treatment based on the idea that all the north american tribes unite together in a common effort militarily speaking to defeat the european colonists on the eastern seaboard in i don't know 1650 will say they would have of course had to have conducted their own native american version of the lewis and clark expedition so those eastern tribes could trek across north america and find out that there's a west coast and natives living there rope them into the defense arrangement and then at some point you know you could have this big face off between all the native tribes in north america against the relative newcomer europeans it's too crazy to imagine though isn't it you wouldn't be
Starting point is 04:19:05 able to suspend disbelief the premise is too far-fetched but that's what happens in gall that's why it's such a rare moment the divide and conquer strategy all of a sudden fails all at once and these tribal people realize their predicament at the same time and are able to drop their age old animosities and decide together that it's now or never if we're going to maintain our freedom even our freedom to fight each other for tribal supremacy down the road we're going to have to unite now and defeat this threat before it's too late and it might already be too late but this opportunity of cesar getting rope back into the politics of roam opens up the door cesar says that you know there's a lot of other grievances that are coming to a head all at the
Starting point is 04:20:00 same time including cesar's execution of that nobleman aco or aco that he had whipped to death and he says that these gallic tribes come together it makes them sound like the leaderships come together in the deep dark woods archaeologist barry cunnliffe suggests it would not be strange to think of the druids being the ones who sort of officiated an event like this both for sacred reasons but also because they're sort of the diplomats and the pan national sanctifiers of these tribes i mean they would have been the respected people to act as the referees and judges and arbitrators in a case like this there are stories by the way of druids stopping you know marching to the middle of a battlefield between the lines of two armies about to clash
Starting point is 04:20:43 and stopping the conflict so these are people with huge amounts of moral authority and cunnliffe suggestion that for such a sacred important situation as this conspiracy in the groves as cesar portrays it would not be you know beyond the pale and in fact considering what these tribes are pledging to do you would want to have a signed contract in blood you'd want to have the druids officiating you'd want to have a lot of witnesses and if you know the republics because the the challenge here is that now everyone is aware what the stakes are and everyone knows now that if they rebel they're going to get the treatment that these tribes that have had everybody wiped out have faced everyone understands that to fight back now is to wager everything
Starting point is 04:21:30 once again the genesis of the story ground zero is cesar himself i would love to know if it's even true how he found out about it but he gives an account of this tribal meeting in the deep dark woods my thomas holmes translation of cesar which dates back to the early 1900s and is a has some fabulous different words in it than most of the more modern ones i mean instead of saying gall is pacified over and over he uses the word tranquilized which gives it a different sort of feel so he picks up the story where cesar's back in room dealing with all the political trouble and the Celtic people in gall hear about that political trouble which then prompts this meeting in the woods here's how my holmes translation of cesar
Starting point is 04:22:15 has it picking up right after cesar talks about all those problems in room keeping him there quote the news of these events speedily made its way to trans alpine gall the galls amplified and embellished the story as the facts seemed to warrant spreading rumors that cesar was detained by the disturbances in the capital and that while these fierce conflicts were raging he could not rejoin his army the opportunity stimulated the galls stimulated i love that stimulated the galls they were already smarting that's another good one they were already smarting under their subjugation to the roman people and they now began unreservedly and boldly to form projects for war the leading men of gall mutually arranged meetings in secluded woodland spots they spoke bitterly of the death
Starting point is 04:23:02 of akko that was the man who was whipped to death by the way telling their hearers that the same fate might befall them and deploring the fortune that oppressed the whole country they made promises and offered rewards of every kind to induce volunteers to strike the first blow and risk their lives to restore the liberty of gall end quote there he goes again cesar making these people and their cause sound like the one you'd want to get behind right gallic liberty who would oppose that right you doesn't be darth vader to oppose that what cesar doing and as we said earlier the experts disagree cesar's writing on multiple planes here um there's lots of speculation some of it's fun i'll just give you one of the ideas out there that might you know again speculation
Starting point is 04:23:50 might help explain though what he's been doing this whole time where he's been making the Celtic side out to be somewhat admirable well there's an idea out there that he's sort of setting the stage for what happens a generation or two down the road after they've conquered all these people i mean you have to kind of sell the idea back in Rome a little bit don't you that listen don't worry we'll incorporate gall into Rome but they're assimilatable you know of course sure they're untractable and they're not housebroken and their culture is substandard by roman um measure um but we can fix that you know a couple generations will turn them into good romans and the way you can tell is because look at how they have our same values i mean you know if you put
Starting point is 04:24:35 these phrases and concepts in the mouths of a roman character in a roman stage play the roman audience is going to cheer in other words you know he's sort of making the case according to one of these theories i read where the galls are trainable but the germans are never going to be housebroken therefore we can incorporate the galls and down the road you know after we break them to the yoke of empire um you know teach him upright look at how well those galls in short haired gall have been doing now for 50 60 70 years um you know we could we could make these people into good romans and you can tell just look at how they're spouting phrases that would make them good romans today it's an interesting idea and it would explain um why Caesar makes their cause sympathetic as
Starting point is 04:25:23 he's crushing it it does sound a little bit like he misjudged how serious it was when he got word of it back in Rome the situation was starting to mellow out a little bit back there he says and then he hears about these problems but as one historian pointed out you know he conquered this area what four five six years ago initially and he's had problems with it every year headaches right sparks the way we describe them well these aren't headaches and he doesn't know it yet this is more like a stroke and all those sparks that we've talked about earlier finally fan into a general forest fire as all of gall will go up basically in rebellion including the great friendly tribes of Rome and it starts with one of those moves that a tribe does as a way of sort of
Starting point is 04:26:13 dipping their dagger in the assassination victim and saying okay i'm in it involves a tribe that's always been hostile to the romans that is the one that steps forward allegedly at this woodland conspiracy it says we'll strike the first blow they go after this hillfort town of a Celtic tribe that's full of roman traders and businessmen and after they take the town they massacre all the romans so essentially saying to the rest of the tribes okay we agree to do this we're all in there's no going back for us who's next and the rhythm of the story is interesting because you will have the tribes join the rebellion you know usually in big chunks but even you know all along the way some big tribe will at the last moment change sides and and so slowly but surely
Starting point is 04:27:02 the rebellion gains steam the massacre that kicks it off that we mentioned earlier the news of that spreads like wildfire and the central Gallic tribes go up in flames except for the ones most loyal to Rome the edui are the are the big tribe that matter here they're the ones who initially went to Rome and said we need help because this germans been brought in i mean this is the ally of allies for the romans in this region so they're the ones that they worry about that's where the romans get all their supply help the grain that's where they store their hostages when they take them from other gallic tribes it's sort of their administrative center in gall these are our good allies and we can trust them well on paper it may look that way but remember what we
Starting point is 04:27:48 said earlier these Gallic tribes are not united and even Caesar says they're split and rife with factions so think democrats and republicans tories and labor i mean whatever you want to say right you're you're two sides of the coin and maybe just because a tribe is taking a particular course of action it may be like 51 of the tribe wants to do it and 49 doesn't so sometimes it doesn't take a whole lot of change to sort of make the scales tip the other way and when the first big tribe of galls commits this massacre of romans it's on and a number of these tribes start to get uppity because as Caesar says that's kind of the gallic character anyway right see excitement happening and want to get on board and by the time he realizes how bad things are
Starting point is 04:28:35 he's in trouble because he's a long way from the action and he's got enemies between him in Rome and northern Italy now and gall where the armies are so the first chapter of this story has Caesar doing amazing things let's be honest he's an amazing guy and the speed of movement the speed of movement that he employs for example is crazy and his audacity he takes the great calculated risks alexander would have jumped off you know the the cliff in darkness and whatever happens happens i'm a god right Caesar took these calculated risk but but his audacity and his speed is continually on display and so he manages to get back to his armies his armies managed to break out of a of an ambush when more of these tribes start going the other way
Starting point is 04:29:21 and while this is going on a figure emerges on the scene that we only really know of because of Caesar but he's fascinating and in a way could be an example of that beam sea idea we talked about earlier you know how the Celts might have been caught in a beam sea because they were in transition from a more ferocious barbarian way of life to use a term from a hundred years ago and a more roman sort of existence and that they they had maybe lost in my court jester silly theory the ferociousness of the more barbarian tribes and not yet gained the advantages that comes with being able to handle logistics and supply and and finance and organization and all these roman things this person that will crop up at the last available moment will try to turn the Celtic armies
Starting point is 04:30:17 into something that can fight the Romans because just because you can make a lot of Gaulic tribes decide to join a rebellion and maybe grab hold of more warriors than they've ever been able to put together in one place in Gaul you still can't feed them right we learned that earlier in Caesar's conquest these armies can't just get bigger they have to get better and they have to be able to support bigger better armies so how do you do that well enter this amazing character you can pronounce his way several different ways and you can have fights over it i've always gone with Vercingetorix but Vercingetorix is also popular he is the great unifier of the Gaulic people in the last possible moment you know when resistance is possible
Starting point is 04:31:12 he appears on the scene as a king by the time Caesar runs into him he came from a tribe that was pretty out of this whole Celtic Gaulic war thing at this point the Averni that's a tribe by the way that's one of those developed ones that has more of a senate than more of an oligarchic sort of roman system and Vercingetorix's dad had apparently been executed for trying to become king of these people taking them back to an old way of government and by the way early in Rome's history when their republic was new and that they had ditched the monarchy the crime of trying to reinstill the monarchy was was equally harshly punished but in this case remember you're supposed to be burned alive if you try to do that so i guess without
Starting point is 04:31:59 really saying so maybe Vercingetorix's dad was burned alive for trying to become a king when this whole rebellion takes place as the story goes Vercingetorix and his family members including an uncle will you know sort of fight over what to do Vercingetorix will apparently be wanting to become a king and maybe take on the romans the uncle opposes him so Vercingetorix gets thrown out of his city Caesar says he goes out and using Gaulic liberty and freedom as his as his rallying cry rally all these Caesar says desperados and dead enders but you could really see them as maybe patriotic young Gaulic warriors finally ready to rise up i mean it depends on the way you're viewing this they must have been pretty decently intimidating because Vercingetorix
Starting point is 04:32:52 will come back to his home city with all these desperados and dead enders around him essentially launch a coup if you will against his home city become the king of those people and then begin to rally tribes together these tribes begin to cede authority to him as a war leader which is very unusual in the Celtic world historian and classicist Michael m sage points out that Vercingetorix didn't start this rebellion against the romans but he quickly came in and sort of took it over he sent embassies everywhere informed alliances sage says and then he names all these big important tribes that Vercingetorix begins to communicate with and say listen the time is now remember it's only been a few years since Caesar conquered this place so these are all recently subdued peoples
Starting point is 04:33:49 and they sort of understand that this is how it's going to be unless they move at some point and Vercingetorix is sending embassies to all these tribes saying that point is now Michael m sage writes that Vercingetorix was chosen the war leader of these tribes and began implementing policies that were very un-Gaulic in nature but that a roman-like Caesar could appreciate because they're more like roman standard sage writes quote Vercingetorix was chosen as commander and quickly set about organizing the rebel army in accordance with standard gaulic procedure he demanded and received hostages from each of his allies as pledges of good faith and issued orders to them to provide a specific number of soldiers for the allied army he enforced his
Starting point is 04:34:40 orders with ferocious punishments that included execution and torture this was an extraordinary development during his campaigns in Gaul Caesar had faced individual tribes or coalitions on the battlefield perhaps the largest was that of the belgay in 57 bc however in these conflicts there is no hint of any central organization among allied tribes after Caesar's initial refusal to engage the belgic army the tribe simply returned home to face Caesar individually Vercingetorix represents an entirely new direction in gaulic resistance to the Romans for the first time their opponent was a centrally organized and directed army that represented an alliance of a number of different tribes its creation was in part due to the extraordinary personality of Vercingetorix
Starting point is 04:35:28 and also to the effects of the roman conquest the Gauls repeated failures against Caesar had led to the realization that their traditional military methods were no longer adequate the roman army in Gaul was too large to be dealt with without a collective effort importantly it provided a model of a highly organized and centralized army that Vercingetorix correctly saw was the only possibility of defeating the Romans end quote sage goes on to point out that Vercingetorix's tribe was friends with the Romans and that it was not unusual for gaulic noblemen of friendly tribes to serve with the Romans on campaign as allied cavalry and it's possible although he points out we have no evidence one way or the other that Vercingetorix
Starting point is 04:36:14 had done this once upon a time too and maybe was quite familiar with the way the Romans fought Adrian Gaulsworthy even suggests the possibility that Caesar and Vercingetorix knew each other personally from years before this period which would add a completely new layer to things wouldn't it nonetheless there are some things that Vercingetorix now as the supreme commander the warlord of all these tribes in Gaul with the exception of a few who are slowly but surely going to come on board you know he can control some things now with greater authority than any gaulic ruler since Caesar first arrived on the scene but there's other things he can't change he can start ordering tribes around now so instead of having to beg a tribe you normally are enemies with but are
Starting point is 04:36:59 temporarily fighting with for supplies and and troops and whatnot you can order it so you can begin to mimic in a maybe less efficient way things like roman supply and working together and telling one tribe to go over here and another tribe to go over there as part of some larger strategy which is a huge improvement but you're not changing the reality on the tactical level on the ground you're not turning your gaulic warriors with their swords and their shields into roman legionaries you're not inventing centurions you're not getting battlefield discipline and drill an organization at that level so you still can't face the legions in the field and Vercingetorix seems to know this because he's going to be famous for telling the rest of the
Starting point is 04:37:47 Gauls that they have to do something that runs against their nature in terms of this heroic ethos he tells them they're essentially going to have a guerrilla war and they're going to have to adopt a scorched earth strategy and they're going to have to destroy their stuff and where they live and everything in order to defeat these romans now we talked earlier about some of the greatest tragedies in human history being when some of the things on the list that you're willing to die for become the cost of other things on the list that you're willing to die for and this is the greatest test in the history of any gaulic leader that we've seen well maybe anywhere in the history books where you are going to have members of rival tribes making decisions that tell you you have to burn
Starting point is 04:38:35 down your homes in your city and leave the fact that these tribes listen and agree to adopt this strategy of their kingetorix is is a sign one of the desperate times and two of his unrivaled authority for the first time in history gaul or most of it anyway is acting under the control of sort of one mind one will as the nazis would have said but it creates a situation where the Gauls are now at least on par with Caesar in the ability to have a united strategy and this has never before been the case but just because you have more power than any gaulic warlord you can find in the previous history books doesn't mean you're the one who always gets to decide what to do we all know right war is a game of seizing the initiative and sometimes responding to the other person
Starting point is 04:39:33 doing that sometimes you get to play offense but sometimes the other guy has the ball right right in this case there will be games that both Caesar and versen getterics will play with these cities it's sort of ironic that one of the things versen getterics is known for is telling the Celtic people they have to burn all these cities well where do all the major encounters happen outside these gaulic towns or cities much of this encounter involves sieges and the attempt to relieve sieges for various political reasons Caesar will show up on the scene and go bam bam and take a couple of towns real fast reminding the Celtic people that they cannot stand up to roman sieges very well then they will defeat some gaulic cavalry in a skirmish sort of reminding
Starting point is 04:40:13 the Gauls that they can't face up to roman field tactics and field armies very well either so what do you do then this is where the strategy comes into play of you know a scorched earth type deal so versen getterics according according to Caesar we should emphasize that gives this big speech where he tells him you're going to have to destroy everything it's great it's worth quoting in full and notice at the end by the way that he throws up one of those you know you'll lose everything kinds of pictures to these people right i realize i'm asking you to do a lot and it's a bunch of things you'd be willing to die for maybe but it's there to preserve other things you'd be willing to die for remember the stakes this from the essay handford edition and this is caesar putting this
Starting point is 04:40:59 into ver king getterics his mouth remember by the way caesar will mention these other cities that he's now taken already on the way to dealing with this rebellion and they sound like names out of the lord of the rings don't they quote after this series of reverses and velo nodunum and senabum and noviodunum ver king getterics summoned his followers to a council of war and told them that their plan of campaign must be completely changed this is ver king getterics talking according to caesar quote we must strive by every means he said to prevent the romans from obtaining forage and supplies this will be easy since we are strong in cavalry and the season is in our favor there is no grass to cut so the enemy will be forced to send out parties to get hay from the
Starting point is 04:41:46 barns and our cavalry can go out every day and see that not a single one of them returns alive what is more when our lives are at stake we must be prepared to sacrifice our private possessions along the enemy's line of march we must burn all of the villages and farms within the radius that the foragers can cover we ourselves have plenty of supplies because we can rely upon the resources of the people in whose territory the campaign is conducted but the romans will either succumb to starvation or have to expose themselves to serious risk by going far from their camp in search of food we can either kill them or strip them of their baggage which will be equally effective since without it they cannot keep the field we should also burn all the towns except those
Starting point is 04:42:30 that are rendered impregnable by natural and artificial defenses otherwise they may serve as refugees for shirkers among our own numbers and give the enemy the chance of looting the stores or provisions and other property that they contain you may think these measures harsh and cruel but you must admit that it would be a still harsher fate to have your wives and children carried off into slavery and be killed yourselves which is what will inevitably befall you if you are conquered end quote that is by the way sort of cesar pointing out i guess you could read into this yes that's true that is what i'll do to them cesar says that most of these tribes that were working with their king gediric's complied and he says one of them burned 20
Starting point is 04:43:16 of their towns simultaneously and then you could see the smoke in the skies but one tribe begged the other gallic tribes not to make them burn their city down it was this special city they said i mean they were wrapped up in it it was one of the finest in all the gall please don't make them do this it's like please don't make me choose between one thing on my list that i'd be willing to die for and some other thing on the list so either very can gediric's is softer than he seems in other parts of the story or maybe he didn't have as much authority as is suggested by cesar but nonetheless these people are able to get their city spared this hill top town of theirs supposedly one of the arguments they made is listen it's impregnable don't worry and then cesar
Starting point is 04:43:58 took it this is the city of avaricum and traditionally it's considered to be one of the three main encounters that form the military side of this gallic rebellion but it's worth pointing out that in the same way that the word pacification covers a ton of low-level violence that doesn't quite you know reach the standards of making it into the history books talking about this gallic rebellion and then boiling it down to three sieges and the violence associated with that is a minimizer also of all the things that were going on sort of under the radar under the historical radar so to speak archaeologist barry cunliffe points out an interesting sort of ironic fact first of all you have their king gediric's here saying they're going to have to burn the city so the romans have
Starting point is 04:44:50 no high value targets and yet here they are going after high value targets anyway all of the major encounters in this rebellion will happen around cities so what happened there you know they should be burned down shouldn't they but each one sort of has an excuse for why it's still there and barry cunliffe points out that what's sort of ironic is that it's only in the parts of gall that have had significant contact with the romans and become more roman-like that you have these sorts of cities for the romans and julia cesar to target to begin with right if you go to the less civilized i'm using air quotes with my hands you're the less civilized tribal north up where the nervy i and the belgue are and everything they don't even have cities like this they're much more decentralized
Starting point is 04:45:34 you're going to have to chase the tribal people out of their little you know huts and into the woods but here you can almost treat these gallic states remember that's the way some translators translate it now not tribes but states you can almost treat them the way you treat these states in the east or Greece when the romans go there they just go to the major population centers and take them boom wars over so some of these gallic tribes are becoming more like the roman so the romans can fight them more like they're traditional enemies they can go after basically the capitals of these states the administrative center the tribal heart if you will cunliffe writes quote in dealing with the more urbanized tribes of central gall cesar's tactic
Starting point is 04:46:17 was simply to pick off the population centers one by one such an approach would have been impossible among the tribes of amorica and belgica where this degree of centralization had not yet developed end quote you know it's funny the knock on the galls has always been that they weren't able to work together and to take things to the next level developmentally speaking and form for example more organized states but john haywood i think was the author that i read that that went the complete 180 degrees on that theory and said that what would have kept the kelts safe or longer was to be even more decentralized and his theory if i remember it correctly was that you know when the romans faced other urbanized centers in other places egypt greece any place like that they would
Starting point is 04:47:07 destroy those states in one or two battles because the other centralized state brought all of its assets to one place and the romans destroyed them there but look how long again if i'm remembering hayward correctly he said it took to defeat the kelts and the various other peoples of of the spanish and portuguese area right of a lucetani and all there because those tribes were so divided and so decentralized you always had to keep going after another tribe it's an interesting theory but in this case the fact that there were even cities at all for cesar to target is a facet of the galls becoming more and more like the romans and by the way this is something cesar now portrays in his writings and it becomes a feature of what's going on and the longer the romans are
Starting point is 04:47:52 out here now fighting the gall cesar says the more the galls are imitating the romans and becoming even more dangerous so there's this now undercurrent of need here that not only are the galls perhaps worthy of becoming romans if we just train them up a little bit but the more contact they have with us the more like romans they're becoming here in battle so we better hurry at avaricum cesar and the romans will be unable because of the fact that this hill fort this city on a giant mesa is a good way to put it that's what these hill forts that become hill towns that eventually morph into hill cities in these more sophisticated gallic states are like right it's it's not a man-made feature it's something what was the line from the lord of the rings that
Starting point is 04:48:42 has stood here since the dawn of time and then man put some fortifications on top of it avaricum has marshes all around it so the romans can't do their normal practice of building a giant wall around the whole place because where are you going to build it in the middle of a swamp there's only one entrance to the place so it looks like if this were a gallic besieging army they would be stymied but of course this is the romans and over a course of almost 30 days they build a counter mountain maybe you could say it's hard to understand some of the sources talk about a ramp others talk about a mound but essentially cesar builds something on one part of one side of the fortification to equalize the height and it takes the legionaries almost a month and it's like 400
Starting point is 04:49:32 feet long about 80 feet high and you just marvel at what the romans are capable of doing and listen a lot of other ancient armies could too when you have that many people involved in laboring for 10 hours a day seven days a week you can get a lot done now the romans while they're building this are under pressure because veracangetorix's strategy of scorched earth is working he's brought his army and he's keeping it 15 or 16 miles away from the romans who are building their siege engines and creating this giant mound or ramp and they're picking off roman stragglers as the romans look for food and they're looking for food already this strategy is starting to bite as one of the historians i read put it you know the the scorched earth strategy is starting to bite but the siege
Starting point is 04:50:20 is working too and at one point cesar says the men in the garrison decide they're going to try to slip out and get to veracangetorix's army live to fight another day the problem is is that that town contains not just those warriors but their families too and cesar says their attempt to sneak out you know without alerting the romans was foiled when the women started screaming and crying you know when they realized the men were leaving begging and beseeching them not to leave them to the fate of falling into the hands of the romans sort of screwed up their plan they alerted the enemy because they were so loud and the warriors had to give up their idea of slipping away but it's an emotional reminder isn't it of the stakes here you can get caught up in the that this happened
Starting point is 04:51:05 and then this happened and then this next year this happened and forget that no we have women and children screaming because they think their men are leaving because it's better to save at least the warriors than to have everyone die right because that's what's going to happen when less than a month after the siege started after a rainstorm begins and the galls sort of lose their focus on one part of the wall for a second the romans take over the wall close off the city and you know they kind of point out have you ever been to like one of the old towns and some of these european cities a stock home for example has got one where when you walk through it you realize how really narrow and small all these old-fashioned medieval and ancient streets were in all the
Starting point is 04:51:51 little side streets and how clogged they could be if you had crowds of people trying to oh i don't know get away from pursuers at the same time caesar points out that every place gets choked with people trying to get away and out of a population of 40 000 caesar says about 800 survived the romans killed everyone man woman child old infirmed everything and goldsworthy and others point out that this might not have been part of caesar's plan he will be very strategic as he sort of puts down this rebellion who gets clemency and who gets absolutely decimated the important tribes that used to be friendly to the roman caesar tends to be kind of light-handed with right oh we're sorry you left you should come back to the romans right but the
Starting point is 04:52:40 people that have been nasty the whole time and that the romans have nothing to politically gain with often are used as examples in this case though caesar is giving up a lot of money when these people are being killed in the streets of avaricum and even these soldiers who stood to get a cut right they might have gotten their own slave but they're busy killing the booty in these narrow streets of this gallic town and some of the historians goldsworthy one of them i think made the suggestion that this might have been an army that was just so angry for all sorts of reasons including the killing of the the roman businessman and traders to kick off this rebellion that they couldn't be controlled or were mad enough to think to hell with the money
Starting point is 04:53:22 to hell with the slaves to hell with the booty i'm killing these people and they did and it's another one of those tragedies that goes into stomping down gallic resistance normally a disaster like avaricum would have hurt a war leader's reputation but caesar suggests and it's not hard to believe that it actually helped vercingetorix's because he had been one of the people that said we should be burning this town down and then when his advice wasn't chosen because he's not an absolute ruler in any sense of the word he's sort of chosen almost like an outside contractor if you want to look at it this way by these tribes and if they don't like his leadership they can bolt singly or in groups in this case he looks like he was in the right all along
Starting point is 04:54:08 so after avaricum the gallic army continues to harass and shadow caesar's romans remember caesar's romans are the only roman army here so there's no other pincer that can come around and do stuff if caesar wants to do something in two places at the same time he has to split the army he's got which means that the galls can keep caesar's army sort of occupied somewhere they're free to move around and do things in every other area of the theater for example vercingetorix is continually sending his emissaries to all these other tribes that haven't joined the rebellion yet there's one in particular that would transform the situation if vercingetorix could flip them it's this tribe that's so close to the romans the edui the ones who got us involved
Starting point is 04:54:53 in this story to begin with that so-called druid divicicious is a member of the edui tribe right the reason that they're so important is because that's who's providing caesar's food right now and they're guarding his food supply lines also with their warriors what would happen if they flipped so fast forward to what's going on caesar and this gallic army are sort of shadowing each other vercingetorix takes his army up into some hills around this let's call it a very large hill or a mini mountain and it's very tops it's 2400 plus feet above the ground level and this is another gallic hill city or hill town or fortified town or whatever definition you want to use and once again there's an excuse why it escaped burning this is vercingetorix's tribal capital this is
Starting point is 04:55:51 his home basically so maybe it's a do as i say not as i do situation you all burned down your towns but i'm not burning down mine or maybe this place was so easily defended and so hard to take that vercingetorix thought it was a place he could pin caesar down while he destroyed his supply and by getting this friendly tribe that was providing caesar's food to flip caesar's in terrible trouble camped out in front of this city called jergovia and jergovia is normally considered the second big encounter one of the big three as part of these gallic wars it's also one where you have to take caesar at even less face value because this is not the high water mark of caesar's general ship and so for a piece of propaganda like these war commentaries if you're
Starting point is 04:56:43 ever going to shade the truth and try to make yourself look better and spin things this is going to be the place where you do it normally caesar would look at a place like this and think let's starve it out but given the supply situation he'd be more likely with his army to starve before the people in jergovia did what's more caesar's a little light on troops at this point this is one of the moves that some have criticized over the eras but we told you earlier caesar needs two things done simultaneously in different places he doesn't have another army in rome he can call on he has to split his own and before this battle this siege at jergovia he does and sends out about 40 percent of his forces to go handle something involving a couple of other tribes that need a
Starting point is 04:57:28 good thwacking but it means at jergovia they're not there so when you start considering oh maybe enclosing an entire mini mountain with walls and fences and things to cut it off from the outside world and you look at your six legions you may be thinking to yourself i really don't have enough people for that kind of strategy right now now describing sieges is always difficult so i'll just use these these rough ideas but basically when caesar gets there and sees what he's up against he starts nibbling at terrain features nearby that will help him for example there's a little hill nearby where if he takes that little hill that the gulls haven't really defended it'll be harder for the gulls to get water so it becomes this little game of nibbling on terrain features
Starting point is 04:58:12 building camps and doing all this sort of stuff and then while he's doing it he gets word that the edui have flipped and that the baggage in his rear is compromised and the food may not be arriving so he takes a large portion of the legions he's working with at jergovia and goes down to deal with the problem with the supply lines and while he's gone supposedly where can getterics and the warriors come out of the the heights down the hill and attack this roman camp the roman camp built for like six legions but now only defended by two which you could see would make it difficult uh caesar gets word of this when he's on his way back from dealing with the supply line problems with like four legions and when he gets to the camp he sees that they have managed
Starting point is 04:58:59 to beat off the assault with artillery and all kinds of things but they're they're in a bad way so caesar devises this strategy where he's going to faint and attack on one side get all the Celtic warriors to go to that side of the top of the mesa of the hill fort and then caesar will attack on the on the far side that's now abandoned with some more troops so he sets this up eventually gets to the point where the gulls take the bait they all come to the one side of the mesa to deal with caesar's faint caesar sends his legions around the supposedly now undefended other side they start doing real well they get through the the main wall they're starting to cut up some of the camp and the women and the children and i mean maybe this is going to win and then the
Starting point is 04:59:41 Celtic warriors that have been drawn off to the other side of the mesa by the faint come back and mass there can get a ricks himself might have led the cavalry charge that sent the romans careening back down the hill caesar will get together a bunch of legions that are not involved at the bottom somewhere near the bottom of the hill so that his own troops can then hide behind them and his new troops that are uninvolved in the combat can ward off the pursuing Celts caesar says we'll admit to like 700 dead legionaries between 40 and 50 of these people are centurions there's been an interesting debate you can read on whether or not this is the roman habit of encouraging well conspicuous bravery would be one way of putting it if you wanted to spin it one way
Starting point is 05:00:33 reckless endangerment for personal gain might be another but caesar kind of blames that a little bit at the same time caesar's been encouraging this kind of audacity forever you know where these legionaries and their centurions are rewarded for throwing themselves into the breach and being extra tough and extra aggressive in this case caesar says that at one point these galls will be throwing these dead romans over the walls head first and caesar will name at least one of these dead romans being thrown over the wall by the Celtic warriors who killed him by name so you know the guy who you're seeing thrown over the walls dead i mean it it sounds like it was a nasty situation some historians have suggested the casualties could be a great deal higher than
Starting point is 05:01:20 caesar was admitting to the military setback that caesar suffers at your govia combined with the losing of the edui tribe to the rebellion begins to flip yet more tribes and to emphasize how quickly this is happening everything we're talking about here is happening in 52 bce normally when you think of this period you think of an era of almost glacial like operations whether we're talking about armies advancing or sieges or anything sieges could take years all of this is happening in 52 which shows you how quickly events are unfolding and by the way caesar was not giving conventional dates so you could say that all this stuff happened in this one year but you don't know when sometimes he'll give you an inkling of a season right so you could say well this happened in the winter or
Starting point is 05:02:10 this happened in the spring or what have you but most armies i can think of from the ancient period well up into almost the modern era would have a hard time dealing with the speed of something going this fast i keep trying to imagine you know european armies from the middle age is trying to crush this revolt this quickly part of it of course is roam but the other part is and what's sort of bad karmic luck to the galls have that this happened that they get one of the great generals in all human history and a guy at the top of his resume when he's bragging about his god given qualities is going to put speed and decisiveness of movement as if the kelts already didn't have enough you know going against them in this deal between the technology and the you know lack
Starting point is 05:02:56 of centralization and all the things we've been talking about they got to get this guy at this time too in fact it's worse than just that caesar's political antenna as you might imagine from a guy honing his skills in the realm of the late republic are exquisite and his ability to read the proper way to respond to these tribes in order to play them as much as he can you know like a musical instrument is crazy you know some tribes get clemency others get wiped out and you got to know how to play this game to keep most of them in your camp or at least the 49 percent of the tribe maybe that wishes they were in your camp but are currently in the minority you think about guys coming from the era caesar was born in marius and sulla they might have been equally
Starting point is 05:03:42 successful at destroying these gallic armies but i imagine caesar's going to look like a great big softy when it comes to the genocide or the holocaust we're talking about if it's marius or sulla dishing out the punishment maybe everything when we talk about these historical genocides and crimes against humanity and all these modern terms maybe they all need to be graded on a curve hey nonetheless at this point in the story this is about the low watermark of caesar's entire career and most other generals would be toast at this point remember now this is an army caesar's that was already feeling the bite of the scorched earth policy so he was not doing all that great to begin with the military setback at your grove is not huge in a military sense the romans can suck up
Starting point is 05:04:33 those casualties but in a political sense it's big several historians will point out that this shatters the aura of roman invincibility more tribes join the rebellion but bigger than that is the flipping of the edui tribe for all sorts of reasons but just look at one of them the edui control roams administrative base in gall their storage locker if you will where they put all their stuff while they're traipsing around gall it's a city called noviodunum and when the edui flip they take noviodunum with them then they sack it almost as if they were conquering their own city so that they can keep it out of the roman's hands what did it have in it here's historian nick fields talking about noviodunum and its importance to caesar quote here were to be found all his
Starting point is 05:05:24 gallish hostages his grain reserve his war chest remounts for his cavalry and the best part of the army baggage ipor adorix and viridamarus two young chieftains of the edui turned on the roman garrison at noviodunum and slaughtered them together with the traders gathered there released the hostages divided the money and carried as much grain as they could transport and dump the remainder in the river and torch the town end quote fields actually said opidum which is the word for a gallic town the point is think about this from the gallic perspective this is an apache raid that's successful and that takes an enemy who's already reeling from giurgovia and stabs them in the back i mean this is a huge moment from a native perspective here and the potential ramifications that become
Starting point is 05:06:15 possible now caesar's defeat in the distance well that's a chance that the native american tribes never had i mean even if they had gone after the you know very early settlements in virginian places like that could they have wiped them out forever could they have had the europeans draw a line and say we're not crossing this ocean anymore because you can't live on the other side the natives will kill you same thing with africa it was just too late in technology since the odds were too one-sided but look at this here this is an opportunity for the tribal people to win caesar's in trouble think about what just having the hostages does for a change in power and authority here caesar had been keeping the you know sons and daughters of the powerful and important people of all these
Starting point is 05:07:00 gallic tribes he hoped to keep under his thumb and now all of a sudden they fall into the hands of the rebels and of course the rebels can do any number of things with them right they could be magnanimous give them back to these other gallic tribes and say see gall stick together and by the way you owe me a favor they could also if they wanted to play hardball say something like um caesar doesn't have your children anymore we do so you're joining the rebellion right nonetheless now that the edu we are on board we are told that vercingetorix has now a big tribal meeting and in this meeting the edu we are a part of it they actually make a play for the leadership with their smackdown and almost all the other tribes in gall plutarx says that there were like
Starting point is 05:07:42 300 tribes or states that caesar subdued i can't believe it's anywhere near that many some of these may have been really really small but let's just say it's 120 or 150 caesar says he's got like two that still support him so vercingetorix has this big meeting with all these other tribes the giant pangolic council and you do wonder if say the native americans or some of these other people who are victims of colonial conquest ever were able to get all of their people together in one place or the representatives of them and all sort of try to unite and speak with one voice this is an amazing thing when you think about it all of gall with the exception of a couple of tribes are united against caesar and caesar is in trouble this is a historic moment
Starting point is 05:08:26 he's basically cut off from getting new troops in idli at this point and remember the romans don't use their own cavalry anymore what do they use well local allied troops who's allied to the romans now so caesar's got an issue where does he get his cavalry from well this is where we find out and you know those who enjoy little teeny tactical things on the battlefield that end up having perhaps huge effects on history love this part of the story but this is where we find out that caesar's been making friends on the other side of the rine with those german people that you can't house break and you can't you know you can't incorporate you can't assimilate but if you need the cavalry bad enough you can maybe work out a deal and caesar starts bringing this friendly
Starting point is 05:09:14 german cavalry from some of these tribes maybe that were the enemies of the people caesar was beating up on in germany and we hear of their appearance and it's bedeviled well take war gaming for instance most war gaming rule sets when talking about this german cavalry in this period gave it special powers especially special powers over Celtic troops you know why because the Celtic troops were scared of them these are the same kinds of forces remember that caesar had noticed had driven off many more times their number in gallic cavalry earlier so what's going on you know when we talk about toughness or intimidation or all these qualities that are hard to quantify what do you get when you take 400 german cavalry which is not enough to make a big
Starting point is 05:10:04 difference anywhere in these size battles and they dominate what kind of supermen are we talking about here and people have wondered ever since now we can go into the unquantifiable things but they are of course unquantifiable you could talk about the fact that these germans had a way of utilizing infantry with the cavalry so they'd have one light infantrymen to go with one cavalrymen and they were supposed to operate together and the light infantrymen supposedly would hold on to the mains of these horses as they rode into battle and they would almost act like a knight with his squire and that this combined arms mobile infantry formation was unique and deadly there are also some theories that these germans weren't just your average german warrior but this is more like
Starting point is 05:10:51 you know a bunch of german adventurers and it's like the magnificent seven or something but it's the magnificent 400 or later maybe 600 and they're all these you know badass germans these are germans who make other germans scared right so it might be that kind of a deal that explains why they're so dominating on the battlefield once again it's kind of confusing isn't it why Caesar who's writing this propaganda piece to please a roman audience blah blah blah why is he saying such nice things about the germans and giving them so much credit it's hard to figure out especially for a non-expert like yours truly all i can say is that in a number of different encounters these germans are going to make all the difference in the world in fact the reason that we're going
Starting point is 05:11:31 to have the climactic battle this great you know schwerpunk right that's what the german generals would say this this this climactic intense decide the whole war you know situation in this one city is maybe because this german cavalry turned the tide at a battle where verkin getterichs had assembled all the dang cavalry he could get his hands on practically told the other tribes he didn't want any infantry he already had 80 000 and as many historians will point out 80 000 is a lot to feed already and at this point in the story and again you got to love the way these things work verkin getterichs may want that infantry more as a way to hold some of these tribes hostage we've got your warriors be good right don't flip back to the romans but at this
Starting point is 05:12:17 late stage in the gallic you know military development it's their cavalry that's everything and caesar will end up re hooking up with those forces that he had sent away to do other things before giugovia they will start to march in a direction that looks like maybe they're leaving and this is where maybe verkin getterichs gets confused a lot of the different histories portray this as an attempt to attack the romans as the romans march away but verkin getterichs who's put 15 000 cavalry were told together all of whom have pledged to not go home to their wives and children or anything unless they have ridden twice through the roman column attack these romans on the march and the german cavalry working in conjunction with the legionaries
Starting point is 05:13:08 once again saves the day and sends verkin getterichs and his kelts sort of reeling back towards the first place to rally which is this gallic city once again remarkably untouched by flames called alicia caesar says by the way that he pursues the gallic army so closely that he kills 3 000 members of their rearguard as they try to cover the army's retreat into the hill town of alicia you can say alicia too some people do this is a typical gallic hill town in the sense that it is protected by natural features to make it pretty tough to take michael m sage says it is a plateau near dijon france right now about 1300 feet high about 1.2 miles long 650 yards wide on three sides the terrain is like impossible rivers craggy
Starting point is 05:14:11 rocky terrain but on one side on the west it's a nice gentle slope a couple of miles long so as another historian pointed out think of a peninsula and it's a little like that so verkin getterich's retreats to this city then turns around and blocks the entrance to the peninsula with his army digs a ditch builds a six foot tall wall made of loose stones and above him sits this hill fort city with the tribe whose home it is so a lot of civilians and he sort of waits for caesar caesar shows up takes a look at this place and decides well this is something you have to put under siege obviously but how do you put a place this large under siege this is a huge endeavor if you really want to go there but as we've said all along the romans are you know one of their
Starting point is 05:15:01 great secret weapons is the fact that their legionaries are about half construction worker half soldier historian michael m sage writes about caesar looking at alicia and deciding what to do quote since a direct assault was precluded the only alternative was to capture the town by siege which required the construction of massive fortifications one of the striking aspects of the gallic war is the engineering skill the romans displayed in constructing siege fortifications this expertise was part of a wider development in the use of fortifications by the romans they were used extensively not only in sieges but also on the battlefield the romans constructed a continuous siege wall over 10 miles in length to close off alicia end quote well that's just for
Starting point is 05:15:48 starters but basically once vercingetoric sees what's going on here and the scope of what caesar's about to do he launches a cavalry attack down that one gentle slope of the peninsula of this plateau he's occupying and gets into a dustup with both caesar's legionaries and caesar's german cavalry and once again the german cavalry make the difference and they pursue along with the romans these gallic cavalry members who caesar says get caught up kind of in their own defenses and they start clogging up around the narrow parts and they get just massacred in crowds of people he says crush to death so caesar says that this tells vercingetorics that he's not going to be able to break this siege himself and also as this um you know fortification starts to become complete what
Starting point is 05:16:37 are you going to do with cavalry anyway so caesar says he sends his cavalry away sends all the cavalry back to their home tribes because this is an army that is a consolidation of a bunch of allied tribes now right almost everyone so he sends the cavalry back to their own tribes and caesar says he tells them to bring a relief army you know put together a rising of the tribes and come here and save us we've got caesar pinned down right here and as vercingetorics is sending this cavalry all back to their home tribes caesar again putting the words in his mouth has him saying you know don't leave me here don't forget who fought for your liberty and then something to the effect of oh yea