Amis d'Uxellodunum  

The siege of Uxellodunum according to the ancient texts...

THE TEXT OF HIRTIUS (Latin with English translation)

This is Aulus Hirtius' account of the siege, which apart from archaeological evidence, is the primary source for what happened at Uxellodunum.

From The Gallic Wars by Julius Caesar, Book VIII, Chapters 30 to 44, a full translation by W. A. McDevitte and W. S. Bohn.

Hirtius' Preface

Prevailed on by your continued solicitations, Balbus(21), I have engaged in a most difficult task, as my daily refusals appear to plead not my inability, but indolence, as an excuse. I have compiled a continuation of the Commentaries of our Caesar's Wars in Gaul, not indeed to be compared to his writings, which either precede or follow them; and recently, I have completed what he left imperfect after the transactions in Alexandria, to the end, not indeed of the civil broils, to which we see no issue, but of Caesar's life. I wish that those who may read them could know how unwillingly I undertook to write them, as then I might the more readily escape the imputation of folly and arrogance, in presuming to intrude among Caesar's writings. For it is agreed on all hands, that no composition was ever executed with so great care, that it is not exceeded in elegance by these Commentaries, which were published for the use of historians, that they might not want memoirs of such achievements; and they stand so high in the esteem of all men, that historians seem rather deprived of than furnished with materials. At which we have more reason to be surprised than other men; for they can only appreciate the elegance and correctness with which he finished them, while we know with what ease and expedition. Caesar possessed not only an uncommon flow of language and elegance of style, but also a thorough knowledge of the method of conveying his ideas. But I had not even the good fortune to share in the Alexandrian or African war; and though these were partly communicated to me by Caesar himself, in conversation, yet we listen with a different degree of attention to those things which strike us with admiration by their novelty, and those which we design to attest to posterity. But, in truth, whilst I urge every apology, that I may not be compared to Caesar, I incur the charge of vanity, by thinking it possible that I can in the judgment of any one be put in competition with him. Farewell(22).

Texte en latin



VIII, 30 - Qua ex fuga cum constaret Drappetem Senonem, qui, ut primum defecerat Gallia, collectis undique perditis hominibus, seruis ad libertatem uocatis, exulibus omnium ciuitatum ascitis, repentinis latrociniis inpedimenta et commeatus Romanorum interceperat, non amplius hominum duobus milibus ex fuga collectis prouinciam petere unaque consilium cum eo Lucterium Cadurcum cepisse, quem superiore commentario prima defectione Galliae facere in prouinciam uoluisse impetum cognitum est, Caninius legatus cum legionibus duabus ad eos persequendos contendit, ne detrimento aut timore prouinciae magna infamia perditorum hominum latrociniis caperetur.

VIII, 30 - After this defeat, when it was ascertained that Drapes, a Senonian (who in the beginning of the revolt of Gaul had collected from all quarters men of desperate fortunes, invited the slaves to liberty, called in the exiles of the whole kingdom, given an asylum to robbers, and intercepted the Roman baggage and provisions), was marching to the province with five thousand men, being all he could collect after the defeat, and that Luterius a Cadurcian who, as it has been observed in a former commentary, had designed to make an attack on the Province in the first revolt of Gaul, had formed a junction with him, Caius Caninius went in pursuit of them with two legions, lest great disgrace might be incurred from the fears or injuries done to the Province by the depredations of a band of desperate men.

VIII, 31 - C. Fabius cum reliquo exercitu in Carnutes ceterasque proficiscitur ciuitates, quarum eo proelio quod cum Dumnaco fecerat copias esse accisas sciebat. Non enim dubitabat quin recenti calamitate submissiores essent futurae, dato uero spatio ac tempore eodem instigante Dumnaco possent concitari. Qua in re summa felicitas celeritasque in recipiendis ciuitatibus Fabium consequitur. Nam Carnutes, qui saepe uexati numquam pacis fecerant mentionem, datis obsidibus ueniunt in deditionem, ceteraeque ciuitates positae in ultimis Galliae finibus, Oceano coniunctae, quae Aremoricae appellantur, auctoriate adductae Carnutum aduentu Fabii legionumque imperata sine mora faciunt. Dumnacus suis finibus expulsus errans latitansque solus extre mas Galliae regiones petere est coactus.

VIII, 31 - Caius Fabius set off with the rest of the army to the Carnutes and those other states, whose force he was informed, had served as auxiliaries in that battle, which he fought against Dumnacus. For he had no doubt that they would be more submissive after their recent sufferings, but if respite and time were given them, they might be easily excited by the earnest solicitations of the same Dumnacus. On this occasion Fabius was extremely fortunate and expeditious in recovering the states. For the Carnutes, who, though often harassed had never mentioned peace, submitted and gave hostages: and the other states, which lie in the remotest parts of Gaul, adjoining the ocean, and which are called Armoricae, influenced by the example of the Carnutes, as soon as Fabius arrived with his legions, without delay comply with his command. Dumnacus, expelled from his own territories, wandering and skulking about, was forced to seek refuge by himself in the most remote parts of Gaul.
VIII, 32 - At Drappes unaque Lucterios, cum legiones Caniniumque adesse cognoscerent nec se sine certa pernicie persequente exercitu putarent prouinciae fines intrare posse nec iam libere uagandi latrociniorumque faciendorum facultatem haberent, in finibus consistunt Cadurcorum. Ibi cum Lucterios apud suos ciues quondam integris rebus multum potuisset semperque auctor nouorum consiliorum magnam apud barbaros auctoritatem haberet, oppidum Vxellodunum, quod in clientela fuerat eius, egregie natura loci munitum, occupat suis et Drappetis copiis oppidanosque sibi coniungit.
VIII, 32 -But Drapes in conjunction with Luterius, knowing that Caninius was at hand with the legions, and that they themselves could not without certain destruction enter the boundaries of the province, while an army was in pursuit of them, and being no longer at liberty to roam up and down and pillage, halt in the country of the Cadurci, as Luterius had once in his prosperity possessed a powerful influence over the inhabitants, who were his countrymen, and being always the author of new projects, had considerable authority among the barbarians; with his own and Drapes' troops he seized Uxellodunum, a town formerly in vassalage to him, and strongly fortified by its natural situation; and prevailed on the inhabitants to join him.

VIII, 33 - Quo cum confestim C. Caninius uenisset animaduerteretque omnes oppidi partes praeruptissimis saxis esse munitas, quo defendente nullo tamen armatis ascendere esset difficile, magna autem inpedimenta oppidanorum uideret, quae si clandestina fuga subtrahere conarentur, effugere non modo equitatum, sed ne legiones quidem possent, tripertito cohortibus diuisis trina excelsissimo loco castra fecit ; a quibus paulatim, quantum copiae patiebantur, uallum in oppidi circuitum ducere instituit.

VIII, 33 - After Caninius had rapidly marched to this place, and perceived that all parts of the town were secured by very craggy rocks, which it would be difficult for men in arms to climb even if they met with no resistance; and moreover, observing that the town's people were possessed of effects, to a considerable amount, and that if they attempted to convey them away in a clandestine manner, they could not escape our horse, or even our legions; he divided his forces into three parts, and pitched three camps on very high ground, with the intention of drawing lines round the town by degrees, as his forces could bear the fatigue.

VIII, 34 - Quod cum animaduerterent oppidani miserrimaque Alesiae memoria solliciti similem casum obsessionis uererentur, maximeque ex omnibus Lucterios, qui fortunae illius periculum fecerat, moneret frumenti rationem esse habendam, contituunt omnium consensu parte ibi relicta copiarum ipsi cum expeditis ad inportandum frumentum proficisci. Eo consilo probato proxima nocte duobus milibus armatorum relictis reliquos ex oppido Drappes et Lucterios educunt. Hi paucos dies morati ex finibus Cardurcorum, qui partim re frumentaria subleuare eos cupiebant, partim prohibere quo minus sumerent non poterant, magnum numerum frumenti conparant, non numquam autem expeditionibus nocturnis castella nostrorum adoriuntur. Quam ob causam Caninius toto oppido munitiones circumdare moratur, ne aut opus effectum tueri non ossit aut plurimis in locis infirma disponat praesidia.


VIII, 34 - When the townsmen perceived his design, being terrified by the recollection of the distress at Alesia, they began to dread similar consequences from a siege; and above all Luterius, who had experienced that fatal event, cautioned them to make provisions of corn; they therefore resolve by general consent to leave part of their troops behind, and set out with their light troops to bring in corn. The scheme having met with approbation, the following night Drapes and Luterius leaving two thousand men in the garrison, marched out of the town with the rest. After a few days' stay in the country of the Cadurci (some of whom were disposed to assist them with corn, and others were unable to prevent their taking it) they collected a great store. Sometimes also attacks were made on our little forts by sallies at night. For this reason Caninius deferred drawing his works round the whole town, lest he should be unable to protect them when completed, or by disposing his garrisons in several places, should make them too weak.

VIII, 35 - Magna copia frumenti conparata considunt Drappes et Lucterios non longius ab oppido x milibus, unde paulatim frumentum in oppidum supportarent. Ipsi inter se prouincias partiuntur : Drappes castris praesidio cum parte copiarum resistit, Lucterios agmen iumentorum ad oppidum ducit. Dispositis ibi praesidiis hora noctis circiter decima siluestribus angustisque itineribus frumentum inportare in oppidum instituit. Quorum strepitum uigiles castrorum cum sensissent exploratoresque missi quae gererentur renuntiassent, Caninius celeriter cum cohortibus armatis ex proximis castellis in frumentarios sub ipsam lucem impetum fecit. Ii repentino malo perterriti diffugiunt ad sua praesidia ; quae nostri ut uiderunt, acrius contra armatos incitati neminem ex eo numero uiuum capi patiuntur. Profugit inde cum paucis Lucterios nec se recipit in castra.
VIII, 35 - Drapes and Luterius, having laid in a large supply of corn, occupying a position at about ten miles distance from the town, intending from it to convey the corn into the town by degrees. They chose each his respective department. Drapes stayed behind in the camp with part of the army to protect it; Luterius conveys the train with provisions into the town. Accordingly, having disposed guards here and there along the road, about the tenth hour of the night, he set out by narrow paths through the woods, to fetch the corn into the town. But their noise being heard by the sentinels of our camp, and the scouts which we had sent out, having brought an account of what was going on, Caninius instantly with the ready-armed cohorts from the nearest turrets made an attack on the convoy at the break of day. They, alarmed at so unexpected an evil, fled by different ways to their guard: which as soon as our men perceived, they fell with great fury on the escort, and did not allow a single man to be taken alive. Luterius escaped thence with a few followers, but did not return to the camp.
VIII, 36 - Re bene gesta Caninius ex captiuis comperit partem copiarum cum Drappete esse in castris a milibus non amplius XII. Qua re ex compluribus cognita, cum intellegeret fugato duce altero perterritos reliquos facile opprimi posse, magnae felicitatis esse arbitrabatur neminem ex caede refugisse in castra, qui de accepta calamitate nuntium Drappeti perferret, sed in experiundo cum periculum nullum uideret, equitatum omnem Germanosque pedites, summae uelocitatis homines, ad castra hostium praemittit ; ipse legionem unam in trina castra distribuit, alteram secum expeditam ducit. Cum propius hostes accessisset, ab exploratoribus quos praemiserat cognoscit castra eorum, ut barbarorum fere consuetudo est, relictis locis superioribus ad ripas esse fluminis demissa, at Germanos equitesque inprudentibus omnibus de improuiso aduolasse proeliumque commisisse. Qua re cognita legionem armatam instructamque adducit. Ita repente omnibus ex partibus signo dato loca superiora capiuntur. Quod ubi accidit, Germani equitesque signis legionis uisis uehementissime proeliantur. Confestim cohortes undique impetum faciunt omnibusque aut interfectis aut captis magna praeda potiuntur. Capitur ipse eo proelio Drappes.
VIII, 36 - After this success, Caninius learned from some prisoners, that a part of the forces was encamped with Drapes, not more than ten miles off: which being confirmed by several, supposing that after the defeat of one general, the rest would be terrified, and might be easily conquered, he thought it a most fortunate event that none of the enemy had fled back from the slaughter to the camp, to give Drapes notice of the calamity which had befallen him. And as he could see no danger in making the attempt, he sent forward all his cavalry and the German foot, men of great activity, to the enemy's camp. He divides one legion among the three camps, and takes the other without baggage along with him. When he had advanced near the enemy, he was informed by scouts, which he had sent before him, that the enemy's camp, as is the custom of barbarians, was pitched low, near the banks of a river, and that the higher grounds were unoccupied: but that the German horse had made a sudden attack on them, and had begun the battle. Upon this intelligence, he marched up with his legion, armed and in order of battle. Then, on a signal being suddenly given on every side, our men took possession of the higher grounds. Upon this the German horse observing the Roman colors, fought with great vigor. Immediately all the cohorts attack them on every side; and having either killed or made prisoners of them all, gained great booty. In that battle, Drapes himself was taken prisoner.
VIII, 37 - Caninius felicissime re gesta sine ullo paene militis uulnere ad obsidendos oppidanos reuertitur externoque hoste deleto, cuius timore antea diuidere praesidia et munitione oppidanos circumdare prohibitus erat, opera undique imperat administrari. Venit eodem cum suis copiis postero die C. Fabius partemque oppidi sumit ab obsidendum.

VIII, 37 - Caninius, having accomplished the business so successfully, without having scarcely a man wounded, returned to besiege the town; and, having destroyed the enemy without, for fear of whom he had been prevented from strengthening his redoubts, and surrounding the enemy with his lines, he orders the work to be completed on every side. The next day, Caius Fabius came to join him with his forces, and took upon him the siege of one side.

VIII, 38 - Caesar interim M. Antonium quaestorem cum cohortibus XV in Bellouacis relinquit, ne qua rursus nouorum consiliorum capiendorum Belgis facultas daretur. Ipse reliquas ciuitates adit, obsides plures imperat, timentes omnium animos consolatione sanat. Cum in Carnutes uenisset, quorum in ciuitate superiore commentario Caesar exposuit initium belli esse ortum, quod praecipue eos propter conscientiam facti timere animaduertebat, quo celerius ciuitatem timore liberaret, principem sceleris illius et concitatorem belli, Gutuatrum, ad supplicium deposcit. Qui etsi ne ciuibus quidem suis se committebat, tamen celeriter omnium cura quaesitus in castra perducitur. Cogitur in eius supplicium Caesar contra suam naturam concursu maximo militum qui ei omnia pericula et detrimenta belli (a Gutruato) accepta referebant, adeo ut uerberibus exanimatum corpus securi feriretur.

VIII, 38 - In the mean time, Caesar left Caius Antonius in the country of the Bellovaci, with fifteen cohorts, that the Belgae might have no opportunity of forming new plans in future. He himself visits the other states, demands a great number of hostages, and by his encouraging language allays the apprehensions of all. When he came to the Carnutes, in whose state he has in a former commentary mentioned that the war first broke out; observing, that from a consciousness of their guilt, they seemed to be in the greatest terror: to relieve the state the sooner from its fear, he demanded that Guturvatus, the promoter of that treason, and the instigator of that rebellion, should be delivered up to punishment. And though the latter did not dare to trust his life even to his own countrymen, yet such diligent search was made by them all, that he was soon brought to our camp. Caesar was forced to punish him, by the clamors of the soldiers, contrary to his natural humanity, for they alleged that all the dangers and losses incurred in that war, ought to be imputed to Guturvatus. Accordingly, he was whipped to death, and his head cut off.

VIII, 39 - Ibi crebris litteris Caninii fit certior quae de Drappete et Lucterio gesta essent quoque in consilio permanerent oppidani. Quorum etsi paucitatem contemnebat, tamen pertinaciam magna poena esse adficiendam iudicabat, ne uniuersa Gallia non sibi uires defuisse ad resistendum Romanis, sed constantiam putaret, neue hoc exemplo ceterae ciuitates locorum oportunitate fretae se uindicarent in libertatem, cum omnibus Gallis notum esse sciret reliquam esse unam aestatem suae prouinciae, quam si sustinere potuissent, nullum ultra periculum uererentur. Itaque Q. Calenum legatum cum legionibus duabus reliquit, qui iustis itineribus subsequeretur ; ipse cum omni equitatu quam potest celerrime ad Caninium contendit.

VIII, 39 - Here Caesar was informed by numerous letters from Caninius of what had happened to Drapes and Luterius, and in what conduct the town's people persisted: and though he despised the smallness of their numbers, yet he thought their obstinacy deserving a severe punishment, lest Gaul in general should adopt an idea that she did not want strength but perseverance to oppose the Romans; and lest the other states, relying on the advantage of situation, should follow their example and assert their liberty; especially as he knew that all the Gauls understood that his command was to continue but one summer longer, and if they could hold out for that time, that they would have no further danger to apprehend. He therefore left Quintus Calenus, one of his lieutenants, behind him, with two legions, and instructions to follow him by regular marches. He hastened as much as he could with all the cavalry to Caninius.
VIII, 40 - Cum contra expectationem omnium (Caesar) Vxellodunum uenisset oppidumque operibus clausum animaduerteret neque ab oppugnatione recedi uideret ulla condicione posse, magna autem copia frumenti abundare oppidanos ex perfugis cognosset, aqua prohibere hostem temptare coepit. Flumen infimam uallem diuidebat, quae totum paene montem cingebat, in quo positum erat (praeruptum undique oppidum) Vxellodunum. Hoc auertere loci natura prohibebat ; in infimis enim sic radicibus montis ferebatur, ut nullam in partem depressis fossis deriuari posset. Erat autem oppidanis difficilis et praeruptus eo descensus, ut prohibentibus nostris sine uulneribus ac periculo uitae neque adire flumen neque arduo se recipere possent ascensu. Qua difficultate eorum cognita Caesar sagittariis funditoribusque dispositis, tormentis etiam quibusdam locis contra facillimos descensus conlocatis, aqua fluminis prohibebat oppidanos.
VIII, 40 - Having arrived at Uxellodunum, contrary to the general expectation, and perceiving that the town was surrounded by the works, and that the enemy had no possible means of retiring from the assault, and being likewise informed by the deserters that the townsmen had abundance of corn, he endeavoured to prevent their getting water. A river divided the valley below, which almost surrounded the steep craggy mountain on which Uxellodunum was built. The nature of the ground prevented his turning the current: for it ran so low down at the foot of the mountain, that no drains could be sunk deep enough to draw it off in any direction. But the descent to it was so difficult, that if we made opposition, the besieged could neither come to the river nor retire up the precipice without hazard of their lives. Caesar perceiving the difficulty, disposed archers and slingers, and in some places, opposite to the easiest descents, placed engines, and attempted to hinder the townsmen from getting water at the river, which obliged them afterward to go all to one place to procure water.

VIII, 41 - Quorum omnis postea multitudo aquatum unum in locum conueniebat sub ipsius oppidi murum ubi magnus fons aquae prorumpebat ab ea parte quae fere pedum trecentorum interuallo fluminis circuitu uacabat. Hoc fonte prohiberi posse oppidanos cum optarent reliqui, Caesar unus uideret, e regione eius uineas agere aduersus montem et aggerem instruere coepit magno cum labore et continua dimicatione. Oppidani enim loco superiore decurrunt et eminus sine periculo proeliantur multosque pertinaciter succedentes uulnerant ; non deterrentur tamen milites nostri uineas proferre et labore atque operibus locorum uincere difficultates. Eodem tempore cuniculos tectos ad uenas agunt et caput fontis ; quod genus operis sine ullo periculo, sine suspicione hostium facere licebat. Extruitur agger in altitudinem perdum LX, conlocatur in eo turris decem tabulatorum, non quidem quae moenibus adaequaret (id enim nullis operibus effici poterat), sed quae superare fontis fastigium posset. Ex ea cum tela tormentis iacerentur ad fontis aditum, nec sine periculo possent aquari oppidani, non tantum pecora atque iumenta, sed etiam magna hostium multitudo siti consumebatur.


VIII, 41 - Close under the walls of the town, a copious spring gushed out on that part, which for the space of nearly three hundred feet, was not surrounded by the river. While every other person wished that the besieged could be debarred from this spring, Caesar alone saw that it could be effected, though not without great danger. Opposite to it he began to advance the vineae toward the mountain, and to throw up a mound, with great labor and continual skirmishing. For the townsmen ran down from the high ground, and fought without any risk, and wounded several of our men, yet they obstinately pushed on and were not deterred from moving forward the vineae, and from surmounting by their assiduity the difficulties of situation. At the same time they work mines, and move the crates and vineae to the source of the fountain. This was the only work which they could do without danger or suspicion. A mound sixty feet high was raised; on it was erected a turret of ten stories, not with the intention that it should be on a level with the wall (for that could not be effected by any works), but to rise above the top of the spring. When our engines began to play from it upon the paths that led to the fountain, and the townsmen could not go for water without danger, not only the cattle designed for food and the working cattle, but a great number of men also died of thirst.

VIII, 42 - Quo malo perterriti oppidani cupas seuo, pice, scandulis complent ; eas ardentes in opera prouoluunt, eodemque tempore acerrime proeliantur, ut ab incendio restinguendo dimicationis periculo deterreant Romanos. Magna repente in ipsis operibus flamma exstitit. Quaecumque enim per locum praecipitem missa erant, ea uineis et aggere suppressa conprehendebant id ipsum quod morabatur. Milites contra nostri quamquam periculoso genere proelii locoque iniquo premebantur, tamen omnia fortissimo sustinebant animo. Res enim gerebatur et excelso loco et in conspectu exercitus nostri magnusque utrimque clamor oriebatur. Itaque quisque prout erat maxime insignis, quo notior testatiorque uirtus esset eius, telis hostium flammaeque se offerebat.

VIII, 42 - Alarmed at this calamity, the townsmen fill barrels with tallow, pitch, and dried wood: these they set on fire, and roll down on our works. At the same time, they fight most furiously, to deter the Romans, by the engagement and danger, from extinguishing the flames. Instantly a great blaze arose in the works. For whatever they threw down the precipice, striking against the vineae and agger, communicated the fire to whatever was in the way. Our soldiers on the other hand, though they were engaged in a perilous sort of encounter, and laboring under the disadvantages of position, yet supported all with very great presence of mind. For the action happened in an elevated situation, and in sight of our army; and a great shout was raised on both sides; therefore every man faced the weapons of the enemy and the flames in as conspicuous a manner as he could, that his valor might be the better known and attested.
VIII, 43 - Caesar cum conplures suos uulnerari uideret, ex omnibus oppidi partibus cohortes montem ascendere et simulatione moenium occupandorum clamorem undique iubet tollere. Quo facto perterriti oppidani, cum quid ageretur in locis reliquis essent suspensi, reuocant ab inpugnandis operibus armatos murisque disponunt. Ita nostri fine proelii facto celeriter opera flamma conprehensa partim restinguunt, partim interscindunt. Cum pertinaciter resisterent oppidani, magna etiam parte amissa siti suorum in sententia permanerent, ad postremum cuniculis uenae fontis intercisae sunt atque auersae. Quo facto repente perennis exaruit fons tantamque attulit oppidanis salutis desperationem, ut id non hominum consilio, sed deorum uoluntate factum putarent. Itaque se necessitate coacti tradiderunt.
VIII, 43 - Caesar, observing that several of his men were wounded, ordered the cohorts to ascend the mountain on all sides, and, under pretense of assailing the walls, to raise a shout: at which the besieged being frightened, and not knowing what was going on in other places, call off their armed troops from attacking our works, and dispose them on the walls. Thus our men without hazarding a battle, gained time partly to extinguish the works which had caught fire, and partly to cut off the communication. As the townsmen still continued to make an obstinate resistance, and even, after losing the greatest part of their forces by drought, persevered in their resolution: at last the veins of the spring were cut across by our mines, and turned from their course. By this their constant spring was suddenly dried up, which reduced them to such despair that they imagined that it was not done by the art of man, but the will of the gods; forced, therefore, by necessity, they at length submitted.

VIII, 44 - Caesar, cum suam lenitatem cognitam omnibus sciret neque uereretur ne quid crudelitate naturae uideretur asperius fecisse, neque exitum consiliorum suorum animaduerteret, si tali ratione diuersis in locis plures consilia inissent, exemplo supplicii deterrendos reliquos existimauit. Itaque omnibus qui arma tulerant manus praecidit uitamque concessit, quo testatior esset poena inproborum. Drappes, quem captum esse a Caninio docui, siue indignitate et dolore uinculorum siue timore grauioris supplicii paucis diebus cibo se abstinuit atque ita interiit. Eodem tempore Lucterios, quem profugisse ex proelio scripsi, cum in potestatem uenisset Epasnacti Aruerni (crebro enim mutandis locis multorum fidei se committebat, quod nusquam diutius sine periculo commoraturus uidebatur, cum sibi conscius esset quam inimicum deberet Caesarem habere), hunc Epasnactus Aruernus, amicissimus populi romani, sine dubitatione ulla uinctum ad Caesarem deduxit.

VIII, 44 - Caesar, being convinced that his lenity was known to all men, and being under no fears of being thought to act severely from a natural cruelty, and perceiving that there would be no end to his troubles if several states should attempt to rebel in like manner and in different places, resolved to deter others by inflicting an exemplary punishment on these. Accordingly he cut off the hands of those who had borne arms against him. Their lives he spared, that the punishment of their rebellion might be the more conspicuous. Drapes, who I have said was taken by Caninius, either through indignation and grief arising from his captivity, or through fear of severer punishments, abstained from food for several days, and thus perished. At the same time, Luterius, who, I have related, had escaped from the battle, having fallen into the hands of Epasnactus, an Arvernian (for he frequently changed his quarters, and threw himself on the honor of several persons, as he saw that he dare not remain long in one place, and was conscious how great an enemy he deserved to have in Caesar), was by this Epasnactus, the Arvernian, a sincere friend of the Roman people, delivered without any hesitation, a prisoner to Caesar.

Transmission du texte de base, valeur du texte de Hirtius

Les manuscrits (mss.) qui ont servi à établir le texte des différentes éditions des Commentaires de la Guerre des Gaules sont relativement nombreux. Oudendorp, dans sa remarquable édition critique de 1740 (Leyde et Rotterdam) en cite une trentaine. On les distingue par des noms tirés soit de ceux de leurs propriétaires ou de leurs commentateurs, soit de leur provenance.

Le huitième livre des Commentaires a été accolé depuis l'Antiquité au reste de la Guerre des Gaules. Les plus anciens manuscrits l'incluent. En effet le réviseur Julius Celsus Constantinus, qui a vécu postérieurement au premier quart du Ve siècle, a signé par une souscription à la fin de chaque livre de la Guerre des Gaules le travail qu'il a effectué, et il a signifié à la fin du livre VIII que son travail s'est arrêté là (Julius Celsus Contantinus ligi tantum). Au Ve siècle, le livre VIII était donc à la place où nous le rencontrons aujourd'hui.

Le Moyen Age attachait une grande importance aux Commentaires qui ne paraît s’être jamais démenti(23). Le rôle historique prestigieux de son auteur, la valeur littéraire et le syle « classique » entre tous, l’importance du sujet pour l’histoire romaine et l’histoire des origines de la France, expliquent le nombre considérable de manuscrits qu'il nous a légués : 33 à la Bibliothèque Vaticane, 25 à la Bibliothèque Nationale, 17 à Florence (Bibliothèques Laurentienne et Riccardienne), d'autres dans la plupart des fonds latins, notamment à Rome et beaucoup d'autres ignorés jusqu'ici, dont un groupe de spécialistes de la Fondation Vitruve travaille à faire connaître l'existence.

Au XIXe siècle, des philologues allemands, Nipperdey entre autres, reprirent l’étude comparée des manuscrits des Commentaires et essayèrent de les grouper d’après les analogies et les divergences qu’ils présentent dans leur texte. Dans son édition des œuvres de César (Leipzig, 1847), il crut pouvoir annoncer que tous les mss., actuellement connus des Commentaires se classent en deux familles ayant pour origine deux ancêtres distincts, issus eux-mêmes de l’archétype original latin. D’après Nipperdey, l’inventeur de ce classement, ce serait les mss. (α) qui contiendraient le vrai texte original de César ; les autres (β) contiendrait des interpolations dues à deux savants grammairiens : Celsus et Lupicinus. Une souscription à la fin du livre II porte « Flavius Licerius Firminus Lupicinus legi », elle appartient à la classe (α). D’après Kübler (Leipzig, 1893 et 1911) les noms de Flavius Licerius Firminus Lupicinus ressemblent à ceux d’un fils d’Euprepia, sœur de l’auteur latin Ennodius, qui fut évêque de Pavie de 473 à 521 et joua à cette époque un rôle politique et religieux important. Donc la classe (α) était déjà constituée dans la première moitié du VIe siècle(24).
Etude : groupement des manuscrits

L.-A. Constans(25) a étudié une quarantaine de mss., parmi les moins exploités. Le plus ancien est du IXe siècle. Beaucoup ont été copiés et amalgamés au XIVe et XVe siècle. Deux grandes classes sont actuellement reconnues, désignées par les lettres grecques α (alpha) et β (béta), entre lesquelles on a relevé plus de 1500 différences : c'est dire que le travail d'édition, et par conséquent, éventuellement, de traduction, n’est toujours pas terminé. C'est la classe α qui est la plus nombreuse et fournit les manuscrits les plus anciens (IXe).

L.-A. Constans représente l'évolution du texte de la Guerre des Gaules selon le schéma suivant : à partir des documents α et β, X est archétype. Ce dernier serait tiré lui-même d'un archétype plus ancien ayant donné naissance à deux traditions différentes y' et y'', dont X et la série α ignorait tout enseignement de y''. Par contre, la série β tiendrait compte des deux traditions.

Liste des manuscrits qui ont servi à L.-A. Constans pour l'établissement du texte(26)

Il y en a sept de la classe α et quatre de la classe β :

bullet Classe α :

bullet lère famille :
A = Bongarsianus, Amsterdam (IXe ou Xe siècles)
M = Moysiacensis, Paris, Bibl. Nat. lat. 5056 (XIIe siècle)
bullet 2ème famille :
B = Parisinus, Paris, Bibl. Nat. Iat. 5763 (IXe ou Xe siècles)
R = Romanus, Rome, Bibl. Vat. 3864 (IXe siècle)
S = Ashburnamianus, Florence, Bibl. Laur. Ashbur. R.33 (Xe siècle)
L = Louaniensis, Londres, Brit. Mus. Add. Mss. 10084 (XIe siècle)
N = Nespolitanus, Naples, Bibl. Nat. IV, c.11 (XIIe siècle)(27).

bullet Classe β :

bullet lère famille :
T = Thuaneus, Paris, Bibl. Nat. Iat. 5764 (XIe siècle)
F = Vindobonensis, Vienne, 95 (XIIe siècle)
bullet 2ème famille :
U = Ursinianus, Rome, Bibl. Vat. 3324 (XIe siècle)
L = Riccardianus, Florence, Bibl. Laur. Riccard. 541 (XIe ou XIIesiècles).

Michel Rambaud(28) qui a tenu compte des résultats acquis sur la question des classes de documents par L.-A. Constans, conclut de cette façon : " on les (manuscrits) répartit en deux classes.... Progressivement on en est venu à considérer la deuxième classe comme aussi importante que la première. O. Seel estime même que parfois elles se complètent et l'évolution de la critique porte l'éditeur contemporain à un certain éclectisme."

Le texte du huitième livre n'a été ni plus ni moins maltraité que le reste des Commentaires. On y trouve le même genre de variantes. Ainsi, pour le passage sur Uxellodunum, on ne repère, comme variantes importantes, que le nom de la place forte, le chiffre indiquant la hauteur de la plate-forme romaine et la direction des souterrains ad uineas pour ad uenas. La valeur d'ensemble du texte n'en est pas affectée. On ne peut donc la mettre en cause.

Remarques sur Luctérios et ses descendants

Buste de Luctérios
Buste de Luctérius, belle sculpture en
marbre blanc, exécutée par
Dominique Molhnet et 1864.
Bibliothèque municipale de Cahors.

Ce que nous savons de Luctérios donne à penser qu’il était un ami de Vercingétorix et un homme important de la Gaule, il faisait vraisemblablement parti d’une grande famille de la noblesse Cadurque. Il avait une grande influence sur ses consitoyens et disposait de sa propre clientèle : la ville d’Uxellodunum, qui avait été dans sa clientèle (B.G. : VIII, 32). D’ailleurs, les monnaies, frappées à son effigie, confirment dont rôle de chef de civitas, bien que les Cadurques aient été, de longue date, clients des Arvernes – sub imperio – (B.G. : VII, 75).

Les Cadurques sont parmi les premiers à repondre à l’appel de Vercingétorix avec les Sémons, les Paisii, les Pictons, Les Turons, les Aulerques et les Lémovices. Le nom de Luctérios est mentionné par César au début de la rebellion. Il le décrit comme un homme d’une extême audace. Vercingétorix l’envoi chez les Rutènes, sur qui il devait avoir une certaine influence :

« Luctérios le Cadurque qui avait été envoyé chez les Rutènes, les gagne aux Arvernes. Il pousse chez les Nitiobriges de l’Agenais et les chez Gabales, reçois de chaque peuple des otages, et, ayant réuni une forte troupe, entreprend d’envahir la Province, en direction de Narbonne. À cette nouvelle, César qui était en Italie pensa qu’il devait, de préférence à tout autre plan, partir pour Narbonne …» - (B.G. VII, 7) - ; « César arrête l’avance de Luctérios et l’oblige même à battre retraite (B.G. VII, 8) ».

Nous retrouvons Luctérios bien qu’il ne soit pas nommé, à l’Assemblé générale de Bibracte au moment où, après son succés de Gergovie, Vercingétorix décide d’empêcher la fuite de César en Italie et distribue des rôles. « Il envoie les Rutènes et les Cadurques ravager le pays des Volsques Arécomiques » - (B.G. : VII, 64) -. Luctérios fonce à nouveau sur la province. L’appel de Vercingétorix assiégé par César à Alésia va changer les plans établis à Bibracte. Au titre de l’armée de secours, trente-cinq mille combattants sont réclamés aux Arvernes, aux-quels on joint tous leurs peuples « client », dont les Cadurques (B.G. : VII, 75). Il est très vraisemblable que Luctérios se trouvait à Alésia, car il en a gardé un douloureux souvenir qu’il s’est rappelé à Uxellodunum (B.G. : VIII, 34) : « A cette vue, ceux qui étaient dans la ville, tourmentés par le tragique souvenir d’Alésia, se mirent à craindre un siège du même genre ; Luctérios, qui avait vécu ces heures-là, était le premier à rappeler qu’il fallait se préoccuper d’avoir du blé ».

Si après Alésia César s’assure la fidélité des Arvernes en leur rendant les prisonniers et en demandant des otages, et si Luctérios est toujours client des Arvernes, comment peut-il continuer sa révolte en -51 ? Luctérios est d’ailleurs le seul chef gaulois, pendant les huit années d’hostilité, qui ne se sera pas borné aux campagnes de la Gaule, mais aura envahi, à plusieurs reprises, le territoire romain.

Le 26 août 1843 le conseil général du Lot décida de commander à un sculpteur parisien, Moknecht, huit bustes représentant les hommes célèbres natifs du Lot. Le premier de la liste, chronologie oblige, Lucterius, fut livré l’année suivante. Un marbrier, de la cité des Cadourques, défendit Uxellodunum contre César en l’an 51 avant J.-C. Sage effigie du chef gaulois, cheveux mi-longs, régulièrement disposés, moustache également bien peignée, torque autour du cou. La cuirasse et le manteau sur l’épaule droite donnent une noblesse toute romaine au héros ! On est loin du Gaulois hirsute, barbu et casqué, en faveur trente ans plus tard.

C’est ce Luctérius, ce dernier des Gaulois, Qui seul resté debout, lorsque dans la carrière,

Le monde pantelant râle aux pieds de César, Sur la fatale voie essaie une barrière

Après la chute d’Uxellodunum le sort de Luctérios nous est inconnu. Nous savons seulement que l'Arverne Espasnactos, qui était un grand ami du peuple Romain, le fit charger de chaînes et livra à César (B.G. : VIII, 44). Fut-il par la suite supplicié comme Vercingétorix ou gracié. La carrière de son descendant(29) présumé M(arcus) Lucterios Leo, fils de M(arcus) Lucterios Senecianus plaiderait en faveur du second terme.

Une inscription du musée de Cahors en provenance de Pern (prés de Cahors) nous dit la carrière de M(arcus) Lucterios Leo : après avoir rempli dans sa cité natale les plus hautes charges municipales, il devint, à l'autel du confluent de la Saône et du Rhône, le grand prêtre des Trois Gaules, chargé de célébrer le culte impérial et la religion de fidélité à Rome. Une autre inscription se trouve au Musée des Théâtres romains de Fourvière à Lyon.

La réalité historique peut sembler paradoxale : d'un côté, le meilleur compagnon de Vercingétorix, le farouche adversaire des Romains ; de l'autre, son descendant, grand prêtre de Rome...

La pierre de Pern

Une pierre, soigneusement taillée, a été découverte au XVIIe siècle dans l'église de Pern (14 km de Cahors). Elle a été étudiée par l'abbé Raymond de Fouilhiac(30) qui la décrit comme ainsi :

« L'empereur Auguste ayant été mis au rang des dieux, selon la coutume des Romains, on bâtit à Lyon un temple célèbre en l'honneur de cette nouvelle divinité, à la jonction du Rhône et de la Saône. Toutes les villes célèbres se faisaient gloire d'avoir un prêtre de leur nation au service de ce temple. La ville de Cahors nomma le sien appelé Lucterus, de la famille sans doute de celui qui avait résisté à César ; c'est ce qu'on trouva en l'année 1663, dans l'église de Pern, où l'on lit cette inscription sur la pierre de marbre qui sert de marchepied à l'autel. Elle est en beau caractère romain : Marco Lucterio, Lucterii Senciani filio Leoni, onnibus honoribus in Patia functo, sacerdoti arae Augusti inter confluenta Araris et Rhodani, Civitas Cadurcorum ob merita eius publice posuit. »

Oublié par la suite, fut redécouverte et relevée à nouveau par Champollion-Figeac(31) en compagnie de Lacoste (proviseur au lycée de Cahors), le 8 octobre 1816. Ce qui apparaissait alors, c'était une inscription chrétienne pour le tombeau d'un certain Grégoire, espagnol exilé dans le Quercy. Champollion-Figeac fit retourner la pierre et l'inscription de Lucterius se révéla être gravée de l'autre côté.

Pierre de Pern face 1 M(arco) LVCTER(io)
F(ilio) LEONI
SACERD(oti) ARAE AVG(usti)
CIVITAS CAD(urcorum)
Pierre de Pern revers

Traduction : "A Marcus Lucterius Leo, fils de Lucterius Sénécianus, ayant rempli dans sa patrie toutes les fonctions publiques, prêtre de l'autel d'Auguste au confluent de la Saône et du Rhône, la Cité des Cadurques, à cause de ses mérites, a publiquement mis en place (ce monument)."

Champollion-Figeac alerta le préfet du Lot qui fit installer le marbre sur un piédestal au bas du grand escalier de la préfecture de Cahors en 1819. Elle se trouve actuellement au musée de Cahors.

Revers de l’inscription de Mac Lucter par Champollion-Figeac

Elle se compose de quatre vers latins :

Conditus hoc tumulo tegitur gregorius exul,
Exulis et Petri quem posuere manus ;
Qui tamen hispana natus tellure, supremum
Complet (sic) Cadurcis morte defenda diem.

Elle est surmontée du monogramme du Christ avec l’A et l’Ω :
Deux moineaux, sont placés aux deux côtés de ce signe.

Traduction : L’exilé Grégoire enseveli ici est protégé par ce tombeau qu’ont placé les mains de Pierre, exilé lui aussi.

Bien que né sur le sol d’Espagne, il a accompli son jour suprême par une mort bien triste chez les Cadurques.

Il serait difficille de dire avec certitude quel événement politique ou religieux survenu en Espagne fit exiler à Cahors Grégorius, auquel son compagnon d’infortune Petrus, exil é comme lui, éleva ce monument ; mais les soins donnés à cette sépulture prouvent que Gregorius appartenait à une famille noble considérable (Champollion, p. 114).

La pierre funéraire trouvée à Lyon

En 1953 on a retrouvé en réemploi dans les piles du vieux pont de la Guillotière sur le Rhône à Lyon des pierres portant des inscriptions. Elles ont été étudiées par A. Audin, J. Guey et P. Wuilleumier(32).

Pierre de Lyon

Les auteurs traduisent l'inscription n°3 (aux pages 338-340) sur une pierre par :


Traduction : À Marcus Lucterius Leo, fils de Lucterius Senecianus, Cadurque, ayant rempli chez les siens toutes les fonctions publiques......

Cette pierre devait provenir d'un monument avoisinant le Temple fédéral des Gaules sur la colline de la Croix Rousse. Elle fut déposée au Musée des Théâtres romains de Fourvière.

Numance et Uxellodunum

Le siège de Numance par les Romains marque la fin de la résistance en Espagne, comme celui d’Uxellodunum. À 80 ans de distance, ces deux sièges ont des traits communs. Le général Scipion Emilien qui venait de détruire Carthage a vaincu Numance. La ville de Numance, située sur une montagne escarpée, n’est pas une place forte imprenable. La garnison est réduite approximativement à 4000 combattants, les forces romaines sont de 60000 hommes (dont 20000 romains et 40000 ibériques). Scipion renonce d’attaquer la place, et c’est par la faim qu’il entend la réduire. La disproportion entre les forces assiégeantes et les forces assiégées est similaire avec Uxellodunum. César refuse à attaquer la place et décide de réduire les Gaulois par la soif. Dans les deux sites, les assiégés sont obligés à se rendre et César coupera les mains aux vaincus. Scipion, lui, à Numance, avait fait couper la main droite à plusieurs centaines de défenseurs. César ne pouvait ignorer ce qui s’était passé à Numance (Polybe l’avait raconté).


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