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From Caesar's Gallic War, Book 6, Sections 21-22

Winfred P. Lehmann and Jonathan Slocum

This page contains a text in Latin with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Latin Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Latin language and its speakers' culture.

from Caesar's Gallic War, Book 6, Sections 21-22

Germani multum ab hac consuetudine differunt. Nam neque druides habent, qui rebus divinis praesint, neque sacrificiis student. Deorum numero eos solos ducunt, quos cernunt et quorum aperte opibus iuvantur, Solem et Vulcanum et Lunam, reliquos ne fama quidem acceperunt. Vita omnis in venationibus atque in studiis rei militaris consistit. Ab parvulis labori ac duritiae student. Qui diutissime impuberes permanserunt, maximam inter suos ferunt laudem. Hoc ali staturam, ali vires nervosque confirmari putant. Intra annum vero vicesimum feminae notitiam habuisse in turpissimis habent rebus. Cuius rei nulla est occultatio, quod et promiscue in fluminibus perluntur et pellibus aut parvis renonum tegimentis utuntur magna corporis parte nuda. Agriculturae non student, maiorque pars eorum victus in lacte, caseo, carne consistit. Neque quisquam agri modum certum aut fines habet proprios. Sed magistratus ac principes in annos singulos gentibus cognationibusque hominum, qui una coierunt, quantum et quo loco visum est agri attribuunt atque anno post alio transire cogunt. Eius rei multas adferunt causas: ne adsidua consuetudine capti studium belli gerendi agricultura commutent; ne latos fines parare studeant, potentioresque humiliores possessionibus expellant; ne accuratius ad frigora atque aestus vitandos aedificent; ne qua oriatur pecuniae cupiditas, qua ex re factiones dissensionesque nascuntur. ut animi aequitate plebem contineant, cum suas quisque opes cum potentissimis aequari videat.


The Germani differ a great deal from this way of life. They have no Druids who preside over their divine affairs; nor are they devoted to sacrifices. They consider in the number of their gods only those whom they see and by whose assistance they are openly helped, the Sun and the Fire-god and the Moon; they have not even heard of the rest by report. Their whole life consists of hunting and of the pursuit of military affairs. From youth they are devoted to work and hardship. Those who remain celibate longest enjoy the greatest praise among their fellows. Some think that height, others that strength and sinews are strengthened by this. They truly consider it among the most disgraceful matters to have had intercourse with a woman before their twentieth year. There is no secrecy in the matter for they bathe promiscuously in the rivers and they wear skins or small coverings of deer skins with a large part of their body nude.
They do not practice agriculture; the greater part of their food consists of milk, cheese, and meat. Nor does anyone have a definite amount of land or fixed boundaries. But the magistrates and chiefs every year assign to the tribes and to related people who have grouped together, as much land and in whatever place seems best. And in the next year they compel them to move. They adduce many reasons for this matter: so that they would not change their zeal for warfare to agriculture, tempted by continuous association; so that they would not desire to acquire broad territories, and the more powerful might expel the weaker; so that they would not build more carefully against cold and heat; so that a desire for money would not arise, from which factions and dissentions might be produced; so that they might keep the common people in calmness of spirit, with each seeing his own means as equal to those of the most powerful.

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