The Manners and Customs of the Gauls.
Almost all the Gauls are of tall stature, fair and ruddy, terrible for the fierceness of their eyes,
fond of quarrelling, and of overbearing insolence. In fact, a whole band of foreigners will be
unable to cope with one of them in a fight, if he calls in his wife, stronger than he by far and with
flashing eyes; least of all when she swells her neck and gnashes her teeth, and poising her huge
white arms, proceeds to rain punches mingled with kicks, like shots discharged by the twisted
cords of a catapult.
The voices of most of them are formidable and threatening, alike when they
are good-natured or angry. But all of them with equal care keep clean and neat, and in those
districts, particularly in Aquitania, no man or woman can be seen, be she neverso poor, in soiled
and ragged clothing, as elsewhere.
All ages are most fit for military service, and the old man
marches out on a campaign with a courage equal to that of the man in the prime of life; since his
limbs are toughened by cold and constant toil, and he will make light of many formidable
dangers. Nor does anyone of them, for dread of the service of Mars, cut off his thumb, as in
there they call such men "
," or cowards.
It is a race greedy for wine, devising
numerous drinks similar to wine, and some among them of the baser sort, with wits dulled by
continual drunkenness (which Cato's saying pronounced a voluntary kind of madness) rush about
in aimless revels, so that those words seem true which Cicero spoke when defending Fonteius:
"The Gauls henceforth will drink wine mixed with water, which they once thought poison."
These regions, and especially those bordering on Italy, came gradually and with slight effort
under the dominion of Rome; they were first essayed by Fulvius,
then undermined in petty
battles by Sextius,
and finally subdued by Fabius Maximus,
on whom the full completion of
this business (when he had vanquished the formidable tribe of the Allobroges)
Now the whole of Gaul (except where, as the authority of Sallust
informs us, it was
impassable with marshes), after losses on both sides during ten years of war the dictator Caesar
subdued and joined to us in aneverlasting covenant of alliance. I have digressed too far, but
I shall at last return to my subject.