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Early Indo-European Texts

Latin

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, Section 13

Quoniam ad hunc locum perventum est, non alienum esse videtur de Galliae Germaniaeque moribus et quo differant hae nationes inter sese proponere. In omni Gallia eorum hominum, qui aliquo sunt numero atque honore, genera sunt duo. Nam plebes paene servorum habetur loco, quae nihil audet per se, nullo adhibetur consilio. Plerique, cum aut aere alieno aut magnitudine tributorum aut iniuria potentiorum premuntur, sese in servitutem dicant nobilibus. In hos eadem omnia sunt iura, quae dominis in servos. Sed de his duobus generibus alterum est druidum, alterum equitum. Illi rebus divinis intersunt, sacrificia publica ac privata procurant, religiones interpretantur. Ad hos magnus adulescentium numerus disciplinae causa concurrit, magnoque hi sunt apud eos honore. Nam fere de omnibus controversiis publicis privatisque constituunt, et, si quid admissum facinus, si caedes facta, si de heriditate de finibus controversia est, idem decernunt, praemia poenasque constituunt. Si qui aut privatus aut populus eorum decreto non stetit, sacrificiis interdicunt. Haec poena apud eos est gravissima. Magnum ibi numerum versuum ediscere dicuntur. Itaque annos nonnulli vicenos in disciplina permanent. Neque fas esse existimant ea litteris mandare, cum in reliquis fere rebus, publicis privatisque rationibus Graecis litteris utantur.

Translation

Since I have come to this point, it does not seem inappropriate to set forth the customs of Gaul and of Germania, and how these nations differ among each other. . . . In all Gaul there are two classes of humans who are of definite account and honor. But the common people are regarded almost at the level of slaves, who dare to do nothing by themselves and are taken as of no account. And most, since they are either oppressed by debt or by a great amount of tribute or by crimes of the more powerful, commit themselves in slavery to the nobles. They have indeed among these all the rights as masters over slaves. Of these two classes the one consists of Druids, the other of Knights. The former are concerned with divine worship; they handle public and private sacrifices, and they interpret religious matters. A great number of the youth gather around them for the sake of education, and they are held among these in great honor. For they make decisions about almost all public and private controversies, and if any crime has been committed, if a murder has been done, if there is controversy about boundaries, they decide the same, they determine rewards and punishments. If any one, either private or public, does not abide by their decree, they ban him from sacrifices. This punishment is the most serious among them. ... It is said that they memorize a great number of verses (in the Druidic schools). And for that reason some remain twenty years in training. Nor do they think it proper to commit these to writing, while in almost all other things, in public and private matters, they use Greek letters.