Sep 282010

Here is Jacob’s translation of a passage from Caesar’s The Gallic Wars. Caesar is exposed as possibly a competent general and politician but a total loss in the area of animal identification. I missed this passage when we were reading Latin in high school (and it didn’t make it into the much more interesting Classic Comics version either).


From Julius Caesar’s The Gallic Wars

Translated by Jacob Glover


Sunt item quae apellantur alces. Harum est consimilis capris figura et varietas pellium, sed magnitudine paulo antecedent mutilaeque sunt cornibus et crura sine nodis articulisque habent; neque quietis causa procumbunt neque, si quo afflictae casu conciderunt, erigere sese aut sublevare possunt. His sunt arbores pro cubilibus ; ad eas se applicant atque ita paulum modo reclinate quietem capiunt. Quarum ex vestigiis cum est animadversum a venatoribus quo se recipere consuerint, omnes eo loco aut a radicibus subruunt aut accidunt arbores, tantum ut summa species earum stantium reliquantur. Huc cum se consuetudine reclinaverunt, infirmas arbores pondere affligunt atque una ipsae concidunt.

—Excerpta e Commentariis C. Iulii Caesaris de Bello Gallico (VI.25-28)

There are also those which are called elk, the shape of which resembles a goat and whose coat varies in color. Their size somewhat surpasses [the animals mentioned earlier on in the passage], their horns are chopped off, and they have legs without joints–so neither can they lie down for the sake of a rest, and if, by unfortunate happenstance, they are caused to fall over, the poor jointless elk are unable to stand up. The trees are their beds, onto which they lean themselves, and in this reclining position they seek quiescence. When a hunter comes upon the trail of these creatures, he makes it a practice to take all of the trees in the area and either uproot them or cut them just enough so that they are left standing. When the elk lean, out of habit, against the unstable trees, the weight of the elk knocks over the tree which, in due course, kills the elk.

—Excerpt from Julius Caesar’s Commentary on The Gallic Wars, translated by Jacob Glover

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