In the six-hundred-and-ninety-third year from the building of Rome by Romulus, and in the sixtieth year before the birth of Christ, Caesar was appointed to the dictatorship by the Romans, with full-many legions of the loveless youths of Italy, at the rough land of Gaul and of the broad-long country of Lochlann, for those are one country save for the intervention
p.15of the very pure river Rhine which divides and separates the two lands.
In those countries he fought great battles, and he came forward westward into the territory of the Morini and into the island of Britain. Never before had the might of the Romans reached that island. Caesar came to the arm of the sea that is there, and on its brink eighty ships were built by him that he might convey the army in them over it westward into the neighbouring harbours of the territory of Britain.
That expedition was not easy for him, for a great storm fell on his fleet, and most of his ships foundered. Moreover the folk of the country slew a multitude of his foot-soldiers, and almost all his cavalry was killed. A huge tempest and the intolerable storm of the rough weather of winter came thereunder, so Caesar turned his hosts and dismissed his soldiers to their winter-quarters. He trusted and enjoined them to build six hundred wide, full-spacious vessels, so that they might be ready for sea on the return of the following spring. They were all made ready, as Caesar said.
During the season of winter he waited in the Alps, and at the beginning of the vernal serenity he came, having a great host from his son-in-law Pompey the Great; and his army was taken in those six hundred ships again to the island of Britain.
That night he himself pitched a camp on the shore of the haven, with his ships at anchor in front of him; and he sent his cavalry to raid the country, with Labienus, a tribune of the Romans, at their head. On that night there came on the sea the movement of a mighty tempest, and the storm struck Caesar's vessels, and sixty of them were shattered so that they
p.17could never be repaired. The folk of the country routed the cavalry, and Labienus fell at their hands.
Thereafter Caesar himself encountered the folk of the island of Britain. A bloody battle was fought between them: the Britons were vanquished: their slaughter was inflicted upon them; and Caesar on that occasion avenged all his people, and ravaged the country before him up to the river Thames westward. There was a large army of Britons on the brinks of that river, awaiting him. Cassivellaunus was the name of their leader. Great rows of sharp spikes were planted by him in the banks of the river on the path by which they desired the Romans to come. Still are seen certain butt-ends of those spikes on the strand in summer, and each of the butts is as thick as a warrior's thigh, and (there are) wraps of lead around them in the deep of the river.
Caesar turned from the ford when he knew of the preparation that was (made) there, and he crossed by another ford on the river, and hunted the host of Britons, and took not (his) hands away from them until the shelter of the woods hid them from him.
Then on that night forty hostages were brought to him out of the city called Trinovantum, and thereout came guides, so that after a great contest he took the city of the chief named Cassivellaunus.
Thereafter he conquered the whole of the island of Britain, and thence returned to the lands of Gaul.
For the space of five years Caesar was subduing and violently seizing that land of the northwest of the world. And yet there were certain tribes there who were not obedient to him during that time.