Since war was to be waged with this enemy, so terrible to all the inhabitants of this region, the consul summoned an assembly and addressed the soldiers in about this fashion:
“It does not escape me, soldiers, that of all the peoples who inhabit Asia the Gauls stand first in reputation for war.
Among peoples of the most unwarlike sort this fierce tribe, travelling up and down in war, has almost made the world its residence.
Tall bodies, long [p. 57]
reddish hair, huge shields, very long swords; in1
addition, songs as they go into battle and yells and leapings and the dreadful din of arms as they clash shields according to some ancestral custom —all these are deliberately used to terrify their foes.
But let Greeks and Phrygians and Carians fear these things to which they are unused and unaccustomed; to Romans Gallic riotings2
are familiar and their vain displays too are well known.
Once, when we first met them at the Allia,3
our ancestors long ago fled before them; from that time now for two hundred years, terrified like animals they are slain and routed, and more triumphs, almost, have been celebrated over the Gauls than over all the
world. This has now been learned by experience: if you bear up under their first onset, into which they rush with glowing enthusiasm and blind passion, their limbs grow lax with sweat and weariness, their weapons fall from their hands; their soft bodies, their soft souls (when passion subsides) are overcome by sun, dust, thirst, so that you need not use arms against them. Not only when matched legion to legion have we learned this, but when fighting man to man
alone. Titus Manlius, Marcus Valerius have shown how far Roman valour surpasses Gallic madness. Then Marcus Manlius alone thrust down the Gauls as they climbed in close array to the
And those forefathers of ours had to do with true Gauls, born in their own [p. 59]
land; these now are degenerates, of mixed race, and5
really Gallogrecians, as they are named; just as, in the case of plants and animals, the seeds have less power to maintain their natural quality than the character of the soil and climate in which they live has power to change
it. The Macedonians who hold Alexandria in Egypt, who hold Seleucia and Babylonia and other colonies scattered throughout the world, have degenerated into Syrians, Parthians,
situated among the Gauls, has acquired something of the disposition of its neighbours; what have the Tarentines retained of that stern and dreadful Spartan
discipline? Whatever grows in its own soil, has greater excellence; transplanted to a soil alien to it, its nature changes and it degenerates towards that in which it is nurtured. It is Phrygians,7
therefore, burdened with the weapons of Gauls, whom, even as you slew them in the battle-line of Antiochus, you will slay, victorious over the
vanquished. I am afraid that there will be too little of glory rather than too much of war. King Attalus has often repulsed and routed
them. Do not think that it is only beasts which when newly caught first retain that fierceness of their forest life, and then, when long fed by the hands of men, grow tame, but that in moderating the ferocity of men nature does not do the
same. Do you believe that these are the same men that their fathers and their grandfathers
were? Exiles on account of the poverty of the land, they left home, travelling through the most inhospitable land of Illyricum, then Paeonia and Thrace, fighting with the fiercest tribes, and seized [p. 61]
these lands. Toughened and hardened by so many8
misfortunes, they were received by a land which could stuff them with its abundance of all
things. In a land most rich, under a sky most kindly, among natives mild in disposition, all that fierceness with which they came has grown gentle. You, by Hercules, being men of Mars, must escape and avoid as soon as possible the pleasantness of Asia: such power have these foreign delights to destroy the vigour of the soul; such influence does contact with the habits and character of the natives
Yet this turns out well in this respect
—that, while their strength against you is vain, still their reputation among the Greeks is the same as that of old, which they had when they came, and you will win, as victors, the same military glory among our allies as if you had conquered Gauls who had
preserved their ancient type of courage.”