The Gauls, being quite confident that their position could not be approached from the two flanks, in order to block with arms the road on the side which faces the south, sent about four thousand armed men to hold a hill overlooking the road and less than a mile from the camp, thinking that from this, as from a redoubt, they would hinder the approach.
When the Romans perceived this they prepared for battle. A moderate distance in front of the standards marched the skirmishers1
and Cretan archers and slingers furnished by Attalus and the Trallianians and Thracians;
the standards of the infantry, moving over difficult ground, proceeded at a slow rate, the men holding their shields before them so as only to ward off missiles, whilst they did not seem disposed to fight at close quarters.
The discharge of missiles from a distance began the fighting, which at first was even, the Gauls having the advantage of position, the Romans of variety and a plentiful supply of weapons; as the battle continued there was no longer any equality. Their shields, long, but not wide enough for the size of their bodies and, moreover, flat,2
offered poor protection to the Gauls. They had at this time no other [p. 73]
weapons than their swords, for which there was no3
use, since the enemy did not meet them in hand-tohand conflict.
not of suitable size, since they had made no preparations in advance, but took each what happened to come to his hand in his hasty search —they did use, but like men untrained in their employment, with neither skill nor strength to add effectiveness to the blow.
Arrows, sling-bullets, darts, coming from all sides wounded them unexpectedly, nor did they see what to do, as their minds were blinded by rage and fear, and they were involved in a kind of battle for which they were very ill-adapted.
For, as in hand-to-hand fighting, where they can receive and inflict wounds in turn, passion inflames their minds, so when they are struck by light weapons, coming from unseen and distant sources, and when they have no place at which they can charge with blind violence, like wounded animals they rush headlong upon their own friends.
The fact that they fight naked makes their wounds conspicuous and their bodies are fleshy and white, as is natural, since they are never uncovered except in battle;4
so that both more blood flowed from their abundant flesh and the wounds stood out to view more fearfully and the whiteness of their skins was more stained by the black blood.
But they are not much disturbed by open wounds; indeed, sometimes they cut away the skin, when the gash is broad rather than deep, and think that thus they gain greater glory in the fight; the same men, when the sting of an arrow or of a bullet that has buried itself in the flesh torments them, having caused a wound small to look at,
and, as they search for a way to extract the missile, it does not come out, turning [p. 75]
to madness and shame at being destroyed by so small5
a thing, throw their bodies upon the ground. So in this instance they lay prostrate here and there; some, rushing against the enemy, were wounded from every side, and when they had come to close quarters they were slain by the swords of the skirmishers.6
This type of soldier carries a three-foot shield and, in his right hand, javelins7
which he uses at long range;
he is also equipped with a Spanish sabre;8
if he is compelled to fight hand to hand, he shifts his javelins to his left hand and draws his sword.
By now there were few of the Gauls surviving, and they, when they saw themselves defeated by the light troops and that the legionary standards were drawing near, in headlong flight sought their camp, which was already full of panic and confusion, as the women and children and the rest of the unarmed crowd were gathered there. The victorious Romans took possession of the hills abandoned by the flight of the enemy.