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MOSELLA (Mosel, Moselle), a river of Gallia, which joins the Rhine at Coblenz [CONFLUENTES]. In the narrative of his war with the Usipetes and Tenctheri Caesar (Caes. Gal. 4.15) speaks of driving them into the water “ad confluentem Mosae et Rheni.” One of the latest and best editors of Caesar, who however is singularly ignorant of geography, supposes this confluence of the Mosa and the Rhenus to be the junction of the Mosa and a part of the Rhenus which is mentioned by Caesar in another place (B. G. 4.10; MOSA) But this is impossible, as D'Anville had shown, who observes that the Usipetes [MENAPII] had crossed the Rhine in the lower part of its course, and landed on the territory of the Menapii. Having eaten them up, the invaders entered the country of the Eburones, which we know to be between the Rhine and the Mosa, and higher up than the country of the Menapii. From the Eburones the Germans advanced into the Condrusi in the latitude of Liège; and they were here before Caesar set out after them. (B. G. 4.6.) Caesar's narrative shows that the German invaders were not thinking of a retreat: their design was to penetrate further into Gallia, where they had been invited by some of the Gallic states, who hoped to throw off the Roman yoke. After the defeat of the Germans on the river, Caesar built his wooden bridge over the Rhine, the position of which was certainly somewhere between Coblenz and Andernach. The conclusion is certain that this confluence of the Rhenus and the Mosa is the confluence of the Rhenus and the Mosella at Coblenz; and we must explain Caesar's [p. 2.374]mistake as well as we can. It is possible that both rivers were called Mosa; and Mosella or Mosula, as Florus has it, seems to be a diminutive of Mosa, but that reading is somewhat doubtful. (Florus, 3.10. ed. Duk.) There is no variation in Caesar's text in the passage where he speaks of the confluence of the Rhenus and the Mosa. (Caesar, ed. Schneider.) Several of the affluents of the Mosel are mentioned in the ancient writers, and chiefly by Ausonius: the Sura (Sour), Pronaea (Prum), Nemesa (Nims), Gelbis (Kill), Erubrus (Ruver), Lesura (Leser), Dralhonus (Drone), Saravus (Saar), and Salmona (Salm).

The Mosella is celebrated in one of the longer poems of Ausonius, who wrote in the 4th century A.D. The vine at that time clothed the slopes of the hills and the cliffs which bound this deep and picturesque river valley in its course below Trier: “Qua sublimis apex longo super ardua tractu, Et rupes et aprica jugi, flexusque sinusque Vitibus adsurgunt naturalique theatre.
” (5.154.)

There is a German metrical translation of this poem by Böcking with notes.

The Mosel rises on the western face of the Vosges, and its upper course is in the hill country, formed by the offsets of the mountains. It then enters the plain of Lorraine, and after passing Tullum (Toul), it is joined by the Meurthe on the right bank. From the junction of the Meurthe it is navigable, and has a general north course past Divodurum (Metz), and Thionville, to Augusta Trevirorum (Trier or Trèves). From Trier its general course is about NNE. with many great bends, and in a bed deep sunk below the adjacent country, to its junction with the Rhine at Coblenz. The whole course of the river is somewhat less than 300 miles. It is navigable for steamboats in some seasons as far as Metz.

A Roman governor in Gallia proposed to unite the Mosella and the Arar (Saône) by a canal, and thus to effect a navigation from the Mediterranean to the North Sea [GALLIA TRANSALPINA, Vol. I. p. 967.]


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    • Caesar, Gallic War, 4.15
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