Gaius Iulius Caesar Quotes

The method he adopted in building the bridge was as follows. He took a pair of piles a foot and a half thick, slightly pointed at the lower ends and of a length adapted to the varying depth of the river, and fastened them together two feet apart. These he lowered into the river with appropriate tackle, placed them in position at right angles to the bank, and drove them home with pile-drivers, not vertically, as piles are generally fixed, but obliquely, inclined in the direction of the current. Opposite these, forty feet lower down the river, another pair of piles was planted, similarly fixed together, and inclined in the opposite direction to the current. The two pairs were then joined by a beam two feet wide, whose ends fitted exactly into the spaces between the two piles forming each pair. The upper pair was kept at the right distance from the lower pair by means of iron braces, one of which was used to fasten each pile to the end of the beam. The pairs of piles being thus held apart, and each pair individually strengthened by a diagonal tie between the two piles, the whole structure was so rigid, that, in accordance with the laws of physics, the greater the force of the current, the more tightly were the piles held in position. A series of these piles and transverse beams was carried right across the stream and connected by lengths of timber running in the direction of the bridge; on these were laid poles and bundles of sticks. In spite of the strength of the structure, additional piles were fixed obliquely to each pair of the original piles along the whole length of the downstream side of the bridge, holding them up like a buttress and opposing the force of the current. Others were fixed also a little above the bridge, so that if the natives tried to demolish it by floating down tree-trunks or beams, these buffers would break the force of the impact and preserve the bridge from injury.
The Gauls’ own ships were built and rigged in a different manner from ours. They were made with much flatter bottoms, to help them to ride shallow water caused by shoals or ebb-tides. Exceptionally high bows and sterns fitted them for use in heavy seas and violent gales, and the hulls were made entirely of oak, to enable them to stand any amount of shocks and rough usage. The cross-timbers, which consisted of beams a foot wide, were fastened with iron bolts as thick as a man’s thumb. The anchors were secured with iron chains instead of ropes. They used sails made of raw hides or thin leather, either because they had no flax and were ignorant of its use, or more probably because they thought that ordinary sails would not stand the violent storms and squalls of the Atlantic and were not suitable for such heavy vessels. In meeting them the only advantage our ships possessed was that they were faster and could be propelled by oars; in other respects the enemy’s were much better adapted for sailing such treacherous and stormy waters. We could not injure them by ramming because they were so solidly built, and their height made it difficult to reach them with missiles or board them with grappling-irons. Moreover, when it began to blow hard and they were running before the wind, they weathered the storm more easily; they could bring in to shallow water with greater safety, and when left aground by the tide had nothing to fear from reefs or pointed rocks – whereas to our ships all these risks were formidable.