"Vercingetorix Throwing Down His Weapons at the Feet of Julius Caesar" by Lionel Royer ’52 B.C.’ by Cindy Hill The Society May 4, 2021 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 7 Comments . Six hundred years before Old Sarum fell, the might of Rome faced down the Gallic tribes on earthen ramparts between circles scribed, intent to bring rebellion to the quell. Caesar himself came out to face the Gauls but Vercingetorix had scorched the land and left the Legions without ground to stand until they reached Avaricum’s great walls. For pity there the Celtic chief forsake his strategem to render all to ash that might assist the Empire in the clash, thinking to starve the Legions ‘till they break. __The price to pay for tenderness of heart: __Avaricum’s fair people torn apart. Avaricum’s fair people torn apart sent shockwaves through the scattered tribes of Gaul. Revenge and grief served to inflame them all and drew their chiefs together to compart a plan to out-run, out-horse, out-fight Rome at strong Gergovia, the oppidum of the Averni: Beat familiar drums, call Caesar’s slaves up to defend their home. All along the baggage train the slaves rise against the Roman rearguard; now the fight is raging on two fronts. Legions take flight to escape the burning lines of their supplies. __The Celts embraced the glory of that day, __though where pride reigns, defeat may yet hold sway. Where pride reigns, defeat will find a hold. Caesar learned his lesson: His investment of Alesia showed re-assessment, approach and bearing grim, no longer bold. The Celtic chieftain occupied the fort. Romans swiftly dug contravallation facing the encroaching Gallic nation who sought to ensure that his siege was short. The rebels should have won, except that each tribe vied with the other for the honor of escorting Caesar to his slaughter. Rome raced into the wide chaotic breach. __Vercingetorix could not control __his men, and thus ended the age of Gaul. Vercingetorix could not control his men. The Celts are like that, wild, unruly, answering to no one. Still, he truly loved them all, surrendering the knoll fort of Alesia to save their lives. For this Rome gave him lasting fame, a long ride in a small cart through a jeering throng, strangled to his death in iron gyves. (Later on, a monument was built by Napoleon the Third. Not bad press for our brave Averni comrade who set the course of empires atilt.) __One must move mountains to make men unite; __in this he failed, yet fought the righteous fight. “In this he failed.” So say textbooks obscure that relegate a nation to a page, a paragraph to circumscribe an age when hill tribes bested empires at war, when nomadic peoples rode out freely over marsh and moor, with blue tattoos upon their handsome faces, leather shoes dyed red, with crimson laces. How dearly did they love and fight, adorn their hands with silver rings, and braid their flaxen hair with colored strings. To see them, oh, so fair beneath bright banners, racing through green lands, __gold sun and silver mist; thus Celts did dwell, __six hundred years before Old Sarum fell. . . Cindy Hill is an attorney and writer living in Vermont. She has been writing poetry since 1970 and been writing professionally since 1978. She has won a number of awards for journalism and short fiction, and the 2002 Ralph Nading Hill award for a narrative poem. Her poems have been published in Literary Mama, PanGaia, Sagewoman, WildEarth, Vermont Life, Measure, and the National Public Radio Themes and Variations program. NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to email@example.com. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 7 Responses Gail May 4, 2021 Many of my favorite images were recalled to mind by this work of yours. Thank you so much! The originals were inspired by the work of Rosemary Sutcliff, a heroine of mine. I regularly reread the titles that are set in Roman Britain. She revised every text three times; it shows! Reply Dave Whippman May 20, 2021 It’s long time since I heard Rosemary Sutcliff’s work mentioned. As a kid, I also loved the historical novels of Henry Treece. One has to feel sympathy for Vercingetorix and his unfulfilled dream of Gallic independence; but the organisation and determination of Caesar’s men were awesome! By the way, in the current “woke” climate, how long before the statues of the Roman emperors are torn down? Or maybe empires get a free pardon if they are not English-speaking. Reply Gail May 20, 2021 I think most of the woke folk need an audience who will applaud. Are there enough who know or care about the history of Rome’s emperors? Probably not. I’ll have to look up Henry Treece. Joseph S. Salemi May 4, 2021 A good poem about the intensity of the Celtic fighting spirit. Those of Celtic blood have always shown especial prowess in battle. Consider the New York Irish Brigade during the Civil War, which fought fiercely, and took more casualties than any other Union unit. Or the Scottish Black Watch Battalion in World War I, who were so terrifying in their kilts and pipes that the Germans called them “Die Damen aus der Holle” (the Ladies from Hell). Just the skirl of those Black Watch bagpipes spread fear through the German trenches. There’s one verbal problem in the first stanza. In line 9 “forsake” can’t work, because the past tense for that verb is “forsook,” which would require a different rhyme in line 12. To keep “forsake,” you’d need to change “Celtic chief” to the plural “Celtic chiefs,” and change “his stratagem” to “their stratagem” in the following line. Reply Cindy Hill May 12, 2021 Thanks– I did indeed take poetic license on the verb tense. Meanwhile I think my next Celtic band has got to be named The Ladies from Hell. (My present Celtic band is merely named O’hAnleigh after the founders’ family name.) Reply Yael May 4, 2021 Very nice! I love a well-rhymed history lesson, even if there’s a problem with a verb’s past tense. It seems like that could be fixed rather easily. The drama and suspense fit the subject matter really well, IMO. This is much better than just the average deadly dry rehearsal of historical events; it’s actually worth reading and re-reading, for the sake of the poetry and the history, thank you. Having grown up with all the Asterix comic books and movies I can well appreciate the tale of Vercingetorix retold. Reply Cindy Hill May 12, 2021 Thanks so much, Yael! I loved those Asterix comic books too! I have visions of one day writing the epic movie about Vercingetorix, but alas that would involve having a rudimentary knowledge of screenplay-writing, which I do not have. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. 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