by Ben from Duxbury

The sun shone brightly over the hills of Alesia as thousands of men clashed their swords in battle. On one side were the mighty Romans, and on the other, the Gallic resistance against Caesar. In the middle of the battle, the Gallic leaders discovered a problem.

With the Roman infantry in front of them and its cavalry behind, the Gauls were fairly caged in. The Gauls, having been besieged in Alesia and having eaten all of their supplies, were hungry and tired. The 266,000 reinforcements had been helpful of course, but they had lost many soldiers when they were impaled on the traps and fortifications built by the enemy. Then again, so did the Romans. But the Gauls were still outnumbered. So they retreated. It didn’t work.

When they found that they were facing the Roman cavalry, the Gauls gave in. It was over. It had been a long time coming. It was the battle of Alesia.

The Gauls were outnumbered. They were trapped in a city on low rations. When they did get reinforcements, these reinforcements were camped on the opposite side of the Romans. The two Gaulish armies could not communicate. The Romans were heavily fortified. But the Gauls fought. They were a fighting people and not ready to give in. They knew that they were at a disadvantage. It is heroic to face the odds, knowing that there is a very small chance you will win.

Vercingetorix was a king of the Averni, a tribe of Gaul. Caesar was a Roman governor. Caesar wanted to conquer Gaul. In 52 BC, Vercingetorix decided to do something about that. When a rebelllion started in the tribe of the Carnutes, 150 miles north of Vercingetorix and the Averni, Vercingetorix had just become king. He quickly joined the uprising against Caesar, who systematically conquering tribes of Gaul making friends with the vanquished's enemy tribes.

Caesar had tried to impose his Roman ways into the Celtic beliefs of Gaul. Vercingetorix, by raising an army of vagabonds and patriots, tried to free his country. Many tribes of Gaul joined him, thus strengthening his armies. At first he appeared to be winning against Caesar, because he was winning battles and depriving the Romans of food. Caesar was a cruel man and cruel men are hard to deal with.

“That is what you owe me, whom you charge with treachery. Thanks to me, without shedding a drop of your own blood, you see a great and victorious army almost destroyed by starvation . . .” Vercingetorix had a way with words. His infantry had just lost a battle to Caesar. He had left with his Calvary, leaving his infantry in a protected swamp. When Caesar came, He could not reach the Gauls. After he had retreated, and Vercingetorix had returned, the Gauls accused their leader of treachery. Vercingetorix gave a speech to them, not only persuading them that he was good and righteous, but also to attack the Romans. It is heroic to be able to speak in front of many people, let alone do it well. Vercingetorix was able to win tribes to his cause and rally his army with a single speech.

Vercingetorix never lost faith. Even at his last battle he was convinced he could win. He would not abandon his country. He fought many a battle, losing quite a few. He went on until his army was finally defeated. He adapted himself ingeniously. In one battle, he was besieged, Romans waiting outside the city. The Romans built tunnels under the wall. When Vercingetorix heard, he came up with a plan to fill them in. When the enemy built a huge 300 foot long balcony to fight over the wall with, a tactic Vercingetorix had never seen before, he dug tunnels under the walls and burned it. Ingenuity is a heroic attribute in anyone; an ability to think on one’s feet.

The king Vercingetorix’s last act was in itself a heroic act--an act of courage, bravery and self-sacrifice. So many defeated leaders simply run away and hide. Not Vercingetorix. “I did not undertake the war for private ends, but in the cause of national liberty. And since I must now accept my fate, I place myself at your disposal. Make amends to the Romans by killing me or surrender me alive as you think best.” He had surrendered his life for his people.

Page created on 12/30/1899 12:10:00 AM

Last edited 3/30/2024 4:44:03 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Home of Vercingetorix--A Celtic Refuge - A great site with information about the war technology, religion, and art of the Celts, along with more information about Vercingetorix himself.
Gaius Julius Caesar - This story of the agressive Roman leader who conquered the Celts asks the question: hero or villain?

Extra Info

Sources for this story:

1. The Conquest of Gaul, Gaius Julius Caesar, revised and adapted by Jane Gardner, translated by S.A. Hanford, 1986, Penguin Classics.

2. Caesar’s Conquest of Gaul, Don Nardo, 1996, Lucent books.

3. Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 1998, 1997, Microsoft corporation.

4.Vercingetorix … Famous Gallic Chief

5. The Condensed History of Vercingetorix,