which deceived Julius Cæsar on his return from the Gauls

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which deceived Julius Cæsar on his return from the Gauls.

Original French:  lequel trompa Iule Cæſar venent es Gaules.

Modern French:  lequel trompa Jule Caesar venent es Gaules.


Rabelais here relates a story from the Roman architect and military engineer Vitruvius about a tower of larch that could not be burnt.


Notes

On Timber

14. The larch is known only to the provincials on the banks of the river Po and the shores of the Adriatic Sea. Owing to the fierce bitterness of its sap, it is not injured by dry rot or the worm. Further, it does not admit flame from fire, nor can it burn of itself; only along with other timber it may burn stone in the kiln for making lime. Nor even then does it admit flame or produce charcoal, but is slowly consumed over a long interval. For there is the least admixture of fire and air, while the moist and the earthy principles are closely compressed. It has no open pores by which the fire can penetrate, and repels its force and prevents injury being quickly done to itself by fire. Because of its weight it is not sustained by water; but when it is carried, it is placed on board ship, or on pine rafts.

15. We have reason to inquire how this timber was discovered. After the late emperor Caesar had brought his forces into the neighbourhood of the Alps, and had commanded the municipalities to furnish supplies, he found there a fortified stronghold which was called Larignum. But the occupants trusted to the natural strength of the place and refused obedience. The emperor therefore commanded his forces to be brought up. Now before the gate of the stronghold there stood a tower of this wood with alternate cross-beams bound together like a funeral pyre, so that it could drive back an approaching enemy by stakes and stones from the top. But when it was perceived that they had no other weapons but stakes, and because of their weight they could not throw them far from the wall, the order was given to approach, and to throw bundles of twigs and burning torches against the fort. And the troops quickly heaped them up.

16. The flame seizing the twigs around the wood, rose skyward and made them think that the whole mass had collapsed. But when the fire had burnt itself out and subsided. and the tower appeared again intact, Caesar was surprised and ordered the town to be surrounded by a rampart outside the range of their weapons. And so the townspeople were compelled by fear to surrender. The inquiry was made where the timber came from which was unscathed by the fire. Then they showed him the trees, of which there is an abundant supply in these parts. The fort was called Larignum following the name of the larch wood. Now this is brought down the Po to Ravenna; there are also supplies at the Colony of Fanum, at Pisaurum and Ancona and the municipia in that region. And if there were a provision for bringing this timber to Rome, there would be great advantages in building; and if such wood were used, not perhaps generally, but in the eaves round the building blocks, these buildings would be freed from the danger of fires spreading. For this timber can neither catch fire nor turn to charcoal, nor burn of itself.

17. Now these trees have leaves like those of the pine, the timber is tall, and for joinery work not less handy than deal. It has a liquid resin coloured like Attic honey. This is a cure for phthisical persons.

Larix vero, qui non est notus nisi is municipalibus qui sunt circa ripam fluminis Padi et litora maris Hadriani, non solum ab suco vehementi amaritate ab carie aut tinea non nocetur, sed etiam flammam ex igni non recipit, nec ipse per se potest ardere, nisi uti saxum in fornace ad calcem coquendam aliis lignis uratur; nec tamen tunc flammam recipit nec carbonem remittit, sed longo spatio tarde comburitur. Quod est minima ignis et aeris e principiis temperatura, umore autem et terreno est spisse solidata, non habet spatia foraminum, qua possit ignis penetrare, reicitque eius vim nec patitur ab eo sibi cito noceri, propterque pondus ab aqua non sustinetur, sed cum portatur, aut in navibus aut supra abiegnas rates conlocatur.

Ea autem materies quemadmodum sit inventa, est causa cognoscere. Divus Caesar cum exercitum habuisset circa Alpes imperavissetque municipiis praestare commeatus, ibique esset castellum munitum, quod vocaretur Larignum, tunc, qui in eo fuerunt, naturali munitione confisi noluerunt imperio parere. Itaque imperator copias iussit admoveri. erat autem ante eius castelli portam turris ex hac materia alternis trabibus transversis uti pyra inter se composita alte, uti posset de summo sudibus et lapidibus accedentes repellere. Tunc vero cum animadversum est alia eos tela praeter sudes non habere neque posse longius a muro propter pondus iaculari, imperatum est fasciculos ex virgis alligatos et faces ardentes ad eam munitionem accedentes mittere. Itaque celeriter milites congesserunt. Posteaquam flamma circa illam materiam virgas comprehendisset, ad caelum sublata efficit opinionem, uti videretur iam tota moles concidisse. Cum autem ea per se extincta esset et re quieta turris intacta apparuisset, admirans Caesar iussit extra telorum missionem eos circumvallari. Itaque timore coacti oppidani cum se dedidissent, quaesitum, unde essent ea ligna quae ab igni non laederentur. Tunc ei demonstraverunt eas arbores, quarum in his locis maximae sunt copiae. Et ideo id castellum Larignum, item materies larigna est appellata. Haec autem per Padum Ravennam deportatur. In colonia Fanestri, Pisauri, Anconae reliquisque, quae sunt in ea regione, municipiis praebetur. Cuius materies si esset facultas adportationibus ad urbem, maximae haberentur in aedificiis utilitates, et si non in omne, certe tabulae in subgrundiis circum insulas si essent ex ea conlocatae, ab traiectionibus incendiorum aedificia periculo liberarentur, quod ea neque flammam nec carbonem possunt recipere nec facere per se. Sunt autem eae arbores foliis similibus pini; materies earum prolixa, tractabilis ad intestinum opus non minus quam sappinea, habetque resinam liquidam mellis Attici colore, quae etiam medetur phthisicis.

Vitruvius (ca. 70 BC–ca. 15 BC), De Architectura. Frank Granger, translator. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1931. Book 2, Ch. 9. Loeb Classical Library

tromper

To cousen, deceive, beguile, delude, circumvent, cheat, overreach.

Cotgrave, Randle (–1634?), A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongue. London: Adam Islip, 1611. PBM

Jule César &c.

Ceci est pris de Vitruve, l. 2 chap 9 d’où l’avoit tiré, avant Rabelais, Cælius Rhodiginus, l. 10 chap. 10 de ses Anciennes leçons, cité par Du Chêne l. 1 chap. 46 de ses Antiquitiez des Villes de France. Philander, dan ses Remarques sur cet endroit de Vitruve, pag. 52 de l’édition of Venise 1557 dit qu’étant à Venise il voulut voir si en effet le malése, suppose que ce soit le larix de Vitruve, ne se consumeroit pas au feu, mais que le prétendu larix ne laissa pas de brûler, quoi que poururtant ce bois semblât dédaigner la flamme & la vouloir écarter. Sur quoi M. Le Clerc, qui a de vrai larix incombustible, prétend à l’art. 2 du T. XII de sa Bibliothéque choisie, que donc la melése de Philander n’etoit pas de vrai larix. Je le crois aussi, mais du moins est-il sûr, par ce qui précéde dans Rabelais, que nôtre Auteur prenoit lui même la melése pour le larix ou bois incombustible de Vitruve. Du rest, le vrai larix n’est pas inconnu au Curieux de Rome, & tel d’entre eux en a envoié de nos jours en Hollande, où on le garde.

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Œuvres de Maitre François Rabelais. Publiées sous le titre de : Faits et dits du géant Gargantua et de son fils Pantagruel, avec la Prognostication pantagrueline, l’épître de Limosin, la Crême philosophale et deux épîtres à deux vieilles de moeurs et d’humeurs différentes. Nouvelle édition, où l’on a ajouté des remarques historiques et critiques. Tome Troisieme. Jacob Le Duchat (1658–1735), editor. Amsterdam: Henri Bordesius, 1711. p. 270. Google Books

Jule Cæsar

Cici est pris de Vitruve, Liv. II chap. 9. Philander dans ses Remarques sur cet endroit de Vitruve, dit qu’étant à Venise, il voulut voir si en effet la Melese, suposé que ce soit le Larix de Vitruve, ne se consumeroit pas au feu: mais qye le prétenduy Larix ne naissa pas de brûler, quoique pourtant la flamme eût peine à l’entamer, & s’en fût d’abord écartée. Sur quoi M. le Clerc, qui avoit du vrai Larix incombustible, prétend à l’art. 2. T. XII. de sa Bibl. choisie, que la Melese de Philander n’étoit donc pas le vrai Larix. Du reste le vrai Larix n’est pas inconnu aux Curieux de Rome, & l’on trouve même dans quelques Cabinets de Hollande. M. le Duchat.

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Le Rabelais moderne, ou les Œuvres de Rabelais mises à la portée de la plupart des lecteurs. François-Marie de Marsy (1714-1763), editor. Amsterdam: J.-F. Bernard, 1752. p. 171. Google Books

Iule Cesar

Voy,. Vitruve, l. X, ch IX.

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Œuvres de F. Rabelais. Nouvelle edition augmentée de plusieurs extraits des chroniques admirables du puissant roi Gargantua… et accompagnée de notes explicatives…. L. Jacob (pseud. of Paul Lacroix) (1806–1884), editor. Paris: Charpentier, 1840. p 313.

Jule Cæsar

Cette anecdote est rapportée par Vitruve, II, 9. Rabelais pouvait la lire encore dans Cœlius Rhodiginus, Antiq. lect., X. 10. Brantome la reproduira, Dames gal., IV. (Plattard)

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Oeuvres. Édition critique. Tome Cinquieme: Tiers Livre. Abel Lefranc (1863-1952), editor. Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honoré Champion, 1931. p. 375. Internet Archive

lequel trompa Iule Caesar venent es Gaules.

Anecdote très connu (voir Vitruve, Architecture, II, ix; Caelius Rhodinginus, Antiquae lectiones, X, x); voir Tiers livre, éd. Lefranc, n. 38, p. 375.

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Œuvres complètes. Mireille Huchon, editor. Paris: Gallimard, 1994. p. 511, n. 12.

Jule Cæsar venent es Gaules

Cette histoire, due à Vitruve, II, IX, est brièvement rappelée par Cœlius Rhodiginus, Antiquae Lectiones, X, 10, chapitre déjà largement utilisé. L’incombustibilité du mélèze (larix) fut «constatée, dit-il, au grand étonnement de César à Larignum, citadelle située sur les rives du Pô et qui doit son mon à l’abondance de cet arbre, quand une tour fortifiée résista sans dommage aux flammes».

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Le Tiers Livre. Edition critique. Jean Céard, editor. Librarie Général Français, 1995. p. 472.

Gaul

Gaul [formed on Gaul (the name of the country), adopted from French Gaule, an adoption (phonologically obscure) of Latin Gallia, formed on Gall-us a Gaul.]

An inhabitant of ancient Gaul; also, in a more restricted sense, an individual of the `Gallic’ people or race, as distinguished from other peoples inhabiting Gaul. Used poet. and humorously for a Frenchman (compare the similar use of Gaul for `France’, Gallic for `French’).


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Posted 25 January 2013. Modified 15 September 2018.

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