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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXI Chapter 31: Through the country of the Allobroges[218 BC]
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|He orders them, roused by these exhortations, to refresh themselves and prepare for the journey. Next day, proceeding upward along the bank of the Rhone, he makes for the inland part of Gaul: not because it was the more direct route to the Alps, but believing that the farther he retired from the sea, the Romans would be less in his way; with whom, before he arrived in Italy, he had no intention of engaging. After four days' march he came to the Island: there the streams of the Arar and the Rhone, flowing down from different branches of the Alps, after embracing a pretty large tract of country, flow into one. The name of the Island is given to the plains that lie between them. The Allobroges dwell near, a nation even in those days inferior to none in Gaul in power and fame. They were at that time at variance. Two brothers were contending for the sovereignty. The elder, named Brancus, who had before been king, was driven out by his younger brother and a party of the younger men, who, inferior in right, had more of power. When the decision of this quarrel was most opportunely referred to Hannibal, being appointed arbitrator of the kingdom, he restored the sovereignty to the elder, because such had been the opinion of the senate and the chief men. In return for this service, he was assisted with a supply of provisions, and plenty of all necessaries, particularly clothing, which the Alps, notorious for extreme cold, rendered necessary to be prepared. After composing the dissensions of the Allobroges, when he now was proceeding to the Alps, he directed his course thither, not by the straight road, but turned to the left into the country of the Tricastini, thence by the extreme boundary of the territory of the Vocontii he proceeded to the Tricorii; his way not being any where obstructed till he came to the river Druentia. This stream, also arising amid the Alps, is by far the most difficult to pass of all the rivers in Gaul; for though it rolls down an immense body of water, yet it does not admit of ships; because, being restrained by no banks, and flowing in several and not always the same channels, and continually forming new shallows and new whirlpools, (on which account the passage is also uncertain to a person on foot,) and rolling down besides gravelly stones, it affords no firm or safe passage to those who enter it; and having been at that time swollen by showers, it created great disorder among the soldiers as they crossed, when, in addition to other difficulties, they were of themselves confused by their own hurry and uncertain shouts.||
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Foot:a. part of the body (3379). b. infantry (6534).