“The ram has touched the wall” is a saying derived from Julius Caesar’s De Bello Gallico (About the War in Gaul) which signals that a contest has moved past the negotiating stage. The phrase is rendered in Latin as murum aries attigit. Because so few people take Latin in school these days and even fewer have read Caesar, I published this except from the book as the TKPOTD four years ago today.
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This is the origin of one of the Latin expressions I use. It’s from Book II of Caesar’s Commentary on the War in Gaul—
To these things Caesar replied, “That he, in accordance with his custom rather than owing to their desert, should spare the city, if they should surrender themselves before the battering-ram should touch the wall; but that there was no condition of surrender, except upon their arms being delivered up; that he should do to them that which he had done in the case of the Nervii, and would command their neighbors not to offer any injury to those who had surrendered to the Roman people.” The matter being reported to their countrymen, they said that they would execute his commands. Having thrown a very large quantity of their arms from the wall into the trench that was before the town so that the heaps of arms almost equalled the top of the wall and the rampart, and nevertheless having retained and concealed, as we afterward discovered, about a third of their arms in the town, the gates were opened, and they enjoyed peace for that day.
Toward evening Caesar ordered the gates to be shut and the soldiers to go out of the town lest the towns-people should receive any injury from them by night. The Aduatuci, by a design before entered into, as we afterwards understood, because they believed that, as a surrender had been made, our men would dismiss their guards or at least would keep watch less carefully, partly with those arms which they had retained and concealed, partly with shields made of bark or interwoven wickers which they had hastily covered over with skins (as the shortness of time required), in the third watch, suddenly made a sally from the town with all their forces in the direction which the ascent to our fortifications seemed the least difficult. The signal having been immediately given by fires, as Caesar had previously commended, a rush was made thither by Roman soldiers from the nearest fort; and the battle was fought by the enemy as vigorously as it ought to be fought by brave men in the last hope of safety, in a disadvantageous place, and against those who were throwing their weapons from a rampart and from towers; since all hope of safety depended on their courage alone. About 4,000 of the men having been slain, the rest were forced back into the town. The next day, Caesar, after breaking open the gates which there was no one then to defend, and sending in our soldiers, sold the whole spoil of that town. The number of 53,000 persons was reported to him by those who had bought them.
Murum aries attigit.
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Murum Aries Attigit branded goodies are still available at The Hogewash Store.