Gaul, if you take all of it into account, is divided into three regions.The Belgae live in one, the Aquitani in the second, and in the third a people called Celts in their own language but Gauls in ours. These three peoples are all different from one another in their languages, institutions, and laws. The Garumna River separates the Aquitani from the Gauls, and the Matrona and Sequana Rivers separate the Gauls from the Belgae. Of all these groups, the most warlike are the Belgae, because they are the farthest from the civilized sophistication of the Province;merchants come to them least often with imports that foster an effeminate disposition;they are also the closest to the Germans living across the Rhine River, and they are constantly at war with them.  This is, moreover, the reason the Helvetiisurpass all the Gauls except the Belgae in bravery: they struggle with the Germans in almost daily battles, either trying to keep them out of their own country or else actually waging war in the Germans’ territory.
 [The region that, as stated above, the Gauls occupy starts at the Rhône River, and its other boundaries are the Garumna River, the Atlantic Ocean, and the territory of the Belgae. One part of it, where the Sequani and the Helvetii are found, touches the Rhine River. But its general direction is to the north.  The Belgae are found starting from the farthest borders of the Gauls, and then all of the way to the lower part of the Rhine, in a region verging toward the north and east. Aquitania goes from the Garumna River to the Pyrenees Mountains and the part of the Atlantic Ocean next to Spain.It stretches northwest from the Province.]
 Among the Helvetii, by far the most noble and wealthy person was Orgetorix.In the consulship of Marcus Messalla and Marcus Piso, he was tempted by desire for kingship to conspire with the aristocracy, and he persuaded his nation to leave their own territory with all their forces. He told them that, because they excelled above all others in bravery, it would be very easy to take over the whole of Gaul and rule it. What helped to persuade them was that the Helvetii are closed in on all sides by natural boundaries. On one side is the Rhine River, extremely wide and deep, which divides the Helvetian territories from the Germans. On another side is the Jura, a very high mountain range between the Sequani and the Helvetii. Separating them from our Province on the third side are Lake Lemannus and the Rhône River. This situation limited their ability to move far and wide and hampered them in attacking their neighbors. This galled them enormously, since they were a people keen to wage war.  In proportion to their large population and the glory they had acquired through war and brave fighting, they thought their territory was too limited, since it was only 240 miles long and 180 wide.
 Influenced by these factors and enticed by the prestige of Orgetorix, they decided to prepare all they needed for setting out. That meant buying up as many draft animals and wagons as they could, sowing crops as widely as possible—so that the supply of grain would last during the journey—and establishing peace and friendship with the nations closest to them. To carry out these plans, they thought two years would be sufficient, and they committed themselves by a formal decree to setting out in the third year. Orgetorix was chosen [to complete these tasks]. He took on the assignment of going as an emissary to the neighboring peoples. During this mission he persuaded Casticus—whose father, Catamantaloedes, had held the kingship over the Sequanifor many years and had been given the title Friend of the Roman People by the Senate—to take over his nation’s kingship, which had belonged to his father. Orgetorix likewise persuaded Dumnorix of the Aedui, the brother of Diviciacus (who at the time held a position of leadership in his state and was hugely popular with the common people), to try the same, and gave him his daughter in marriage. Orgetorix made a convincing case to these men that such plans could be realized very easily, because he himself was about to take over the rule of his own state.  There was no doubt, he stated, that the Helvetii were the most powerful people in the whole of Gaul; he would use his own resources and his army to help consolidate their control of their kingship.  This speech induced them to pledge loyalty to each other and bind themselves by oath. They hoped that once they had seized their kingship, they could establish control over Gaul in its entirety through their three most powerful and staunch nations.
 An informer made this known to the Helvetii, who, according to their custom, forced Orgetorix to stand trial in chains. Had he been convicted, his punishment would inevitably have been to be burned alive. On the day set for the case to be heard, Orgetorix summoned to the place of judgment all his slaves and freedmen from everywhere, amounting to ten thousand people. In addition, he had a great number of clients and persons indebted to him, and he assembled them at the same place. He then used this crowd to escape from having to defend himself at trial.  The nation was roused by all this to enforce its rights with arms, but while officials were collecting a large band of men from the countryside, Orgetorix died.  There was a certain suspicion, according to what the Helvetii believe, that he killed himself.
 After Orgetorix’ death, the Helvetii did not give up their efforts to realize their intention to migrate from their country. When they thought they were ready to go, they set fire to all their towns, around twelve of them, as well as their roughly four hundred villages, and all their other private buildings;  furthermore, they burned up all the grain beyond what they were going to carry with them—all this in order to eliminate any hope of returning home, so that they would be more fully committed to undergo all dangers;finally, they ordered every person to take with him three months’ worth of already-groundup rations from his home. They persuaded their neighbors, the Rauraci, the Tulingi, and the Latobrigi, to adopt the same plan, burn down their towns and villages and emigrate with them. Also, they welcomed in their territory and adopted as their allies the Boii, who had settled across the Rhine but then crossed over into the territory of Noricum and attacked the town of Noreia.
 There were, in all, only two suitable routes by which they could leave their home territory. The route through the territory of the Sequani, between the Jura mountain range and the Rhône River, was narrow and difficult. Wagons in single file could scarcely be driven along it. Worse, an extremely high mountain range looms above it, so that a tiny force could easily prevent their advance. The other route was through our Province, and there they could travel much faster and more easily; the course of the Rhône forms the border between the Helvetii and the Allobroges, who had recently been pacified, and in some places it is shallow enough to ford it.  Genavais the most remote town of the Allobroges, and the closest to the Helvetian borders. From this town, a bridge extends over the river to Helvetian territory. The Helvetii thought that they could persuade—or else force—the Allobroges, who did not yet appear to be well-disposed to the Roman people, to let them pass through their territory.
 When everything was ready for setting out, they named a day for the whole expedition to gather on the bank of the Rhône. This was March 28, during the consulship of Lucius Piso and Aulus Gabinius.