"three or four hundred assegais came whizzing down on us"

Graves was criticised at the time of publication for referring to the German spears as "assegais," a Zulu word that entered the English language in relatively recent times. In the Author's Note, Graves recognises the controversy but justifies his choice of words, both to distinguish the light German spears from the heavier "javelins" used by Roman troops, and to distinguish the "savage" Germans from the "disciplined" legionaries. The latter point, of course, seems as anachronistic to modern readers as anything from the pages of Suetonius or Tacitus.