Ancient Rome from the Earliest Times Down to 476 A.D.
|A History of Rome, by Robert F. Pennell|
By Robert F. Pennell
Caesar's Struggle With Pompey. -- Battle of Pharsalia.
Pompey was elected sole Consul in February, 52. He at once threw off all pretence of an alliance with Caesar, and devoted himself to the interests of the Senate and aristocracy.
The brilliant successes of Caesar in Gaul had made a profound impression upon the minds of the citizens, to whom the name of the northern barbarians was still fraught with terror. Caesar had won for himself distinction as a soldier greater than the Scipios, or Sulla, or Pompey. "He was coming back to lay at his country's feet a province larger than Spain, not only subdued, but reconciled to subjugation; a nation of warriors, as much devoted to him as his own legions." The nobility had watched his successes with bitter envy; but they were forced to vote a thanksgiving of twenty days, which "the people made sixty."
Caesar now declared through his followers at Rome that he desired a second consulship. But he wished first to celebrate his triumph, and on this account would not disband his army; for, according to the custom, he could not triumph without it. According to another custom, however, he must disband it before he could offer himself as a candidate for the consulship. But he asked permission to set aside this custom, and to become a candidate while he was in the province in command of the army.
The law requiring a candidate to give up his command had been suspended several times before this; so that Caesar's request was reasonable. His enemies in the city were numerous and powerful, and he felt that, if he returned as a private citizen, his personal safety would be in danger; whereas, if he were a magistrate, his person would be considered sacred.
The Senate, on the other hand, felt that, if he carried his point, the days of their influence were numbered. Their first step, therefore, was to weaken Caesar, and to provide their champion, Pompey, with a force in Italy, They voted that Caesar should return to Pompey a legion which had been loaned him, and also should send another legion back to Italy. The vote was taken on the ostensible plea that the troops were needed in Asia Minor against the Parthians; but when they reached Italy they were placed under Pompey's command in Campania. The Consuls chosen for the year 49 were both bitter enemies of Caesar. He had taken up his winter quarters at Ravenna, the last town in his province bordering on Italy. From here he sent a messenger with letters to the Senate, stating that he was ready to resign his command, if Pompey did the same. The messenger arrived at Rome, January 1, 49, on the day in which the new Consuls entered upon their duties.
The letters were read in the Senate, and there followed a spirited discussion, resulting in a decree that Caesar should resign his command. The Tribunes opposed; but, being threatened by the Consuls, they were compelled to leave the city, and went directly to Ravenna.
When the action of the Senate was reported to Caesar, he called together his soldiers, and addressed them thus: "For nine years I and my army have served our country loyally and with some degree of success. We have driven the Germans across the Rhine; we have made Gaul a province; and the Senate, for answer, has broken the constitution in setting aside the Tribunes who spoke in my defence. It has voted the state in danger, and has called Italy to arms, when no single act of mine can justify it in this course." The soldiers became enthusiastic, and were eager to follow their leader without pay. Contributions were offered him by both men and officers. LABIENUS, his trusted lieutenant, alone proved false. He stole away, and joined Pompey. Caesar then sent for two legions from across the Alps. With these legions he crossed the RUBICON into Italy, and marched to Ariminum.
Meanwhile the report of his movements reached Rome. The aristocracy had imagined that his courage would fail him, or that his army would desert. Thoroughly frightened, Consuls, Praetors, Senators,-leaving wives, children, and property to their fate,-fled from the city to seek safety with Pompey in Capua. They did not stop even to take the money from the treasury, but left it locked.
Caesar paused at Ariminum, and sent envoys to the Senate, stating that he was still desirous of peace. If Pompey would depart to his province in Spain, he would himself disband his own troops. He was even willing to have a personal interview with Pompey. This message was received by the Senate after its flight from Rome. The substance of its reply was, that Pompey did not wish a personal interview, but would go to Spain, and that Caesar must leave Ariminum, return to his province, and give security that he would dismiss his army.
These terms seemed to Caesar unfair, and he would not accept them. Accordingly he sent his lieutenant, Mark Antony, across the mountains to Arretium, on the road to Rome. He himself pushed on to Ancóna, before Pompey could stop him. The towns that were on his march threw open their gates, their garrisons joined his army, and their officers fled. Steadily he advanced, with constantly increasing forces, until when he reached Corfinium his army had swelled to thirty thousand troops.
This place had been occupied by Domitius with a party of aristocrats and a few thousand men. Caesar surrounded the town, and when Domitius endeavored to steal away, his own troops took him and delivered him over to Caesar. The capture of Corfinium and the desertion of its garrison filled Pompey and his followers with dismay. They hurried to Brundisium, where ships were in readiness for them to depart.
Hoping to intercept Pompey, Caesar hastened to this port. On his arrival outside of the town, the Consuls, with half the army, had already gone. Pompey, however, was still within the place, with twelve thousand troops, waiting for transports to carry them away. He refused to see Caesar; and, though the latter endeavored to blockade the port, he was unsuccessful, owing to want of ships.
Thus Pompey escaped. With him were the Consuls, more than half the Senate, and the aristocracy. Caesar would have followed them, but a fleet must first be obtained, and matters nearer home demanded his attention.
In sixty days Caesar had made himself master of Italy. On his way to Rome he met Cicero, and invited him to attend the Senate, but he preferred to stay away. Caesar entered the city unattended, and assembled the Senate through the Tribunes, Mark Antony and Cassius Longínus. The attendance was small, as most of the members were with Pompey. In his address to the Senate Caesar spoke of his own forbearance and concessions, of their unjust demands, and their violent suppression of the authority of the Tribunes. He was still willing to send envoys to treat with Pompey, but no one was found willing to go. After three days spent in useless discussion, Caesar decided to act for himself. By his own edict, he restored the children of the victims of Sulla's proscription to their rights and property. The money in the treasury was voted him by the Assembly of the people. He took as much of it as he needed, and started at once for Gaul to join his troops on his way to Spain.
He had much to accomplish. Spain was in the hands of Pompey's lieutenants, Afranius, Petreius, and Varro, who had six legions and allied troops. From Sicily and Sardinia came most of the grain supplies of Rome, and it was important to hold these islands. To Sicily he sent Curio and to Sardinia Valerius. Cato, who was in charge of Sicily, immediately abandoned it and fled to Africa. Sardinia received Caesar's troops with open arms.
Upon his arrival in Gaul, Caesar found that the inhabitants of Massilia had risen against his authority, led by the same Domitius whom he had sent away unharmed from Corfinium. Caesar blockaded the city, and, leaving Decimus Brutus in charge of operations, continued his journey to Spain. He found Afranius and Petreius strongly intrenched at ILERDA in Catalonia (Northern Spain). Within forty days he brought them to terms, and Varro, who was in Southern Spain, was eager to surrender. All Spain was at his feet.
Before leaving Spain, Caesar summoned the leading Spaniards and Romans to Cordova, for a conference. All promised obedience to his authority. He then set sail from Gades to Tarragóna, where he joined his legions and marched back to Massilia, which he found hard pressed and ready to surrender. The gates were opened. All were pardoned, and Domitius was allowed to escape a second time.
Caesar left a portion of his forces in Gaul, and with the rest arrived at Rome in the early winter of 49-48. Thus far he had been successful. Gaul, Spain, Sardinia, Sicily, and Italy were his. He had not succeeded, however, in getting together a naval force in the Adriatic, and he had lost his promising lieutenant, Curio, who had been surprised and killed in Africa, whither he had gone in pursuit of Cato and Pompey's followers.
During Caesar's absence, affairs at Rome had resumed their usual course. He had left the city under charge of his lieutenant, Aemilius Lepidus, and Italy in command of Mark Antony. Caesar was still at Massilia, when he learned that the people of Rome had proclaimed him Dictator. Financial troubles in the city had made this step necessary. Public credit was shaken. Debts had not been paid since the civil war began. Caesar allowed himself only eleven days in Rome. In this time estimates were drawn of all debts as they were one year before, the interest was remitted and the principal declared still due. This measure relieved the debtors somewhat.
It was now nearly a year since Caesar crossed the Rubicon. Pompey, during the nine months that had elapsed since his escape from Brundisium, had been collecting his forces in Epírus. Here had gathered many princes from the East, a majority of the Senatorial families of Rome, Cato and Cicero, the vanquished Afranius, and the renegade Labiénus. There were nine full legions, with cavalry and auxiliaries, amounting in all to 100,000 men.
Caesar reached Brundisium at the end of the year 49. His forces were fewer in number than those of his adversary, amounting to not more than 15,000 infantry and 600 cavalry. But his legionaries were all veterans, inured to toil and hunger, to heat and cold, and every man was devoted to his leader.
On the 4th of January he set sail from Brundisium, landing after an uneventful voyage at Acroceraunia. He advanced at once towards Dyrrachium where were Pompey's head-quarters, occupied Apollonia, and intrenched himself on the left bank of the river Apsus. The country was well disposed and furnished him with ample supplies.
Caesar sent back the vessels on which he crossed to transport his remaining troops, but they were intercepted on their way across and many of them destroyed. He was therefore compelled to confine himself to trifling operations, until his lieutenant, Mark Antony, could fit out a second fleet and bring over the remainder of his legions. When Antony finally crossed, he landed one hundred miles up the coast. Pompey's forces were between him and Caesar, and his position was full of danger; but Caesar marched rapidly round Dyrrachium, and joined him before Pompey knew of his movements.
The great general was now ready for action. He built a line of strongly fortified forts around Pompey's camp, blockading him by land. He turned the streams of water aside, causing as much inconvenience as possible to the enemy. So the siege dragged on into June.
Two deserters informed Pompey of a weak spot in Caesar's line. At this point Pompey made a sudden attack. For once Caesar's troops were surprised and panic-stricken. Even his own presence did not cause them to rally. Nearly one thousand of his men fell, thirty-two standards, and a few hundred soldiers were captured.
This victory was the ruin of Pompey's cause. Its importance was exaggerated. His followers were sure that the war was practically over; and so certain were they of ultimate success that they neglected to follow up the advantage gained, and gave Caesar opportunity to recover from the blow.
The latter now retired from the sea-board into Thessaly. Pompey followed, confident of victory. The nobles in his camp amused themselves with quarrelling about the expected spoils of war. Cato and Cicero remained behind in Epirus, the former disgusted at the actions of the degenerate nobility, the latter pleading ill health.
The two armies encamped on a plain in Thessaly near the river Enipeus, only four miles apart. Between them lay a low hill called PHARSÁLUS, which gave name to the battle which followed.
"The battle of PHARSALIA (August 9, 48) has acquired a special place in history, because it was fought by the Roman aristocracy in their own persons in defence of their own supremacy. Senators and the sons of Senators, the heirs of the names and fortunes of the ancient Roman families, the leaders of society in Roman salons, and the chiefs of the political party of the optimates (aristocracy) were here present on the field. The other great actions were fought by the ignoble multitude whose deaths were of less significance. The plains of Pharsalia were watered by the precious blood of the elect of the earth."
For several days the armies watched each other without decisive action. One morning towards the end of May (August 9, old style) Caesar noticed a movement in Pompey's lines that told him the expected attack was coming.
The position of the Senatorial army was well taken. Its right wing rested on the Enipeus, its left was spread out on the plain. Pompey himself commanded the left with the two legions the Senate had taken from Caesar. Outside him on the plain were his allies covered by the cavalry. Opposite Pompey was Caesar, with the famous Tenth Legion. His left and centre were led by his faithful Tribunes, Mark Antony and Cassius Longínus.
At the given signal Caesar's front ranks advanced on a run, threw their darts, drew their swords, and closed in. At once Pompey's cavalry charged, outflanking the enemy's right wing, and driving back the opposing cavalry, who were inferior in numbers. But as they advanced flushed with victory, Caesar's fourth line, which he had held in reserve, and which was made up of the flower of his legions, appeared in their way. So fierce was their attack that the Pompeians wavered, turned, and fled. They never rallied. The fourth line threw themselves upon Pompey's left wing, which was now unprotected. This wing, composed of Caesar's old veterans, was probably in no mood to fight its former comrades in arms. At any rate, it turned and fled. Pompey himself mounted his horse and rode off in despair. Thus the battle ended in a rout. But two hundred of Caesar's men fell, while fifteen thousand of the enemy lay dead on the field.
The abandoned camp was a remarkable sight. The luxurious patricians had built houses of turf with ivy trained over the entrances to protect their delicate skins from the sun's rays; couches were stretched out ready for them to take repose after their expected victory, and tables were spread with dainty food and wines on which to feast. As he saw these preparations Caesar exclaimed, "These are the men who accused my suffering, patient army, which needed the common necessaries of life, of dissoluteness and profligacy." But Caesar could not delay. Leaving a portion of his forces in camp, by rapid marching he cut off the retreat of the enemy. Twenty-four thousand surrendered, all of whom were pardoned. Domitius, whom we saw at Corfinium and Massilia, was killed trying to escape. Labiénus, Afranius, and Petreius managed to steal away by night. Thus ended the battle of Pharsalia.
Chapter I Geography of Italy.
Chapter II The Early Inhabitants of Italy.
Chapter III The Romans and Their Early Government.
Chapter IV The Early Growth and Internal History of Rome.
Chapter V The Dynasty of The Tarquins.
Chapter VI The Consuls and Tribunes.
Chapter VII The Comitia Tributa and the Agrarian Laws.
Chapter VIII The Contest of the Plebeians for Civil Rights.
Chapter IX External History.
Chapter X Wars With Pyrrhus (281-272).
Chapter XI Divisions of The Roman Territory. -- Noted Men of the Period.
Chapter XII Foreign Conquest.
Chapter XIII Rome and Carthage Between the First and Second Punic Wars (241-218).
Chapter XIV The Second Punic War. -- From the Passage of the Pyrenees to the Battle of Cannae. (218-216.)
Chapter XV The Second Punic War.-From Cannae to The Battle of Zama (216-202).
Chapter XVI Rome IN The East.
Chapter XVII The Syrian War.
Chapter XVIII Conquest of Macedonia and Greece. (I71-146.)
Chapter XIX The Third Punic War, and Fall of Carthage.
Chapter XX Rome and Spain.-The Numantine and Servile Wars. (206-132.)
Chapter XXI Internal History. -- The Gracchi.
Chapter XXII External History. -- Pergamum. -- Jugurthine War (118-104).
Chapter XXIII The Cimbri nd Teutones. -- Political Quarrels.
Chapter XXIV Internal History.-The Social War (90-88).
Chapter XXV Marius and Sulla.-Cinna.
Chapter XXVI Sertorius. -- Spartacus. -- Lucullus. -- Pompey and Crassus.
Chapter XXVII Caesar. -- Cicero. -- Verres.
Chapter XXVIII Troubles at Rome. -- Conspiracy of Catiline.
Chapter XXIX The First Triumvirate.
Chapter XXX Caesar's Campaigns in Gaul.
Chapter XXXI Clodius and Milo -- Death of Crassus.
Chapter XXXII Caesar's Struggle With Pompey. -- Battle of Pharsalia.
Chapter XXXIII Caesar's Operations in Egypt, Asia, Africa, and Spain.
Chapter XXXIV Murder of Caesar.
Chapter XXXV The Second Triumvirate. -- Philippi and Actium.
Chapter XXXVI Augustus (30 B.C.-14 A.D.)
Chapter XXXVII The Augustan Age.
Chapter XXXVIII The Julian and Claudian Emperors.
Chapter XXXIX The Flavian Emperors.
Chapter XL The Five Good Emperors.
Chapter XLI Period of Military Despotism. -- Decline of the Empire.
Chapter XLII Invasions and Distribution of the Barbarians.
Chapter XLIII Roman Literature.
Chapter XLIV Roman Roads. -- Provinces.
Chapter XLV Roman Officers, Etc.
Chapter XLVI Houses, Customs, Institutions, Etc.
Chapter XLVII Public Buildings, Squares, Etc.
Chapter XLVIII Colonies. -- The Calendar. -- Religion.
Chapter XLIX The Roman Army in Caesar's Time.
Chapter L Legendary Rome.
Specimen Examination Papers
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Pennell - History of Rome