Julius Caesar.

Cæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: online

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the signal for decamping, advanced about three miles, and
posted his army and cavalry in a convenient place, concealed
from the enemy's view. Scipio being in readiness to pursue
him, detached his cavalry and a considerable number of light
infantry to explore Domitius's route. When they had marched
a short way, and their foremost troops were within reach of
our ambush, their suspicions being raised by the neighing of
the horses, they began to retreat : and the rest who followed
them, observing with what speed they retreated, made a halt.
Our men, perceiving that the enemy had discovered their plot,
and thinking it in vain to wait for any more, having got two
troops in their power, intercepted them. Among them was Mar-
cus Opimius, general of the horse, but he made his escape : they
either killed or took prisoners all the rest of these two troops,
and brought them to Domitius.

CHAP. XXXIX. Caesar, having drawn his garrisons out of
the sea-ports, as before mentioned, left three cohorts at Oricum
to protect the town, and committed to them the charge of his
ships of war, which he had transported from Italy. Acilius,
as lieutenant-general, had the charge of this duty and the com-
mand of the town ; he drew the ships into the inner part of
the harbor, behind the town, and fastened them to the shore,
and sank a merchant-ship in the mouth of the harbor to
block it up ; and near it he fixed another at anchor, on which


he raised a turret, and faced it to the entrance of the port, and
filled it with soldiers, and ordered them to keep guard against
any sudden attack.

CHAP. XL. Cneius, Pompey's son, who commanded the
Egyptian fleet, having got intelligence of these things, came to
Oricum, and weighed up the ship, that had been sunk, with a
windlass, and by straining at it with several ropes, and attacked
the other which had been placed by Acilius to watch the port
with several ships, on which he had raised very high turrets, so
that fighting as it were from an eminence, and sending fresh
men constantly to relieve the fatigued, and at the same time
attempting the town on all sides by land, with ladders and his
fleet, in order to divide the force of his enemies, he overpowered
our men by fatigue, and the immense number of darts, and took
the ship, having beat off the men that were put on board to de-
fend it, who, however, made their escape in small boats ; and
at the same time he seized a natural mole on the opposite side,
which almost formed an island over against the town. He
carried over land, into the inner part of the harbor, four
galleys, by putting rollers under them, and driving them on
with levers. Then attacking on both sides the ships of war
which were moored to the shore, and were not manned, he
carried off four of them, and set the rest on fire. After dis-
patching this business, he left Decimus Laelius, whom he had
taken away from the command of the Asiatic fleet, to hinder
provisions from being brought into the town from Biblis and
Amantia, and went himself to Lissus, where he attacked thirty
merchantmen, left within the port by Antonius, and set them
on fire. He attempted to storm Lissus, but being delayed three
days by the vigorous defense of the Roman citizens who belong-
ed to that district, and of the soldiers which Caesar had sent to
keep garrison there, and having lost a few men in the assault,
he returned without effecting his object.

CHAP. XLI. As soon as Caesar heard that Pompey was at
Asparagium, he set out for that place with his army, and
having taken the capital of the Parthinians on his march,
where there was a garrison of Pompey's, he reached Pompey in
Macedonia, on the third day, and encamped beside him ; and
the day following, having drawn out all his forces before his
camp, he offered Pompey battle. But perceiving that he kept
within his trenches, he led his army back to his camp, and


thought of pursuing some other plan. Accordingly, the day
following, he set out with all his forces by a long circuit,
through a difficult and narrow road to Dyrrachium ; hoping,
either that Pompey would be compelled to follow him to Dyrra-
chium, or that his communication with it might be cut off,
because he had deposited there all his provisions and material
of war. And so it happened ; for Pompey, at first not knowing
his design, because he imagined he had taken a route in a
different direction from that country, thought that the scarcity
of provisions had obliged him to shift his quarters ; but having
afterward got true intelligence from his scouts, he decamped
the day following, hoping to prevent him by taking a shorter
road ; which Caesar suspecting might happen, encouraged his
troops to submit cheerfully to the fatigue, and having halted
a very small part of the night, he arrived early in the morning
at Dyrrachium, when the van of Pompey's army was visible
at a distance, and there he encamped.

CHAP. XLII. Pompey, being cut off from Dyrrachium, as
he was unable to effect his purpose, took a new resolution, and
intrenched himself strongly on a rising ground, which is called
Petra, where ships of a small size can come in, and be shel-
tered from some winds. Here he ordered a part of his men
of war to attend him, and corn and provisions to be brought
from Asia, and from all the countries of which he kept pos-
session. Caesar, imagining that the war would be protracted
to too great a length, and despairing of his convoys from Italy,
because all the coasts were guarded with great diligence by
Pompey's adherents; and because his own fleets, which he
had built during the winter, in Sicily, Gaul, and Italy, were
detained ; sent Lucius Canuleius into Epirus to procure corn ;
and because these countries were too remote, he fixed granaries
in certain places, and regulated the carriage of the corn for the
neighboring states. He likewise gave directions that search
should be made for whatever corn was in Lissus, the country
of the Parthini, and all the places of strength. The quantity
was very small, both from the nature of the land (for the
country is rough and mountainous, and the people commonly
import what grain they use) ; and because Pompey had foreseen
what would happen, and some days before had plundered the
Parthini, and having ravaged and dug up their houses, carried
off all the corn, which he collected by means of his horse.


CHAP. XLIII. Caesar, on being informed of these trans-
actions, pursued measures suggested by the nature of the coun-
try. For round Pompey's camps there were several high and
rough hills. These he first of all occupied with guards, and
raised strong forts on them. Then drawing a fortification
from one fort to another, as the nature of each position al-
lowed, he began to draw a line of circumvallation round Pom-
pey, with these views ; as he had but a small quantity of corn,
and Pompey was strong in cavalry, that he might furnish his
army with corn and other necessaries from all sides with
less danger ; secondly, to prevent Pompey from foraging, and
thereby render his horse ineffectual in the operations of the
war ; and thirdly, to lessen his reputation, on which he saw ho
depended greatly, among foreign nations, when a report should
have spread throughout the world that he was blockaded by
Ca?sar, and dare not hazard a battle.

CHAP. XLIV. Neither was Pompey willing to leave the
sea and Dyrrachium, because he had lodged his material there,
his weapons, arms, and engines ; and supplied his army with
corn from it by his ships; nor was he able to put a stop
to Caesar's works without hazarding a battle, which at that
time he had determined not to do. Nothing was left but to
adopt the last resource, namely, to possess himself of as many
hills as he could, and cover as great an extent of country
as possible with his troops, and divide Caesar's forces as much
as possible ; and so it happened : for having raised twenty-
four forts, and taken in a compass of fifteen miles, he got
forage in this space, and within this circuit there were several
fields lately sown, in which the cattle might feed in the mean
time. And as our men, who had completed their works by
drawing lines of communication from one fort to another, were
afraid that Pompey's men would sally out from some part, and
attack us in the rear ; so the enemy were making a continued
fortification in a circuit within ours to prevent us from breaking
in on any side, or surrounding them on the rear. But they
completed their works first ; both because they had a greater
number of men, and because they had a smaller compass to
inclose. "When Cresar attempted to gain any place, though
Pompey had nesolved not to oppose him with his whole force,
or to come to a general engagement, yet he detached to par-
ticular places slingers and archers, with which his army


abounded, and several of our men were wounded, and filled
with great dread of the arrows ; and almost all the soldiers
made coats or coverings for themselves of hair cloths, tar-
paulins, or raw hides to defend them against the weapons.

CHAP. XLV. In seizing the posts, each exerted his ut-
most power. Caesar, to confine Pompey within as narrow a
compass as possible ; Pompey, to occupy as many hills as ho
could in as large a circuit as possible, and several skirmishes
were fought in consequence of it. In one of these, when
Caesar's ninth legion had gained a certain post, and had begun
to fortify it, Pompey possessed himself of a hill near to and
opposite the same place, and endeavored to annoy the men
while at work ; and as the approach on one side was almost
level, he first surrounded it with archers and slingers, and
afterward by detaching a strong party of light infantry, and
using his engines, he stopped our works ; and it was no easy
matter for our men at once to defend themselves, and to pro-
ceed with their fortifications. When Caesar perceived that his
troops were wounded from all sides, he determined to retreat
and give up the post ; his retreat was down a precipice, on
which account they pushed on with more spirit, and would
not allow us to retire, because they imagined that we resigned
the place through fear. It is reported that Pompey said that
day in triumph to his friends about him, "That he would
consent to be accounted a general of no experience, if Caesar's
legions effected a retreat without considerable loss from that
ground into which they had rashly advanced."

CHAP. XLVI. Caesar, being uneasy about the retreat of his
soldiers, ordered hurdles to be carried to the further side of
the hill, and to be placed opposite to the enemy, and behind
them a trench of a moderate breadth to be sunk by his soldiers
under shelter of the hurdles; and the ground to be made
as difficult as possible. He himself disposed slingers in con-
venient places to cover our men in their retreat. These
things being completed, he ordered his legions to file off.
Pompey's men insultingly and boldly pursued and chased us,
leveling the hurdles that were thrown up in the front of our
works, in order to pass over the trench. Which as soon .as
Caesar perceived, being afraid that his men would appear not
to retreat, but to be repulsed, and that greater loss might
be sustained, when his men were almost half way down the


hill, he encouraged them by Antonius, who commanded that
legion, ordered the signal of battle to be sounded, and a
charge to be made on the enemy. The soldiers of the ninth
legion suddenly closing their files, threw their javelins, and
advancing impetuously from the low ground up the steep,
drove Pompey's men precipitately before them, and obliged
them to turn their backs ; but their retreat was greatly im-
peded by the hurdles that lay in a long line before them, and
the palisadoes which were in their way, and the trenches
that were sunk. But our men being contented to retreat with-
out injury, having killed several of the enemy, and lost but
five of their own, very quietly retired, and having seized some
other hills somewhat on this side of that place, completed their

CHAP. XLVIL This method of conducting a war was new
and unusual, as well on account of the number of forts, the
extent and greatness of the Avorks, and the manner of attack
and defense, as on account of other circumstances. For all
who have attempted to besiege any person, have attacked the
enemy when they were frightened or Aveak, or after a defeat ;
or have been kept in fear of some rutack, when they themselves
have had a superior force both of foot and horse. Besides,
the usual design of a siege is to cut off the enemy's supplies.
On the contrary, Caesar, Avith an inferior force, AVUS inclosing
troops sound and unhurt, and who had abundance of all things.
For there arrived every day a prodigious number of ships,
Avhich brought them provisions : nor could the \vind blow from
any point, that would not be favorable to some of them.
Whereas, Caesar, having consumed all the corn far and near,
was in very great distress, but his soldiers bore all Avith uncom-
mon patience. For they remembered that they lay under the
same difficulties last year 1 in Spain, and yet by labor and
patience had concluded a dangerous Avar. They recollected too
that they had suffered an alarming scarcity at Alesia, and a
much greater at Avaricum, and yet had returned victorious over
mighty nations. They refused neither barley nor pulse Avhen
offered them, and they held in great esteem cattle, of which
they got great quantities from Epirus.

CHAP. XL VIII. There was a sort of root, called chara,

1 When encamped near Tlerda.


discovered by the troops which served under Valerius. This
they mixed up with milk, and it greatly contributed to relieve
their want. They made it into a sort of bread. They had
great plenty of it ; loaves made of this, when Pompey's men
upbraided ours with want, they frequently threw among them
to damp their hopes.

CHAP. XLIX. The corn was now beginning to ripen, and
their hope supported their want, as they were confident of
having abundance in a short time. And there were frequently
heard declarations of the soldiers on guard, in discourse with
each other, that they would rather live on the bark of the
trees, than let Pompey escape from their hands. For they
were often told by deserters, that they could scarcely maintain
their horses, and that their other cattle was dead : that they
themselves were not in good health from their confinement
within so narrow a compass, from the noisome smell, the
number of carcasses, and the constant fatigue to them, being
men unaccustomed to work, and laboring under a great want
of water. For Caesar had either turned the course of all the
rivers and streams which ran to the sea, or had dammed them
up with strong works. And as the country was mountainous,
and the valleys narrow at the bottom, he inclosed them with
piles sunk in the ground, and heaped up mold against them
to keep in the water. They were therefore obliged to search for
low and marshy grounds, and to sink wells, and they had this
labor in addition to their daily works. And even these springs
were at a considerable distance from some of their posts, and
soon dried up with the heat. But Caesar's army enjoyed per-
fect health and abundance of water, and had plenty of all
sorts of provisions except corn ; and they had a prospect of
better times approaching, and saw greater hopes laid before
them by the ripening of the grain.

CHAP. L. In this new kind of war, new methods of man-
aging it were invented by both generals. Pompey's men, per-
ceiving by our fires at night, at what part of the works our
cohorts were on guard, coming silently upon them discharged
their arrows at random among the whole multitude, and
instantly retired to their camp ; as a remedy against which our
men were taught by experience to light their fires in one
place, and keep guard in another. 1

1 The last two words, "alio excubarent," are wanting in all the manu-


CHAP. LI. In the mean time, Puhlius Sjlla, whom Caesar
at his departure had left governor of his camp, came up with
two legions to assist the cohort ; upon whose arrival Pompey's
forces were easily repulsed. Nor did they stand the sight and
charge of our men, and the foremost falling, the rest turned
their backs and quitted the field. But Sylla called our men
in from the pursuit, lest their ardor should carry them too
far, but most people imagine that if he had consented to a
vigorous pursuit, the war might have been ended that day.
Ilis conduct however does not appear to deserve censure ;
for the duties of a lieutenant-general, and of a commander-in-
chief, are very different ; the one is bound to act entirely
according to his instructions, the other to regulate his conduct
without control, as occasion requires. Sylla, being deputed by
Caesar to take care of the camp, and having rescued his men,
was satisfied with that, and did not desire to hazard a battle
(although this circumstance might probably have had a suc-
cessful issue), that he might not be thought to have assumed
the part of the general. One circumstance laid the Pompeians
under great difficulty in making good a retreat : for they had
advanced from disadvantageous ground, and were posted on the
top of a hill. If they attempted to retire down the steep, they
dreaded the pursuit of our men from the rising ground, and
there was but a short time till sunset : for in hopes of com-
pleting the business, they had protracted the battle almost till
night. Taking therefore measures suited to their exigency, and
to the shortness of the time, Pompey possessed himself of an
eminence, at such a distance from our fort that no weapon dis-
charged from an engine could reach him. Here he took
up a position, and fortified it, and kept all his forces there.

CHAP. LIL At the same time, there were engagements in
two other places ; for Pompey had attacked several forts at
once, in order to divide our forces ; that no relief might bo
sent from the neighboring posts. In one place, Volcatius
Tullus sustained the charge of a legion with three cohorts, and
beat them on the field. In another, the Gennans, having

* ' O

scripts, and appeared to have been added by Aldus. There can be no
doubt that some of tho original is hero lost, as the cause of the unaccount-
able absence of Caesar and the commencement of the sally made by
Pompey's soldiers, are not recorded.


sallied over our fortifications, slew several of the enemy, and
retreated safe to our camp.

CHAP. LIIL Thus six engagements having happened in
one day, three at Dyrrachium, and three at the fortifications,
when a computation was made of the number of slain, we found
that about two thousand fell on Pompey's side, several of them
volunteer veterans and centurions. Among them was Valerius,
the son of Lucius Flaccus, who as praetor had formerly had the
government of Asia, and six military standards were taken.
Of our men, not more than twenty were missing in all the
action. But in the fort, not a single soldier escaped without a
wound ; and in one cohort, four centurions lost their eyes. And
being desirous to produce testimony of the fatigue they under-
went, and the danger they sustained, they counted to Caesar
about thirty thousand arrows which had been thrown into the
fort; and in the shield of the centurion Scaeva, which was
brought to him, were found two hundred and thirty holes. In
reward for this man's services, both to himself and the public,
Caesar presented to him two hundred thousand pieces of copper
money, 1 and declared him promoted from the eighth to the first
centurion. For it appeared that the fort had been in a great
measure saved by his exertions ; and he afterward very amply
rewarded the cohorts with double pay, corn, clothing, and other
military honors.

CHAP. LIV. Pompey, having made great additions to his
works in the night, the following days built turrets, and having
carried his works fifteen feet high, faced that part of his camp
with mantelets ; and after an interval of five days, taking ad-
vantage of a second cloudy night, he barricaded all the gates
of his camp to hinder a pursuit, and about midnight, quietly
marched oft his army, and retreated to his old fortifications.

CHAP. LV. ^tolia, Acarnania, and Amphilochis, being re-
duced, as we have related, by Cassius Longinus, and Calvisius
Sabinus, Caesar thought he ought to attempt the conquest of
Achaia, and to advance further into the country. Accordingly,
he detached Fufius thither, and ordered Quintus Sabinus and
Cassius to join him with their cohorts. Upon notice of their
approach, Rutilius Lupus, who commanded in Achaia, under
Pompey, began to fortify the Isthmus, to prevent Fufius from

About 729 85. 4d


coming into Achaia. Kalenus recovered Delphi, Thebes, and
Orchomenus, by a voluntary submission of those states. Some
lie subdued by force, the rest he endeavored to \vin over to
Caesar's interest, by sending deputies round to them. In these
things, principally, Fusius was employed.

CHAP. LVI. Every day afterward, Caesar drew up his
army on a level ground, and offered Pompey battle, and led
his legions almost close to Pompey's camp ; and his front line
was at no greater distance from the rampart than that no
weapon from their engines could reach it. But Pompey, to
save his credit and reputation with the world, drew out his
legions, but so close to his camp, that his rear line might touch
the rampart, and that his whole army, when drawn up, might
be protected by the darts discharged from it.

CHAP. LVIL While these things were going forward in
Achaia and at Dyrrachium, and when it was certainly known
that Scipio was arrived in Macedonia, Caesar, never losing sight
of his first intention, sends Clodius to him, an intimate friend
to both, whom Caesar, on the introduction and recommendation
of Pompey, had admitted into the number of his acquaintance.
To this man he gave letters and instructions to Pompey, the
substance of which was as follows : " That he had made every
effort toward peace, and imputed the ill success of those efforts
to the fault of those whom he had employed to conduct those
negotiations ; because they were afraid to carry his proposals
to Pompey at an improper time. That Scipio had such autho-
rity, that he could not only freely explain what conduct met
his approbation, but even in some degree enforce his advice,
and govern him [Pompey] if he persisted in error ; that he com-
manded an army independent of Pompey, so that besides his
authority, he had strength to compel ; and if he did so, all
men would be indebted to him for the quiet of Italy, the peace
of the provinces, and the preservation of the empire." These
proposals Clodius made to him, and for some days at the first
appeared to have met with a favorable reception, but afterward
was not admitted to an audience ; for Scipio being reprimanded
by Favonius, as we found afterward when the war was ended,
and the negotiation having miscarried, Clodius returned to

CHAP. LVin. Caesar, that he might the more easily keep
Pompey's horse inclosed within Dyrrachium, and prevent them


from foraging, fortified the two narrow passes already men-
tioned with strong works, and erected forts at them. Pompey
perceiving that he derived no advantage from his cavalry, after
a few days had them conveyed hack to his camp by sea. Fodder
was so exceedingly scarce that he was obliged to feed his horses
upon leaves stripped off the trees, or the tender roots of reeds
pounded. For the corn which had been sown within the lines
was already consumed, and they would be obliged to supply
themselves with fodder from Corcyra and Acarnania, over a
long tract of sea ; and as the quantity of that fell short, to
increase it by mixing barley with it, and by these methods
support their cavalry. But when not only the barley and
fodder in these parts were consumed, and the herbs cut away,
when the leaves too were not to be found on the trees, the horses
being almost starved, Pompey thought he ought to make some
attempt by a sally.

CHAP. LIX. In the number of Caesar's cavalry were two
Allobrogians, brothers, named Roscillus and ^Egus, the sons
of Abducillus, who for several years possessed the chief power
in his own state ; men of singular valor, whose gallant services

Online LibraryJulius CaesarCæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: → online text (page 35 of 59)