Julius Caesar.

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

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prehensions of the issue of the day, as they indulged themselves
in unnecessary pleasures, and yet upbraided with luxury Caesar's
army, distressed and suffering troops, who had always been in
want of common necessaries. Pompey, as soon as our men
had forced the trenches, mounting his horse, and stripping off
his general's habit, went hastily out of the back gate of the
camp, and galloped with all speed to Larissa. Nor did he stop
there, but with the same dispatch, collecting a few of his flying
troops, and halting neither day nor night, he arrived at the sea-
side, attended by only thirty horse, and went on board a vict-
ualing barque, often complaining, as we have been told, that he
had been so deceived in his expectation, that he was almost
persuaded that he had been betrayed by those from whom he
had expected victory, as they began the fight.

CHAP. XC VII. Caesar having possessed himself of Pompey's
camp, urged his soldiers not to be too intent on plunder, and
lose the opportunity of completing their conquest. Having
obtained their consent, he began to draw lines round the mount-
ain. The Pompeians distrusting the position, as there was no
water on the mountain, abandoned it, and all began to retreat
toward Larissa; which Caesar perceiving, divided his troops,
and ordering part of his legions to remain in Pompey's camp,
sent back a part to his own camp, and taking four legions with




him, went by a shorter road to intercept the enemy : and
having marched six miles, drew up his army. But the Pom-
peians observing this, took post on a mountain, whose foot was
washed by a river. Caesar having encouraged his troops, though
they were greatly exhausted by incessant labor the whole day,
and night was now approaching, by throwing up works cut off
the communication between the river and the mountain, that
the enemy might not get water in the night. As soon as the
work was finished, they sent embassadors to treat about a
capitulation. A few senators who had espoused that party,
made their escape by night.

CHAP. XCVIII. At break of day, Caesar ordered all those
who had taken post on the mountain, to come down from the
higher grounds into the plain, and pile their arms: When
they did this without refusal, and with outstretched arms,
prostrating themselves on the ground, with tears, implored his
mercy : he comforted them and bade them rise, and having
spoken a few words of his own clemency to alleviate their fears,
he pardoned them all, and gave orders to his soldiers, that no
injury should be done to them, and nothing taken from them.
Having used this diligence, he ordered the legions in his camp
to come and meet him, and those which were with him to take
their turn of rest, and go back to the camp : and the same day
went to Larissa.

CHAP. XCIX. In that battle, no more than two hundred
privates were missing, but Caesar lost about thirty centurions,
valiant officers. Crastinus, also, of whom mention was made
before, fighting most courageously, lost his life by the wound
of a sword in the mouth ; nor was that false which he declared
when marching to battle : for Caesar entertained the highest
opinion of his behavior in that^ battle, and thought him
highly deserving of his approbation. Of Pompey's army,
there fell about fifteen thousand ; but upwards of twenty-four
thousand were made prisoners : for even the cohorts which
were stationed in the forts, surrendered to Sylla. Several
others took shelter in the neighboring states. One hundred
and eighty stands of colors, and nine eagles, were brought to
Caesar. Lucius Domitius, fleeing from the camp to the mount-
ains, his strength being exhausted by fatigue, was killed by the

CHAP. C. About this time, Decimus Laelius arrived with his


fleet at Brundusium and in the same manner, as Libo had done
before, possessed himself of an island opposite the harbor of
Brundusium. In like manner, Valinius, who was then governor
of Brundusium, with a few decked barks, endeavored to
entice Laalius's fleet, and took one five-banked galley and
two smaller vessels that had ventured further than the rest
into a narrow part of the harbor : and likewise disposing the
horse along the shore, strove to prevent the enemy from pro-
curing fresh water. But Laelius having chosen a more con-
venient season of the year for his expedition, supplied himself
with water brought in transports from Corcyra and Dyrrachium,
and was not deterred from his purpose ; and till he had received
advice of the battle in Thessaly, he could not be forced either
by the di^race of losing his ships, or by the want of neces-
saries, to quit the port and islands.

CHAP. CI. Much about the same time, Cassius arrived
in Sicily with a fleet of Syrians, Phoenicians, and Cicilians :
and as Caesar's fleet was divided into two parts, Publius
Sulpicius the praetor commanding one division at Vibo near
the straits, Pomponius the other at Messana, Cassius got into
Messana with his fleet, before Pomponius had notice of his
arrival, and having found him in disorder, without guards or
discipline, and the wind being high and favorable, he filled
several transports with fir, pitch, and tow, and other com-
bustibles, and sent them against Pomponius's fleet, and set fire
to all his ships, thirty-five in number, twenty of which were
armed with beaks : and this action struck such terror that
though there was a legion in garrison at Messana, the town
with difficulty held out, and had not the news of Caesar's victory
been brought at that instant by the horse stationed along the
coast, it was generally imagined that it would have been lost,
but the town was maintained till the news arrived very oppor-
tunely : and Cassius set sail from thence to attack Sulpicius's
fleet at Vibo, and our ships being moored to the land, to strike
the same terror, he acted in the same manner as before. The
wind being favorable, he sent into the port about forty ships
provided with combustibles, and the flame catching on both
sides, five ships were burned to ashes. And when the fire began
to spread wider by the violence of the wind, the soldiers of
the veteran legions, who had been left to guard the fleet, being
considered as invalids, could not endure the disgrace, but of


themselves went on board the ships and weighed anchor, and
having attacked Cassius's fleet, captured two five-banked
galleys, in one of which was Cassius himself; but he made his
escape by taking to a boat. Two three-banked galleys were
taken besides. Intelligence was shortly after received of the
action in Thessaly, so well authenticated, that the Pompeians
themselves gave credit to it ; for they had hitherto believed
it a fiction of Caesar's lieutenants and friends. Upon which
intelligence Cassius departed with his fleet from that coast.

CHAP. CII. Caesar thought he ought to postpone all busi-
ness and pursue Pompey, whithersoever he should retreat ; that
he might not be able to provide fresh forces, and renew the war ;
he therefore marched on every day, as far as his cavalry were
able to advance, and ordered one legion to follow him by shorter
journeys. A proclamation was issued by Pompey at Amphi-
polis, that all the young men of that province, Grecians and
Roman citizens, should take the military oath ; but whether he
issued it with an intention of preventing suspicion, and to
conceal as long as possible his design of fleeing further, or to
endeavor to keep possession of Macedonia by new levies, if
nobody pursued him, it is impossible to judge. He lay at
anchor one night, and calling together his friends in Amphi-
polis, and collecting a sum of money for his necessary
expenses, upon advice of Caesar's approach, set sail from
that place, and arrived in a few days at Mitylene. Here he
was detained two days, and having added a few galleys to his
fleet he went to Cilicia, and thence to Cyprus. There he is
informed that, by the consent of all the inhabitants of Antioch 1

1 Antiochia, or Antioch, now called Antakia, was founded by Seleucua
Nicanor, who named it after his father. It was not only the capital of
Syria, but of all Asia, and was once the third city in the world for beau-
ty, size, and population ; it was the royal seat of the Syrian kings, and
after the Roman conquest became the ordinary residence of the prefect,
or governor of the eastern provinces. It was here that the disciples of
Christ first received the name of Christiana, A.D. 39, having been before
commonly called Nazarenes and Galilseans ; it was the birth-place of St.
Luke, the evangelist, and was called in the middle ages, Theopolis ; it
was surnamed Antioch ad Orontem, from the river on which it stood, and
ad Daphnen, from the neighboring grove Daphne, Doueir. This grove,
which was of bay-trees, intermixed with cypress, was said, in the my-
thology of the Greeks, to be the scene of Daphne's metamorphosis, when
pursued by Apollo ; it was a delightful place, and was surrounded with
beautiful buildings, in the midst of which rose the famous temple of Apollo


and Roman citizens who traded there, the castle had been
seized to shut him out of the town ; and that messengers had
been dispatched to all those who were reported to have taken
refuge in the neighboring states, that they should not come
to Antioch ; that if they did, that it would be attended with
imminent danger to their lives. The same thing had hap-
pened to Lucius Lehtulus, who had been consul the year
before, and to Publius Lentulus a consular senator, and to
several others at Rhodes, 1 who having followed Pompey in his
flight, and arrived at the island, were not admitted into the
town or port ; and having received a message to leave that
neighborhood, set sail much against their will ; for the rumor
of Caesar's approach had now reached those states.

CHAP. GUI. Pompey, being informed of these proceedings,
laid asi4e his design of going to Syria, and having taken the public
money from the farmers of the revenue, and borrowed more from
some private friends, and having put on board his ships a large
quantity of brass for military purposes, and two thousand armed
men, whom he partly selected from the slaves of the tax farmers, .
and partly collected from the merchants, and such persons as
each of his friends thought fit on this occasion, he sailed for Pc-
lusium.' It happened that king Ptolemy, a minor, was there

and Diana. Pompey, who visited the grove, was so struck with its beauty,
that he gave it a piece of land for its enlargement, and many of the Ro-
man emperors are said to have indulged in its enjoyments, and here for a
time to have forgotten the cares of government ; it became, however, at
last devoted to voluptuousness and the most infamous dissipation ; hence
the proverb " Daphnici mores." Arrowsmith's Ancient Geography.

1 Off the southern coast of Caria lies Rhodus, Rhodes, the largest island
in the ^Egean Sea, after Crete and Eubcea, and containing 460 square
miles ; it anciently bore several other names, and is said to have derived
that of Rhodes, either from the beautiful nymph Rhode, a favorite of
Apollo or from the word f>66ov, rosa, owing to the profusion of roses
with which it abounded ; or, as others say, from f>66of, undarum strepitus,
from its shores being lashed by violent seas. It is presumed, however,
to have obtained its appellation from the Dodanim, otherwise called Rho-
danim, an opinion which seems to have been entertained by the seventy
interpreters, who render the Hebrew word by 'P66iot. Its capital was
Rhodus, Rhodes, near the northern point of the island, famous for its im-
mense brazen statue of the Sun, called the Colossus, and reckoned one of
the seven wonders of the world. Its three other principal cities were
Lindus, lalysus, and Camirus.

2 Pelusium, an ancient city of Egypt, situated at the eastern extremity
of the Delta. It was very strongly fortified, and was considered the key


with a considerable army, engaged in war with his sister Cleo-
patra, whom a few months before, by the assistance of his
relations and friends, he had expelled from the kingdom ; and
her camp lay at a small distance from his. To him Pompey
applied to be permitted to take refuge in Alexandria, 1 and to be
protected in his calamity by his powerful assistance, in consider-
ation of the friendship and amity which had subsisted between
his father and him. But Pompcy's deputies having executed
their commission, began to converse with less restraint with
the king's troops, and to advise them to act with friendship to
Pompey, and not to think meanly of his bad fortune. In
Ptolemy's army were several of Pompey's soldiers, of whom
Gabinius had received the command in Syria, and had brought
them over to Alexandria, and at the conclusion of the war had
left with Ptolemy the father of the young king. *

CHAP. CIV. The king's friends, who were regents of the
kingdom during the minority, being informed of these things,
either induced by fear, as they afterward declared, lest Pompey
should corrupt the king's army, and seize on Alexandria and
Egypt ; or despising his bad fortune, as in adversity friends
commonly change to enemies, in public gave a favorable

of Egypt, on its eastern frontier. It derived its name from the Greek
work 7n;Aof, clay, as it lay in the midst of marshes and morasses, formed
by the overflow of the Nile. "We find it frequently mentioned in the
Bible, under the name of Sin, which also- expresses its marshy situation.
Jt continued to preserve its importance in a military view, until the waters
of the Nile found then* way into the Damietta branch of that river.

1 Alexandria, still called Alexandria, or Iskenderieh, a city of lower
Egypt, situated on a narrow neck of land, washed on one side by the
Mediterranean, and on the other by the Lake Mareotis. It was founded
by Alexander the Great, 331 B.C., from whom it derived its name. The
breadth of the city did not exceed one third of a league, but its length
extended to one and a half. The principal street, 2000 feet broad, and
adorned with some of the most costly edifices and structures of marble,
which, perhaps, the world ever saw, was crossed in the middle by another
of the same breadth. Many of these ornaments were subsequently trans-
ferred to adorn Rome and Constantinople. Alexander's object in build-
ing this city, was to reap the profit of the whole trade between Asia and
Europe, which, from this city's natural advantages, he foresaw that it
could not fail to engross after the fall of Tyre. In consequence of a com-
munication with the Nile by a canal, and a junction of that river with
the Red Sea by another, it soon became the center of commerce for all
the merchandize passing between Europe and the East Indies. It was,
likewise, distinguished as a seat of learning, and possessed an extensive
library, yLich, at oae period, consisted of 700,000 volumes.

CHAP. on. THE CIVIL "WAR. 3*75

answer to his deputies, and desired him to come to the king ;
but secretly laid a plot against him, and dispatched Achillas,
captain of the king's guards, a man of singular boldness, and
Lucius Septimius a military tribune to assassinate him. Being
kindly addressed by them, and deluded by an acquaintance
with Septimius, because in the war with the pirates the latter
had commanded a company under him, he embarked in a small
boat with a few attendants, and was there murdered by Achillas
and Septimius. In like manner, Lucius Lentulus was seized
by the king's order, and put to death in prison.

CHAP. CV. When Caesar arrived in Asia, he found that
Titus Ampius had attempted to remove the money from the
temple of Diana at Ephesus ; and for this purpose had con-
vened all the senators in the province that he might have them
to attest the sum, but was interrupted by Caesar's arrival, and
had made his escape. Thus, on two occasions, Caesar saved
the money of Ephesus. It was also remarked at Elis, in the
temple of Minerva, upon calculating and enumerating the days,
that on the very day on which Caesar had gained his battle,
the image of Victory which was placed before Minerva, and
faced her statue, turned about toward the portal and entrance
of the temple ; and the same day, at Antioch in Syria, such a
shout of an army and sound of trumpets was twice heard that
the citizens ran in arms to the walls. The same thing hap-
pened at Ptolemais ; a sound of drums too was heard at Perga-
mus, in the private and retired parts of the temple, into which
none but the priests are allowed admission, and which the
Greeks call Adyta (the inaccessible), and likewise at Tralles, in
the temple of Victory, in which there stood a statue consecrated
to Caesar ; a palm-tree at that time was shown that had sprouted
up from the pavement, through the joints of the stones, and
shot up above the roof.

CHAP. CVI. After a few days' delay in Asia, Caesar, hav-
ing heard that Pompey had been seen in Cyprus, and
conjecturing that he had directed his course into Egypt, on
account of his connection with that kingdom, 1 set out for
Alexandria with two legions (one of which he ordered to
follow him from Thessaly, the other he called in from Achaia,
from Fufius, the lieutenant general), and with eight hundred

1 He had been appointed by the senate, guardian to the young king.


horse, ten ships of war from Rhodes, and a few from Asia.
These legions amounted but to three thousand two hundred
men ; the rest, disabled by wounds received in various battles,
by fatigue and the length of their march, could not follow
him. But Caesar, relying on the fame of his exploits, did not
hesitate to set forward with a feeble force, and thought that he
would be secure in any place. At Alexandria he was informed
of the death of Pompey : and at his landing there, heard a
cry among the soldiers whom the king had left to garrison the
town, and saw a crowd gathering toward him, because the
fasces were carried before him ; for this the whole multitude
thought an infringement of the king's dignity. Though this
tumult was appeased, frequent disturbances were raised for
several days successively, by crowds of the populace, and a
great many of his soldiers were killed in all parts of the city.

CHAP. CVII. Having observed this, he ordered other
legions to be brought to him from Asia, which he had made
up out of Pompey's soldiers ; for he was himself detained
against his will, by the etesian 1 winds, which are totally un-
favorable to persons on a voyage from Alexandria. In the
mean time, considering that the disputes of the princes
belonged to the jurisdiction of the Roman people, and of him
as consul, and that it was a duty more incumbent on h im, as
in his former consulate a league had been made with Ptolemy
the late king, under sanction both of a law and a decree of
the senate, he signified that it was his pleasure that king
Ptolemy, and his sister Cleopatra, should disband their
armies, and decide their disputes in his presence by justice,
rather than by the sword.

CHAP. CVm. A eunuch named Pothinus, the boy's tutor,
was regent of the kingdom on account of his youthfulness. 11
He at first began to complain among his friends, and to ex-
press his indignation, that the king should be summoned to
plead his cause : but afterward, having prevailed on some of
those whom he had made acquainted with his views to join him,
he secretly called the army away from Pelusium to Alexandria,
and appointed Achillas, already spoken of, commander-in-chief

1 The etesian or periodical winds so called from erof, a year. They
blow in different directions in different countries.

2 We learn from Appian that the young king was thirteen years old
at this time.


of the forces. Him he encouraged and animated by promises
both in his own and the king's name, and instructed him both
by letters and messages how he should act. By the will of
Ptolemy the father, the elder of his two sons and the more
advanced in years of his two daughters were declared his
heirs, and for th more effectual performance of his intention,
in the same will he conjured the Roman people by all the
gods, and by the league which he had entered into at Rome,
t<5 see his will executed. One of the copies of his will was
conveyed to Rome by his embassadors to be deposited in the
treasury, but the public troubles preventing it, it was lodged
with Pompey : another was left sealed up, and kept at Alex-

CHAP. CIX. While these things were debated before
Caesar, and he was very anxious to settle the royal disputes
as a common friend and arbitrator; news was brought on
a sudden that the king's army and all his cavalry, were on
their march to Alexandria. Caesar's forces were by no means
so strong that he could trust to them, if he had occasion to
hazard a battle without the town. His only resource was to
keep within the town in the most convenient places, and get
information of Achillas's designs. However he ordered his
soldiers to repair to their arms ; and advised the king to send
some of his friends, who had the greatest influence, as deputies
to Achillas, and to signify his royal pleasure. Dioscorides and
Serapion, the persons sent by him, who had both been em-
bassadors at Rome, and had been in great esteem with
Ptolemy the father, went to Achillas. But as soon as they
appeared in his presence, without hearing them, or learning
the occasion of their coming, he ordered them to be seized and
put to death. One of them, after receiving a wound, was
taken up and carried off by his attendants as dead : the other
was killed on the spot. Upon this, Caesar took care to secure
the king's person, both suppgsing that the king's name
would have a great influence with his subjects, and to give
the war the appearance of the scheme of a few desperate
men, rather than of having been begun by the king's con-

CHAP. CX. The forces under Achillas did not seem des-
picable, either for number, spirit, or military experience ; for
he had twenty thousand men under arms. They consisted


partly of Gabinius's soldiers, who were now become habituated
to the licentious mode of living at Alexandria, and had forgot-
ten the name and discipline of the Roman people, and had
married wives there, by whom the greatest part of them had
children. To these was added a collection of highwaymen,
and freebooters, from Syria, and the province of Cilicia, aud
the adjacent countries. Besides several convicts and trans-
ports had been collected : for at Alexandria all our runaway
slaves were sure of finding protection for their persons on the
condition that they should give in their names, and enlist as
soldiers : and if any of them was apprehended by his master,
he was rescued by a crowd of his fellow soldiers, who being
involved in the same guilt, repelled, at the hazard of their
lives, every violence offered to any of their body. These by a
prescriptive privilege of the Alexandrian army, used to demand
the king's favorites to be put to death, pillage the properties
of the rich to increase their pay, invest the king's palace,
banish some from the kingdom, and recall others from exile.
Besides these, there were two thousand horse, who had
acquired the skill of veterans by being in several wars in
Alexandria. These had restored Ptolemy the father to his
kingdom, had killed Bibulus's two sons ; and had been
engaged in war with the Egyptians ; such was their experience
iu military affairs.

CHAP. CXI. Full of confidence in his troops, and despising
the small number of Caesar's soldiers, Achillas seized Alexan-
dria, except that part of the town which Caesar occupied with
his troops. At first he attempted to force the palace ; but
Caesar had disposed his cohorts through the streets, and
repelled his attack. At the same time there was an action at
the port : where the contest was maintained with the greatest
obstinacy. 1 For the forces were divided, and the fight
maintained in several streets at once, and the enemy endeav-
ored to seize with a strong .party the ships of war ; of which
fifty had been sent to Pompey's assistance, but after the battle
in Thessaly, had returned home. They were all of either three
or five banks of oars, well equipped and appointed with every
necessary for a voyage. Besides these, there Avere twenty-two
vessels with decks, which were usually kept at Alexandria, to

Online LibraryJulius CaesarCæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: → online text (page 38 of 59)