Julius Caesar.

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

. (page 41 of 59)
Online LibraryJulius CaesarCæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: → online text (page 41 of 59)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


our men ; for they were exposed to a double shower of darts :
in front from the rampart, behind from the river ; where the
enemy had stationed a great number of ships, furnished with
archers and slingers, that kept up a continual discharge.

CHAP. XXXI. Caesar, observing that his troops fought
with the utmost ardor, and yet made no great progress, on
account of the disadvantage of the ground ; and perceiving they
had left the highest part of their camp unguarded, because, it
being sufficiently fortified by nature, they had all crowded to the
other attacks, partly to have a share in the action, partly to be
spectators of the issue ; he ordered some cohorts to wheel
round the camp, and gain that ascent : appointing Carfulenus 1
to command them, a man distinguished for bravery and
acquaintance with tha service. When they had reached the
place, as there were but very few to defend it, our men
attacked them so briskly that the Alexandrians, terrified by
the cries they heard behind them, and seeing themselves
attacked both in front and rear, fled in the utmost con-
sternation on all sides. Our men, animated by the confusion
of the enemy, entered the camp in several places at the same
time, and running down from the higher ground, put a great
number of them to the sword. The Alexandrians, endeavor-
ing to escape, threw themselves in crowds over the rampart in
the quarter next the river. The foremost tumbling into the
ditch, where they were crushed to death, furnished an easy

1 This Carfulenus, of whom Hirtius speaks so favorably, was subse-
quently killed in the battle of Mutina, while fighting against Mark An-
tony.



400 HIRTIUS'S COMMENTARIES. CHAP. xxxm.

passage for those that followed. It is ascertained that the king
escaped from the camp, and was received on board a ship ; but
by the crowd that followed him, the ship in which he fled was
overloaded and sunk.

CHAP. XXXII. After this speedy and successful action,
Caesar, in consequence of so great a victory, marched the nearest
way by land to Alexandria with his cavalry, and entered tri-
umphant into that part of the town which was possessed by the
enemy's guards. He was not mistaken in thinking that the
Alexandrians, upon hearing of the issue of the battle, would
give over all thoughts of war. Accordingly, as soon as he ar-
rived, he reaped the just fruit of his valor and magnanimity.
For all the multitude of the inhabitants, throwing down their
arms, abandoning their works, and assuming the habit of sup-
pliants, preceded by all those sacred symbols of religion with
which they were wont to mollify their offended kings, met
Caesar on his arrival and surrendered. Caesar, accepting their
submission, and encouraging them, advanced through the
enemy's works into his own quarter of the town, where he was
received with the universal congratulations of his party, who
were no less overjoyed at his arrival and presence, than at the
happy issue of the war.

CHAP. XXXIII. Caesar, having thus made himself master
of Alexandria and Egypt, lodged the government in the hands
of those to whom Ptolemy had bequeathed it by will, conjuring
the Roman people not to permit any change. For the eldest
of Ptolemy's two sons being dead, Caesar settled the kingdom
upon the youngest, in conjunction with Cleopatra, the elder
of the two sisters, who had always continued under his pro-
tection and guardianship. The younger, 1 Arsinoe, in whose name
Ganymed, as we have seeYi, tyrannically reigned for some time,
he thought proper to banish the kingdom, that she might not
raise any new disturbance, through the agency of seditious men,
before the king's authority should be firmly established. Taking

1 Caesar subsequently brought Arsinoo to Rome to grace his triumph,
but perceiving that the populace felt compassion for the youthful princess,
he did not imprison her or put her to death (the usual dark scene that
clouded the triumphs of the Roman generals), but restored her to freedom.
She was afterward slain by Cleopatra, who, being desirous of having tho
sovereignty of Cyprus, which she held in common with Arsinoe, prevail-
ed on Mark Antony to sacrifice her to her ambition.



CHAP, xxxiv. THE ALEXANDRIAN WAR. 401

the sixth veteran legion with him into Syria, he left the rest in
Egypt to support the authority of the king and queen, neither
of whom stood well in the affections of their subjects, on account
of their attachment to Caesar, nor could be supposed to have
given any fixed foundation to their power, in an administration
of only a few days' continuance. It was also for the honor
and interest of the republic that if they continued faithful our
forces should protect them ; but if ungrateful that they should
be restrained by the same power. Having thus settled the
kingdom, he marched by land into Syria.

CHAP. XXXTV. While these things passed in Egypt,
king Deiotarus 1 applied to Domitius Calvinus, to whom Caesar
had intrusted the government of Asia and the neighboring
provinces, beseeching him '^not to suffer the Lesser Armenia
which was his kingdom, or Cappadocia, which belonged to
Ariobarzanes," to be seized and laid waste by Pharnaces,
because, unless they were delivered from these insults, it-would
be impossible for them to execute Caesar's orders, or raise the
money they stood engaged to pay." Domitius, who was not
only sensible of the necessity of money to defray the expenses
of the war, but likewise thought it dishonorable to the people of
Rome and the victorious Caesar, as well as infamous to himself,
to suffer the dominions of allies and friends to be usurped by a
foreign prince, sent embassadors to Pharnaces, to acquaint
him, " That he must withdraw immediately from Armenia and
Cappadocia, and no longer insult the majesty and right of the
Roman people, while engaged in a civil war." But believing
that his deputation would have greater weight, if he was ready
to second it himself at the head of an army ; he repaired to the
legions which were then in Asia, ordering two of them into
Egypt, at Caesar's desire, and carrying the thirty-sixth along

1 Deiotarus had been made tetrarch of Galatia by the assistance of
Pompey, and in return for this favor, aided him with all his forces in war
against Caesar. After the battle of Pharsalia, he was pardoned by Caesar,
who, however, deprived him of the tetrarchy of Galatia, and bestowed it
on Mithridates Pergamenus. Deiotarus was subsequently accused of
having planned the assassination of Caesar, and defended by Cicero in a
brilliant oration which is still extant. When a very old man, he sent
auxiliaries to Brutus.

2 Ariobarzanes, king of Cappadocia, on the breaking out of the civil
war between Pompey and Caesar, espoused the party of the former. Caesar
appears to have pardoned him after inflicting a pecuniary fine upon him.



402 HIRTIUS'S COMMENTARIES. CHAP. XXXVL

with him. To the thirty-sixth legion Deiotarus added two
more, which lie had trained up for several years, according to
our discipline ; and a hundred horse. The like number of
horse were furnished by Ariobarzanes. At the same time,
he sent P. Sextius to C. Plaetorius the questor, for the legion
which had been lately levied in Pontus ; and Quinctius
Partisius into Cilicia, to draw thence a body of auxiliary troops.
All these forces speedily assembled at Comana, 1 by orders of
Domitius.

CHAP. XXXV. Meanwhile his embassadors bring back the
following answer from Pharnaces : " That he had quitted Cap-
padocia ; but kept possession of the Lesser Armenia, as his own,
by right of inheritance : that he was willing, however, to submit
every thing to the decision of CeSsar, to whose commands he
would pay immediate obedience." C. Domitius, sensible that
he had quitted Cappadocia, not voluntarily, but out of necessity ;
because he could more easily defend Armenia, which lay con-
tiguous to his own kingdom, than Cappadocia, which was more
remote : and because believing, at first, that Domitius had
brought all the three legions along with him, upon hearing
that two were gone to Caesar, he seemed more determined to
keep possession ; and insisted " upon his quitting Armenia like-
wise, as the same right existed in both cases ; nor was it just to
demand that the matter should be postponed till Caesar's
return, unless things were put in the condition in which they
were at first." Having returned this answer, he advanced
toward Armenia, with the forces above-mentioned, directing his
march along the hills ; for from Pontus, by way of Comana, runs
a woody ridge of hills, that extends as far as Lesser Armenia,
dividing it from Cappadocia. The advantages he had in view,
by such a march, were, that he would thereby effectually pre-
vent all surprises, and be plentifully supplied with provisions
from Cappadocia.

CHAP. XXXVI. Meantime Pharnaces sends several em-
bassies to Domitius to treat of peace, bearing royal gifts. All
these he firmly rejected, telling the deputies : " That nothing
was more sacred with him, than the majesty of the Roman
people, and recovering the rights of their allies." After long
and continued marches, he reached Nicopolis (which is a city

1 Comana, a very celebrated city of Pontus, supposed to be the modern
Tabachza.



CHAP. xxxviiL THE ALEXANDRIAN "WAR. 403

of Lesser Armenia, situated in a plain, having mountains, how-
ever, on its two sides, at a considerable distance), and encamped
about seven miles from the town. Between his camp and
Nicopolis, 1 lay a difficult and narrow pass, where Pharnaces
placed a chosen body of foot, and all his horse, in ambuscade.
He ordered a great number of cattle to be dispersed in the pass,
and the townsmen and peasants to show themselves, that if
Domitius entered the defile as a friend, he might have no sus-
picion of an ambuscade, when he saw the men and flocks dis-
persed, without apprehension, in the fields ; or if he should
come as an enemy, that the soldiers, quitting their ranks to
pillage, might be cut to pieces when dipersed.

CHAP. XXXVII. While this design was going forward,
he never ceased sending embassadors to Domitius, with proposals
of peace and amity, fancying, by this means, the more easy to
ensnare him. The expectation of peace kept Domitius in his
camp ; so that Pharnaces, having missed the opportunity, and
fearing the ambuscade might be discovered, drew off his troops.
Next day Domitius approached Nicopolis, and encamped near
the town. While our men were working at the trenches,
Pharnaces drew up his army in order of battle, forming his
front into one line, according to the custom of the country, and
securing his wings with a triple body of leserves. In the same
manner, the center was formed in single files, and two intervals
were left on the right and left. Domitius, ordering part of the
troops to continue under arms before the rampart, completed
the fortifications of his camp.

CHAP. XXXVIII. Next night, Pharnaces, having inter-
cepted the couriers who brought Domitius an account of the
posture of affairs at Alexandria, understood that Caesar was
in great danger, and requested Domitius to send him succors
speedily, and come himself to Alexandria by the way of Syria.
Pharnaces, upon this intelligence, imagined that protracting
the time would be equivalent to a victory, because Domitius,
he supposed, must very soon depart. He therefore dug two
ditches, four feet deep, at a moderate distance from each
other, on that side where lay the easiest access to the town,
and our forces might, most advantageously, attack him; re-



* We learn from Strabo, that this Nicopolis was built by Pompey.
Ptolemy places it in Lesser Armenia.



404 HIRTIUS'S COMMENTARIES. CHAP. XL.

solving not to advance beyond them. Between these, he con-
stantly drew up his army, placing all his cavalry upon the wings
without them, which greatly exceeded ours in number, and
would otherwise have been useless.

CHAP. XXXIX. Domitius, more concerned at Caesar's dan-
ger than his own, and believing he could not retire with safety,
should he now desire the conditions he had rejected, or march
away without any apparent cause, drew his forces out of the
camp, and ranged them in order of battle. He placed the
thirty-sixth legion on the right, that of Pontus on the left, and
those of Deiotarus in the main body ; drawing them up with a
very narrow front, and posting the rest of the cohorts to sustain
the wings. The armies being thus drawn up on each side, they
advanced to the battle.

CHAP. XL. The signal being given at the same time by
both parties, they engage. The conflict was sharp and various,
for the thirty-sixth legion falling upon the king's cavaly, that
was drawn up without the ditch, charged them so successfully,
that they drove them to the very walls of the town, passed the
ditch, and attacked their infantry in the rear. But on the other
side, the legion of Pontus having given way, the second line,
which advanced to sustain them, making a circuit round the
ditch, in order to attack the enemy in flank, was overwhelmed
and borne down by a shower of darts, in endeavoring to pass it.
The legions of Deiotarus made scarcely any resistance ; thus
the victorious forces of the king turned their right wing and
main body against the thirty-sixth legion, which yet made a
brave stand ; and though surrounded by the forces of the enemy,
formed themselves into a circle, with wonderful presence of
mind, and retired to the foot of a mountain, whither Pharnaces
did not think fit to pursue them, on account of the disadvantage
of the place. Thus the legion of Pontus being almost wholly
cut off, with great part of those of Deiotarus, the thirty-sixth
legion retreated to an eminence, with the loss of about two
hundred and fifty men. Several Roman knights, of illustrious
rank, fell in this battle. Domitius, after this defeat, rallied the
remains of his broken army, and retreated, by safe ways, through
Cappadocia, into Asia. 1



J Asia seems here to refer to that part of Asia Minor, under the dominion
of the Romans, which was subsequently called by them Asia Proconsularis.



CHAP. XLH. THE ALEXANDRIAN WAR. 405

CHAP. XLI. Pharnaces, elated with this success, as he
expected that Caesar's difficulties would terminate as he
[Pharnaces] wished, entered Pontus with all his forces. There,
acting as conqueror and a most cruel king, and promising
himself a happier destiny than his father, he stormed many
towns, and seized the effects of the Roman and Pontic
citizens, inflicted punishments, worse than death, upon such
as were distinguished hy their age or beauty, and having made
himself master of all Pontus, as -there was no one to oppose
his progress, boasted that he had recovered his father's
kingdom.

CHAP. XLII. About the same time, we received a con-
siderable check in Illyricum ; which province, had been
defended the preceding months, not only without insult, but
even with honor. For Caesar's quaestor, Q. Cornificius, had
been sent there as propraetor, the summer before, with two
legions ; and though it was of itself little able to support an
army, and at that time in particular was almost totally ruined
by the war in the vicinity, and the civil dissensions ; yet, by
his prudence, and vigilance, being very careful not to under-
take any rash expedition, he defended and kept possession of
it. For he made, himself master of several forts, built on
eminences, whose advantageous situation tempted the in-
habitants to make descents and inroads upon the country;
and gave the plunder of them to his soldiers (and although this
was but inconsiderable, yet as they were no strangers to 'the
distress and ill condition of the province, they did not cease
to be grateful; the rather as it was the fruit of their own
valor). And when, after the battle of Pharsalia, Octavius had
retreated to that coast with a large fleet; Cornificius, with
some vessels of the inhabitants of Jadua, 1 who had always
continued faithful to the commonwealth, made himself master
of the greatest part of his ships, which, joined to those of
his allies, rendered him capable of sustaining even a naval
engagement. And while Caesar, victorious, was pursuing
Pompey to the remotest parts of the earth ; when he
[Cornificius] heard that the enemy had, for the most part,
retired into Illyricum, on account of its neighborhood to
Macedonia, and were there collecting such as survived the

1 Jadua was a maritime city of Blvria, traces of the name are still
preserved in the modern Zara,



406 HIRTIUS'S COMMENTARIES. CHAP. XLIV.

defeat [at Pharsalia], he wrote to Gabinius, " To repair directly
thither, with the new raised legions, and join Cornificius, that
if any danger should assail the province, he might ward it off,
but if less forces sufficed, to march into Macedonia, which he
foresaw would never be free from commotions, so long as
Pompey lived."

CHAP. XLin. Gabinius, whether he imagined the pro-
vince better provided than it really was, or depended much
upon the auspicious fortune of Caesar, or confided in his own
valor and abilities, he having often terminated with success
difficult and dangerous wars, marched into Illyricum, in the
middle of winter, and the most difficult season of the year ;
where, not finding sufficient subsistence in the province,
which was partly exhausted, partly disaffected, and having no
supplies by sea, because the season of the year had put a stop
to navigation, he found himself compelled to carry on the
war, not according to his own inclination, but as necessity
allowed. As he was therefore obliged to lay siege to forts and
castles, in a very rude season, he received many checks, and
fell under such contempt with the barbarians, that while retir-
ing to Salona, a maritime city, inhabited by a set of brave and
faithful Romans, he was compelled to come, to an engagement
on his march ; and after the loss of two thousand soldiers,
thirty-eight centurions, and four tribunes, got to Salona with
the rest ; where his wants continually increasing, he died a few
days after. His misfortunes and sudden death gave Octavius
great hopes of reducing the province. But fortune, whose
influence is so great in matters of war, joined to the diligence
of Cornificius, and the valor of Vatinius, soon put an end to
his triumphs.

CHAP. XLIV. Vatinius, who was then at Brundusium,
having intelligence of what passed in Illyricum, by letters
from Cornificius, who pressed him to come to the assistance of
the province, and informed him, that Octavius had leagued
with the barbarians, and in several places attacked our garri-
sons, partly by sea with his fleet, partly by land with the
troops of the barbarians ; Vatinius, I say, upon notice of these
things, though extremely weakened by sickness, insomuch
that his strength of body no way answered his resolution and
greatness of mind ; yet, by his valor, surmounted all oppo-
sition, the force of his distemper, the rigor of the winter,



CHAP. XLVI. THE ALEXANDRIAN WAR 407

and the difficulties of a sudden preparation. For having
himself but a very few galleys, he wrote to Q. Kalenus, in
Achaia, to furnish him with a squadron of ships. But these
not coming with that dispatch which the danger our army was
in required, because Octavius pressed hard upon them, he
fastened beaks to all the barks and vessels that lay in the
port, whose number was considerable enough, though they
were not sufficiently large for an engagement. Joining these to
what galleys he had, and putting on board the veteran soldiers,
of whom he had a great number, belonging to all the legions,
who had been left sick at Brundusium, when the army went
over to Greece, he sailed for Illyricum ; where, having sub-
jected several maritime states that had declared for Octavius,
and neglecting such as continued obstinate in their revolt,
because he would suffer nothing to retard his design of meet-
ing the enemy, he came up with Octavius before Epidaurus ;
and obliging him to raise the siege, which he was carrying oq
with vigor, by sea and land, joined the garrison to his own
forces.

CHAP. XLV. Octavius, understanding that Vatinius's fleet
consisted mostly of small barks, and confiding in the strength
of his own, stopped at the Isle of Tauris. Vatinius followed
him thither, not imagining he would halt at that place, but
being determined to pursue him wherever he went. Vati-
nius, who had no suspicion of an enemy, and whose ships
were moreover dispersed by a tempest, perceived, as he ap-
proached the isle, a vessel filled with soldiers that advanced
toward him, in full sail. Upon this he gave orders for
furling the sails, lowering the sail-yards, and arming the
soldiers ; and hoisting a flag, as a signal for battle, intimated
to the ships that followed to do the same. Vatinius's men
prepared themselves in the best manner their sudden surprise
would allow, while Octavius advanced in good order, from
the port. The two fleets drew up Octavius had the advan-
tage in arrangement, and Vatinius in the bravery of his
troops.

CHAP. XLVL Vatinius, finding himself inferior to the
enemy, both in the number and largeness of his ships, resolved
to commit the affair to fortune, and therefore in his own quin-
quereme, attacked Octavius in his four-banked galley. This
he did with such violence, and the shock was so great, that the



408 HIRTIUS'S COMMENTAEIES. CHAP.

beak of Octavius's galley was broken. The battle raged with
great fury likewise in other places, but chiefly around the two
admirals ; for as the ships on each side advanced to sustain
those that fought, a close and furious conflict ensued in a very
narrow sea, where the nearer the vessels approached the more
had Vatinius's soldiers the advantage. For, with admirable
courage, they leaped into the enemy's ships, and forcing them
by this means to an equal combat, soon mastered them by
their superior valor. Octavius's galley was sunk, and many
others were taken or suffered the same fate ; the soldies were
partly slain in the ships, partly thrown overboard into the sea.
Octavius got into a boat, which sinking under the multitude
that crowded after him, he himself, though wounded, swam to
his brigantine ; where, being taken up, and night having put
an end to the battle, as the wind blew very strong, he spread
all his sails and fled. A few of his ships, that had the good
fortune to escape, followed him.

CHAP. XLVII. But Vatinius, after his success, sounded a
retreat, and entered victorious the port whence Octavius had
sailed to fight him, without the loss of a single vessel. He
took, in this battle, one quinquereme, two triremes, eight two-
banked galleys, and a great number of rowers. The next
day was employed in repairing his own fleet, and the ships he
had taken from the enemy : after which, he sailed for the
island of Issa, imagining Octavius had retired thither after his
defeat. In this island was a flourishing city, well affected to
Octavius, which however, surrendered to Vatinius, upon the
first summons. Here he understood that Octavius, attended
by a few small barks, had sailed, with a fair wind, for Greece,
whence he intended to pass on to Sicily, and afterward to
Africa. Vatinius, having in so short a space successfully ter-
minated the affair, restored the province, in a peaceable con-
dition, to Cornificius, and. driven the enemy's fleet out of those
seas, returned victorious to Brundusium, with his army and
fleet in good condition.

CHAP. XLVIII. But during the time that Caesar besieged
Pompey at Dyrrachium, triumphed at Old Pharsalia, 1 and



1 Strabo informs us that there were two cities of this name, the Old
nnd New. "We learn from the passage before us, that the battle which
cjave the empire of the world to Caesar was fought at Old Pharsalus.



CHAP. L. TEE ALEXANDRIAN WAR. 409

carried on the war, with so much danger, at Alexandria, Cas-
sius Longinus, 1 who had been left in Spain as propraetor of the
further province, either through his natural disposition, or out
of a hatred he had contracted to the province, on account of
a wound he had treacherously received there when quaestor,
drew upon himself the general dislike of the people. He dis-
cerned this temper among them, partly from a consciousness
that he deserved it, partly from the manifest indications they
gave of their discontent. To secure himself against their dis-
affection, he endeavored to gain the love of the soldiers ; and
having, for this purpose, assembled them together, promised
them a hundred sesterces each. Soon after, having made
himself master of Medobriga, a town in Lusitania, and of



Online LibraryJulius CaesarCæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: → online text (page 41 of 59)