Julius Caesar.

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

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Scipio's camp, waited for him in an open plain ; but seeing
that he still declined a battle, he retreated to his camp a little
before evening.

CHAP. LXXIV. Meantime embassadors arrived from the
town of Vacca, bordering upon Zeta, of which we have ob-
served Caesar had possessed himself. They requested and en-
treated that he would send them a garrison, promising to furnish
many of the necessaries of war. At the same time, by the will
of the gods, and their kindness to Caesar, a deserter informed him,
that Juba had, by a quick march, before Caesar's troops could
arrive, reached the town and surrounded it, and after taking
possession of it, massacred the inhabitants, and abandoned the
place itself to the plunder of his soldiers.

CHAP. LXXV. Caesar, having reviewed his army the twelfth
day before the calends of April, advanced next day, with
all his forces, five miles beyond his camp, and remained a
considerable time in order of battle, two miles from Scipio's.
"When he saw distinctly that the enemy, though frequently
and for a long time challenged to a battle, declined it, he led
back his troops. Next day he decamped, and directed his
march toward Sarsura, where Scipio had a garrison of Nu-
midians, and a magazine of corn. Labienus being informed
of this motion, began to harass his rear with the cavalry and
light-armed troops : and having made himself master of part of
the baggage, was encouraged to attack the legions themselves,
believing they would fall an easy prey, under the load and en-
cumbrance of a march. However, this circumstance had not
escaped Cassar's attention, for he had ordered three hundred
men out of each legion to hold themselves in readiness for
action. These being sent against Labienus, he was so terrified
at their approach, that he shamefully took to flight, great num-
bers of his men being killed or wounded. The legionaries re-
turned to their standards, and pursued their march. Labienus
continued to follow us at a distance along the summit of the
mountains on our right.


CHAP. LXXVI. Caesar, arriving before Sarsura, took it in
presence of the enemy, who durst not advance to its relief; and
put to the sword the garrison which had been left there by
Scipio, under the command of P. Cornelius, one of Scipio's
veterans, who, after a vigorous defense, was surrounded and
slain. Having given all the corn in the place to the army,
he marched next day to Tisdra, where Considius was, with a
strong garrison and his cohort of gladiators. Caesar, having
taken a view of the town, and being deterred from besieging
it by want of com, set out immediately, and after a march of
four miles, encamped near a river. He marched from it on
the fourth day, and then returned to his former camp at Agar.
Scipio did the same, and retreated to his old quarters.

CHAP. LXXVII. Meantime the inhabitants of Thabena,
a nation situated on the extreme confines of Juba's kingdom,
along the sea-cost, and who had been accustomed to live in
subjection to that monarch, having massacred the garrison left
there by the king, sent deputies to Caesar to inform him of
what they had done, and to beg he would take under his pro-
tection a city which deserved so well of the Roman people.
Caesar, approving their conduct, sent M. Crispus the tribune,
with a cohort, a party of archers, and a great number of en-
gines of war, to charge himself with the defense of Thabena.
At the same time the legionary soldiers, who, either on ac-
count of sickness or for other reasons, had not been able to
come over into Africa with the rest, to the number of four
thousand foot, four hundred horse, and a thousand archers and
slingers, reached Caesar by one embarkation. With these and
his former troops, he advanced into a plain eight miles distant
from his own camp, and four from that of Scipio, where he
awaited the enemy in order of battle.

CHAP. LXXVIII. There was a town below Scipio's camp,
of the name of Tegea, where he had a garrison of four hundred
horse. These he drew up on the right and left of the town ;
and bringing forth his legions, formed them in order of battle
upon a hill somewhat lower than his camp, and which was about
a thousand paces distant from it. After he had continued a
considerable time in one place, without offering to make any
attempt, Caesar sent some squadrons of horse, supported by his
light-armed infantry, archers, and slingers, to charge the
enemy's cavalry, who were on duty before the town. After


Caesar's troops advanced and came to the charge with their
horses at a gallop, Placidius began to extend his front, that he
might at once surround us and give us a warm reception. Upon
this Caesar detached three hundred legionaries to our assist-
ance, while at the same time Labienus was continually send-
ing fresh reinforcements, to replace those that were wounded
or fatigued. Our cavalry, who were only four hundred in
number, not being able to sustain the charge of four thousand,
and being besides greatly harassed by the light-armed Nu^
midians, began at last to give ground : which Caesar observing,
detached the other wing to their assistance : who, joining"
those that were like to be overpowered, fell in a body
upon the enemy, put them to flight, slew or wounded great
numbers, pursued them three miles quite to the mountains,
and then returned to their own men. Caesar continued in
order of battle till four in the afternoon, and then retreated
to his camp without the loss of a man. In this action
Placidius received a dangerous wound in the head, and had
many of his best ofiicers either killed or wounded.

CHAP. LXXIX. After he found that he could not by any
means induce the enemy to come down to the plain and
make trial of the legions, and that he could not encamp
nearer them for want of water, in consideration of which
alone, and not from any confidence in their numbers, the
Africans had dared to despise him ; he decamped the day
before the nones of April at midnight, marched sixteen miles
beyond Agar to Thapsus, where Virgilius commanded with
a strong garrison, and there fixed his camp, and began to
surround the town the very day on which he arrived, and
raised redoubts in proper places, as well for his own security,
as to prevent any succors from entering the town. In the
mean time, Scipio, on learning Caesar's designs, was reduced to
the necessity of fighting, to avoid the disgrace of abandon-
ing Virgilius and the Thapsitani, who had all along re-
mained firm to his party; and therefore, following Caesar
without delay, he posted himself in two camps eight miles
from Thapsus.

CHAP.LXXX. Now there were some salt-pits, between which
and the sea was a narrow pass of about fifteen hundred paces,
by which Scipio endeavored to penetrate and carry suc-
cors to the inhabitants of Thapsus. But Caesar anticipating


that this might happen, had the day before raised a very
strong fort at the entrance of it, in which he left a triple
garrison ; and encamping with the rest of his troops in the
form of a half moon, carried his works round the town. Scipio,
disappointed in his design, passed the day and night follow-
ing a little above the morass ; but early next morning ad-
vanced within a - small distance of the last mentioned camp
and fort, where he began to intrench himself about fifteen
hundred paces from the sea. Caesar being informed of this,
drew off his men from the works ; and leaving Asprenas the
proconsul, with two legions, at the camp, marched all the rest
of his forces with the utmost expedition to that place. He
left part of the fleet before Thapsus, and ordered the rest to
make as near the shore as possible toward the enemy's
rear, observing the signal he should give them, upon which
they were to raise a sudden shout, that the enemy, alarmed
and disturbed by the noise behind them, might be forced to
face about.

CHAP. LXXXI. When Caesar came to the place, he found
Scipio's army in order of battle before the intrenchments, the
elephants posted on the right and left wings, and part of the
soldiers busily employed in fortifying the camp. Upon sight of
this disposition, he drew up his army in three lines, placed the
tenth and second legions on the right wing, the eighth and ninth
on the left, five legions in the center, covered his flanks with
five cohorts, posted opposite the elephants, disposed the
archers and slingers in the two wings, and intermingled
the light-armed troops with his cavalry. He himself on foot
went from rank to rank, to rouse the courage of the veterans,
putting them in mind of their former victories, and animating
them by his kind expressions. He exhorted the new levies
who had never yet been in battle to emulate the bravery of the
veterans, and endeavor by a victory to attain the same degree
of fame, glory, and renown.

CHAP. LXXXII. As he ran from rank to rank, he ob-
served the enemy about the camp very uneasy, hurrying from
place to place, at one time retiring behind the rampart, another
coming out again in great tumult and confusion. As many
others in the army began to observe this, his lieutenants and
volunteers begged him to give the signal for battle, as the
immortal gods promised him a decisive victory. While he


hesitated and strove to repress their eagerness and desires, ex-
claiming that it was not his wish to commence the battle by a
sudden sally, at the same time keeping back his army, on a sud-
den a trumpeter in the right wing, without Caesar's leave, but
compelled by the soldiers, sounded a charge. Upon this all
the cohorts began to rush toward the enemy, in spite of the en-
deavors of the centurions, who strove to restrain them by force,
lest they should charge withal the general's order, but to
no purpose.

CHAP. LXXXIII. Caesar perceiving that the ardor of
his soldiers would admit of no restraint, giving " good fortune "
for the word, spurred on his horse, and charged the enemy's
front. On the right wing the archers and slingers poured
their eager javelins without intermission upon the elephants,
and by the noise of their slings and stones, so terrified these
animals, that turning upon their own men, they trod them
down in heaps, and rushed through the half-finished gates of
the camp. At the same time the Mauritanian horse, who
were in the same wing with the elephants, seeing themselves
deprived of their assistance, betook themselves to flight.
Whereupon the legions wheeling round the elephants, soon
possessed themselves of the enemy's intrenchments, and
some few that made great resistance being slain, the rest fled
with all expedition to the camp they had quitted the day

CHAP. LXXXIV. And here we must not omit to notice
the bravery of a veteran soldier of the fifth legion. For when
an elephant which had been wounded in the left wing, and,
roused to fury by the pain, ran against an xmarmed sutler,
threw him under his feet, and kneeling on him with his whole
weight, and brandishing his uplifted trunk, with hideous cries,
crushed him to death, the soldier could not refrain from
attacking the animal. The elephant, seeing him advance with
his javelin in his hand, quitted the dead body of the sutler,
and seizing him with his trunk, wheeled him round in the air.
But he, amid all the danger, preserving his presence of mind,
ceased not with his sword to strike at the elephant's trunk,
which enclasped him, and the animal, at last overcome with
the pain, quitted the soldier, and fled to the rest with hideous


CHAP. LXXXV. Meanwhile the garrison of Thapsus, either
designing to assist their friends, or abandoning the town to
seek safety by flight, sallied out by the gate next the sea, and
wading navel deep in the water, endeavored to reach the
' land. But the servants and attendants of the camp, attack-
ing them with darts and stones, obliged them to return to
the town. Scipio's forces meanwhile being beaten, and his
men fleeing on all sides, the legions instantly began the
pursuit, that they might have no time to rally. When they
arrived at the camp to which they fled, and where, having
repaired it, they hoped to defend themselves they began to
think of choosing a commander, 1 to whose, authority and
orders they might submit; but finding none on whom they
could rely, they threw down their arms, and fled to the
king's quarter. Finding this, on their arrival, occupied by
Caesar's forces, they retired to a hill, where, despairing of
safety, they cast down their arms, and saluted them in a
military manner. But this stood them in little stead, for
the veterans, transported with rage and anger, not only
could not be induced to spare the enemy, but even killed
or wounded several citizens of distinction in their own
army, whom they upbraided as authors of the war. Of this
number was Tullius Rufus the quaestor, whom a soldier
designedly ran through with a javehn ; and* Pompeius Rufus,
who was wounded with a sword in the arm, and would
doubtless have been slain, had he not speedily fled to Caesar
for protection. This made several Roman knights and
senators retire from the battle, lest the soldiers, who after so
signal a victory 3 assumed an unbounded license, should be
induced by the hopes of impunity to wreck their fury on them
likewise. In short all Scipio's soldiers, though they implored
the protection of Csesar, were in the very sight of that general,
and in spite of his entreaties to his men to spare them, without
exception put to the sword.

CHAP. LXXXVI. Caesar, having made himself master of
the enemy's three camps, killed ten thousand, and putting

1 For Afranius, Scipio, and the others had fled.

2 Plutarch relates that several writers assert that Caesar was not in
the action at all, being at the time attacked by a fit of epilepsy.



the rest to flight, retreated to his own quarters with the
loss of not more than fifty men and a few wounded. In his
way he appeared before the town of Thapsus, and ranged all
the elephants he had taken in the battle, amounting to sixty-
four, with their ornaments, trappings, and castles, in full view
of the place. This he did in hopes that possibly Virgilius
and those that were besieged with him might give over the
idea of resistance on learning the defeat of their friends. He
even called and invited him to submit, reminding him of his
clemency and mildness ; but no answer being given, he retired
from before the town. Next day, after returning thanks to
the gods, he assembled his army before Thapsus, praised his
soldiers in presence of the inhabitants, rewarded the victorious,
and from his tribunal extended his bounty to every one,
according to their merit and services. Setting out thence
immediately he left the proconsul C. Rebellius, with three
legions, to continue the siege, and sent On. Domitius with two
to invest Tisdra, where Considius commanded. Then ordering
M. Messala to go before with the cavalry, he began his march
to Utica. 1

CHAP. LXXXVII. Scipio's cavalry, who had escaped out
of the battle, taking the road to Utica, arrived at Parada ; but
being refused admittance by the inhabitants, who heard of
Caesar's victory, they forced the gates, lighted a great fire in
the middle of the forum, and threw all the inhabitants into it,
without distinction of age or sex, with their effects ; avenging
in this manner, by an unheard of cruelty, the affront they had
received. Thence they marched directly to Utica. M. Cato,
some time before, distrusting the inhabitants of that city, on
account of the privileges granted them by the Julian 2 law, had
disarmed and expelled the populace, obliging them to dwell
without the Warlike gate, in a small camp surrounded by a
slight intrenchment, around which he had planted guards,
while at the same time he put the senators under arrest.
The cavalry attacked their camp, knowing them to be favorers
of Caesar, and intending to wipe out by their destruction, the

1 Caesar was anxious to take Cato alive, and besides, several belonging
to Scipio's army had fled to Utica.

2 The object of the Julian law was the preservation of the freedom of
such of the provincials as had been free previously. It was termed by
Cicero, " lex justissima atque optima."


disgrace of their own defeat. But the people, animated by
Caesar's victory, repulsed them with >stones and clubs. They
therefore threw themselves into the town, killed many of
the inhabitants, and pillaged their houses. Cato, unable to
prevail with them to abstain from rapine and slaughter, and
undertake the defense of the town, as he was not ignorant of
what they aimed at, gave each a hundred sesterces to make
them quiet. Sylla Faustus did the same out of his own
money ; and marching with them from Utica, advanced into
the kingdom. 1

CHAP. LXXXVIII. A great many others that had escaped
out of the battle, fled to Utica. These Cato assembled, with
three hundred 2 more who had furnished Scipio with money for
carrying on the war, and exhorted them to set their slaves free,
and in conjunction with them defend the town. But finding
that though part assembled, the rest were terrified and deter-
mined to flee, he gave over the attempt, and furnished them
with ships to facilitate their escape. He himself, having settled
all his affairs with the utmost care, and commended his children
to L. Caesar his quaestor, without the least indication which might
give cause of suspicion, or any change in his countenance and
behavior, privately carried a sword into his chamber when he
retired to rest, and stabbed himself with it. When the wound
not proving mortal, he fell heavily to the ground, his physician
and friends suspecting what was going on, burst into the room
and began to stanch and bind up his wound, he himself most
resolutely tore it open, and met death with the greatest
determination. The Uticans, though they hated his party,
yet in consideration of his singular integrity, his behavior
so different from that of the other chiefs, and because he
had strengthened their town with wonderful fortifications, and
increased the towers, interred him honorably. L. Caesar, that
he might procure some advantage by his death, assembled
the people, and after haranguing them, exhorted them to open
their gates, and throw themselves upon Caesar's clemency, from
which they had the greatest reason to hope the best. This

1 The kingdom is here put for the kingdom of Juba, as in the ninety-
second and ninety -third chapters.

2 These were Roman citizens who were employed as merchants in
Africa, whom Cato had formed a senate of.


advice being followed, he came forth to meet Caesar. Messala
having reached Utica, according to his orders, placed guards at
the gates.

CHAP. LXXXIX. Meanwhile Caesar, leaving Thapsus,
came to Usceta, where Scipio had laid up a great store of corn,
arms, darts, and other warlike provisions, under a small guard.
He soon made himself master of the place, and marched di-
rectly to Adrumetum, which he entered without opposition.
He took an account of the arms, provisions, and money in the
town ; pardoned Q. Ligarius, and C. Considius ; and leaving
Livineius Regulus there with one legion, set out the same day
for Utica. L. Caesar, meeting him by the way, threw himself
at his feet, and only begged for his life. Caesar, according to
his wonted clemency, easily pardoned him, as he did likewise
Coecina, C. Ateius, P. Atrius, L. Cella, father and son, M.
Eppius, M. Aquinius, Cato's son, and the children of Damasip-
pus. He arrived at Utica in the evening by torch-light, and
continued all that night without the town.

CHAP. XC. Early on the morning of the following day he
entered the place, summoned an assembly of the people, and
thanked them for the affection they had shown to his cause.
At the same time he censured severely, and enlarged upon the
crime of the Roman citizens and merchants, and the rest of the
three hundred, who had furnished Scipio and Varus with money ;
but concluded with telling them, that they might show them-
selves without fear, as he was resolved to grant them their
lives, and content himself with exposing their effects to sale;
but that he would give them notice when their goods were
to be sold, and the liberty of redeeming them upon payment
of a certain fine. The merchants, half dead with fear, and
conscious that they merited death, hearing upon what terms
life was offered them, greedily accepted the condition, and
entreated Caesar that he would impose a certain sum in gross
upon all the three hundred. Accordingly, he amerced them in
two hundred thousand sesterces, to be paid to the republic, at
six equal payments, within the space of three years. They all
accepted the condition, and considering that day as a second
nativity, joyfully returned thanks to Caesar.

CHAP. XCI. Meanwhile, king Juba, who had escaped from
the battle with Petreius, hiding himself all day in the villages,
and traveling only by night, arrived at last in Numidia.


When he came to Zama, his ordinary place of residence, where
were his wives and children, with all his treasures, and what-
ever he held most valuable, and which he had strongly fortified
at the beginning of the war ; the inhabitants, having heard
of Caesar's victory, refused him admission, because, upon de-
claring war against the Romans, he had raised a mighty pile of
wood in the middle of the forum, designing, if unsuccessful, to
massacre all the citizens, fling their bodies and effects upon
the pile, then setting fire to the mass, and throwing himself
upon it, destroy all without exception, wives, children, citizens,
and treasures, in one general conflagration. After continu-
ing a considerable time before the gates, finding that neither
threats nor entreaties would avail, he at last desired them
to deliver up his wives and children, that he might carry
them along with him. But receiving no answer, and seeing
them determined to grant him nothing, he quitted the place,
and retired to one of his country-seats with Petreius and a few

CHAP. XCII. Meantime the Zamians sent embassadors to
Caesar at Utica, to inform him of what they had done, and to
request " that he should send them aid before the king could
collect an army and besiege them ; that they were determined
to defend the town for him as long as life remained." Caesar
commended the embassadors, and sent them back to acquaint
their fellow-citizens that he was coming himself to their relief.
Accordingly, setting out the next day from Utica with his
cavalry, he directed his march toward the kingdom. Many of
the king's generals met him on the way, and sued for pardon ;
to all of whom a favorable hearing was given, and they attended
him to Zama. The report of his clemency and mildness spread-
ing into all parts, the whole Numidian cavalry flocked to him
at Zama, and were there relieved from their fears.

CHAP. XCm. During these transactions, Considius, who
commanded at Tisdra, with his own retinue, a garrison of
Gtetulians, and a company of gladiators, hearing of the defeat
of his party, and terrified at the arrival of Domitius and his
legions, abandoned the town ; and privately withdrawing, with
a few of the barbarians, and all his money, fled hastily
toward the kingdom. The Getulians, to render themselves
masters of his treasure, murdered him by the way, and fled
every man where he could. Meantime, C. Virgilius, seeing


himself shut up by sea and land, without the power of making
a defense ; his followers all slain or put to flight ; M. Cato
dead by his own hands at Utica ; Juba despised and deserted
by his own subjects ; Sabura and his forces defeated by Sitius ;
Caesar received without opposition at Utica ; and that of so
vast an army, nothing remained capable of screening him or
his children ; thought *it his most prudent course, to surrender
himself and the city to the proconsul Caninius, by whom he was

CHAP. XCIV. At the same time king Juba, seeing him-
self excluded from all the cities of his kingdom, and that there
remained no hopes of safety ; having supped with Petreius,
proposed an engagement, sword in hand, that they might die
honorably. Juba, as being the stronger, easily got the better
of his adversary, and laid him dead at his feet : but endeavor-

Online LibraryJulius CaesarCæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: → online text (page 47 of 59)