Julius Caesar.

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

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many darts, and a great quantity of fire from the battlements,
proceeded afterward to an action of unexampled cruelty and
barbarity : for in the very sight of our troops they fell to
murdering the citizens, and tumbling them headlong from the
walls, as is usual among barbarians : no parallel to this is to b
found in the memory of man.

CHAP. XVI. When night came on, Pompey sent a mes-
senger unknown to us, to exhort the garrison to set fire to our
towers and mound, and make a sally at midnight. Accordingly,
having poured upon us a great quantity of darts and fire, and
destroyed a considerable part of the rampart, they opened the
gate which lay over against and within view of Pompey's camp,
and sallied out with all their forces, carrying with them fas-
cines to fill up the ditch ; hooks and fire to destroy and reduce
to ashes the barracks, which the soldiers had built mostly of
reeds to defend them from the winter; and some silver and
rich apparel to scatter among the tents, that while our men
should be employed in securing the plunder, they might fight
their way through and escape to Pompey ; who, in expectation
that they would be able to effect their design, had crossed the
Kio Salado with his army, where he continued all night in order
of battle, to favor their retreat. But though our men had no
apprehension of this design, their valor enabled them to
frustrate the attempt, and repulse the enemy with many
wounds. They even made themselves masters of the spoil,
their arms, and some prisoners, who were put to death next
day. At the same time, a deserter from the town informed us



that Junius, who was employed in the mine when the citizens
were massacred, exclaimed that it was a cruel and barbarous
action " that they had never deserved such treatment at their
h an( j s for that they had received them in their temples and
their homes that it was in violation of all hospitality." He
added many things besides, which made such an impression
upon the garrison that they desisted from the massacre.

CHAP. XVII. The next day, Tullius, a lieutenant-general,
accompanied by C. Antonius of Lusitania, came to Caesar,
and addressed him to this effect : " Would to Heaven I had
been one of your soldiers rather than a follower of C. Pompey,
and given those proofs of valor and constancy in obtaining vic-
tories for you, rather than in suffering for him. The only ad-
vantage we reap from following his banners are wretched
applauses ; being reduced to the condition of indigent citizens,
and by the melancholy fate of our country ranked among its
enemies ; we, who having never shared with Pompey his good
fortune, yet find ourselves involved in his disgrace ; and after
sustaining the attack of so many armed legions, employing our-
selves day and night in the works of defense, exposed to the darts
and swords of our fellow-citizens ; vanquished, deserted by
Pompey, and compelled to give way to the superior valor of
your troops, find ourselves at last obliged to have recourse to
your clemency, and implore that you will not show yourselves
less placable to fellow-citizens, than you have so often been to
foreign nations." l " I shall," said Caesar, " prove myself the
same to fellow-citizens, as I have been to conquered nations."

CHAP. XVIH. The embassadors being dismissed, when
Tiberius Tullius arrived at the gate of the town, and C. Antony
did not follow him, he returned to the gate and laid hold of
him, upon which drawing a poniard from his breast, he wounded
him in the hand, and in this condition they both fled to Caesar.
At the same time the standard-bearer of the first legion came
over to our camp, and reported that the day when the skirmish
happened between the horse, no less than thirty-five of his
company fell ; but it was not allowed to mention it in Pompey's
camp, or so much as own the loss of one man. A slave, whose
master was in Caesar's camp, and who had left his wife and
son in the city, cut his master's throat, and deceiving the
guards, escaped privately to Pompey's camp ; whence, bv means
1 Pontus, Egvpt, and Gallograecia.


of a bullet, on which he inscribed his intelligence, Caesar was
informed of the preparations made for the defense of the place.
When we had read the inscription, those who were employed to
throw the bullet returning to the city, two Lusitanian brothers
deserted, and informed us that Pompey in a speech made to
his soldiers, had said : " That as he found it impossible to
relieve the town, he was resolved to withdraw in the night
from the sight of the enemy, and retire toward the sea ;" to
which one answered " that it was better to hazard a battle
than take refuge in flight," but he who said so was instantly
put to death. At the same time some of his couriers were
intercepted, who were endeavoring to get into the town.
Caesar sent the letters to the inhabitants, and ordered one of
the messengers begging his life, to set fire to the townsmen's
wooden -turret, promising that if he did this he would grant
him all. The enterprise was not without difficulty : he under-
took it, however, but was slain in the attempt. The same
night a deserter informed us that Pompey and Labienus were
greatly offended at the massacre of the citizens.

CHAP. XIX. About nine at night, one of our wooden
towers, which had been severely battered by the enemy's
engines, gave way as far as the third story. A sharp encounter
ensued under the walls, and the besieged, assisted by a favor-
able wind, burned the remaining part of that tower and another.
Next morning a matron threw herself from the wall, and came
over to the camp, reporting, " that the rest of her family had
intended the same, but were apprehended and put to death ;"
likewise, a letter was thrown over, in which was written " L.
Minatius 1 to Caesar ; Pompey has abandoned me ; if you will
grant me my life, I promise to serve you with the same fidelity
and attachment I have hitherto manifested toward him." At
the same time deputies who had been sent before to Caesar
by the garrison, now waited on him a second time, offering to
deliver up the town next day, upon a bare grant of their lives :
to which he replied, " That he was Caesar, and would perform
his word." Thus, having made himself master of the place, on
the nineteenth of February he was saluted imperator.

CHAP. XX. Pompey, being informed by some deserters

1 Pompey had given him the command of the garrison of the city. Dion
Cassius and Valerius Maximus accuse him of all the cruelty that was
displayed at Ategua.


that the town had surrendered, removed his camp toward
Ucubis, where he began to build redoubts, and secure himself
with lines. Caesar also decamped and drew near him. At the
same time a Spanish legionary soldier deserting to our camp,
informed us that Pompey had assembled the people of Ucubis,
and given them instructions to inquire diligently who favored
his party, who that of the enemy. Some time after in the
town which was taken, the slave, who, as we have related
above, had murdered his master, was apprehended in a mine
and burned alive. About the same time eight Spanish cen-
turions came over to Caesar, and in a skirmish between our
cavalry and that of the enemy, we were repulsed, and some of
our light-armed foot wounded. The same night we took of the
enemy's spies, three slaves and one Spanish soldier. The
slaves were crucified, 1 and the soldier was beheaded.

CHAP. XXI. The day following, some of the enemy's
cavalry and light-armed infantry deserted to us ; and about
eleven of their horse falling upon a party of our men that were
sent to fetch water, killed some and took others prisoners;
among which last were eight troopers. On the next day
Pompey beheaded seventy-four persons supposed to be favor-
ers of Caesar's cause, ordering the rest who lay under the same
suspicion to be carried back to the town, of whom a hundred
and twenty escaped to Csesar.

CHAP. XXII. Some time after, the deputies from Bursavola
(whom Csesar had taken prisoners at Ategua, and sent along
with his own embassadors to their city, to inform them of the
massacre of the Ateguans, and what they had to apprehend
from Pompey, who suffered his soldiers to murder their hosts,
and commit all manner of crimes with impunity), arriving in
the town, none of our deputies, except such as were natives of
the place, durst enter the city, though they were all Roman
knights and senators. But after many messages backward and
forward, when the deputies were upon their return, the garrison
pursued and put them all to the sword, except two who escaped
to Caesar, and informed him of what had happened. Some time
after, the inhabitants of Bursavola, sending spies to Ategua to
know the truth of what had happened, and finding the report of
our deputies confirmed, were for stoning to death him who had
been the cause of the murder of the deputies, and were with

1 The usual method, among the Romans, of putting slaves to death,


difficulty restrained from laying violent hands upon him, which
in the end proved the occasion of their own destruction. For
having obtained leave of the inhabitants to go in person to
Caesar and justify himself, he privately drew together some
troops, and when he thought himself strong enough, returned
in the night, and was treacherously admitted into the town,
where he made a dreadful massacre of the inhabitants, slew all
the leaders of the opposite party, and reduced the place to
subjection. Soon after, some slaves who had deserted in-
formed us that he had sold all the goods of the citizens, and
that Pompey suffered none of his soldiers to quit the camp but
unarmed, because, since the taking of Ategua, many despairing
of success fled into Baeturia, having given over all expectation
of victory ; and that if any deserted from our camp, they were
put among the light-armed infantry, whose pay was only six-
teen asses a day.

CHAP. XXTTT. The day following Caesar removed his camp
nearer to Pompey's, and began to draw a line to the river
Salado. While our men were employed in the work, some of
the enemy fell upon us from the higher ground, and as we
were in no condition to make resistance, wounded great num-
bers. Here, as Ennius says, " our men retreated a little." This
occurrence, so contrary to our usual custom, being perceived,
two centurions of the fifth legion passed the river, and restored
the battle ; when, pressing upon the enemy with astonishing
bravery, one of them fell overwhelmed by the multitude of
darts discharged from above. The other continued the combat
for some time, but seeing himself in danger of being sur-
rounded, endeavored to make good his retreatj but stumbled
and fell. His death being known, the enemy crowded to-
gether in still greater numbers, upon which our cavalry passed
the river, and drove them back to their intrenchments ; so
that, while they too eagerly desired to slay them within their
lines, they were surrounded by the cavalry and light-armed
troops. Many of these would have been captured alive, had
not their valor been pre-eminent, for they were so confined
by the space included in the fortress, that the cavalry could
not well defend itself. Many of our men were wounded in these
two encounters, and among the rest Clodius Aquitius, but, as
the fight was carried on mostly from a distance, none of our men
fell, except the two centurions who sacrificed themselves in tho
cause of glory.


CHAP. XXTV. Next day both parties withdrawing from
Soricaria, we continued our works. But Pompey, observing
that our fort had cut off his communication with Aspavia, 1
which is about five miles distant from Ucubis, judged it neces-
sary to come to a battle. Yet he did not offer it upon equal
terms, but chose to draw up his men upon a hill, that he might
have the advantage of the higher ground. In this respect,
when both parties were seeking the superior position, our men
anticipating them, drove them into the plain, which gave us
the advantage. The enemy yielded on all hands, and we made
immense havoc among them. The mountain and not their
valor protected them ; of which advantage, and of all relief,
our men, though few in number, would have deprived them had
not night intervened. Three hundred and twenty-four light-
armed foot, and about a hundred and thirty-eight legionary
soldiers of their number fell, besides those whose armor and
spoils we carried off. Thus the death of the two centurions,
which happened the day before, was fully revenged.

CHAP. XXV. The day after, Pompey's cavalry advanced,
according to their usual custom, to our lines ; for they only
dared venture to draw up on equal ground. They there-
fore began to skirmish with our men who were at work, the
legionaries calling out to us at the same time to choose our
field of battle, with a view to make us believe that they desired
nothing so much as to come to blows ; upon this our men
quitted the eminence where they were encamped, and advanced
a great way into the plain. But none of the enemy had the
boldness to present themselves, excepting Antistius Turpio ;
who, presuming on his strength, and fancying no one on our
side a match for him, offered us defiance. Upon this, as is
recorded of Memnon and Achilles, Q. Pompeius Niger, a
Roman knight, born in Italy, advanced from our ranks to the
encounter. The fierce air of Antistius having engaged the
attention of all, the two armies drew up to be spectators of the
issue of this challenge, and expressed as much impatience as
if the whole fortune of the war had depended upon it. The
wishes on both sides for success were equal to the anxiety and
concern each felt for his own combatant. They advanced into
the plain with great courage, having each a resplendent buckler

1 Aspavia, a town of Spain, situated on the Rio Salado, near Corduba.
Some suppose it to be Apea, others Cestro el Rio.


of curious workmanship. And doubtless the combat would
have been soon decided, had not some light-armed foot drawn
up near the lines, to serve as a guard to the camp because of
the approach of the enemy's horse, which we have before
alluded to. * * * Our horse, in retreating to their camp, being
warmly pursued by the enemy, suddenly faced about with great
cries ; which so terrified the Pompeians, that they immediately
betook themselves to flight, and retreated to their camp with
the loss of many of their men.

CHAP. XXVI. Caesar, to reward the valor of the Cassian
troop, presented them with thirteen thousand sesterces, dis-
tributed ten thousand more among the light-armed foot, and
gave to the commander of the cavalry five golden collars. The
same day, A. Bebius, C. Flavius, and A. Trebellius, Roman
knights of Asta, 1 with their horses richly caparisoned and
adorned with silver, came over to Caesar, and informed him,
that all the rest of the Roman knights in Pompey's camp, had
like them conspired to come and join him, that, on the inform-
ation of a slave they had all been seized and cast into custody ;
that out of this number they only had escaped. The same day
letters were intercepted, sent by Pompey to Ursao, with the
usual greeting, and stating, "That hitherto he had all the
success against the enemy he could desire, and would have
ended the war much sooner than was expected, could he have
brought them to engage him upon equal terms ; that he did not
think it advisable to venture new-levied troops on a plain ; that
the enemy, depending on our supplies, as yet protract the war,
for they storm city after city, theiice supplying themselves with
provisions: that he would therefore endeavor to protect the
towns of his party, and bring the war to as speedy an issue as
possible : that he would send them a reinforcement of some
cohorts, and that having deprived them of provisions he would
necessitate the enemy to come to an engagement.

CHAP. XXVII. Some time after, as our men were care-
lessly dispersed about the works, a few horse were killed, who
had gone to a grove of olives to fetch wood. Several slaves
deserted at this time, and informed us that ever since the
action at Soritia on the 7th of March, the enemy had been
under continual alarms, and appointed Attius Varus to guard

1 Asta, which still retains its ancient name, was a town of Hispania
Baetica. A Roman colony w^s founded there.


the lines. The same day Pompey decamped, and posted him-
self in an olive-wood over against Hispalis. Caesar, before he
removed, waited till midnight, when the moon began to appear.
At his departure he ordered them to set fire to the fort of
Ucubis, which Pompey had abandoned, and to assemble in
the greater camp. He afterward laid siege to Ventisponte,
which surrendered ; and marching thence to Carruca, encamped
over against Pompey, who had burned the city, because the
garrison refused to open the gates to him. A soldier who had
murdered his brother in the camp, being intercepted by our
men, was scourged to death. Caesar, still pursuing his march,
arrived in the plains of Munda, and pitched his camp opposite
to that of Pompey.

CHAP. XXVIII. Next day as Caesar was preparing to set
out with the army, notice was sent him by his spies, that
Pompey had been in order of battle ever since midnight.
Upon this intelligence he ordered the standard to be raised.
Pompey had taken this resolution in consequence of his letter
to the inhabitants of Ursao, who were his firm adherents, in
which he told them that Caesar refused to come down into the
plain, because h: i army consisted mostly of new-levied troops.
This had greatly confirmed the city in its allegiance. Thus
relying on this opinion, he thought that he could effect the
whole, for he was defended by the nature of his situation, and
by the position for defense of the town, where he had his camp :
for, as we observed before, this country is full of hills which
run in a continued chain, without any plains intervening.

CHAP. XXIX. But we must by no means omit to mention
an accident which happened about this time. The two camps
were divided from one another by a plain about five miles in ex-
tent, so that Pompey, in consequence of the town's elevated
position, and the nature of the country, enjoyed a double
defense. Across this valley ran a rivulet, which rendered
the approach to the mountain extremely difficult, because
it formed a deep morass on the right. Caesar had no doubt
that the enemy would descend into the plain and come to
a battle, when he saw them in array. This appeared evi-
dent to all ; the rather because the plain would give their
cavalry full room to act, and the day was so serene and
clear that the gods seemed to have sent it on purpose to favor
the engagement. Our men rejoiced at the favorable op-


portunity: some however were not altogether exempt from
fear when they considered that their all was at stake, with the
uncertainty of what might be their fate an hour after. He ad-
vanced however to the field of battle, fully persuaded that the
enemy would do the same ; but they durst not venture above
a mile from the town, being determined to shelter themselves
under its walls. Our men still continued before them in order
of battle ; but although the equality of the ground sometimes
tempted them to come and dispute the victory, they neverthe-
less still kept their post on the mountain, in the neighborhood
of the town. We doubled our speed to reach the rivulet, with-
out their stirring from the place where they stood.

CHAP. XXX. Their army consisted of thirteen legions;
the cavalry was drawn up upon the wings, with six thousand
light-armed infantry and about the same number of auxiliaries.
We had only eighty heavy-armed cohorts, and eight thousand
horse. When we reached the extremity of the plain, the real
seat of disadvantage, the enemy were awaiting us above, so that
it would have been exceedingly dangerous to proceed. When
Caesar perceived this, he pointed out the locality, lest any disa-
greeable occurrence should result from the temerity of his troops.
The army murmured greatly, as if they had been kept back from
a certain victory, when this was told them. The delay, how-
ever, served to enliven the enemy, thinking that Caesar's troops
shrank from an encounter through fear : they therefore had
the boldness to advance a little way, yet without quitting the
advantage of their post, the approach to which was extremely
dangerous. The tenth legion, as usual, was on tlje right, the
third and fifth on the left, with the auxiliary troops and cavalry.
The battle began with a shout.

CHAP. XXXI. But though our men were superior to the
enemy in courage, the latter nevertheless defended themselves
so well by the advantage of the higher ground, and the shouts
were so loud, and the discharge of darts on both sides so great,
that we almost began to despair of victory. 1 For the first onset

1 Of Caesar's danger in this battle, Plutarch speaks in the following
manner : " The great battle which decided the war was fought under the
walls of Munda. Caesar at first saw his men so hard pressed, and making
so feeble a resistance, that he ran through the ranks, amid the swords
and spears, exclaiming, 'Are you not ashamed to deliver your general
into the handa of boys?' The great and vigorous effort this reproach
produced, at last made the enemy turn their backs, and there were more



and shout, by which an enemy is most apt to be dismayed, were
pretty equal in the present encounter. All fought with equal
valor ; the place was covered with arrows and darts, and great
numbers of the enemy fell. We have already observed that
the tenth legion was on the right, which, though not consid-
erable for the number of men, was nevertheless formidable
for its courage ; and so pressed the enemy on that side that
they were obliged to draw a legion from the right wing to
reinforce the left, lest we should come upon their flank ; but
they fought so bravely that the reinforcement could not find
an opportunity of entering the ranks. Upon this motion, our
cavalry on the left fell upon Pompey's right wing. Meanwhile
the clashing of armor mingled with the shouts of combatants,
and the groans of the dying and the wounded, terrified the
new-raised soldiers. On this occasion, as Ennius says, "they
fought hand to hand, foot to foot, and shield to shield ;" but
though the enemy fought with the utmost vigor, they were
obliged to give ground, and retire toward the town. The
battle was fought on the feast of Bacchus, and the Pompeians
were entirely routed and put to flight ; insomuch that not a
man could have escaped, had they not sheltered themselves in
the place whence they advanced to the charge. The enemy
lost on this occasion upward of thirty thousand men, and
among the rest Labienus and Attius Varus, whose funeral ob-
sequies were performed upon the field of battle. They had
likewis/a three thousand Roman knights killed, partly Italian,
partly provincial. About a thousand were slain on our side,
partly foot, partly horse; and five hundred wounded. We
gained thirteen eagles, and several standards, and emblems of
authority, and made seventeen officers prisoners. Such was
the issue of this action.

CHAP. XXXII. The remains of Pompey's army retreating
to Munda, with the intention of defending themselves in that
town, it became necessary to invest it. The dead bodies of
the enemy, heaped together, served as a rampart, and their
javelins and darts were fixed up by way of palisades. Upon

than thirty thousand of them slain, whereas Caesar lost only a thousand,
but those were some of the best men he had. As he retired after the
battle, he told his friends, ' he had often fought for victory, but that was
the first time he had fought for hia life.' "


these we hung their bucklers to supply the place of a breast-
work, and fixing the heads of the deceased upon swords and
lances, planted them all around the works, to strike the
greater terror into the besieged, and keep awake in them a
sense of our prowess. Amid these mournful objects did
they find themselves shut in, when our men began the attack,
which was conducted chiefly by the Gauls. Young Valerius,
who had escaped to Corduba with some horse, informed Sex-
tus Pompey of what had happened ; who, upon receipt of the
mournful news, distributing what money he had about him to

Online LibraryJulius CaesarCæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: → online text (page 49 of 59)