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through another; and Rome herself, as if she were deluged by torrents,
owing to the crowding of the people from the neighbouring towns and
their removal, could neither easily be pacified by magistrate nor kept
in order by words, and in the midst of the mighty swell and the
tossing of the tempest, narrowly escaped being overturned by her own
agitation. For contending emotions and violent movements occupied
every place. Neither did those who rejoiced keep quiet, but in many
places, as one might expect in a large city, coming into collision
with those who were alarmed and sorrowing, and being full of
confidence as to the future, they fell to wrangling with them; and
people from various quarters assailed Pompeius, who was terror-struck
and had to endure the censure of one party for strengthening Cæsar
against himself and the supremacy of Rome, while others charged him
with inciting Lentulus to insult Cæsar who was ready to give way and
was proposing fair terms of accommodation. Favonius bade him stamp on
the ground with his foot; for Pompeius on one occasion in an arrogant
address to the Senate, told them not to be concerned or trouble
themselves about preparations for war; when Cæsar advanced, he would
stamp upon the earth with his foot and fill Italy with armies.
However, even then Pompeius had the advantage over Cæsar in amount of
forces: but nobody would let the man follow his own judgment: and
giving way to the many false reports and alarms, that the war was now
close at hand and the enemy in possession of everything, and carried
away by the general movement, he declared by an edict that he saw
there was tumult, and he left the city after giving his commands to
the Senate to follow, and that no one should stay who preferred his
country and freedom to tyranny.

XXXIV.[522] Accordingly the consuls fled without even making the
sacrifices which it was usual to make before quitting the city; and
most of the senators also took to flight, in a manner as if they were
robbing, each snatching of his own what first came to hand as if it
belonged to another. There were some also who, though they had
hitherto vehemently supported the party of Cæsar, through alarm at
that time lost their presence of mind, and without any necessity for
it were carried along with the current of that great movement. A most
piteous sight was the city, when so great a storm was coming on, left
like a ship whose helmsman had given her up, to be carried along and
dashed against anything that lay in her way. But though this desertion
of the city was so piteous a thing, men for the sake of Pompeius
considered the flight to be their country, and they were quitting Rome
as if it were the camp of Cæsar; for even Labienus,[523] one of
Cæsar's greatest friends, who had been his legatus and had fought with
him most gallantly in all the Gallic wars, then fled away from Cæsar
and came to Pompeius. But Cæsar sent to Labienus both his property and
his baggage; and advancing he pitched his camp close by Domitius, who
with thirty cohorts held Corfinium.[524] Domitius despairing of
himself asked his physician, who was a slave, for poison, and taking
what was given, he drank it, intending to die. Shortly after, hearing
that Cæsar showed wonderful clemency towards his prisoners, he
bewailed his fate and blamed the rashness of his resolution. But on
the physician assuring him that what he had taken was only a sleeping
potion and not deadly, he sprung up overjoyed, and going to Cæsar,
received his right hand, and yet he afterwards went over again to
Pompeius. This intelligence being carried to Rome made people more
tranquil, and some who had fled, returned.

XXXV. Cæsar took the troops of Domitius into his service, as well
as the soldiers that were raising for Pompeius whom he surprised in
the cities; and having now got a numerous and formidable army, he
advanced against Pompeius. Pompeius did not await his approach, but
fled to Brundisium, and sending the consuls over before him with a
force to Dyrrachium,[525] himself shortly after sailed from Brundisium
upon the approach of Cæsar, as will be told more particularly in the
Life of Pompeius.[526] Though Cæsar wished to pursue immediately, he
was prevented by want of ships, and he turned back to Rome, having in
sixty days without bloodshed become master of Italy. Finding the city
more tranquil than he expected and many of the Senators in it, he
addressed them in moderate and constitutional language,[527] urging
them to send persons to Pompeius with suitable terms of accommodation;
but no one listened to his proposal, either because they feared
Pompeius, whom they had deserted, or supposed that Cæsar did not
really mean what he said, and merely used specious words. When the
tribune Metellus[528] attempted to prevent him from taking money from
the reserved treasure[529] and alleged certain laws, Cæsar replied,
"That the same circumstances did not suit arms and laws: but do you,
if you don't like what is doing, get out of the way, for war needs not
bold words; when we have laid down our arms after coming to terms,
then you may come forward and make your speeches to the people." "And
in saying this," he continued, "I waive part of my rights, for you are
mine, and all are mine, who have combined against me, now that I have
caught them." Having thus spoken to Metellus he walked to the doors of
the treasury; but as the keys were not found, he sent for smiths and
ordered them to break the locks. Metellus again opposed him, and some
commended him for it, but Cæsar, raising his voice, threatened to kill
him, if he did not stop his opposition, "And this," said he, "young
man, you well know, is more painful for me to have said than to do."
These words alarmed Metellus and made him retire, and also caused
everything else to be supplied to Cæsar for the war without further
trouble, and with speed.

XXXVI. He marched against Iberia,[530] having first determined to
drive out Afranius and Varro, the legati of Pompeius, and having got
into his power the forces and the provinces in those parts, then to
advance against Pompeius without leaving any enemy in his rear. After
having often been exposed to risk in his own person from ambuscades,
and with his army chiefly from want of provisions, he never gave up
pursuing, challenging to battle and hemming in the enemy with his
lines, till he had made himself master of their camps and forces. The
generals escaped to Pompeius.

XXXVII. On his return to Rome, Piso, the father-in-law of Cæsar,
advised that they should send commissioners to Pompeius to treat of
terms, but Isauricus opposed the measure to please Cæsar. Being chosen
Dictator by the Senate, he restored the exiles, and the children of
those who had suffered in the times of Sulla,[531] he reinstated in
their civil rights, and he relieved the debtors by a certain abatement
of the interest, and took in hand other measures of the like kind, not
many in number; but in eleven days, he abdicated the monarchy, and
declaring himself and Servilius Isauricus consuls[532] set out on his
expedition. The rest of his forces he passed by on his hurried march,
and with six hundred picked horsemen and five legions, the time being
the winter solstice and the commencement of January (and this pretty
nearly corresponds to the Poseideon of the Athenians), he put to sea,
and crossing the Ionian gulf he took Oricum and Apollonia; but he sent
back his ships to Brundisium for the soldiers whom he had left behind
on his march. But while the men were still on the road, as they were
already passed the vigour of their age and worn out by the number of
their campaigns, they murmured against Cæsar, "Whither now will he
lead us and where will this man at last carry us to, hurrying us
about and treating us as if we could never be worn out and as if we
were inanimate things? even the sword is at last exhausted by blows,
and shield and breastplate need to be spared a little after so long
use. Even our wounds do not make Cæsar consider that he commands
perishable bodies, and that we are but mortal towards endurance and
pain; and the winter season and the storms of the sea even a god
cannot command; but this man runs all risks, as if he were not
pursuing his enemies, but flying from them." With such words as these
they marched slowly towards Brundisium. But when they found that Cæsar
had embarked, then quickly changing their temper, they reproached
themselves as traitors to their Imperator; and they abused their
officers also for not hastening the march. Sitting on the heights,
they looked towards the sea and towards Epirus for the ships which
were to carry them over to their commander.

XXXVIII. At Apollonia, as Cæsar had not a force sufficient to oppose
the enemy, and the delay of the troops from Italy put him in
perplexity and much uneasiness, he formed a desperate design, without
communicating it to any one, to embark in a twelve-oared boat and go
over to Brundisium, though the sea was commanded by so many ships of
the enemy.[533] Accordingly, disguising himself in a slave's dress, he
went on board by night, and throwing himself down as a person of no
importance, he lay quiet. While the river Anius[534] was carrying down
the boat towards the sea, the morning breeze, which at that time
generally made the water smooth at the outlet of the river by driving
the waves before it, was beaten down by a strong wind which blew all
night over the sea; and the river, chafing at the swell of the sea and
the opposition of the waves, was becoming rough, being driven back by
the huge blows and violent eddies, so that it was impossible for the
master of the boat to make head against it; on which he ordered the
men to change about, intending to turn the boat round. Cæsar
perceiving this, discovered himself, and taking the master by the
hand, who was alarmed at the sight of him, said, "Come, my good man,
have courage and fear nothing; you carry Cæsar and the fortune of
Cæsar in your boat." The sailors now forgot the storm, and sticking to
their oars, worked with all their force to get out of the river. But
as it was impossible to get on, after taking in much water and running
great risk at the mouth of the river, Cæsar very unwillingly consented
that the master should put back. On his return, the soldiers met him
in crowds, and blamed him much and complained that he did not feel
confident of victory even with them alone, but was vexed and exposed
himself to risk on account of the absent, as if he distrusted those
who were present.

XXXIX. Shortly after Antonius arrived from Brundisium with the troops;
and Cæsar, being now confident, offered battle to Pompeius, who was
well posted and had sufficient supplies both from land and sea, while
Cæsar at first had no abundance, and afterwards was hard pressed for
want of provisions: but the soldiers cut up a certain root[535] and
mixing it with milk, ate it. And once, having made loaves of it, they
ran up to the enemies' outposts, threw the bread into the camp, and
pitched it about, adding, that so long as the earth produces such
roots, they will never stop besieging Pompeius. Pompeius, however,
would not let either the matter of the loaves or these words be made
known to the mass of the army; for his soldiers were dispirited and
dreaded the savage temper and endurance of the enemy as if they were
wild beasts. There were continually skirmishes about the
fortifications of Pompeius, and Cæsar had the advantage in all except
one, in which there was a great rout of his troops and he was in
danger of losing his camp. For when Pompeius made an onset, no one
stood the attack, but the trenches were filled with the dying, and
Cæsar's men were falling about their own ramparts and bulwarks, being
driven in disorderly flight. Though Cæsar met the fugitives and
endeavoured to turn them, he had no success, and when he laid hold of
the colours, those who were carrying them threw them down, so that the
enemy took two and thirty, and Cæsar himself had a narrow escape with
his life. A tall, strong man was running away past by Cæsar, who
putting his hand upon him, ordered him to stand and face the enemy;
but the man, who was completely confounded by the danger, raised his
sword to strike him, on which Cæsar's shield-bearer struck the man
first and cut off his shoulder. Cæsar had so completely given up his
cause as lost, that when Pompeius either through caution or from some
accident did not put the finishing stroke to his great success, but
retreated after shutting up the fugitives within their ramparts, Cæsar
said to his friends as he was retiring, To-day the victory would be
with the enemy, if they had a commander who knew how to conquer. Going
into his tent and lying down, Cæsar spent that night of all nights in
the greatest agony and perplexity, considering that his generalship
had been bad, in that while a fertile country lay near him and the
rich cities of Macedonia and Thessaly, he had neglected to carry the
war thither, and was now stationed on the sea which the enemy
commanded with his ships, and that he was rather held in siege by want
of supplies than holding the enemy in siege by his arms. Accordingly,
after passing a restless night, full of uneasiness at the difficulty
and danger of his present position, he broke up his camp with the
determination of leading his troops into Macedonia to oppose Scipio,
for he concluded that either he should draw Pompeius after him to a
country where he would fight without the advantage of having the same
supplies from the sea, or that he would defeat Scipio if he were left
to himself.

XL. This encouraged the army of Pompeius and the officers about him
to stick close to Cæsar, whom they considered to have been defeated
and to be making his escape; though Pompeius himself was cautious
about hazarding a battle for so great a stake, and, as he was
excellently furnished with everything for prolonging the war, he
thought it best to wear out and weaken the vigour of the enemy, which
could not be long sustained. For the best fighting men in Cæsar's army
possessed experience and irresistible courage in battle; but in
marchings and making encampments and assaulting fortifications and
watching by night, they gave way by reason of their age, and their
bodies were unwieldy for labour, and owing to weakness, had lost their
alacrity. It was also reported that a pestilential disease was
prevalent in Cæsar's army, which had originated in the want of proper
food; and, what was chief of all, as Cæsar was neither well supplied
with money nor provisions, it might be expected that in a short time
his army would be broken up of itself.

XLI. For these reasons Pompeius did not wish to fight, and Cato alone
commended his design, because he wished to spare the citizens; for
after seeing those who had fallen in the battle to the number of a
thousand, he wrapped up his face and went away with tears in his eyes.
But all the rest abused Pompeius for avoiding a battle, and tried to
urge him on by calling him Agamemnon and King of Kings, by which they
implied that he was unwilling to lay down the sole command, and was
proud at having so many officers under his orders and coming to his
tent, Favonius, who aped Cato's freedom of speech, raved because they
should not be able even that year to enjoy the figs of Tusculum owing
to Pompeius being so fond of command; and Afranius (for he had just
arrived from Iberia, where he had shown himself a bad general), being
charged with betraying his army for a bribe, asked why they did not
fight with the merchant who had bought the provinces of him. Pressed
by all this importunity, Pompeius pursued Cæsar with the intention of
fighting, though contrary to his wish. Cæsar accomplished his march
with difficulty, as no one would supply him with provisions and he was
universally despised on account of his recent defeat; however, after
taking Gomphi,[536] a Thessalian city, he had not only provisions for
his army, but his men were unexpectedly relieved from their disease.
For they fell in with abundance of wine, of which they drank
plentifully, and revelling and rioting on their march, by means of
their drunkenness, they threw off and got rid of their complaint in
consequence of their bodies being brought into a different habit.

XLII. When the two armies had entered the plain of Pharsalus and
pitched their camps, Pompeius again fell back into his former opinion,
and there were also unlucky appearances and a vision in his
sleep.[537] He dreamed that he saw himself in the theatre, applauded
by the Romans. But those about him were so confident, and so fully
anticipated a victory, that Domitius and Scipio and Spinther were
disputing and bestirring themselves against one another about the
priesthood of Cæsar, and many persons sent to Rome to hire and get
possession of houses that were suitable for consuls and prætors,
expecting to be elected to magistracies immediately after the war. But
the cavalry showed most impatience for the battle, being sumptuously
equipped with splendid armour, and priding themselves on their
well-fed horses and fine persons, and on their numbers also, for they
were seven thousand against Cæsar's thousand. The number of the
infantry also was unequal, there being forty-five thousand matched
against twenty-two thousand.

XLIII. Cæsar, calling his soldiers together and telling them that
Corfinius[538] was close at hand with two legions, and that other
cohorts to the number of fifteen under Calenus were encamped near
Megara and Athens, asked if they would wait for them or hazard a
battle by themselves. The soldiers cried out aloud that they did not
wish him to wait, but rather to contrive and so manage his operations
that they might soonest come to a battle with their enemies. While he
was performing a lustration of the army, as soon as he had sacrificed
the first victim, the soothsayer said that within three days there
would be a decisive battle with the enemy. Upon Cæsar asking him, if
he saw any favourable sign in the victims as to the result of the
battle also, he replied, "You can answer this better for yourself: the
gods indicate a great change and revolution of the actual state of
things to a contrary state, so that if you think yourself prosperous
in your present condition, expect the worst fortune; but if you do
not, expect the better." As Cæsar was taking his round to inspect the
watches the night before the battle about midnight, there was seen in
the heavens a fiery torch, which seemed to pass over Cæsar's camp and
assuming a bright and flame-like appearance to fall down upon the camp
of Pompeius. In the morning watch they perceived that there was also a
panic confusion among the enemy. However, as Cæsar did not expect that
the enemy would fight on that day, he began to break up his camp with
the intention of marching to Scotussa.

XLIV. The tents were already taken down when the scouts rode up to him
with intelligence that the enemy were coming down to battle, whereupon
Cæsar was overjoyed, and after praying to the gods he arranged his
battle in three divisions. He placed Domitius Calvinus in command of
the centre, Antonius had the left wing, and he commanded the right,
intending to fight in the tenth legion. Observing that the cavalry of
the enemy were posting themselves opposite to this wing and fearing
their splendid appearance and their numbers, he ordered six cohorts to
come round to him from the last line without being observed and he
placed them in the rear of the right wing with orders what to do when
the enemy's cavalry made their attack. Pompeius commanded his own
right, and Domitius the left, and the centre was under Scipio, his
father-in-law. But all the cavalry crowded to the left, intending to
surround the right wing of the enemy and to make a complete rout of
the men who were stationed about the general; for they believed that
no legionary phalanx, however deep, could resist, but that their
opponents would be completely crushed and broken to pieces by an
attack of so many cavalry at once. When the signal for attack was
going to be given on both sides, Pompeius ordered the legionary
soldiers to stand with their spears presented and in close order to
wait the attack of the enemy till they were within a spear's throw.
But Cæsar says that here also Pompeius made a mistake, not knowing
that the first onset, accompanied with running and impetuosity, gives
force to the blows, and at the same time fires the courage, which is
thus fanned in every way. As Cæsar was about to move his phalanx and
was going into action, the first centurion that he spied was a man who
was faithful to him and experienced in war, and was encouraging those
under his command and urging them to vigorous exertion. Cæsar
addressing him by name said, "What hopes have we Caius
Crassinius,[539] and how are our men as to courage?" Crassinius
stretching out his right hand and calling out aloud, said, "We shall
have a splendid victory, Cæsar; and you shall praise me whether I
survive the day or die." Saying this, he was the first to fall on the
enemy at his full speed and carrying with him the hundred and twenty
soldiers who were under his command. Having cut through the first
rank, he was advancing with great slaughter of the enemy and was
driving them from their ground, when he was stopped by a blow from a
sword through the mouth, and the point came out at the back of his

XLV. The infantry having thus rushed together in the centre and being
engaged in the struggle, the cavalry of Pompeius proudly advanced from
the wing, extending their companies to enclose Cæsar's right; but
before they fell upon the enemy, the cohorts sprang forward from
among Cæsar's troops, not, according to the usual fashion of war,
throwing their spears nor yet holding them in their hands and aiming
at the thighs and legs of the enemy, but pushing them against their
eyes and wounding them in the face; and they had been instructed to do
this by Cæsar, who was confident that men who had no great familiarity
with battles or wounds, and were young and very proud of their beauty
and youth, would dread such wounds and would not keep their ground
both through fear of the present danger and the future disfigurement.
And it turned out so; for they could not stand the spears being pushed
up at them nor did they venture to look at the iron that was presented
against their eyes, but they turned away and covered their faces to
save them; and at last, having thus thrown themselves into confusion,
they turned to flight most disgracefully and ruined the whole cause.
For those who had defeated the cavalry, immediately surrounded the
infantry and falling on them in the rear began to cut them down. But
when Pompeius saw from the other wing the cavalry dispersed in flight,
he was no longer the same, nor did he recollect that he was Pompeius
Magnus, but more like a man who was deprived of his understanding by
the god than anything else,[540] he retired without speaking a word to
his tent, and sitting down awaited the result, until the rout becoming
general the enemy were assailing the ramparts, and fighting with those
who defended them. Then, as if he had recovered his senses and
uttering only these words, as it is reported, "What even to the
ramparts!" he put off his military and general's dress, and taking one
suited for a fugitive, stole away. But what fortunes he afterwards
had, and how he gave himself up to the Egyptians and was murdered, I
shall tell in the Life of Pompeius.

XLVI. When Cæsar entered the camp of Pompeius and saw the bodies of
those who were already killed, and the slaughter still going on among
the living, he said with a groan: They would have it so; they brought
me into such a critical position that I, Caius Cæsar, who have been
successful in the greatest wars, should have been condemned, if I had
disbanded my troops. Asinius Pollio[541] says that Cæsar uttered these
words on that occasion in Latin, and that he wrote them down in Greek.
He also says that the chief part of those who were killed were slaves,
and they were killed when the camp was taken; and that not more than
six thousand soldiers fell. Of those who were taken prisoners, Cæsar
drafted most into his legions; and he pardoned many men of
distinction, among whom was Brutus, who afterwards murdered him. Cæsar
is said to have been very much troubled at his not being found, but
when Brutus, who had escaped unhurt, presented himself to Cæsar, he

Online Library46 PlutarchPlutarch's Lives Volume III → online text (page 39 of 55)