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Bill Thayer

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Caesar: The Civil Wars

The Author, the Manuscripts

For once, there's no need to scour incidental mentions of the author in obscure commentators: Julius Caesar is of course one of the best-known figures of Antiquity. If you've never read his life, you could do worse than read Suetonius' entertaining short biography of him, written not so very long after his death. The Loeb edition introduction to the Civil Wars sets the stage for this particular bit of his life with a brief background of how there came to be civil wars in the first place; it also provides a quick summary of the principal manuscripts.

The Text of the Civil Wars on LacusCurtius

The entire work is online in the English translation by A[rthur] G[eorge] Peskett, printed in the Loeb Classical Library edition. At some point I may also enter the Latin text, but there is no urgency since it's adequately online at Latin Library; and in the header bar of each of my own pages, I link to the appropriate page of that Latin.

An English translation of the work is already online in at least three places: an 1856 translation at Perseus; a photocopy of the Loeb edition at GoogleBooks; and another photocopy of it at Archive.Org, in which, however, pp34‑35 and pp286‑287 are missing. Seeing, however, that the work is cited on LacusCurtius well over a hundred times, yet linking to the cited passages in those offsite versions is inconvenient in one case and in the two others impossible, it became useful to add it to the texts onsite.

Book Subject
The Loeb Editor's Introduction vii

1‑29: The civil wars break out; Caesar crosses into Italy from the NE border at Ariminum, takes control of the eastern half of the peninsula down to the SE tip at Brundisium, from which, however, he allows Pompey to escape.


30‑58: Caesar heads to Spain, via Massilia which he besieges; battle of Ilerda against Afranius; back in Gaul, Caesar's ally Brutus defeats Massilia.


59‑87: Caesar wins the battle of Ilerda, and allows the soldiers of the defeated army to go home or fight on his side.


1‑22: Massilia surrenders. Caesar at Corduba and Gades.


23‑44: Disastrous campaign of Curio in Africa.


1‑30: Pompey winters at Dyrrachium in Epirus. Caesar chases after him but does not yet engage.


31‑55: The battle of Dyrrachium (six battles, actually, according to Caesar): serious reverses for Pompey.


56‑81: Checked at Dyrrachium, Caesar heads to Thessaly.


82‑112: Pompey arrives in Thessaly where Caesar is waiting. The battle of Pharsalus, a final disaster for Pompey, who flees to Egypt but is treacherously assassinated there.


Technical Details

Edition Used

Loeb Classical Library, 1914. The text has been in the public domain since at least 1970. (Details here on the copyright law involved.)

Chapters are marked by large numbers which are also local anchors, according to a consistent scheme; you can therefore link directly to any passage. The sections, which some writers refer to, are not marked because the Loeb edition does not indicate them. The Loeb edition pagination is also indicated by local links in the sourcecode.

Maps and Plans

The Loeb edition includes 6 maps — of the battles of Dyrrachium, Pharsalus, Brundisium, and Ilerda, the siege of Massilia, and Curio's campaign in Africa — placed at the end of the book. Five of them are referred to by the editor in a footnote, to which I therefore moved the map; in the case of the sixth, the editors had no note, and I added one myself, with the map. In my print copy these maps are in black-and‑white; for this Web transcription I colorized them to my usual scheme and added metric scales.


I almost always retype texts rather than scanning them: not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend. In this particular case, however . . . I'm really not very interested in wars and politics, and reading the Civil Wars once was quite enough: I grabbed the OCR'd text at Archive.Org and massaged it — then of course proofread the text word by word like I usually do, a check meant to be final. In the table of contents above, the sections are therefore shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree; red backgrounds would mean that they still needed that final proofreading. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The print edition was very well proofread; I spotted only two minor typographical errors, which I marked with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the underscored words to read what was actually printed. Bullets before measurements provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

In the course of my proofreading, I found that my print edition (a 1990 reprint) differs very slightly from that printing of the same 1914 edition online at GoogleBooks and Archive.Org: a couple very small infelicities had been adjusted, the word "booty" substituted for "plunder" once, and a sentence deleted from the Introduction.

Inconsistencies or errors in punctuation are remarkably few; they have been corrected to the editor's usual style, in a slightly different color — barely noticeable on the page when it's a comma for example like this one, but it shows up in the sourcecode as <SPAN CLASS="emend">. Finally, a number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked.

Any over­looked mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have the printed edition in front of you.

Inconsistency in the English Translation

The reader should be aware of one odd inconsistency in the translation: the Latin word conventus has been rendered differently almost every time it appears: as burgess-body, gathering, corporation, corporation of Roman citizens, the Roman citizens of the district, Roman citizen body. All of these are translations of the same thing, however vague the thing is: see the article Conventus in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

[image ALT: A map of the Mediterranean, but a diagonal half of it, from the upper right to the lower left, is obscured by a portrait-bust of Julius Caesar. The image serves as the icon for Caesar's 'Civil Wars' on this site.]

The icon with which I indicate this work is about as obvious an image as one might use: a map of the Roman sea that was the Mediterranean, in the color I use onsite for the period of republican Rome; and splitting it apart and looming over it, the head of Caesar (from a bust in the museum of Corinth) in the color of the imperial Rome that resulted from the wars he narrates. It is a snapshot of the end of what freedom the Romans had.

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Page updated: 28 May 16