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This webpage reproduces part of
Civil Wars

Julius Caesar

Loeb Classical Library

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Civil Wars

 p3  Book I (chapters 1‑29)

1 When Caesar's dispatch had been handed to the consuls, the tribunes, with difficulty and after much wrangling gained their permission for it to be read in the senate, but they could not obtain consent for a motion to be brought before the senate on the subject of the dispatch. The consuls bring forward a motion on the state of public affairs. The consul L. Lentulus puts pressure on the senate, and promises that he will not fail the republic if the senators are willing to express their opinions with boldness and resolution; but if they pay regard to Caesar and try to win favour with him as they have done on previous occasions, he says that he will consider his own interests and will not obey their authority. "I too," said he, "can shelter myself under the favour and friendship of Caesar." Scipio expresses himself in similar terms — that Pompeius is inclined not to desert the republic if the senate follows him; but if it delays and acts remissly, it will in vain solicit his aid should it wish to do so in the future.

2 This speech of Scipio appeared to come from the mouth of Pompeius himself, since the senate was meeting in the city and Pompeius was close at hand. Some had expressed less rigorous views, such as M. Marcellus, who at first embarked on a speech to the effect that the question ought not to be referred to  p5 the senate till levies had been held throughout Italy and armies enrolled under whose protection the senate might venture to make such decrees as it wished safely and freely; such, too, as M. Calidius, who expressed the opinion that Pompeius should go to his own provinces in order that there might be no motive for hostilities: Caesar, he said, was afraid lest it should be thought that Pompeius, having extorted two legions from him, was holding them back and retaining them near Rome with a view to imperilling him; such also as M. Rufus, who with a few modifications followed the opinion of Calidius. All these speakers were assailed with vehement invective by the consul L. Lentulus. He absolutely refused to put the motion of Calidius, and Marcellus, alarmed by the invectives, abandoned his proposal. Thus most of the senators, compelled by the language of the consul, intimidated by the presence of the army and by the threats of the friends of Pompeius, against their will and yielding to pressure, adopt the proposal of Scipio that Caesar should disband his army before a fixed date, and that, if he failed to do so, he should be considered to be meditating treason against the republic. The tribunes M. Antonius and Q. Cassius intervene. The question of their intervention is immediately brought before the senate. Opinions of weighty import are expressed, and the more harsh and cruel the speech the more it is applauded by the personal enemies of Caesar.

3 When the senate was dismissed in the evening all the members of the order are summoned out of the city by Pompeius. He praises the zealous and encourages them for the future; the sluggish he reproves and stimulates. Everywhere a number of reserves from the old armies of Pompeius are called  p7 out to serve by the prospect of prizes and promotion; many are summoned from the two legions handed over by Caesar. The city and the comitium1 itself are filled with tribunes, centurions, reserves. All the friends of the consuls, all the adherents of Pompeius and of those whose enmity to Caesar was of long standing, are compelled to attend the senate. By their clamorous throngs the weaker are terrified and the wavering are confirmed, while the majority are robbed of the privilege of free decision. The censor L. Piso promises to go to Caesar, also the praetor L. Roscius, to inform him of these matters. They demand a period of six days for the execution of their purpose. Some express the opinion that envoys should be sent to Caesar to set before him the feelings of the senate.

4 All these speakers encounter opposition and are confronted with speeches from the consul, from Scipio, and from Cato. Cato is goaded on by his old quarrels with Caesar and vexation at his defeat.2 Lentulus is moved by the greatness of his debts, by the prospect of a military command and a province, and by the lavish bribes of rulers claiming the title of king, and boasts among his friends that he will prove a second Sulla to whom shall fall the supreme command. Scipio is stimulated by the same hope of a province and of armies, which he thinks that kinship will entitle him to share with Pompeius; also by the dread of the law courts, by the flattery of certain powerful men who had then great influence in public affairs and in the law courts, and by his own and their ostentatious character. Pompeius, urged on by Caesar's enemies and by his desire that no one should  p9 be on the same level of dignity with himself, had completely withdrawn himself from Caesar's friendship and become reconciled with their common enemies, most of whom he had himself imposed upon Caesar at the time of their connexion by marriage.3 Stirred, too, by the discredit attaching to his diversion of two legions from their route by Asia and Syria and his appropriation of them for his own power and supremacy, he was eager that the issue should be brought to the arbitrament of war.

5 For these reasons everything is done in hurry and confusion. Caesar's friends are allowed no time to inform him, nor are the tribunes given any opportunity of protesting against the peril that threatened them, nor even of retaining, by the exercise of their veto, the most fundamental of their rights, which L. Sulla had left them, but within the limit of seven days they are compelled to take measures for their own safety, whereas the most turbulent of the tribunes in earlier times had been wont to regard with apprehension the conclusion of at least eight months of administration. Recourse is had to that extreme and ultimate decree of the senate which had never previously been resorted to except when the city was at the point of destruction and all despaired of safety through the audacity of malefactors: "The consuls, the praetors, the tribunes, and all the proconsulars who are near the city shall take measures that the state incur no harm." These resolutions are recorded by decree of the senate on January 7. So on the first five days on which a meeting of the senate could be held after the date on which Lentulus entered on his consulship, except two election days, decrees of  p11 the severest and harshest character are passed affecting Caesar's imperial command and those highly important officials, the tribunes of the people. The tribunes at once flee from the city and betake themselves to Caesar. He was at that time at Ravenna and was awaiting a reply to his very lenient demands, in the hope that by some sense of equity a peaceable conclusion might be reached.

6 On the following days the senate meets outside the city. Pompeius carries out the policy which he had indicated by the mouth of Scipio. He commends the manly consistency of the senate, and sets forth the strength of his forces, showing that he has ten legions ready to hand, and, moreover that he had ascertained for certain that the troops were ill-disposed to Caesar and could not be persuaded to defend or follow him. Other matters are at once referred to the senate — that a levy should be held throughout Italy, that Faustus Sulla should be at once sent into Mauritania, and that a grant of money should be made to Pompeius from the treasury. A motion is also proposed that King Juba should be styled Ally and Friend. But Marcellus refuses to allow this for the present. The tribune Philippus vetoes the motion about Faustus. On the other matters decrees of the senate are recorded in writing. The provinces, two consular, the rest praetorian, are decreed to private persons. Syria falls to Scipio, Gallia to L. Domitius; Philippus and Cotta are passed over by private arrangement, nor are their lots cast into the urn. To the rest of the provinces praetors are sent. Nor do they wait, as had been the habit in previous years, for a motion to be brought before the people about their imperial command; but, wearing the scarlet military cloak, they  p13 leave Rome after offering the usual vows. The consuls quit the city, a thing which had never previously happened, and private persons have lictors in the city and the Capitol,4 contrary to all the precedents of the past. Levies are held throughout Italy, arms are requisitioned, sums of money are exacted from the municipal towns and carried off from the temples, and all divine and human rights are thrown into confusion.

7 When this was known Caesar addresses his troops. He relates all the wrongs that his enemies had ever done him, and complains that Pompeius had been led astray and corrupted by them through jealousy and a desire to detract from his credit, though he had himself always supported and aided his honour and dignity. He complains that a new precedent had been introduced into the state whereby the right of tribunicial intervention, which in earlier years had been restored by arms, was now being branded with ignominy and crushed by arms. Sulla, he said, though stripping the tribunicial power of everything, had nevertheless left its right of intervention free, while Pompeius, who had the credit of having restored the privileges that were lost, had taken away even those that they had before. There had been no instance of the decree that the magistrates should take measures to prevent the state from suffering harm (the declaration and decision of the senate by which the Roman people are called to arms) except in the case of pernicious laws, tribunicial violence, a popular secession, or the seizure of temples and elevated positions: and he explains that these precedents of a former age had been  p15 expiated by the downfall of Saturninus and of the Gracchi. No event of this kind had occurred at the time in question or had even been thought of. He exhorts them to defend from his enemies the reputation and dignity of the commander under whose guidance they have administered the state with unfailing good fortune for nine years, fought many successful battles, and pacified the whole of Gaul and Germany. Thereupon the men of the Thirteenth Legion, which was present (he had called this out at the beginning of the disorder; the rest had not yet come together), exclaim that they are ready to repel the wrongs of their commander and of the tribunes.

8 Having thus learnt the disposition of the soldiery, he sets out for Ariminum with that legion, and there meets the tribunes who had fled to him. The rest of the legions he summons from their winter quarters and orders them to follow him. Thither comes the young L. Caesar whose father was one of Caesar's legates. When their first greetings were over he explains — and this was the real reason of his coming — that he has a message from Pompeius to give him regarding a personal matter. He says that Pompeius wishes to be cleared of reproach in the eyes of Caesar, who should not construe as an affront to himself what he had done for the sake of the state. He had always placed the interests of the republic before private claims. Caesar, too, considering his high position, should give up for the benefit of the state his partisan zeal and passion, nor be so bitterly angry with his enemies as to injure the commonwealth in the hope that he is injuring them. He adds a few other remarks of this kind, at the same time making excuses for Pompeius. The praetor Roscius lays substantially the same proposals before  p17 Caesar, and in the same language, and makes it clear that he received them from Pompeius.

9 Though these proceedings seemed to have no effect in lessening the sense of wrong, nevertheless now that he had found suitable persons to convey his wishes to Pompeius he makes a request of each of them that, as they had brought him the instructions of Pompeius, they should not object to convey his demands in reply, in the hope that by a little trouble they might be able to put an end to serious disputes and free the whole of Italy from alarm. "As for myself," he said, "I have always reckoned the dignity of the republic of first importance and preferable to life. I was indignant that a benefit conferred on me by the Roman people was being insolently wrested from me by my enemies,5 and that, robbed of my six months' command, I was being dragged back to the city, when the people had directed that I should be allowed to be a candidate in absence at the next election. Nevertheless, for the sake of the state I have borne with equanimity this infringement of my prerogative; when I sent a dispatch to the senate proposing that all should give up arms I failed to obtain even this request. Levies are being held throughout Italy, two legions which had been filched from me under the pretence of a Parthian war are being held back, the state is in arms. To what does all this tend but to my own ruin? Still I am prepared to resort to anything, to submit to anything, for the sake of the commonwealth. Let Pompeius go to his own provinces, let us disband our armies, let everyone in Italy lay down his arms, let  p19 fear be banished from the state, let free elections and the whole control of the republic be handed over to the senate and the Roman people. That this may be done more easily and on definite terms and be ratified by an oath, let Pompeius himself come nearer or allow me to approach him. In this way a conference will settle all disputes."

10 Having received his instructions, Roscius arrives at Capua with L. Caesar, and there finds the consuls and Pompeius, and delivers Caesar's demands. After deliberation they reply and send him back by their hands written instructions, the main purport of which was that Caesar should return to Gaul, quit Ariminum and disband his forces; if he did this, Pompeius would go to the Spanish provinces. Meanwhile until a pledge was given that Caesar would carry out his promise, the consuls and Pompeius would not interrupt their levies.

11 It was an unfair bargain to demand that Caesar should quit Ariminum and return to his province while he himself retained his provinces and legions that were not his own: to wish that Caesar's army should be disbanded while he himself continued his levies: to promise that he would go to his province and not to fix a limit of date for his departure, so that if he had not gone when Caesar's consulship was over he would nevertheless be held guiltless of breaking his word: finally, his refusal to give an opportunity for a conference and to promise that he would approach Caesar tended to produce a profound despair of peace. And so he sends M. Antonius with five cohorts from Ariminum to Arretium, and himself stops at Ariminum with two cohorts and arranges to hold a levy there; he occupies Pisaurum, Fanum, and Ancona, each with one cohort.

 p21  12 Meanwhile, having been told that the praetor Thermus was holding Iguvium with five cohorts and fortifying the town, and that all the inhabitants of Iguvium were extremely well disposed towards himself, he sends Curio thither with the three cohorts which he had at Pisaurum and Ariminum. Learning of his approach, Thermus, mistrusting the goodwill of the community, withdraws his cohorts from the town and flies. His troops desert him on the way and return home. Curio with the utmost goodwill of everyone recovers Iguvium. Hearing of this, Caesar, relying on the goodwill of the townsfolk, removes the cohorts of the Thirteenth Legion from the garrisons and proceeds to Auximum. This town Attius was holding with cohorts that he had introduced into it, and, sending round senators, was levying troops throughout Picenum.

13 Learning of Caesar's approach, the decurions of Auximum throng to meet Attius Varus and explain that they are not free to act at their discretion; that neither they nor the rest of their fellow-townsmen can endure that G. Caesar, holding imperial command, having deserved so well of the state and after performing such exploits, should be prevented from entering the walls of the town: so let Varus have regard to the future and his own peril. Stirred by their words, he withdraws from the town the garrison that he had brought in and takes to flight. A few of Caesar's men of the first century followed him and compelled him to halt. An engagement is fought and Varus is deserted by his followers; some of his men retire to their homes, the rest make their way to Caesar; and among them L. Pupius, a centurion of the first company who had previously held the same rank in the army of Gn. Pompeius, is arrested with them and  p23 brought before him. Caesar, however, commends the men of Attius' detachment, sends Pupius away, and thanks the inhabitants of Auximum, promising to remember their action.

14 When these events were announced at Rome such consternation seized at once on the inhabitants that when the consul Lentulus had come to open the treasury for the purpose of providing a sum of money for Pompeius in accordance with a decree of the senate, as soon as ever he had opened the inner treasury he fled from the city; for news was falsely brought that Caesar was on the very point of arriving and that his cavalry had already come. Lentulus was followed by his colleague Marcellus and by most of the magistrates. Gn. Pompeius had left the city the day before and was on his way to the legions which he had taken from Caesar and distributed in winter quarters in Apulia. The levying of troops round the city is broken off; no one thinks there is any safety this side of Capua. It was at Capua that they first rally with renewed courage and begin to raise a levy among the colonists who had been planted there under the Julian law, while Lentulus brings the gladiators, whom Caesar kept in a training school there, into the forum and encourages them by the prospect of liberty, gives them horses, and orders them to follow him; but afterwards, on the admonition of his followers, because such a proceeding was censured by the general judgment, he distributes them for safe keeping among his friends in the burgess-body6 at Capua.

15 Caesar, starting from Auximum, traverses the whole of the Picene territory. All the prefectures of those  p25 parts receive him with the utmost gladness and assist his arm with supplies of every kind. Even from Cingulum, a town which Labienus had founded and built at his own expense, envoys come to him and promise to do his bidding with the utmost eagerness. He requisitions soldiers; they send them. Meanwhile the Twelfth Legion overtakes Caesar. With these two legions he goes to Asculum in Picenum. Lentulus Spinther, who was holding that town with ten cohorts, as soon as he hears of Caesar's approach, flies from the town, and while endeavouring to take his cohorts away with him is deserted by a great part of his men. Abandoned on the march with a few followers, he falls in with Vibullius Rufus, who had been sent by Pompeius into the Picene district to confirm the loyalty of the inhabitants. Vibullius, on learning from him of what was going on in Picenum, takes over his soldiers and lets him go free. He also collects from the neighbouring districts what cohorts he can from the Pompeian levies; among them he captures Lucilius Hirrus, flying from Camerinum with six cohorts which he had there in garrison. By gathering all these together he makes up thirteen cohorts. With them he makes his way by forced marches to Domitius Ahenobarbus at Corfinium and reports the arrival of Caesar with two legions. Domitius by himself had collected and brought from Alba about twenty cohorts, consisting of Marsi and Peligni, drawn from the neighbouring districts.

16 On the recovery of Firmum and the expulsion of Lentulus, Caesar gives orders that the men who had deserted Lentulus should be sought for and a levy instituted. He stays there himself one day for foraging purposes and then hastens to Corfinium. On  p27 his arrival there five cohorts dispatched from the town by Domitius were breaking down the bridge over the river, distant about three miles from the town. A conflict taking place there with Caesar's skirmishers, the Domitian troops were quickly driven from the bridge and withdrew into the town. Caesar, leading his troops across, halted outside the town and pitched camp close to the wall.

17 Learning what had occurred, Domitius offers a large reward to some men acquainted with the district, and sends them with dispatches to Pompeius in Apulia to beg and beseech him to come to his assistance, pointing out that Caesar could easily be cut off by two armies operating in the narrow passes and so be prevented from foraging. If Pompeius does not do this, Domitius says that he himself and more than thirty cohorts and a great number of senators and Roman knights will be imperilled. Meanwhile, having exhorted his men, he places engines on the walls and assigns each man a definite duty for the protection of the town. In a speech he promises the troops lands out of his own possessions, four acresa apiece, and in like proportion to the centurions and reserves.

18 Meanwhile word is brought to Caesar that the inhabitants of Sulmo, a town seven miles distant from Corfinium, are ready to carry out his wishes, but are prevented by the senator Q. Lucretius and by Attius the Pelignian, who were in occupation of the town with a garrison of seven cohorts. He sends M. Antonius thither with five cohorts of the Thirteenth Legion. The people of Sulmo as soon as they saw our standards opened the gates and sallied forth in a body, townsmen and soldiers, to meet and congratulate Antonius. Lucretius and Attius flung  p29 themselves from the wall. Attius is brought to Antonius and begs to be sent to Caesar. Antonius returns with the cohorts and Attius the same day on which he started. Caesar united these cohorts with his own army and let Attius go free. He determined during the first few days to strengthen his camp with extensive works, to bring in supplies of cornº from the neighbouring towns, and to wait for the rest of his forces. Three days after, the Eighth Legion joins him and twenty-two cohorts from the new levies in Gaul and about three hundred horsemen from the Noric king. On their arrival he pitches a second camp the other side of the town, and puts Curio in charge of it. On the subsequent days he set himself to surround the town with an earthwork and redoubts. The main part of this work having been carried out, about the same time the messengers sent by Pompeius return.

19 When the dispatch was read Domitius, concealing the facts, asserts in a public meeting that Pompeius would quickly come to their aid, and exhorts them not to lose heart, but to prepare whatever was required for the defence of the town. Privately he confers with a few of his friends and determines to adopt the plan of flight. As his looks belied his words, and all his actions were marked by more haste and timidity than he had usually shown on the previous days, while, contrary to his custom, he conversed much in secret with his own friends by way of taking counsel, and shunned general deliberations and gatherings, concealment and dissimulation were no longer possible. For Pompeius had sent back word that he would not utterly imperil the whole situation, and that it was not by his advice or consent that Domitius had betaken himself into the  p31 town of Corfinium, and bade him therefore come to him with all his forces if there should be any opportunity of doing so. This, however, was being rendered impossible by the blockade and investment of the town.

20 When the intentions of Domitius had been divulged, the troops who were at Corfinium draw apart in the early evening and thus hold a conference among themselves by means of the military tribunes, centurions, and the most respectable men of their own class. They say that they are being invested by Caesar; that his siege works and fortifications are almost completed; that their leader Domitius, in confidence and reliance on whom they have remained steadfast, has abandoned them all and is meditating flight; that they are bound to consider their own safety. The Marsi at first disagree with them and occupy that part of the town which seemed the most strongly fortified; and so great a dissension arises among them that they attempt to engage in hostilities and to fight out the issue, but soon after, messengers having been sent to and fro, they learn the facts, of which they were unaware, about the proposed flight of L. Domitius. And so all unanimously surround Domitius, who had been brought out before them, and guard him, and send envoys out of their number to Caesar, saying that they are ready to open the gates, to do his bidding, and to give up L. Domitius alive into his hands.

21 When these things were known, although Caesar thought it of great importance to get possession of the town at once and to transfer the cohorts to his own camp, lest any change of feeling should be effected by lavish gifts or by a strengthening of their courage or by false news, since, as he reflected,  p33 great crises often occurred in war through slight influences; nevertheless, fearing lest the town should be plundered by the entry of the troops and the licence of night, he commends those who had come to him and dismisses them into the town and orders the gates and walls to be carefully guarded. He personally distributes his men over the earthworks which he had set himself to construct, not leaving fixed intervals, as had been the custom on previous days, but in an unbroken line of sentries and outposts, so that they may touch one another and fill up the whole line of investment; he sends round the tribunes and prefects, exhorting them not merely to be on their guard against sallies, but also to watch for the secret exit of individuals. And, in fact, no one among them all was so remiss and languid in spirit as to take rest that night. So keenly did they await the ultimate issue that their hearts and minds were drawn in different directions as they asked what was happening to the Corfinians themselves, what to Domitius, what to Lentulus and to the rest, and what chances were befalling each side.

22 About the fourth watch Lentulus Spinther confers with our outposts and sentries from the wall, saying that he would like to have an interview with Caesar if the opportunity were granted him. Permission being given, he is escorted from the town, nor do the Domitian soldiers leave him till he is brought into the presence of Caesar. He pleads with him for his own safety, begs and beseeches that he will spare him, reminds him of their old-standing friendship, and sets forth the benefits that Caesar had conferred on him — and they were very great, for through his means he had been admitted to the College of the Pontifices, had held the province of Spain after his praetorship,  p35 and had been assisted in his candidature for the consulship. Caesar interrupts his speech, observing that he had not quitted his province with any evil intent, but to defend himself from the insults of his foes, to restore to their position the tribunes of the people who at that conjuncture had been expelled from the state, to assert the freedom of himself and the Roman people who had been oppressed by a small faction. Lentulus, encouraged by his speech, begs permission to return to the town, saying that the fact that he had gained his point about his own safety would comfort the rest in their hope for theirs; "some of them," he added, "are so terrified that they are being forced to adopt harsh measures against their own life." Receiving permission, he departs.

23 As soon as day dawned Caesar orders all senators and their sons, military tribunes, and Roman knights to be brought before him. There were fifty of them: of the senatorial order, L. Domitius, P. Lentulus Spinther, L. Caecilius Rufus, Sex. Quintilius Varus the quaestor, L. Rubrius; also the son of Domitius with many other youths, and a large number of Roman knights and decurions whom Domitius had summoned from the municipal towns. All these when brought before him he protects from the clamorous insolence of the troops: he addresses them in a few words, complaining that no gratitude had been shown him on their part7 for his signal acts of kindness, and dismisses them all unharmed. The sum of 6,000,000 sesterces which had been taken by Domitius to Corfinium and placed in the public treasury, and then handed over to him by the four magistrates of Corfinium, he restores to Domitius,  p37 in order that he may not be thought more self-controlled in dealing with men's lives than with their property, although there was no doubt that this money belonged to the state and had been assigned by Pompeius for military pay. The soldiers of Domitius he orders to take the oath of allegiance to himself, and on that day moves camp and completes a full day's march, having stopped at Corfinium for seven days in all, and, passing through the borders of the Marrucini, Frentani, and Larinates, arrives in Apulia.

24 Pompeius, learning of the events that had happened at Corfinium, goes from Luceria to Canusium and thence to Brundisium. He orders that all the forces drawn from the new levies should be brought to him from every quarter; he arms the slaves and husbandmen and furnishes them with horses, making out of them about three hundred horsemen. L. Manlius the praetor flies from Alba with six cohorts, Rutilius Lupus the praetor from Tarracina with three. These, catching sight of Caesar's cavalry under the command of Vibius Curius, desert their praetor, transfer their colours to Curius, and go over to his side. So, too, on subsequent marches several cohorts fall in with Caesar's main body and others with the horse. N. Magius of Cremona, Pompeius' chief engineer, is captured on the route and brought back to Caesar, who sends him back to Pompeius with instructions to the effect that, since up to the present no opportunity of a conference has been allowed and he himself is on the way to Brundisium, it is to the interest of the state and the common welfare that he should have a conference with Pompeius; that when they are separated by long distance and terms of agreement are conveyed by others, the same results are not gained as would be  p39 secured if they were to discuss all the conditions face to face.

25 Having given these instructions, he arrives at Brundisium8 with six legions, three veteran, and the rest consisting of those which he had formed from a new levy and raised to their full complement on his march, for he had sent the Domitian cohorts straight off from Corfinium to Sicily. He finds out that the consuls had gone to Dyrrachium with a great part of the army, and that Pompeius was remaining at Brundisium with twenty cohorts, nor could it be ascertained for certain whether he had remained there for the sake of holding Brundisium, in order that he might more easily control the whole Adriatic from the extremities of Italy and the shores of Greece and so carry on war from either side, or whether he had halted there from lack of ships; and fearing lest Pompeius should think that he ought not to abandon Italy, he determined to block the exits and stop the working of the harbour of Brundisium. The following was the method of his operations. Where the mouth of the harbour was narrowest he threw out piers and a dam from the shore on each side because the sea was shallow there. As he proceeded further out, since the mole could not hold together where the water was deeper, he placed two rafts thirty feet square over against the end of the breakwater. He fastened these by four anchors, one at each of the four angles, to prevent them being shifted by the waves. When they were finished and placed in position he attached in order other rafts of a like size. These he covered with soil and a raised causeway that there might be no obstacle in the way of approach or ingress for the purpose of defence. In  p41 front and on each side he protected them with fascines and screens; on every fourth raft he ran up towers of two stories that he might thus more conveniently defend them from an attack by ships and from fire.

26 To meet this Pompeius fitted out some large merchant-ships which he had seized in the port of Brundisium. On them he erected towers of three stories each, and when, they were equipped with a number of engines and weapons of every kind he brought them up close to Caesar's works so as to break through the rafts and destroy the works. Thus fighting went on every day, each side discharging slings, arrows, and other missiles. But Caesar, while carrying on these operations, did not think that negotiations for peace ought to be dropped; and though he was very much surprised that Magius, whom he had commissioned to carry instructions to Pompeius, was not sent back to him, and though his frequent attempts at an understanding were hindering energetic action and policy, yet on all accounts he thought it right to persevere therein. And so he sends to Scribonius Libo his legate Caninius Rebilus, one of Libo's intimate friends, to confer on the subject. He instructs him to exhort Libo to effect a reconcilement; his chief demand is that he should himself have an interview with Pompeius. He explains that if he is allowed this opportunity he has great confidence that it will result in their laying down arms on equal terms; and that a great part of the praise and credit for this achievement will fall to Libo if a cessation of hostilities should take place by his advice and efforts. Libo, quitting his interview with Caninius, goes to see Pompeius. Soon after he brings back word that, the consuls being absent, negotiations for a settlement cannot  p43 be carried on without them. So Caesar decides that he must at last abandon an attempt so often made in vain and must apply himself to warfare.

27 When nearly half the work had been completed by Caesar and nine days had been spent on it, the ships which had conveyed to Dyrrachium the first part of the army and had been sent back thence by the consuls return to Brundisium. On the arrival of the ships Pompeius, either because he was perturbed by Caesar's siege-works or else because he had originally intended to quit Italy, begins to prepare his departure, and in order to delay with greater ease any sudden attack on the part of Caesar, and prevent his troops breaking into the town at once after his departure, he blocks the gates, barricades lanes and streets, draws transverse trenches across the thoroughfares, and fixes therein stakes and blocks of wood sharpened at the ends. These he levels over with light hurdles and earth, while he shuts off the approaches and the two routes which led outside the wall to the harbour by planting in the ground huge balks of timber also sharpened to a point. Having made these preparations, he bids the soldiers embark in silence, and places light-armed men, drawn from the reserves, the archers, and the slingers, at intervals along the wall and in the towers. These he arranges to recall at a given signal when all the troops had embarked, and leaves some merchant-vessels for them in an accessible place.

28 The Brundisians, embittered by the wrongs inflicted on them by the Pompeian soldiery and by the insults of Pompeius himself, favoured the cause of Caesar. And so when they heard of the departure of Pompeius, while his men were hurrying about occupied in the business in hand, they signalled the fact from every  p45 house. Learning through them the state of affairs Caesar orders ladders to be prepared and men to be armed, so as not to lose any opportunity of action. Pompeius weighs anchor at nightfall. The men who were placed on the wall on garrison duty are recalled by the signal agreed on and run down to the ships by familiar routes. The soldiers bring up scaling ladders and mount the walls, but, warned by the Brundisians to beware of the blind stockade and ditches, they halt, and, taking a circuitous route, under their guidance reach the harbour, and by means of boats and punts arrest and capture two ships with troops on board which had fallen foul of Caesar's piers.

29 Though Caesar, in the hope of finishing the business, particularly approved the plan of collecting ships and then crossing the sea and following Pompeius before he should strengthen himself by oversea support, yet he feared the delay and length of time involved, because Pompeius by collecting all the ships had robbed him of any present opportunity of following him. It remained to wait for ships from the more distant parts of Gaul and Picenum and from the strait.9 This, owing to the time of year, seemed a protracted and difficult task. Meanwhile he was unwilling that a veteran army and two Spanish provinces, one of which10 was under obligation to Pompeius for very great benefits, should be confirmed in their allegiance, that auxiliary forces and cavalry should be provided, that Gaul and Italy should be tampered with, all in his absence.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 A part of the forum adjacent to the Senate House.

Thayer's Note: For details, see the article Comitium in Platner & Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.
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2 When he stood for the consulship in 51.

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3 Julia, daughter of Caesar and wife of Pompeius, died in 54.

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4 Private persons not holding military command could not have lictors in the city.

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5 If Caesar were recalled in July to stand for the consulship, he would lose the last six months of his proconsular command in Gaul.

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6 The Roman citizens inhabiting a provincial district formed a kind of close corporation called conventus.

Thayer's Note: See the article Conventus in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.
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7 Perhaps "by some of them."

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8 See plan of Brundisium.

Thayer's Note: The map is from the end of the volume, to which I've added the Google map of the area today (slightly different scale).

[image ALT: A map of Brundisium.]
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9 The Sicilian strait.

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10 The province of Hither Spain, on which Pompeius had conferred great benefits after the conclusion of the war with Sertorius in 72.

Thayer's Note:

a Four jugera, actually; and the difference is substantial, since a jugerum was only ⅝ of an English acre (almost exactly), or ¼ of a hectare: see the article Jugerum in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. So these soldiers were being promised not 4 acres of land (1.6 hectares), but 2½ English acres (1 hectare).

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Page updated: 7 Feb 13