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Bill Thayer

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[Caesar]: The African War

The Author

The identity of this little book's author remains unknown; the Loeb Editor's Introduction, below, attempts to narrow it down a bit. About the only thing that can be said with any confidence was that the author was a participant on Caesar's side; probably an eyewitness to some of what he records.

The Text of the African War on LacusCurtius

The entire work is onsite: both the Latin text and an English translation by A. G. Way. The header bar of each page includes a link to the corresponding page in the other language; similarly, the little flags at the beginning of each chapter link to the corresponding chapter in the other language. Each language will open in its own window.

The work is too long to fit comfortably on a single webpage. I divided it into several, following the Loeb edition's "Analysis of the Book" (pp144‑145) which I also reproduce in the following Table of Contents. These webpage-sections of course have no authority; they are merely convenient.

The Loeb Editor's Introduction 139
Latine Analysis English
I‑VI 146

 p144  1‑2 Preparations at Lilybaeum: Caesar embarks and sails for Africa.

3‑6 Arrival at Hadrumetum: its commandant refuses to negotiate: Caesar makes a fighting withdrawal to Ruspina.

1‑6 147

Operations near Ruspina

Caesar advances to Leptis but retires the next day to Ruspina: arrival of some of his missing transports: Labienus offers battle; Caesar's force is surrounded but fights its way out. — Build‑up of defences at Ruspina: shortage of corn:º Cato's advice to the young Pompeius and its sequel: Scipio joins Labienus. — King Juba preoccupied by invasion of his country: reports of atrocities stimulate Caesar to prompter action, but he refuses Scipio's challenge to a pitched battle: his reasons for remaining on the defensive. — Garrison sent by Caesar to Acylla: simultaneous arrival of corn and troops.

7‑36 155

Operations near Uzitta

Description of the terrain SW of Ruspina: Caesar begins fortifying the high ground: a cavalry action ensues: he offers battle in the plain, but Scipio declines. — A centurion from one of Caesar's convoys defies Scipio: conditions in Caesar's camp: an unseasonable storm. — Juba joins Scipio with large reinforcements: Caesar's troops not so overawed as was expected. — Both sides prepare to seize more high ground: Labienus lays an ambush: Caesar captures the hill and carries two fortified lines to Uzitta to protect his flanks: Scipio's cavalry heavily repulsed. — Caesar receives further reinforcements, takes disciplinary measures, fortifies a  p145 new camp opposite Uzitta. — Juba's arrogant behaviour. — Order of battle on either side: only a cavalry skirmish ensues. — Varus fires some of Caesar's transports at Leptis: Caesar quits his camp and personally leads a successful counter-attack. — Foraging operations: Labienus vainly lays another ambush.

37‑66 203

Operations near Aggar

Lack of corn prompts Caesar to march to Aggar: Scipio follows. — Caesar captures Zeta but is forced to fight his way back under heavy attacks from Numidian cavalry and light-armed units: he adapts training methods to meet these new tactics: his anxiety about the enemies' cavalry strength and their elephants. — He twice offers battle: captures Sarsura, approaches Thysdra, retires to Aggar. — Cavalry engagement near Tegea.

67‑78 249

Operations at Thapsus

Caesar advances to Thapsus and begins to invest the town: Scipio follows and finally encamps close to Thapsus. — Caesar's dispositions: his reluctance to engage: the signal is finally given without his orders. — Rout of Scipio's elephants: Caesar's troops meet little resistance: sortie of the garrison of Thapsus repulsed. — Savage vengeance by Caesar's veterans on the fugitives. — Vergilius refuses to surrender Thapsus: arrangements for blockading it and Thysdra: Caesar proceeds to Utica.

79‑86 269

Final stages of the campaign

Brutal sack of Parada by Scipio's cavalry: they plunder Utica till Cato buys them off: he tries in vain to organise resistance and then commits suicide. — Caesar's clemency: he enters Utica and punishes its Roman citizens by inflicting a heavy fine. — Juba outlawed by his subjects takes refuge with Petreius in a villa. — Caesar comes to Zama: surrender of Thysdra and Thapsus: deaths of Juba, Petreius, Afranius and Scipio. — Caesar returns to Utica and fines Thapsus, Hadrumetum, Leptis and Thysdra:embarks at Utica: Callas at Caralis in Sardinia: eventually arrives at Rome.

87‑98 283

Technical Details

Edition Used

Loeb Classical Library, 1955, in a volume containing also the Alexandrian War and the Spanish War; my print copy, a 1988 reprint. The text is in the public domain because the copyright was not renewed at the appropriate time, which would have been in 1982 or 1983. (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 3 maps placed at the end of the volume. I moved them to the pages where they are most relevant.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — 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: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription has been minutely proofread. I run a first proofreading pass immediately after entering each section; then a second proofreading, detailed and meant to be final: in the table of contents above, the text and its accompanying material are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe them to be completely errorfree; any red backgrounds would mean that the chapter had not received that second final proofreading. The header bar at the top of each chapter page will remind you with the same color scheme.

The print edition was very well proofread; I spotted only one minor typographical error, which I marked with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the underscored word to read the variant. 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. (Bullets before measurements, on the other hand, provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.)

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

[image ALT: A map of a stretch of the NE coast of modern Tunisia; in the upper left-hand corner, a portrait-bust of Julius Caesar. The image serves as the icon for Caesar's 'African War' on this site.]

The icon with which I indicate this work is the portion of the Loeb edition's map (reproduced full-size in the first section of text) of ancient "Africa" — a part of the Tunisian coast — around Thapsus, with the head of Caesar from a bust in the museum of Corinth: the full-size original photograph is on the Caesar homepage.

Page updated: 26 Jul 13