Roman Republic
 


Roman Italy (1st Century AD)


Caesar (April 49 - June 46 BC) 

Caesar at Brundisium (late March 49 BC)

As we saw on the previous page, Caesar’s invasion of Italy ended on 17th March, when Pompey escaped from Brundisium and joined his army in Epirus.   Caesar (‘Civil Wars’,  3: 30-31, translated by Cynthis Damon, at pp.  47-9) recorded that:

  1. M. Aurelius Cotta, the serving governor of Sardinia, had fled to Africa even before Caesar’s legate, Q. Valerius Orca, arrived on the island; and

  2. M. Porcius Cato, the serving governor of Sicily, fled to join Pompey in Epirus on learning of the approach of Caesar’s legate, C. Scribonius Curio.

Having also settled matters at Brundisium, Caesar set out for Rome.

Caesar had arranged to break his journey at Formiae in order to call on Cicero.  In a letter that Cicero wrote to Atticus on 27th March, just before Caesar arrived, he expressed his pessimism:

  1. “It is a wretched time.  I don’t doubt that [Caesar] will press me to come to Rome, seeing that he has given orders for notices to be put up at Formiae and elsewhere that he wants a full meeting of the Senate on 1st April”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 186, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vol. 3, p. 93).

In a second letter, which he wrote to Atticus immediately after Caesar’s departure, he reported that:

  1. “My language [during the meeting ] was such as to earn [Caesar’s] respect rather than his thanks, and I stood firm against going to Rome.  But we were wrong in thinking him accommodating; I have never found anybody less so”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 187, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vol. 3, p. 95).

Caesar’s Visit to Rome (early April 49 BC)

Caesar’s Interaction with the Senate and the Plebs

We do not know how many senators attended the Senate meeting that was convened on 1st April: Elizabeth Rawson (referenced below, at p. 429) suggested that there were perhaps only three ex-consuls present, and one or perhaps two praetors.  The ex-consuls presumably included:

  1. the ageing P. Servilius Isauricus Vatius (cos 79 BC): according to Suetonius (‘Life of Caesar’, 3), the young Caesar had served under him for a short time in Cilicia in 78 BC, and (as we shall see) his eponymous son became Caesar’s consular colleague in 48 BC;

  2. Ser. Sulpicius Rufus (cos 68 BC), to whom Cicero (in a letter written on or about 21st April) wrote that:

  3. “I should .. have written to you earlier expressing the opinion that your attendance in the Senate, or rather the meeting of Senators, would serve no useful purpose, but that I was afraid of offending [Caesar], who desired me to follow your example.  When [Caesar] asked me to come to the Senate, I made it plain that I should say exactly what you have said on the subject of peace and the Spanish provinces”, (‘Letters to Friends’, 150, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2001, at vol. 2, pp. 95-7); and

  4. L. Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus (cos 51 BC), Caesar’s father-in-law (see below).

The serving praetors who were still in Rome certainly included M. Aemilius Lepidus (see below) and probably also L. Roscius Fabatus, who had served under Caesar in Gaul and had been one of the envoys that had been sent to negotiate peace with him before he crossed the Rubicon.  It is likely that many of these men attended in the hope that Caesar and Pompey might still be reconciled.  Elizabeth Rawson (as above) reasonably suggested that several plebeian tribunes also probably attended: as we shall see, their number certainly included Mark Antony and Q. Cassius, the plebeian tribunes who had fled to Caesar at Ariminum earlier in the year. 

Caesar recorded that, in his opening address, he had:

  1. “... recounted the injuries done [to him] by his enemies, explaining that his [earlier] candidacy for [the consulship] had not been anomalous; rather, he had waited until the legal time for a consulship, content with what was open to any citizen”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 32: 2, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 49).

In other words, since Caesar’s enemies had blocked his legitimate intention to stand for his second consulship ten years after his first, he had been left with no alternative but to march (albeit illegally) on Rome.  He apparently continued in this vein for a while, before issuing an ultimatum:

  1. “.. he exhorted the senators [to support him] and asked them to take charge of the State and administer it with him.  [However, he warned that]:

  2. ‘... if fear [of Pompey] makes you shirk this task, I will not be a burden to you, but will administer the State myself’”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 32: 7, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 51).

Caesar did not record how the senators reacted to this ‘invitation’ : he simply recorded that they accepted his proposal that representatives should be sent to offer peace terms to Pompey, but:

  1. “... no one could be found to send; it was mostly out of fear [because, on his own departure] ... Pompey had said in the Senate that he would treat those who stayed in Rome like those who were [already] in Caesar’s camp.  So, three days dragged out in arguments and excuses”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 33: 2, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 53). 

Cassius Dio gave a parallel account of these events that contained some additional information.  For example, he recorded that, before Caesar’s arrival at Rome, Mark Antony and Q. Cassius Longinus ) had:

  1. “... assembled the Senate for [Caesar] outside the pomerium; for, though they had [recently] been expelled from that body, they now convened it”, (‘Roman History’, 41: 15: 1-2).

His account of this meeting essentially followed that of Caesar:

  1. “[Caesar] delivered a speech of some length and of a temperate character, ... [since he knew] that [the senators] were displeased at what was going on and suspicious of the many soldiers [in his entourage] ... He therefore censured no-one and made no threat against anyone, but delivered an attack ... on those who had chosen to war upon citizens.  Finally, he proposed that envoys should be sent immediately to the consuls and to Pompey to treat for peace and harmony”, (‘Roman History’, 41: 15: 2-4).

However, Cassius Dio then described a parallel meeting  of the plebeian assembly at which it became clear that the people:

  1. “... were unable either to trust [Caesar’s] words or to be cheered by them.  On the contrary, ... they [remained suspicious], particularly since the envoys who were to effect the reconciliation [with Pompey and the consuls] did not set out after being chosen; indeed, Piso, Caesar’s father-in‑law, was once called to account for so much as referring to [the possibility of negotiating peace with Pompey]”, (‘Roman History’, 41: 16: 3-4).

As we shall see, there are at least two problems with this passage:

  1. it is almost certain that Caesar had cancelled the planned plebeian assembly because of the popular reaction to the raiding of the treasury (see below); and

  2. according to Plutarch, Piso’s proposed peace initiative belonged to the events of December 49 BC.

Nevertheless, Cassius Dio accurately captured the general climate of hesitancy among many of the  senators who remained in Rome and the more overt and potentially explosive unrest among the plebs.

The only specific example of overt opposition in Caesar’s account came in his complaint that his enemies:

  1. “... had deputed [L. Caecilius] Metellus, a plebeian tribune, to sidetrack [his administrative reforms] and to obstruct anything else that Caesar set in motion.  When he recognised Metellus’ intent and a few days had been spent to no purpose, ... Caesar left Rome without having accomplished what he had intended and went to Transalpine Gaul, [en route for Pompey’s provinces in Spain]”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 33: 3-4, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 53).

Cicero soon heard about this incident from Curio (see above), and passed the news on to Atticus in a letter of 14th April:

  1. “[Curio reported] that Caesar had been quite carried away with rage against the tribune Metellus and had wanted to have him killed; in which case there would have been a great massacre [because the office of the tribuneship was sacrosanct].  ... it was not by inclination or nature that [Caesar] was not cruel but because he reckoned that clemency was the popular line.  ... He was upset because he realised that even the populace disliked his behaviour over the treasury.  So, although he had had every intention of holding a public meeting before he left, he had not dared to do so and had set off in a very agitated state of mind”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 195, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vol. 3, p. 121).

Cassius Dio also described the intervention of the plebeian tribune Metellus, although he thought that it had arisen in the context of a meeting of the plebeian assembly, that:

  1. “... had likewise assembled outside the pomerium [after Caesar had] sent for grain from the islands and promised to give each citizen 300 sesterces.  ...  [However, the people doubted that his promises would be met, and it soon became apparent that], far from receiving ... the money that he had promised them, they had to give him all that remained in the treasury for the support of his soldiers, whom they feared.  ... Now. L. Metellus, a tribune, opposed [this demand] and, when his efforts proved unavailing, he went to the treasury and kept guard at the doors.  But the soldiers ... cut the bolt in two (for the consuls had taken the key, just as if it were not possible for persons to use axes in place of it!) and carried off all the money”, (‘Roman History’, 41: 16:1 - 17:2).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Caesar omitted to mention this attack on the treasury: as the poet Lucan observed:

  1. “Dismal was the deed of plunder that robbed the temple [of Saturn, after which], for the first time, Rome was poorer than a Caesar”, (‘Civil War’), 3: 167-8, translated by James Duff, referenced below, at p. 127).

Caesar did not record the capacity in which he would, if needs be, ‘administer the State himself’, but two letters from Cicero to Atticus throw some light on the options open to him:

  1. As early as 17th March, Cicero had fumed that:

  2. “That squalid [unnamed] wretch who says that consular elections can be held by a praetor is what he has always been throughout his political career.  So, that will be what Caesar means when he writes in the letter that I copied to you, [in which he said] that he wants to avail himself of my ‘advice’, ... my ‘influence’, ... my ‘standing’ (my right to speak as an ex-Consul perhaps), and ... my  ‘help in all matters’”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 176, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vol. 3, p. 49).

  3. Thus, at this stage, Cicero had expected that Caesar would want him to support a proposal in the Senate that one of the praetors still in Rome should hold ‘elections’ in which Caesar and his nominee would be ‘elected’ as consuls.

  4. On 25th March, two days before his planned meeting with Caesar, Cicero expected that, at the meeting of the Senate on 1st April, Caesar:

  5. “... will want a decree of the Senate and another from the augurs (I shall be hauled up or harried if I am not there [in that capacity]) allowing a praetor either to hold consular elections or to nominate a dictator, neither of which is legal.  But, if Sulla could arrange... to be nominated [as dictator in 82 BC] by an interrex [whom he then chose as his] master of horse, why [should] Caesar [not behave in a similarly illegal way]?”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 183, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vol. 3, pp. 85-7).

As it turned out, Caesar decided to retain his ambiguous status at this point (although, as we shall see, he was nominated as dictator by a praetor in the following October).  

Events in Rome (April - October 49 BC)

According to Cassius Dio, after Caesar’s abrupt departure for Spain:

  1. “... Cicero and other senators, without even appearing before Caesar, retired to join Pompey ... , [since] the consuls (before they had set sail) and Pompey (under the authority he had as proconsul), had ordered them all to join them Thessalonica, on the ground that the capital was held by enemies and that they themselves were the Senate and would maintain the form of the government wherever they should be.  For this reason most of the [remaining] senators and the knights [now] joined them, some of them at once, and others later ...”, (‘Roman History’, 41: 18: 3-6).

In fact, Cicero did not board ship for Epirus until 7th June, as evidenced by the letter of farewell that he sent to his wife from Caieta harbour (see ‘Letters to Friends’, 155, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2001, at vol. 2, pp. 115-7).

Caesar did not record the arrangements that he made for the governance of Rome and Italy in his absence, but Cassius Dio noted that he:

  1. “... committed affairs at home to [Mark] Antony, while he himself set out for Spain ...”, (‘Roman History’, 41: 18: 3).

According to Plutarch, Caesar more specifically:

  1. “... entrusted:

  2. Rome to Lepidus, who was [already serving as] praetor; and

  3. Italy and the troops [stationed there to Mark] Antony ...”, (‘Life of Mark Antony’, 6: 4).

Caesar’s choice of Lepidus as his senior representative in Rome during his absence would have been conditioned by the fact that he was one of the few patricians who had chosen to remain in Rome.  It is possible that it was influenced by the fact that Lepidus’ wife was a daughter of Servilia, Caesar’s former mistress, who still enjoyed his favour (see, for example, Susan Treggiari, referenced below, at pp. 163-4 and pp. 133-8.)

The tribune Q. Cassius accompanied Caesar to Spain, leaving Lepidus and Mark Antony with unprecedented powers at Rome.   As Kathryn Welch (referenced below, at p. 54) pointed out, Caesar had been:

  1. “... forced into adapting the usual administration of Italy [in order to deal with the fact that] he had only two praetors and very few junior magistrates to work with.  His choice of solution was entirely contrary to tradition, for he awarded imperium propraetore to Q. Cassius Longinus and M. Antonius, who were both tribunes of the plebs and therefore had the least right to it.”

In fact:

  1. although Mark Antony was formally designated as Tribunus plebis pro praetore in a letter that he sent to Cicero in late April/early May 49 BC (copied to Atticus - see‘Letters to Atticus’, 199A, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vol. 3, at p. 143); 

  2. Cassius only received his imperium when Caesar left him to govern Spain after his victory there (see below).

Events outside Rome (April - December 49 BC)

Caesar’s Campaigns at Massilia and Ilerda (April - October 49 BC)

Since Caesar ‘s lack of naval resources had precluded him from following Pompey to Epirus, he decided to concentrate on dealing with Pompey’s legates in Spain.  However, when he reached Massilia (Marseille), he found:

  1. “... that Domitius, [whom he had freed at Corfinium] had set out to seize Massilia, ....  [and that, on receiving this news],  the people of Marseilles had closed the gates to Caesar”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 34: 2-4, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 53).

In a letter that Cicero sent from Formiae to Atticus on 6th May, while he was still awaiting events before deciding his own next move, he observed that:

  1. “I hope Spain is solid.  The action of the Massilians is both valuable in itself and evidence to my mind that things are all right in Spain.  Otherwise they would not be so bold, and they would know, being near at hand and painstaking folk”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 204, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vol. 3, pp. 165-7).

Domitius duly arrived and was admitted into Massilia, to which Caesar then laid siege.  However, the city was well-prepared and Caesar was forced to continue into Spain, having:

  1. “... put D. [Junius] Brutus in charge of the ships and left  ... C. Trebonius [in command] for the assault on Massilia”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 36: 5, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 57).

Caesar now crossed the Pyrenees and engaged with Pompey’s legates, L. Afranius and M. Petreius outside Ilerda (modern Lleida): he claimed that C. Scribonius Curio, the commander of his forces in Africa two years later, had boosted the morale his men by asking them, inter alia:

  1. “Have you really not heard about Caesar’s exploits in Spain?  Two armies routed, two generals defeated, two provinces recovered, all of it done 40 days from when Caesar came within sight of the enemy”, (‘Civil War’, 2: 32: 5, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 173).

The early imperial fasti (including the fasti Fratrum Arvalium,  the fasti Maffeiani and the fasti Antiates Ministrorum) recorded the annual celebration of this victory on 2nd August (see, for example, Gian-Luca Gregori et al., referenced below, at p. 141).  Caesar himself recorded his subsequent clemency after the victory at great length: after railing against Pompey’s illegal behaviour in remaining at Rome for over a decade while legates had governed the Spanish provinces on his behalf, which he claimed had been directed specifically against him, he quoted the terms that he now offered to Afranius and Petreius:

  1. “My present aim is not to take an army from you and keep it for myself, although this would not be difficult for me, but rather to prevent you from having an army to use against me.  Accordingly, ... you must [both] leave your provinces and dismiss your armies.  Provided that this happens, I will not harm anyone.  This is the single and final condition for peace”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 85: 11-2, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 119). 

Cassius Dio recorded that, in the aftermath of this victory:

  1. “... [Caesar’s reputation and his cause both profited considerably; for he won over all the cities in Spain and all the soldiers there, a considerable number of whom were with M. Terentius Varro, [another of Pompey’s legates in Spain], besides others in Baetica”, (‘Roman History’, 41: 23: 2).

Caesar was now able to return to Massilia, having:

  1. “... put Q. Cassius in charge of the province [pro praetor], assigning him four legions”, (‘Civil War’, 2: 21: 4, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 155).

At this point, Caesar himself held no political office.  However, he recorded that, soon after he had accepted Varro’s surrender at Cordoba, he travelled:

  1. “... overland to Narbo and then Massilia, where he learned of the passage of a law instituting a dictatorship, and that he had been proclaimed dictator [in Rome] by the praetor M. Lepidus [see below]”, (‘Civil War’, 2: 21: 5, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 155).

Masillia had now been under siege for about a year, and had also suffered from the attentions of  D. Brutus and C. Trebonius.  Domitius escaped shortly before Caesar arrived, just before the city surrendered: he recorded that:

  1. “The people of Massilia carried their weapons and catapults out of the city, as had been ordered, brought the ships from the port and dockyards, and surrendered the money in their treasury.  When these measures were complete, Caesar let the city persist, more on account of its fame and antiquity than for services to him.  He left two legions there as a garrison and sent the rest to Italy.  He [then] set out for Rome”, (‘Civil War’, 2: 22: 5-6, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 157).

Events in Africa (August 49 BC)

Caesar recorded that, soon after Pompey had left Brundisium in March:

  1. “When [L. Aelius Tubero, to whom the Senate had assigned the province of Africa, arrived to take up his post], he discovered that [P.] Attius Varus was exercising command in the province: after losing his cohorts [after Caesar’s victory there earlier in the year], ... Varus had fled to Africa ... , since a few years earlier, after his praetorship, he been the provincial governor.  When Tubero arrived at Utica with his ships, Varus barred him from the harbour and the town.  He did not even permit Tubero to put his ailing son ashore, but forced him to weigh anchor and leave the area”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 31: 11-2, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 49). 

He then recorded (at ‘Civil War’, 1: 23: 1, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 157) that, at about the time of his own victory at Ilerda (2nd August) C. Scribonius Curio, whom he had appointed as governor of Sicily (see above), had left for Africa in order to remove Varus (thereby precluding its use as a Pompeian staging post):

  1. Curio had the better of an engagement with Varus at Utica, but was not able to press home his advantage (see ‘Civil War’, 2: 33 -34, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at pp. 175-9); but

  2. King Juba of Numidia destroyed his army and he was killed in the battle (see ‘Civil War’, 2: 39 - 42, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at pp. 183-99).

Thus, although Spain had been closed to Pompey, Africa remained at his disposal.

Caesar’s First Dictatorship (October - December 49 BC)

According to Caesar, when he arrived at Marseilles (in late October):

  1. “ ... he learned of the passage of a law instituting a dictatorship, and that he had been proclaimed dictator by the praetor Marcus Lepidus”, (‘Civil War’, 2: 21: 5, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 155).

Cassius Dio similarly recorded that:

  1. While [Caesar] was still on the way [back from Spain to Rome], ... Lepidus ... in his capacity of praetor, advised the people to elect [him as] dictator, and immediately named him, contrary to ancestral custom”, (‘Roman History’, 41: 36: 1).  

Since, as we have seen, Cicero at least had already expected a development of this kind during Caesar’s stay in Rome in April, it is reasonable to assume that Lepidus’ actions were part of a plan that had already been agreed with Caesar.  However, while unorthodox, the development was neither unexpected nor draconian: since there were no serving consuls at Rome who could arrange the election of magostrates for the following year, the obvious way for Caesar to proceed was to have himself appointed as dictator comitiorum habendorum caussa (in order to hold elections).

It seems that similarly unorthodox developments were underway at Pompey’s camp at Thessalonica.  Although Pompey himself had operated as primus inter pares for most of 49 BC, he was given overall command of the senatorial armies towards the end of the year: thus, Caesar recorded that the envoys that Pompey sent to him at Oricum in Eppirus at the start of 48 BC (see below) they had stressed that they had no mandate to negotiate, since:

  1. “... in accordance with the recommendation of the advisory council, Pompey has been entrusted with the totality of the war and everything else “, (‘Civil War’, 3: 16: 4, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 217)

Cassius Dio recorded that, at this time:

  1. “... about 200 senators, [including Marcellus and Lentulus], the consuls [of 49 BC, were present at Pompey’s camp at Thessalonica] and they had appropriated a small piece of land for the auguries, in order that these might seem to take place under some form of law, so that they regarded the people and the whole city as present there.  [However], they had not appointed new magistrates because the consuls had not proposed the lex curiata; but instead, they had [prorogued the magistrates of the previous year], merely changing their names and calling some proconsuls, others propraetors, and others proquaestors.   Thus, they were very careful about precedents, even though they had taken up arms against their country and abandoned it, and they were anxious that the acts rendered necessary by the exigencies of the situation should not all be in violation of the strict requirement of the ordinances”, (‘Roman History’, 41: 43: 1-4).

As Cassius Dio observed, the names of the men who were designated as consuls for 48 BC in both Thessalonica and Rome:

  1. “... in reality, it was Pompey and Caesar who were supreme: for the sake of appearances, they bore the legal titles of proconsul and consul respectively, yet their acts were not those that either of these offices permitted, but whatever they themselves pleased”, (‘Roman History’, 41: 43: 5).

In other words, Caesar’s appointment as dictator in order to hold consular elections was significant only because it paved the way for him to ‘legitimise’ his position by his ‘election’ as consul for 48 BC (see below).

Caesar’s journey back to Rome was interrupted by a mutiny among the troops that he had stationed at Placentia in Cisalpine Gaul (an event that he failed to mention in his ‘Civil Wars’). Stefan Chrissanthos (referenced below, at p. 68) gave a full account of what happened:

  1. “When the mutiny broke out, Caesar and the three Gallic legions accompanying him were [still] at Massilia.  Along with these legions, he raced to Placentia.  There he called a contio of his soldiers, both the mutinous men and those who had remained loyal.  Caesar ignored their demands and instead delivered a speech that quickly cowed the mutineers.  He threatened them with the decimation of all involved, but settled for executing only 12of the 120 ringleaders.  ... He still had the loyalty of the three veteran legions that had accompanied him from Massilia, the three veteran legions that had been left in Apulia, and numerous newly recruited legions in Spain and Italy, [which] gave him the power to regain control of the mutinous men and exact punishment.  However, the problems that had caused this mutiny remained unresolved and would help precipitate the larger and more serious mutiny two years later.”

Having suppressed this mutiny, arrived back at Rome in early December. 

According to Cassius Dio, Caesar:

  1. “... accepted the office [of dictator] as soon as he entered the city, but committed no act of terror while holding it: on the contrary, he  ... filled the [magisterial] offices for the current  year since:

  2. no one had yet been appointed in place of the absentee [magistrates from the previous year]; and

  3. [since all of the aediles of the previous year were among the absentees], the tribunes were performing all their duties”, (‘Roman History’, 41: 36: 1-2).

The relevant entry in the Augustan  fasti Capitolini for 49 BC can be completed as:

  1. Dictator: C. Julius C.f. C.n. Caesar , [without a master of horse - in order to hold elections]

Caesar as Consul-Elect (December 49 BC)

Unsurprisingly, Caesar was ‘elected’ as one of the consuls for 48 BC (see below).  He recorded that:

  1. “After the [consular] elections were over, [he took a number of administrative actions while still consul-elect]:

  2. Since credit was rather tight throughout Italy and existing loans were not being repaid, he decided to provide arbitrators.  These were to make assessments of real estate and goods, determining the prewar value of each item, and the possessions themselves were to be  surrendered to creditors [on the basis of this valuation].  He thought that this would be the most suitable measure both for removing and reducing people’s fear of a cancellation of debts (something that is apt to follow warfare and civil strife) and for preserving the borrowers’ reputations.

  3. Using praetors and plebeian tribunes to put the necessary legislation before the people, Caesar reinstated some men who had been convicted of bribery under the lex Pompeia in the period when Pompey had  [been acting illegally].  These men had offered themselves to him at the beginning of the civil war, in case he wanted to use their services  ... ”, (‘Civil Wars’, 3: 1: 2-4, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 193).

Finally, he noted that, having:

  1. “... allocated eleven days to finishing [the administrative business above], the feriae Latinae [on the Alban mount], and all of the elections, he resigned from the dictatorship, left Rome, and went to Brundisium”, (‘Civil War’, 3: 2: 1, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 195).

Caesar’s celebration of the feriae Latinae as dictator and consul-designate before leaving for Brundisium might indicate that, as discussed above, he alleged (perhaps correctly) that Lentulus and Marcellus had not performed this duty to the gods  by 17th January 49 BC, when they had fled from Rome.

Plutarch gave a slightly different account of the events of these eleven days:

  1. “When Caesar came back to Rome, Piso, his father-in‑law, urged him to send a deputation to Pompey with proposals for a settlement; but [Servilius], in order to please Caesar, opposed the project.  So, having been made dictator by the Senate, [Caesar]:

  2. brought home exiles;

  3. restored to civic rights the descendants of those who had suffered in the time of Sulla;

  4. relieved the burdens of the debtor-class by a certain adjustment of interest; and

  5. undertook a few other public measures of a similar nature.

  6. Within eleven days, he abdicated the sole power had himself declared consul with Servilius, and entered upon his campaign [against Pompey]”, (‘Life of Caesar’, 37: 1-2).

Robert Morstein-Marx (referenced below, p. 694 and note 393) argued that this chronology might well be wrong: Caesar more probably held the consular ‘elections’ before embarking on his administrative programme, in which case, Servilius would have blocked Piso’s initiative as consul designate.  (As noted above, Cassius Dio placed Piso’s intervention during Caesar’s earlier visit to Rome in April.  However, Caesar claimed that he had wanted to send envoys to Pompey at that time, so Plutarch’s chronology seems more likely).

Caesar’s Second Consulship (48 BC)


Sites of the battles at: Dyrrachium (10th July 48 BC); Pharsalus (9th August48 BC); 

Nicopolis - Cn. Domitius Calvinus (December 48 BC); Alexandria (27th March 47 BC); and Zela (2nd August 47 BC)

Adapted from John Carter (referenced below, 2008, Map 4)

The entry for 48 BC in the Augustan fasti Capitolini can be completed as: 

  1. [Consuls]: C. Julius C.f. C.n. Caesar II ; P. Servilius [P.f. C.n. Vatia Isauricus].

Caesar began Book III of his ‘Civil Wars’ by underlining the legitimacy of this second consulship:

  1. “When Caesar held elections in his capacity as dictator [for the first time], J. Caesar and P. Servilius were elected consuls, this being the year in which it was legally permissible for Caesar to be consul”, (‘Civil Wars’, 3: 1: 1, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 193).

Caesar had finally achieved his most important political objective, albeit at the cost of an illegal march on Rome that had culminated in civil war.  As Peter Wiseman (referenced below, at p. 197) pointed out:

  1. “Anyone who thought that the Republic still resided in Pompey’s camp [see above] would have to think again.”

Events at Rome (January - September 48 BC)

As we have seen, Caesar had already left Rome by the time that he became consul for the second time.  Thus, from the beginning of the new consular year, Servilius was in charge at Rome.  Elizabeth Rawson (referenced below, at p. 431) described him as:

  1. “... [the] respected son of the distinguished man [of the same name under whom Caesar] had served in [his] youth [see above], and someone whose adherence [to Caesar’s cause] was perhaps something of a coup.”

One would not have expected to find Servilius at Rome at this time, particularly because of his apparent closeness to Cato (who was present at Pompey’s camp at this time): this closeness is evidenced by Cicero, who referred to:

  1. their co-ordinated activity in the Senate in 60 BC in a matter that adversely affected Atticus’ financial interests (see ‘Letters to Atticus’, 21: 10, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vol. 1, p. 135); and

  2. their joint (albeit unsuccessful) opposition as praetors in 54 BC to the allegedly illegal triumph awarded to C. Pontinus in that year for his victory in Gaul in 61 BC (see ‘Letters to Atticus’, 92: 4, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vol. 2, p. 19).

Furthermore, during his praetorship, Servilius had prosecuted Caesar’s legate, C. Messius, against the wishes of both Caesar and Pompey (both of whom had then ‘requested’ that Cicero should act for the defence - see ‘Letters to Atticus’, 90: 9, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vol. 2, p. 9).  In short, one would have expected that Servilius, like Cato, would have chosen Pompey’s cause as the lesser of two evils.  Our surviving sources do not throw much light on the reasons for Servilius’ decision to support Caesar, although it might be relevant that:

  1. his father had served as one of the consuls of 79 BC, which was the last year of Sulla’s dictatorship; and

  2. (like Lepidus) he was married to a daughter of Servilia (see, for example, Susan Treggiari, referenced below, at pp. 163-4 and pp. 131-3). 

All we can say is that, according to Plutarch, he blocked Piso’s proposed peace initiative in late 49 BC, presumably as consul-elect. 

Caesar’s choice of Servilius as his consular colleague proved to be an excellent one: Cassius Dio recorded that:

  1. “In Rome, as long as the issue between Caesar and Pompey was doubtful and unsettled, the people all ostensibly favoured Caesar, because of [their fear of the Caesarian troops] in their midst and because of his colleague, Servilius”, (‘Roman History’, 42: 17: 1).

Caesar’s Victory at Pharsalus (January - September 48 BC)

Caesar had mustered his army and his fleet at Brundisium by the start of the consular year (although, by this time, the calendar was very much out of synchronisation with the seasons, and it would have been in November on the more meaningful calendar that Caesar would introduce in 45 BC).  He managed to cross to Epirus with part of his army in January, but the combination of winter weather and Pompey’s naval blockade of Brundisium meant that Mark Antony could not make the crossing with the rest of his army until April. 

The course of the surprisingly short war that followed was well-described in the surviving summary of the now-lost Book 111 of Livy’s ‘History of Rome’:

  1. “... Pompey was besieged at Dyrrhachium [on the Adriatic coast] by Caesar.  After storming [Caesar’s fortifications on 17th July and inflicting] great losses to the other side, Pompey freed himself from the siege and transferred the war to Thessaly, where his army was defeated [by Caesar] at Pharsalus.  Cicero [who was, or claimed to be, ill] had remained in Pompey's camp [at Dyrrhachium], because there was never a man less suited to war than he.  Caesar pardoned all the enemies who [surrendered to him]”, (Periochae’,  111: 5-6).

The early imperial fasti recorded the annual celebration of Caesar’s victory at Pharsalus on 9th August (see, for example, Gian-Luca Gregori et al., referenced below, at p. 141).

Aftermath of the Battle at Pharsalus

After his defeat, Pompey, fled to Egypt.  As he approached Alexandria on 28th September, the young King Ptolemy XIII invited him to land and sent out a small boat to receive him.  According to Caesar:

  1. “... Pompey boarded the tiny vessel with a few of his friends.  There he was killed by Achillas and Septimius, [the advisors of the young king].  Ptolemy also laid hands on [L. Cornelius Lentulus (cos 49 BC, who] was killed in prison”, (‘Civil Wars’, 3: 104: 2-3, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 343).

C. Claudius Marcellus, Lentulus’ erstwhile colleague as consul, who had shared the command of Pompey’s fleet, now disappears from our surviving sources.  Even so, the anti-Caesarian cause was not yet lost: according to  the surviving summary of the now-lost Book 113 of Livy’s ‘History of Rome’:

  1. “The Pompeian faction consolidated its position in Africa and, after Cato had declined an offer of joint command, the sole command was given to P. Scipio”, (Periochae’,  111: 5-6).

However, the significance of this consolidation of the formerly Pompeian forces only became apparent to Caesar in 46 BC (see below).

Caesar recorded that, after the victory, he decided that:

  1. “... he should leave all else aside and pursue Pompey wherever he went after his escape, to make it impossible for him to procure other troops and renew the war”, (‘Civil Wars’, 3: 102: 1, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 337).

This pursuit turned into a naval chase around the eastern Mediterranean.  According to Plutarch:

  1. “Arriving at Alexandria just after Pompey's death, [Caesar turned away in horror when presented] with the head of Pompey, but he accepted Pompey's signet ring and shed tears over it”, (‘Life of Caesar’, 48: 2).

Events in Rome (October - December 48 BC)

Reaction at Rome to News of Pompey’s Death (October 48 BC)

According to Cassius Dio:

  1. “When the [result of the] battle of Pharsalus was announced, the [people of Rome] were long incredulous, since Caesar sent no [despatches to Rome], hesitating to appear to rejoice publicly over ... a victory [over fellow-Romans]: for the same reason, he chose not celebrate a triumph”, (‘Roman History’, 42: 18: 1).

Mark Antony probably brought the first reliable news of the victory with him when he arrived in Italy after the battle (see below).  Cassius Dio claimed that many people still doubted that Pompey’s cause was lost, and:

  1. “Even when [news arrived that he] had died, they did not believe it ... until they saw his signet ring, which had been sent [from Alexandria]; it had three trophies carved on it, as had that of Sulla”, (‘Roman History’, 42: 18: 3).

Cassius Dio recorded that it was only at this point that the Senate conferred a number of unprecedented honours on Caesar:

  1. “They:

  2. granted him permission to do whatever he wished to those who had favoured Pompey's cause ... ;

  3. appointed him as the arbiter of war and peace ... , without  the obligation [even to consult] the people or the Senate on the subject;   ...

  4. [awarded him] the privilege of holding

  5. the consulship for five consecutive years [although, as we shall see, he did not trouble to assume the consulship of 47 BC];

  6. the dictatorship, not for six months, but for an entire year; and

  7. ... the tribunician power, practically for life; ...

  8. [gave him control of] all the [annual elections of magistrates] except those of the plebs ... and, for this reason, [these elections] were delayed until after his arrival and were held toward the close of the year [sic: as we shall see, Caesar did not return to Rome until October 47 BC];

  9. voted that he should appoint praetorian governors to provinces without the casting of lots, (although they pretended that they would first assign the provinces that would be given to the consuls); ...  and

  10. decreed that he should hold a triumph for the war against Juba and the Romans who fought with him, just as if had been the victor, even though this war had yet to be fought [see below]”, (‘Roman History’, 42: 20).

I have removed a great deal of polemic from this long passage in order to isolate its allegedly factual content.   As Cassius Dio pointed out (ad nauseam), these ‘honours’ essentially legitimised powers that Caesar already enjoyed as a result of his political and military strength.  If  the list is broadly reflective of what actually happened, it would have reflected the terror with which many senators awaited Caesar’s return to Rome.

Caesar’s Second Dictatorship (48/7 BC)

The only one of these honours that affected the course of events over the following months was the award of Caesar’s second dictatorship, not because it had any noticeable effect on Caesar’s actions, but because the Romans had to endure life under Mark Antony as master of horse. 

According to Plutarch, Caesar chose Mark Antony to be his master of horse because he had distinguished himself at Dyrrhachium and Pharsalus:

  1. Twice, when Caesar's men were in headlong flight, [ presumably, at Dyrrhachium , Mark Antony] met them, turned them back, forced them to stand and engage again their pursuers and won the victory.  Accordingly, he was the man most talked about in the camp after Caesar himself.  And Caesar showed plainly what opinion he had of him: when he was about to fight the decisive battle at Pharsalus, he himself took the right wing, but he gave the command of the left to [Mark] Antony, as the most capable officer under him.  Furthermore, after the victory, when he had been proclaimed dictator, he himself pursued Pompey but he chose Antony as his master of horse and sent him to Rome.  This office is second in rank when the dictator is in the city; but when he is absent, it is the first and almost the only one, since only the tribuneship continues when a dictator has been chosen; all the other offices are abolished”, (‘Life of Mark Antony’, 8: 1-3).

Cassius Dio recorded that Caesar:

  1. “... chose Mark Antony as his master of horse, despite the fact that he had not yet been praetor.  The consuls [Caesar himself and Servilius] also proposed the latter's name, although the augurs very strongly opposed him, declaring that no-one could be master of horse for more than six months.  But, by acting in this way, they brought upon themselves a great deal of ridicule because, after having decided that the dictator himself should be chosen for a year, contrary to all precedent, they were now splitting hairs about the master of the horse”, (‘Roman History’, 42: 21: 1-2).

Legality of Caesar’s Second Appointment as Dictator

The most immediate precedent for this dictatorship had been that of Sulla, in 82 BC, after his victory in the earlier civil war.  Like Caesar, he had found himself in a position of uncontested power in Rome.  However, unlike Caesar, he had used this opportunity do destroy his erstwhile enemies.  Plutarch observed that:

  1. “... besides his massacres [of his enemies], the rest of Sulla's proceedings also gave offence: for he proclaimed himself dictator, reviving this particular office after a lapse of 120 years”, (‘Life of Sulla’, 33: 1).

The last dictator recorded in our surviving sources who was appointed for a purpose other than the holding of elections was M. Iunius Pera, in the aftermath of the Romans disastrous defeat at Cannae in 216 BC.


But, if Sulla could arrange [to be nominated as dictator in 82 BC by an interrex whom he then made his master of horse - see below], why not Caesar?”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 183, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vol. 3, p. 85).


According to Plutarch, after Caesar’s victory at Pharsaulus:

  1. “... when he had been proclaimed dictator [in absentia], he himself pursued Pompey [to Alexandria]: he chose Antony as his master of horse and sent him to Rome.  This office is second in rank when the dictator is in the city; but when [the dictator himself] is absent, it is the first and almost the only one, since only the tribuneship continues when a dictator has been chosen; all the other offices are abolished”, (‘Life of Mark Antony’, 8: 1-2).


Duration of Caesar’s Second Dictatorship

As we have seen, Cassius Dio commented that Caesar had been designated in his absence as dictator:

  1. “... not for six months, but for an entire year”, (‘Roman History’, 42: 20: 3).

Plutarch similarly commented that, after his victory at Zela (2nd August 47 BC - see below), Caesar finally returned to Rome:

  1. “...at the close of the year for which he had a second time been chosen dictator, though that office had never before been for a whole year”, (‘Life of Caesar’,  51: 1).

As discussed below, Caesar probably arrived in the city in early October.




likelihood is that Mark Antony brought instructions from Caesar that Servilius should appoint him as dictator, with Mark Antony as his master of horse.  Robert Broughton



Elizabeth Rawson (referenced below, at p. 458) underlined the fact that Caesar had made a conscious effort to observe the constitutional niceties up to this point, albeit that some irregularities had inevitably been necessary.   She argued (at p. 459) that:

  1. “The real rot set in after Pharsalus, when Caesar was elected dictator for a year ... “



Andrew Drummond (referenced below, at p. 570) observed that this one-year dictatorship was unprecedented:

  1. “Although Sulla's dictatorship [in late 82 BC] had not been subject to [the traditional] time-limit of six months, it [had not been] a dictatorship for life: ... it was to be held until Sulla had completed the task assigned to him (probably the establishment of the res publica and the passing of legislation): that task completed, he [duly resigned].  Caesar's second dictatorship was not to be of this kind: he [probably intended] to hold the office at least until the remnants of the opposition had been crushed, and may already have envisaged its use as the permanent formal basis and expression of his control of the Roman state.  ...  [However, the prospect of a perpetual dictatorship might well have provoked] considerable suspicion, if not outright opposition, at a time when his own position was still not entirely secure.  Caesar therefore resorted to the new device of an annual dictatorship ...”



Period of Caesar’s Second Dictatorship

Cassius Dio recorded that Caesar:

  1. “... entered upon the dictatorship at once, although he was outside of Italy”, (‘Roman History’, 42: 21: 1).

However, in a speech that Cicero never delivered, but which he published in late 44 BC, he claimed that Mark Antony had been:

  1. “... appointed Master of the Horse by favour of Caesar’s friends without Caesar’s knowledge, since he was in Alexandria [October 48 - July 47 BC] , (‘Philippics’, 2: 62, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2010, at vol. 1, p. 315).

Furthermore, as Jane Gardner (referenced below, at p. 59) observed, we know from Cicero’s correspondence that:

  1. “... by December [of 48 BC], Mark Antony was apparently behaving as his master of horse at Rome.” 

She cited a letter of 17th December that Cicero (who had returned  from the Pompeian camp at Pharsalus and was waiting for Caesar’s permission  to return to Rome) wrote to Atticus, complaining that:

  1. “... I have almost been ordered out of Italy? [Mark] Antony has sent me a copy of a letter from Caesar to himself, in which Caesar says that:

  2. he has heard that [the Pompeian pro praetor, M. Porcius Cato] and L. [Caecilius] Metellus, [who, as plebeian tribune, had tried to deny Caesar access to the treasury in 49 BC]  have returned to Italy, intending to live openly in Rome;

  3. he does not approve of this in view of the risk of disturbances resulting; and

  4. all persons are barred from Italy except those whose cases he has personally reviewed. 

  5. He [Caesar] expressed himself pretty strongly on [the last] point.  So, Antony wrote, asking me to excuse him, since he had no choice but to obey the letter.  I then sent L. [Aelius] Lamia, [Cicero’s long-time friend, who had been banished in 58 BC and who had probably returned to Rome as a supporter of  Caesar] to him to explain that Caesar had told P. Cornelius] Dolabella, [Cicero’s son-in-law, who had fought under Caesar at Pharsalus] to write to me and ask me to come to Italy as soon as possible, and that I had come in consequence of Dolabella’s letter.  Antony then published an edict, exempting me and [D.] Laelius,[who had served in Pompey’s fleet at Brundisium] by name.  I must say, I wish he had not done that: the cases could have been exempted without mentioning names”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 218, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vol. 3, pp. 203-5). 

Clearly, Mark Antony was acting as Caesar’s representative in Italy by this time.  We have slightly more to go on with respect to the point at which this dictatorship ended: Plutarch noted that, after Caesar’s victory at Zela on 2nd August 47 BC (see below):

  1. “... he crossed to Italy and went up to Rome, at the close of the year for which he had been chosen as dictator for a second time, [despite the fact] that this office had never before been for a whole year”, (‘Life of Caesar’, 51: 2).

Andrew Drummond (referenced below, at p. 564) reasonably argued that this dictatorship formally ran from October 48 to September 47 BC. 

As we have seen, he Mark Antony was certainly acting as Caesar’s senior representative at Rome by December 48 BC.  As Elizabeth Rawson (referenced below, at p. 459) observed:

  1. “... his anomalous position was symbolised by the fact that, in Rome, he wore the civilian toga, [but carried] a sword.”


Nevertheless, the consul Servilius and C. Trebonius, the urban praetor seem to have been in day-to-day control in Rome.  Their task was complicated by the fact that, as Cassius Dio recorded, M. Caelius Rufus, another praetor who was in the city at this time stirred up considerable unrest, apparently because he resented the fact that Caesar had chosen Trebonius for what seems to have been the more senior praetorian post:

  1. “ Hence, [Caelius] opposed [Trebonius] in everything and would not let him perform any of the duties devolving upon him: he not only refused to consent to [Trebonius] pronouncing judgments according to Caesar's laws, but he also gave notice to that ... he would assist [anyone who was in debt] against their creditor and [anyone who rented a house] that he would release them from payment of the rent.  Having gained a considerable following in this way, he attacked Trebonius with their aid and would have killed him, had he not managed to change his dress and escape in the crowd.  After this failure, Caelius privately issued a law in which he granted everybody the use of houses free of rent and annulled all debts.  Servilius consequently sent for some soldiers who happened to be going by on the way to Gaul and, after convening the Senate under their protection, he proposed a measure in regard to the situation.  No action was taken, since the tribunes prevented it, but the sense of the meeting was recorded and Servilius then ordered the court officers to take down the offending tablets.  When Caelius drove these men away and even involved [Servilius] himself in a tumult, [the Senate] convened again, still protected by the soldiers, and entrusted to Servilius [special powers that allowed him to suspend Caelius from office] ...”, (‘Roman History’, 42: 22-23).

Caelius then headed for Campania, where T. Annius Milo (who had been exiled from Rome in 52 BC and had now returned without Caesar’s permission) was stirring up a revolt.  However, when he

  1. “... reached Campania, and found that Milo, after a defeat near Capua, had taken refuge on Mount Tifata, [he] gave up his plan of going farther, the tribune was alarmed and wished to bring him back home.  Servilius ... declared war upon Milo in the Senate and gave orders that Caelius should remain in the suburbs ... [Alarmed], Caelius made his escape and hastened to Milo, ... [only to discover that he] had perished in Apulia.  Caelius, therefore, went to Bruttium, ... [where] those who favoured Caesar banded together and killed him”, (‘Roman History’, 42: 25).

According to Caesar (‘Civil Wars’, 3: 22: 3) Milo had been killed by another praetor, Q. Pedius, who was in command of a legion.  Nothing in our surviving sources suggests that Mark Antony played any part in these events.

According to Plutarch, Caesar chose Mark Antony to be his master of horse because he had distinguished himself at Dyrrhachium and Pharsalus:

  1. Twice, when Caesar's men were in headlong flight, [ presumably, at Dyrrhachium , Mark Antony] met them, turned them back, forced them to stand and engage again their pursuers and won the victory.  Accordingly, he was the man most talked about in the camp after Caesar himself.  And Caesar showed plainly what opinion he had of him: when he was about to fight the decisive battle at Pharsalus, he himself took the right wing, but he gave the command of the left to [Mark] Antony, as the most capable officer under him”, (‘Life of Mark Antony’, 8: 1-2).


Caesar in Egypt (October 48 - July 47 BC)

As we have seen, after his victory at Pharsalus, Caesar set off in pursuit of  Pompey, a pursuit that took him around the eastern Mediterranean.  According to the surviving summary of the now-lost Book 112 of Livy’s ‘History of Rome’:

  1. “When ... Pompey [reached] Egypt, he was [murdered] on the orders of king Ptolemy [XIII]... by Achillas, [the young king’s guardian] ...  Pompey's wife Cornelia and his son Sextus Pompeius escaped to Cyprus.  When Caesar arrived [at Alexandria] three days later [and was shown] Pompey's head and ring, he was offended and wept”, (Periochae’,  112: 2-4).

Caesar now found himself in the midst of a succession crisis, and it seems that his imperious arrival at Alexandria exacerbated tensions:

  1. “Upon disembarking, he heard shouts from the soldiers whom [Ptolemy XIII] had left on guard in the city, and saw people converging on him, apparently because he had the fasces ahead of him.  The whole crowd was shouting that this amounted to a slight on the king’s majesty.  This riot was calmed, but there were frequent disturbances as crowds gathered every day thereafter, and several [Roman] soldiers were killed in every district of the city”, (‘Civil Wars’, 3: 106: 4-5, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 345).

For reasons that have never been completely explained, after almost a decade of continuous warfare, Caesar now decided to stop.   His own explanation apparently went as follows:

  1. “When Caesar understood the situation [in Alexandria], he ordered other legions to be brought to him from Asia, those that he had formed from Pompey’s soldiers.  He ... [soon found himself] pinned down by the [prevailing] winds, which are extremely unfavourable for anyone sailing from Alexandria.  Meanwhile, thinking that the quarrel between the [contenders for the Egyptian throne, Ptolemy XIII and his sister Cleopatra VII, who had recently been exiled to Syria]:

  2. pertained to the Roman people, and to himself, since he was consul; and

  3. was a matter of particular obligation for him, since the alliance [between the Romans and the recently-deceased Ptolemy XII] had been made ... during his earlier consulship;

  4. Caesar made his view on the matter clear: Ptolemy and ... Cleopatra should dismiss their armies and debate the points at issue on legal grounds before him, rather than in arms against each other”, (‘Civil Wars’, 3: 107: 1-2, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 347).

His decision to stay in Alexandria might also have been influenced by the fact that the Egyptians owed a considerable amount of money to the Romans under the terms of their treaty. 

Unfortunately, Caesar had over-estimated the strength of his position, and soon found himself besieged by Achillas.  At some time during this siege, Cleopatra apparently returned to Alexandria and succeeded in having herself smuggled into Caesar’s presence.  The arrival in early 47 BC of reinforcements and supplies sent by Cn. Domitius Calvinus (whom Caesar had sent to govern Asia after Pharsalus  - see below) and by Mithridates of Pergamum (a Roman ally) proved decisive in ending the siege: Ptolemy’s army was routed and he drowned as he tried to escape along the Nile.  According to [Caesar]:

  1. “This signal victory ... filled Caesar with such confidence that he hastened with his cavalry to Alexandria ... and entered it triumphantly ... On his arrival, he reaped the well-earned fruits of valour and magnanimity; for the entire population of the city threw down their arms and abandoned their fortifications.  They assumed the garb in which suppliants traditionally placated tyrants with earnest prayers, and brought forth all the sacred emblems by the sanctity of which they had been wont to [soften ?] the embittered and wrathful hearts of their kings.  In this way, they hastened to meet Caesar on his arrival and surrendered themselves to him.  Caesar took them formally under his protection and consoled them.  Then, passing through the enemy fortifications, he came to his own quarter of the city amid loud cheers of congratulation from his own troops ...”, (‘Alexandrian War’, 32, translated by A. G. Way, referenced below, at pp. 61-3).

The fasti Maffeiani recorded a later annual festival celebrating Caesar’s victory at Alexandria on 27th March, and this victory resulted in the second of four triumphs that Caesar celebrated in September 46 BC (see below).

Caesar now settled the matter of the succession:

  1. “Having made himself master of Egypt and Alexandria, Caesar appointed those whom [Ptolemy XII] had named [as his successors] in his will with an earnest appeal to the Roman people that they should not be altered.  [However, since Ptolemy XIII] was now no more, Caesar assigned the kingdom to the younger [son] and to Cleopatra ...”, (‘Alexandrian War’, 33: 1, translated by A. G. Way, referenced below, at p. 63).

He then seems to have embarked on a well-earned holiday: as late as 14th June 47 BC, Cicero wrote to Atticus from Brundisium (where he was anxiously awaiting Caesar’s return), complaining that:

  1. “... there is no news here of [Caesar] having left Alexandria, and it is agreed that no-one at all has left there since 15th of March, and that [Caesar himself] he has sent no dispatches since 13th of December [48 BC]”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 229, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vol. 3, pp. 239-41). 

He wrote again on 5th July to tell Atticus that:

  1. “There is an unauthoritative report that Caesar has left Alexandria.  It arose from a letter [written by] Sulpicius [presumably P. Sulpicius Rufus, pr. 48 BC], which all subsequent advices have gone to confirm.  As its truth or falsity does not make any personal difference to me, I cannot say which I should prefer”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 231, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vol. 3, p. 243). 

Allowing for the time taken for news to travel from Alexandria to Rome, it seems that Caesar had been incommunicado for six months or more.

Events in Spain 48 -47 BC

As we have seen, Caesar had defeated the Pompeian governors of Spain (M. Petreius, L. Afranius and M. Terentius Varro) in 49 BC and, had then left Q. Cassius Longinus in command of his legions there.  According to the now-unknown author of the “Alexandrian Wars’, whom I have designated [Caesar], Cassius held the post of pro praetor in Hispania Ulterior:

  1. “... during the period when Caesar was besieging Pompey at Dyrrachium, achieving success at ... Pharsalus and engaged at Alexandria [i.e., in the period July 48 - June 47 BC]”, (‘Alexandrian War’, 48, translated by A. G. Way, referenced below, at p. 89).

According to the surviving summary of the now-lost Book 111 of Livy’s ‘History of Rome’, in 48 BC:

  1. “Because of the avarice and cruelty of pro praetor Q. Cassius, the inhabitants of Cordoba in Hispania, together with the two legions of Varro, abandoned the cause of Caesar”, (‘Periochae’,  111: 4).

[Caesar] gave a relatively detailed account of the events that followed:

  1. As a result of Cassius’ abusive behaviour, a group of local people attempted to assassinate him  at Cordoba.  The plot failed and, shortly after Cassius had executed the would-be assassins, he learned of Caesar’s victory at Pharsalus (paragraphs 49-56).

  2. When some of the legions at Cordoba mutinied, Cassius sent his quaestor, M. Marcellus to deal with the situation.  The city council at Cordoba joined the revolt, together with the Roman garrison in the city:

  3. “Marcellus, either of his own free will or under compulsion (reports varied on this point) was hand in glove with the [revolt at] Corduba”,  (‘Alexandrian War’, 57, translated by A. G. Way, referenced below, at p. 103).

  4. Cassius and Marcellus established their respective camps on either side of the river Baetis outside Cordoba.  Cassius:

  5. “... sent despatches to  ...M. Lepidus, the pro-consul in Hispania Citerior, urging [him] to come as soon as possible to the aid of himself and the province, in the interest of Caesar”, (‘Alexandrian War’, 59, translated by A. G. Way, referenced below, at pp. 105-7).

  6. Cassius then moved his camp to Ulia, a short distance to the south, and Marcellus followed him.

  7. Lepidus arrived at Ulia with 35 legionary cohorts and a large number of cavalry:

  8. “... his object being to resolve, quite impartially, the dispute between Cassius and Marcellus”,(‘Alexandrian War’, 62-63, translated by A. G. Way, referenced below, at p. 111).

  9. When negotiations broke down, Lepidus and Marcellus established a joint camp at Corduba and Cassius Cassius moved to Carmo, a short distance to the west:

  10. “At about the same time, C. Tebonius arrived to govern [Hispania Ulterior] as pro-consul.  When Cassius learned of his  coming, he  ... hastened to Malaca, where he embarked, ... [although] it was winter... His ship sank in the mouth of the [Ebro] and he perished”,(‘Alexandrian War’, 64, translated by A. G. Way, referenced below, at p. 113).

The likelihood is that, when Cassius set out on his ill-fated voyage, he had been hoping to reach Caesar in order to give his own account of recent events.

At this point, we should consider how Lepidus and Trebonius had become involved in these events in Hispania Ulterior:

  1. As we have seen, when Caesar had left Rome in October 49 BC, he had left Lepidus in charge of the City as urban praetor.  According to Cassius Dio,

  2. “... immediately after [Lepidus’] praetorship, [Caesar sent him] into Hispania Citerior and, upon his return, honoured him with a triumph, although he had conquered no foes and fought no battles, the pretext being that he had been present during the conflict between Cassius and Marcellus”, (‘Roman History’, 43: 1: 1-3).

  3. In other words, Lepidus had governed Hispania Citeriore for the whole of 48 and 47 BC before returning to Rome, where Caesar allowed him to triumph.  The records in the fasti Triumphales for the period 53-46 BC no longer survive but Lepidus’ triumph of 43 BC (once more in Spain) is recorded in the fasti as his second.  There is no reason to doubt Cassius Dio’s assertion that the triumph had been justified by the part that Lepidus had played in sorting out the conflict between Cassius and Marcellus.  Richard Weigel (referenced below, at p. 31) suggested that Caesar had awarded it in late 47 BC in order to boost Lepidus’ prestige prior to his inauguration in the following year as Caesar’s consular colleague (see below).

  4. We have also seen that Trebonius had succeeded Lepidus as urban praetor, and that he had been dealing with the uprising of M. Caelius Rufus in October - December 48.  In a letter that Cicero wrote to Trebonius in late 46 BC, he referred back to Trebonius’:

  5. “... intention to visit me at Brundisium, had you not suddenly been ordered to Spain”, (‘Letters to Friends’, 207, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2001, at vol. 2, p. 259).

  6. Cicero had arrived in Brundisium in October 48 BC. and Caesar was incommunicado from 13th December 48 BC: we might reasonably assume thatCaesar had ordered Trebonius sudden departure for Spain during this period.

Since:

  1. Lepidus was awarded a triumph when he returned to Rome in late 47 BC; and

  2. Trebonius’ governorship of Hispania Ulterior was extended into 46 BC;

we might reasonably assume that the situation on Spain had remained reasonably stable throughout 47 BC.

Events in the Eastern Provinces (December 48 - August 47 BC)

Battle of Nicopolis (December 48 BC)

In 48 BC, King Pharnaces of Pontus (in what is now northern Turkey) had exploited the Romans’ internal distractions by attacking the neighbouring kingdoms of Armenia and Cappadocia.  Both of their rulers, who were allied to Rome, sought help from Cn. Domitius Calvinus, whom Caesar had appointed as governor of Asia Minor.  However (as we have seen) Calvinus had sent most of his army to aid Caesar at Alexandria, so he was forced to rely to a considerable extent on the armies of his allies, and Pharnaces duly defeated him at Nicopolis in December 48 BC.  According to Aulus Hirtius:

  1. “After sustaining this defeat, ... [Calvinus] collected the remnants of his scattered army and  withdrew by a safe routes through Cappadocia into Asia”, (‘Alexandrian War’, 65: 1 - 66: 1, translated by A. G. Way, referenced below, at pp. 115-7).

Thus, as Gareth Sampson (referenced below, at p. 89) observed:

  1. “With the onset of winter, Pharnaces found himself in the same position as his father, Mithridates VI: he had defeated the Romans, ejected them from Asia Minor and recreated the Pontic Empire.”

Caesar in Syria (July 47 BC)

Caesar did not immediately respond to Pharnaces’ victory.  However, according to Plutarch:

  1. “... leaving Cleopatra on the throne of Egypt (a little later she had a son by him whom the Alexandrians called Caesarion), he set out for Syria [in the summer of 47 BC]”, (‘Life of Caesar’, 49: 10).

According to Aulus Hirtius:

  1. “On his arrival in Syria ... , Caesar learned from those who had joined him there from Rome, as well as from information contained in despatches from the City, that there was much that was bad and unprofitable in the administration at Rome [see below].  ... He saw that all this urgently demanded his presence: yet, for all that, he thought it more important to leave all the provinces and districts he visited  [in good order] ....  He was confident he would speedily achieve this in Syria, Cilicia and Asia, as these provinces had no war afflicting them: ... He spent some time in practically all the more important states of Syria ... [and, when all was in order, he] posted Sextus Caesar, his friend and kinsman, to command the legions and govern Syria ...”, (‘Alexandrian War’, 65: 1 - 66: 1, translated by A. G. Way, referenced below, at pp. 115-7).

Hirtius then noted that Caesar rapidly dealt with the affairs of Cilicia and Asia.

Battle of Zela (2nd August 47 BC)

Caesar now marched north into Pontus, and finally engaged with Pharnaces at Zela (where Pharnaces’ father, Mithridates VI, had defeated the Romans some 20 years earlier).  However, the result on this occasion was a rapid and comprehensive Roman victory: as Plutarch famously recorded, Caesar:

  1. “... drove [Pharnaces] ... out of Pontus and annihilated his army.  In announcing the swiftness and fierceness of this battle to C. Matius, one of his friends at Rome, Caesar wrote only three words: [they were rendered in Latin as]: ‘Veni, vidi, vici’ (I came, I saw, I conquered)”, (‘Life of Caesar’, 49: 10 - 50: 3).

A number of early imperial calendars (including the fasti Fratrum Arvalium,  the fasti Maffeiani and the fasti Antiates Ministrorum) recorded a later annual festival celebrating Caesar’s victory at Zela on 2nd August (see, for example, Gian-Luca Gregori et al., referenced below, at p. 141), and this victory resulted in the third of four triumphs that Caesar celebrated in September 46 BC ( see below).

According to Aulus Hirtius:

  1. “Having thus recovered Pontus and made a present to his troops of all the royal plunder, [Caesar] set out on the following day ..., leaving two legions in Pontus with [M.] Caelius Vinicianus.”, (‘Alexandrian War’, 77: 1-2, translated by A. G. Way, referenced below, at pp. 133-5).

Hirtius then recorded Caesar’s rapid march through Gallatia and Bithynia into Asia.  He conferred most the territory that had belonged to Pharnaces on his ally Mithridates of Pergamum (see above).

Events in Rome (January - August 47 BC)

Cassius Dio recorded that, after the end of Servilius’ term as consul, there was:

  1. “... neither consul nor praetor and, while [Mark] Antony ... convened the Senate [and] furnished some semblance of the Republic, yet the [fact that he was armed and accompanied by a] throng of soldiers and, in particular, [the manner in which he conducted himself] indicated the existence of a monarchy.   In fact many robberies, outrages, and murders took place.  ... [Furthermore, many in Rome] suspected Caesar of intending far more and greater deeds of violence.  For, if the master of the horse never laid aside his sword even at the festivals, who would not have been suspicious of the dictator himself?”, (‘Roman History’, 42: 27: 2-3).

Matters were not improved by dissent among the new plebeian tribunes: C. Asinius Pollio; P. Cornelius Dolabella; and L. Trebullius.  According to Plutarch:

  1. “Dolabella, ... a newcomer in politics who aimed at a new order of things, introduced a law for the abolition of debts, and tried to persuade [Mark] Antony, who was his friend and always sought to please the multitude, to [support this] measure.  But Asinius and Trebellius advised [Mark] Antony to the contrary and, as chance would have it, a [current rumour alleged that Dolabella was conducting an affair with Mark Antony’s wife].   Antony  ... [therefore] made common cause with Asinius and Trebellius ... The Senate [duly decreed] that arms must be employed against Dolabella: [Mark Antony then] ...  joined battle [with Dolabella], killed some of his men and lost some of his own”, (‘Life of Antony’, 9: 1-2).

Mark Antony also had to deal with discontent among Caesar’s veterans.  As Stefan Chrissanthos (referenced below, at p. 69) pointed out, Caesar had sent nine veteran Gallic legions to Italy after Pharsalus, and Mark Antony had billeted them in Campania to await Caesar's return.  However, Cassius Dio recorded that, while Mark Antony was coping with the unrest at Rome described above, he:

  1. “... learned that the legions which Caesar after the battle had sent ahead into Italy, with the intention of following them later, were engaged in questionable proceedings.  Fearing that they might begin some rebellion, [Mark Antony] turned over the charge of the City to Lucius Caesar [consul of 64 BC, Julius Caesar’s cousin and Mark Antony’s uncle], appointing him Urban Prefect, an office never before conferred by a master of the horse, and then set out himself to join the soldiers”, (‘Roman History’, 42: 30: 1).

The build-up of this tension can be seen in a number of tellers that Cicero wrote to Atticus:

  1. on 19th January, he mentioned:

  2. “... the alienation of public feeling in Italy, the diminished vigour and loyalty of the troops, the desperate state of affairs in Rome”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 221, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vol. 3, p. 217).

  3. on 3rd June, he referred to the knocks that Caesar had suffered:

  4. “... in Asia [at Nicopolis - see below], ... in Illyria [where his legate A. Gabunus had been killed], ... in the Cassius affair [when Cassius troops in Spain had mutinied], ... in Alexandria itself [see below], in Rome, in Italy”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 227, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vol. 3, p. 235).

  5. Stefan Chrissanthos (referenced below, at p. 72 and notes 161-2) argued that, in this letter, the knock in Italy related to an outright mutiny of the veteran legions, and that this was the occasion on which he had been forced to leave Rome in the hands of L. Julius Caesar (see above), and that Mark Antony lacked the resources needed to meet the soldiers’ demands.

According to [Caesar], on his arrival in Syria in late July (see below) Caesar himself:

  1. “... learned from those who had joined him there from Rome, as well as from information contained in despatches from the city, that there was much that was bad and unprofitable in the administration at Rome, and that no department of the government was being really efficiently conducted, for rivalries among the tribunes, it was said, were producing dangerous rifts, and the flattering indulgence shown to their troops by the military tribunes and legionary commanders [in Campania] was giving rise to many practices opposed to military custom and usage which tended to undermine strict discipline”, (‘Alexandrian War’, 65: 1, translated by A. G. Way, referenced below, at p. 115).

As we shall see, the situation in Campania was still unresolved when Caesar finally returned to Italy in late September 47 BC.

Caesar’s Return to Italy (September 47 BC)

According to Stefan Chrissanthos (referenced below, at p. 72), after his victory at Zela, Caesar:

  1. “... was in a great hurry to engage the Pompeians [who had mustered] in Africa, and was [therefore] not planning a prolonged stay in Italy ... Discharge and rewards [for his long-suffering legions] would have to wait until the new threat [from Africa] was ended.  He had received reports about the disturbances [among the legions stationed] in Campania while he was in Syria, on or before I8 July [see above].  Despite these reports, [he] apparently did not believe the situation was serious ... He [therefore] sent legates from the East with orders to move the veteran legions from Campania to  Sicily, where he would join them and sail with them to Africa.  Apparently these legates had no special instructions or monetary bonuses to deal with recalcitrant armies, nor any orders for discharge.  Three of the men that Caesar sent from the East are known: M. Gallius; P. Cornelius Sulla; and M. Valerius Messalla.”

The dates at which the legates arrived can be found from two letters from Cicero to Atticus:

  1. 15th August:

  2. “M. Gallius ... has come to take the legions over to Sicily.  Caesar [himself] is supposed to be going there direct from Patrae [on the northwest coast of Greece]”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 235: 2, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vol. 3, p. 255).

  3. 17th August:

  4. “The 12th legion, the first approached by [P. Cornelius] Sulla, is said to have driven [him] off with volleys of stones.  It’s thought that none of [the veteran legions in Campania will obey the order to] move”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 236: 2, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vol. 3, p. 257).

  5. 1st September:

  6. “Sulla, I believe, will be here tomorrow with [M. Valerius] Messalla.  They are hurrying off to Caesar [at Tarentum - see below], having been sent packing by the troops, who refuse to go anywhere until they get their pay.  So, contrary to expectation, Caesar will be coming here [to Brundisium, instead of making for Sicily]; though the way he is travelling, stopping a number of days at every town (?), it won’t be soon.

According to Plutarch:

  1. “... word was [subsequently] brought [to Cicero] that Caesar had landed at Tarentum and was coming round by land from there to Brundisium.  Cicero hastened to meet him, being not altogether despondent, but feeling shame to test in the presence of many witnesses the temper of a man who was an enemy and victorious.   However, there was no need that he should do or say anything unworthy of himself since, when Caesar saw him approaching far ahead of the rest, he got down and embraced him, and travelled on for many furlongs, conversing with [Cicero] alone”, (‘Life of Cicero’, 39: 4-5).

Once Caesar reached Rome, he concentrated primarily on raising much-needed revenue (see, for example, Cassius Dio ‘Roman History’, 42: 50 - 51).   Dio also recorded that:

  1. “The legions ... caused him considerable trouble, since they had expected to receive a great deal and, when they found their rewards to be below their expectations, ... they made a disturbance.  Most of them were in Campania, being destined to sail on ahead to Africa: these nearly killed [C. Sallustius Crispus], who had been appointed praetor in order to recover his senatorial rank; and when, after escaping them, he set out for Rome to inform Caesar of what was going on, many followed him, sparing no one on their way, but killing, among others whom they met, two senators”, ‘Roman History’, 42: 52: 1-2)

Stefan Chrissanthos (referenced below, at p. 75) argued that:

  1. “... the mutiny of 47 BC was far more serious than has generally been recognised, and [it] was not quelled with the ease [that is] often assumed.  While the Civil War still raged, nine of Caesar's ten veteran legions mutinied.  What mattered most to Caesar was to get these legions, his best troops, to fight in Africa.  This did not happen.  Instead, he took only five veteran legions, supplemented by five legions of recruits.  He discharged the four remaining legions, and rewarded them with money and land.”

Caesar now had to make arrangements for the governance of Rome and Italy before he could safely leave for Africa. Cassius Dio recorded that:

  1. “... in the year in which [Caesar] had really ruled alone as dictator for the second time, ... [his legates, Q. Fufius] Calenus and [P.] Vatinius, were appointed near the close of the year and said to be the consuls”, ‘Roman History’, 42: 55: 42).

Thus suggests (at least, to me) that:

  1. although Caesar’s second dictatorship had formally ended in late September 47 BC, it had actually continued until the end of the year; and

  2. shortly before Caesar left for Africa in December, he had appointed Calenus and Vatinius as ‘consuls’ solely for the purpose of presiding over the ‘election’ of their successors (Caesar himself and Lepidus - see below).

As far as we know, 47 BC was the first year in which the Augustan fasti Capitolini recorded the name of a dictator before that of the consuls:

  1. -dictator: C. Julius C.f. C.n. Caesar II , [master of horse]:M. Antonius M.f. M. n. - [in order to manage public affairs]: the line through Mark’ Antony’s name in this translation indicates that it had been erased and subsequently restored

  2. -Consuls in the same year: Q. Fufius Q.f. C.n. Calenus; P. Vatinius [P.f.]

Caesar’s Third Consulship (46 BC)

As we have seen, Caesar appointed Lepidus as his consular colleague for 46 BC.  Thus, when Caesar left Rome in December 47 BC for Sicily, from whence he would sail to Africa, Lepidus had found himself once more in charge of matters in Rome, albeit that he now held consular office. 

Battle of Thapsus (46 BC)

Early in 46 BC, Caesar arrived in Africa to confront an army led by Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio, who had commended one wing of Pompey’s army and had fled to Africa after Caesar’s victory.  His most important officers were:

  1. T. Labienus (Caesar's former legate in Gaul before he changed sides), who had commanded Pompey’s cavalry at Pharsalus; and

  2. M. Porcius Cato, who had fought at Dyrrachium and had defended the camp there during the battle at Pharsalus.

Scipio had established his base at Utica.  He had had two years or more to prepare for Casear’s inevitable invasion, and it was only with the greatest difficulty that Caesar managed to land his army and establish a base at Ruspina, some 160 km to the south.  In mid-February, Scipio was reinforced by King Juba of Numidia at the head of his formidable cavalry.   He decided on a war of attrition, as Caesar faced increasing difficulties to secure supplies. Finally:

  1. “... on April 4th, ... after advancing 16 miles by night,  [Caesar] pitched camp near [the coastal city of] Thapsus, where [C.] Virglius was in command with a considerable garrison.  That same day, he began to invest the town ... Scipio  ... [was] now [faced] necessity of fighting in order to avoid the utter humiliation of losing Virgilius ... He [therefore] ... established himself in two camps at a distance of 8 miles from Thapsus”, (‘African War’, 79, translated by A. G. Way, referenced below, at p. 269).

The two armies finally engaged outside Thapsua on 6th April

  1. “When Caesar realised that it was quite out of the question to hold back his troops [any longer], ... giving his horse its head, he rode in hot haste against the enemy front ranks. Meanwhile on the right wing, his slingers and archers i... launched rapid volleys of missiles against [Scipio’s] elephants.  Whereupon the [terrified  beasts ... wheeled round, trampled ... the ranks of their own supporting troops behind them ...”, (‘African War’, 83, translated by A. G. Way, referenced below, at p. 275).

Scipio’s army was destroyed as it fled for their camp.  The early imperial fasti Praenestini recorded a later annual festival celebrating this victory at  Thapsus on 6th April, which resulted in the last of four triumphs that Caesar celebrated in September 46 BC ( see below).

Aftermath of the Battle

At this point:

  1. “Having made himself master of three camps and killed 10,000 enemy soldiers ... , Caesar retired to camp with only 50 soldiers missing and a few wounded.   Immediately on his arrival, he established himself in front of the town of Thapsus.  He then took 64 elephants, equipped, armed and complete with towers and harness, and these he now drew up in array in front of the town: his object in so doing was to see if Virgilius and the others who were [still] besieged there could be induced to  ... [surrender]; but, on failing to observe any response, he withdrew from the town ... leaving behind the proconsul [C. Caninius] Rebilus in front of Thapsus with three legions”, (‘African War’, 86, translated by A. G. Way, referenced below, at p. 281).

A few days later, Cato, who was still at Utica, committed suicide and, on hearing of this,Virgilius finally surrendered to Rebilius. Caesar entered Utica on 17th April.  Caesar then travelled to Juba’s capital, Zama in Numidia to accept its surrender (after Juba, who had been denied entry to the city, had committed suicide in his nearby villa).  On his arrival, Caesare:

  1. “... held an auction of the royal property and sold the goods of those  Roman citizens [[from zama who] had borne arms against the Roman people.  He bestowed rewards upon the inhabitants of Zama who had adopted the policy of barring their gates to the king, farmed out the collection of the royal taxes, and turned the kingdom into a province [known as Africa Nova].   Then, leaving C. Sallustius [Crispus] there  ... [as] proconsul, he himself left Zama and returned to Utica”, (‘African War’, 97, translated by A. G. Way, referenced below, at p. 297).

Having made the other arrangements necessary for the stability of the province:

  1. “... [Caesar] went aboard his fleet at Utica on June 13th , and arrived two days later at Caralis (modern Cagliari) in Sardinia. ... Then he embarked on June 27th, and leaving Caralis, sailed along the coast.  27 days later (for bad weather kept holding him up in the various ports) he arrived at Rome.”, (‘African War’, 98, translated by A. G. Way, referenced below, at p. 299).

Meanwhile, Scipio had been killed as he tried to escape to Cn. Pompeius in Spain.  However, others succeeded where Scipio had failed: according to Cassius Dio:

  1. “... those who came to Pompeius from Africa [after the defeat at Thapsus included], among others: his brother Sextus; [P. Attius] Varus, [who had commanded part of Scipio’s fleet]; and [T.] Labienus, with his fleet”, (‘Roman History’, 43: 30: 4).

As we shall see, despite the euphoria among Caesar’s supporters, the war was not yet over.

Postscript: Caesar’s Quadrupal Triumph (September 46 BC)

As we shall see on the following page, Caesar celebrated a quadrupal triumph about a month after his arrival outside Rome.  According to Cassius Dio, these triumphs were:

  1. “... celebrated ... on four separate days, for the victories over:

  2. the Gauls [a triumph that had been awarded to Caesar in 60 BC but declined at that time];

  3. Egypt [i.e. Caesar’s defeat of King Ptolemy XIII at Alexandria in 47 BC];

  4. Pharnaces [i.e. Caesar’s defeat of King Pharnaces of Pontus at the Zela in 47 BC]; and

  5. Juba [i.e. Caesar’s defeat of King Juba at Thapsus in 46 BC]”, (‘Roman History’, 43: 19: 1).

Although the last three of these victories had been won during the civil war, they had all been won against non-Roman enemies.  Speaking in the Senate in 43 BC, Cicero referred back to this and other occasions on which victors had neither sought nor received triumphal honours following battles against fellow-citizens.  The previous speaker, Servilius, had proposed that public thanksgivings should be made following the defeat of the rebellious Mark Antony at Mutina.  Addressing him directly, Cicero asked rhetorically:

  1. “... surely [Caesar], your [consular colleague in 48 BC], did not send any dispatch concerning the disastrous Battle of Pharsalus, did he?  Nor did he want you to consult the Senate concerning a public thanksgiving, did he?  Of course he didn’t.  But he subsequently a dispatch concerning Alexandria and another concerning Pharnaces.  For the Battle of Pharsalus, he did not celebrate a triumph either”, (‘Philippics’, 14: 23, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2010, at vol. 2, p. 315)


Read more

R. Morstein-Marx, “Julius Caesar and the Roman People”, (2021)Cambridge

G. Sampson, “Rome and Parthia: Empires at War: Ventidius, Antony and the Second Romano-Parthian War, 40–20 BC”, (2020) Yorkshire and Philadelphia

G-L. Gregori and G. Almagno (authors) and T. Spinelli (editor and translator), “Roman Calendars: Imperial Birthdays, Victories and Triumphs”, (2019) Mauritius

S. Treggiari, “Servilia and her Family”, (2019) Oxford

C. Damon (translator), “Caesar: Civil War’, (2016) Cambridge, MA

D. R. Shackleton Bailey  (translator), “Cicero: Philippics 1-6 (Vol. 1)” and “Cicero: Philippics 7-14  (Vol. s”, (2010) Cambridge, MA

J. Gardner, “The Dictator”, in 

  1. M. Griffin (Ed.), “A Companion to Julius Caesar”, (2009) Chichester and Malden, MA, at pp. 57-71

T. P. Wiseman, “Remembering the Roman People: Essays on Late-Republican Politics and Literature”, (2009) Oxford and New York

J.Carter, (translator) “Caesar: The Civil War’, (2008) Oxford and New York

S. G. Crissanthos, “Caesar and the Mutiny of 47 BC”, Journal of Roman Studies, 91 (2001) 63-75

D. R. Shackleton Bailey  (translator), “Cicero: Letters to Friends, Volume I: Letters 1-113”, (2001) Cambridge, MA

D. R. Shackleton Bailey (translator), “Cicero: Letters to Atticus, Volumes I- IV”, (1999) Cambridge MA

E. Rawson, “Caesar: Civil War and Dictatorship”, (Chapter 11) and “Aftermath of the Ides of March”, (Chapter 12), in:

  1. J. A. Crooke et al., (editors), “Cambridge Ancient History, Volume IX: Last Age of the Roman Republic (146-43 BC”, (1992) Cambridge, at pp. 424-90

R. Weigel, “Lepidus: The Tarnished Triumvir”, (1992) London

K. E. Welch, “The Praefectura Urbis of 45 BC and the Ambitions of L. Cornelius Balbus, Antichthon, 24 (1990) 53-69

A. Drummond, “The Dictator Years”, Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, 27:4 (1978), 550-72

A. G. Way (translator), “Caesar.: Alexandrian War; African War; Spanish War”, (1955) Cambridge MA

J. D. Duff (translator), “Lucan. The Civil War (Pharsalia)”, (1928) Cambridge MA


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