Roman Republic

Caesar’s 3rd Consulship: (Jan. - June 46 BC)

Geoffrey Sumner (referenced below, at p. 265) suggested that:

  1. “The elections for 46 BC must have been held after the belated elections for 47 BC, some time during the last three months of 47 BC.  In accordance with the prerogative granted to Caesar in 48 BC, [which allowed him to conduct elections], he presumably conducted [both sets of elections] as dictator [for the second time].”

As we have seen, the term of this dictatorship had probably ended in September 47 BC, so  we might reasonably assume that Caesar resigned his dictatorship as soon as the elections for 46 BC were completed .  The Augustan fasti Capitolini (as completed) recorded the consuls of 46 BC as:

  1. C. Julius C.f. C.n. Caesar III , M. [Aemilius M.f. Q.n. Lepidus]

This honour for Lepidus followed his celebration of an unjustified triumph at the end of the previous year (see my page on Caesar 48-47 BC).  Caesar himself left Rome in December 47 BC for Sicily, from whence he would sail to Africa, leaving Lepidus once more in charge of matters in Rome, albeit that he now held consular office. 

Battle of Thapsus (April 46 BC)

Denarius issued by A. Allienus, :praetor and proconsul in Sicily: 47 BC (RRC 457/1)

Obverse: C·CAESAR IMP·COS·ITER: Head of Venus, wearing a diadem

Reverse: A·ALLIENVS PRO·COS: Trinacrus, left, placing  foot on prow and holding triskeles (symbolising Sicily)

Probably produced at a military mint travelling with Caesar’s army

Silver denarius issued by Caesar: 47-6 BC (RRC 458/1)

Obverse: Head of Venus, wearing a diadem (her first appearance in Caesar’s coinage)

Reverse: CAESAR: Aeneas carrying palladium in right hand and Anchises on left shoulder

Probably produced at a military mint travelling with Caesar’s army

Early in 46 BC, Caesar travelled to Sicily and then swiftly crossed to Africa to confront an army led by Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio, who had commended one wing of Pompey’s army at Pharsalus 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).

As noted above, Caesar depicted Venus (whom he claimed as his ancestress) on one of his coins for the first time.  He also reinforced his message Aeneas carrying Anchises as they left Troy for Italy on the reverse: Aeneas was traditionally the son of Venus and Anchises).  Venus also appeared  on a coin issued by A. Allienus, almost certainly in the context of this war: the now-unknown author of the ‘African War’ recorded that Allienus, the governor of Sicily, played an important role in keeping Caesar supplied.  He was the first named moneyer of a coin that mentioned Caesar, whom he designated as cos iter.  Robert Broughton (referenced below, at p. 283, note 6)

  1. “The coins, dated to Caesar's second consulship, assure the date [of 48 BC for the start of Allienus’ proconsulship - see also p. 275].”

However, there is no other evidence of his presence on the island prior to Caesar’s arrival in early 46 BC, when he was consul for the third time.  I suggest that ‘cos iter’ here meant ‘consul again’.

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 civil war was not yet over.

Cicero and Varro (January - June 46 BC)

As we have seen, Caesar allowed Cicero to return to public life in September 47 BC, at which point he moved from Brundisium to his villa at Tusculum.  Early in 46 BC, Caesar had pardoned Varro for the second time, and he was thus enabled to return to Italy.  Their uncertain situation during Caesar’s absence in Africa can be judged from the seven surviving letters that Cicero wrote to Varro in this period.  For example:

  1. By the time that he wrote the first (‘Letters to Friends’, 175, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2001, at Vol. II, p. 145), which probably dated to late 47 or early 46 BC, Cicero had heard of Varro’s return to Italy and looked forward to seeing him again.

  2. In the second (‘Letters to Friends’, 176, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2001, at Vol. II, p. 147), which was written on or about 18th April 46 BC, Cicero, who was then in Rome, wondered whether it would be wise for him to accept an invitation  to visit Varro at Cumae at a time when the war was raging in Africa, but then decided to do so.

  3. In the third, which was written a few days later, after news of Caesar’s victory had reached Rome, Cicero observed that:

  4. “I have the same advice for you as for myself.: let us avoid men’s eyes, even if we cannot easily escape their tongues. 

  5. The jubilant victors regard us as among the defeated; whereas

  6. those who are sorry for the defeat of our friends [at Pharsalus and Thapsus feel aggrieved that we are still among the living”, (‘Letters to Friends’, 177: 2, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2001, at Vol. II, p. 149).

  7. Towards the end of this letter, Cicero suggested the way forward for himself and for Varro:

  8. “Let us be firm on one point: to live together in our literary studies.  We used to go to them only for pleasure, but now we go for salvation. 

  9. If anybody, [Caesar, for example], cares to call us in to help build a commonwealth, whether as architects or merely as workmen, we shall not say no: rather we shall hasten cheerfully to the task. 

  10. If our services are not required, we must still read and write ‘Republics’. 

  11. Like the learned men of old, we must serve the state in our libraries, if we cannot do so in Senate House and Forum, and pursue our researches into custom and law”, (‘Letters to Friends’, 177: 5, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2001, at Vol. II, pp. 151-3).

In the last of these letters, which was probably written in late June 46 BC, the likely date of Caesar’s arrival in Italy was still unclear.   Cicero observed to Varro, by way of consolation, that:

  1. “I have always of thought you a great man and I think so now, because, in this stormy weather, you almost uniquely, are safe in harbour.  You reap the most precious fruits of learning, devoting your thoughts and energies to pursuits which yield a profit and a delight far transcending the exploits and pleasures of [those still involved in public life].  By my reckoning, these days that you are spending down at Tusculum are worth a lifetime.  Gladly would I leave all earthly wealth and power to others in return for a licence to live thus, free from interruption by any outside force”, (‘Letters to Friends’, 181: 4-5, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2001, at Vol. II, p. 163).

This suggests that Varro had not found a public role since his return to Rome.  However, according to Suetonius, Caesar planned a number of projects:

  1. “... for the adornment and convenience of the city ... [including] the opening to the public of the greatest possible libraries of Greek and Latin books, assigning to Marcus Varro the task of procuring and classifying them. ... All these enterprises and plans were cut short by his death [less than a year later]”, (‘Life of Caesar’, 44).

It seems likely that Caesar entrusted this task to Varro at some time after his victory at Thapsus.  It is clear that this project never came to fruition: according to Pliny the Elder:

  1. Varro is the only person, who, during his lifetime, saw his own statue erected.  This was placed in the first public library that was ever built in Rome], which Asinius Pollio built [in ca. 39 BC] with the spoils of our enemies”, (‘Natural History’, 7: 31).

Caesar’s 3rd Consulship (cont.): July - Sept. 46 BC

Caesar arrived at Rome on 25th July 46 BC.  As Geoffrey Sumi (referenced below, at p. 48) pointed out when he:

  1. “... finally returned ..., basking in the glory of his victory in the civil war ...”

he had been almost completely absent for over a decade.   Any pretence of Republican government had evaporated over that period, and the Romans greeted the return of an all-conquering hero with trepidation.  Their mood can be gauged from the first speech that Cicero (whom Caesar had pardoned in 47 BC) delivered in the Senate, probably in September, in which he celebrated Caesar’s clemency in allowing the Pompeian M. Claudius Marcellus to return to Rome: in a particularly obsequious passage, he gushed that:

  1. “You, [Caesar], have subdued nations that were barbarous in their brutality, innumerable in their multitude, infinite in their extent, and abounding in every description of resource; ... But, to conquer the will, to curb the anger and to moderate the triumph [is an even harder task] ... I do not compare [a man who acts in this way] to the greatest of men: rather I judge him most like to God”, (‘Pro Marcello’, 8. based on the translation by Nathan Watts, referenced below, at p. 429).

Honours Awarded to Caesar (July)

In anticipation of Caesar’s arrival, the Senate had awarded him unprecedented honours: for example, Cassius Dio recorded that they had already:

  1. “... decreed that:

  2. sacrifices should be offered for his victory during [an unprecedented] 40 days, and had

  3. granted him permission to ride in a chariot drawn by white horses in the triumph that they had already voted him, and

  4. to be accompanied by all the lictors who were then with him and by as many others as he had employed in his first dictatorship, together with as many more as he had had in his second. Furthermore, they elected him ... dictator for 10 years in succession”, (‘Roman History’, 43: 14: 3-5).

Dio went on to describe the other honours that Caesar decided to accept, the most striking of which was that:

  1. “... one of his chariots should be placed on the Capitol facing the statue of Jupiter, [and] his statue in bronze should be mounted upon a representation of the inhabited world, with an inscription to the effect that he was ἡμίθεός (hemitheos)”, (‘Roman History’, 43: 14: 6).

It seems that the statue was in place when Caesar returned to Rome, since Dio subsequently recorded that:

  1. “... on the first day of [Caesar’s subsequent quadruple triumph - see below],  ... he climbed up the stairs of the Capitol on his knees, without noticing:

  2. the chariot that had been dedicated to Jupiter in his honour;

  3. the image in which the inhabited world lay beneath his feet; or 

  4. the inscription upon it, [from which he later] erased ... the term hemitheos”, (‘Roman History’, 43: 21: 1-2).

Ittai Gradel (referenced below, at p. 54) argued that the inscription on the statue (which Dio rendered as ‘hemitheos’) represented the initial phase in the Senate’s award of divine honours to Caesar.

Servius, in his commentary on Virgil’s reference to the ‘Caesaris astrum’ (the star that was held to have announced Caesar’s presence among the gods after his murder) in the ‘Eclogues’ (at 9: 46: 11) rendered the inscription in Latin as ‘Caesari emitheo’.  However, some scholars doubt that this transliteration of a Greek word would be used in this way on a statue in Rome: for example, after discussing the various possibilities, Duncan Fishwick (referenced below, at p. 628) suggested that the inscription referred to a specific ‘demigod’ with whom he had been associated, in which case:

  1. “...the likeliest candidate would appear to be Romulus. ... An inscription Caesari Romulo would ... tally nicely with the information that Dio provides.  ... Proof of the point is naturally out of the question, but the possibility seems worth stating, if only by way of rounding out a long-standing controversy.”

However, Ittai Gradel (referenced below, at p. 62) pointed out that Caesar was never associated with Romulus in this way in our surviving sources until the Parilia of 45 BC (see below), when news of his victory in Spain reached Rome.  He suggested (at p. 63) that Dio’s ‘hemitheos’  was his rendering of the Latin ‘divus’, an epithet that became routinely applied posthumously to Roman emperors from the time of Augustus.  He observed (at p. 68) that, if this is correct:

  1. “This would then be the first time that this term was applied to a ruler in Rome ...On [this] view, ... Caesar was already termed ‘Divus’ by the Senate in 46 BC.  He was certainly not accorded this as a title, as apparently happened later, but only so-named in a public inscription, ... but the use [of this term] in official vocabulary [would [certainly have represented] a significant step towards granting him the official state title.” 

If so, then it marked the start of the process that arguably culminated in the consecration of the Temple of Divus Julius in 18th August 29 BC.  Even if this hypothesis is not accepted, it is surely true that the question of Caesar’s ‘superhuman’ status was clearly on the agenda after Thapsus.

Caesar’s Quadrupal Triumph (20th - 26th September 46 BC)

Aureus issued by A. Hirtius: 46 BC (RRC 466/1)

Obverse: C·CAESAR COS·TER: Bust of a veiled goddess (Vesta ?)

Reverse: A·HIRTIVS·PR: Lituus, jug and axe

Minted in Rome

Silver denarius issued by Caesar: 46 BC (RRC 467/1)

Obverse: COS·TERT DICT·ITER: Bust of Ceres

Reverse: AVGVR PONT·MAX: Culullus, aspergillum, jug and lituus

Unknown mint (possibly Utica, capital of the province of Africa)

According to Cassius Dio, Caesar:

  1. “... celebrated triumphs in four sections, on four separate days, for:

  2. the Gauls [whom Caesar had defeated in the campaign that had ended some six years earlier];

  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 Battle of Zela in 47 BC]; and

  5. Juba [i.e. Caesar’s defeat of King Juba I of Numidia, who had committed suicide when he had perceived that his Pompeian allies were doomed to defeat at Thapsus in 46 BC]”, (‘Roman History’, 43: 19: 1).

The last three of these victories were celebrated in public festivals in the early empire:

  1. on 27th March, for Caesar’s victory at Alexandria (fasti Maffeiani);

  2. on 2nd August, for his victory at Zela (fasti Fratrum Arvalium, fasti Vallenses, fasti Amiternini, fasti Antiates Ministrorum); and

  3. on 6th April, for his victory at Thapsus (fasti Praenestini).

Geoffrey Sumi (referenced below, at p. 57) suggested that Caesar was present for the ludi Romani (4th - 18th September, and that he then celebrated his four triumphs on alternate days: 20th, 22nd, 24th and 26th September.  

Roberta Stewart (referenced below, at p. 108) observed that the coin illustrated above was the first coins minted by a named moneyer in Rome that included Caesar’s name, and that it  belonged to:

  1. “... an enormous issue of aurei minted by the praetor A. Hirtius at Rome ... for Caesar’s quadruple triumph.”

Dedication of the Temple of Venus Genetrix (26th September)

Cassius Dio recorded that, after the last of Caesar’s four triumphs, he had dedicated both:

  1. “... the [new] forum called after him ... and the temple to Venus as the founder of his family [i.e. Venus Genetrix] and, in their honour, he instituted many contests of all kinds”, (‘Roman History’, 43: 22).

Appian recorded that Caesar had:

  1. “... vowed [this temple before] the Battle of Pharsalus, and he laid out ground around the temple ... [as] a forum for the Roman people ... . He placed a beautiful image of Cleopatra by the side of the goddess, which stands there to this day”, (‘Civil Wars’, 2:102).

Entries in (for example) the fasti Fratrum Arvalium (ca. 30 BC) and the fasti Praenestini (6-9 AD) record that the temple was  dedicated on 26th September, from which we might reasonably assume that the ludi Veneris Genitricis were first held on 26th September 46 BC.

James Rives (referenced below, at p. 294) observed that, by establishing this new cult in Rome, Caesar:

  1. “... added a new dimension to Roman public religion.  New cults had often been established in the past, but none had the personal associations that this one had.  Although the epithet ‘Genetrix’ had been used of Venus in poetry for over a century, it was as an ancestral goddess of the Roman people in general.  However, Caesar's family, the Iulii, claimed direct descent from Venus through Julus, the son of Aeneas, and apparently honoured her as their particular ancestral deity.  [Thus], in establishing his cult of Venus Genetrix, Caesar was, for all practical purposes, giving a public form to this family cult, and thereby expressing in religious terms his unique standing in the state:

  2. The institution and organisation ... [of the cult] was traditional enough: Caesar:

  3. vowed [the temple] as a general during a battle;

  4. dedicated it as a Roman magistrate; and

  5. presumably entered an annual sacrifice into the civic calendar as pontifex maximus.

  6. It was in [his] personal associations [with it] that the cult was an innovation.”, (I have slightly changed the word order for emphasis.)

I think that we can go further, in view of the fact that Caesar’s new calendar was about to come into effect: as Censorinus recorded, mismanagement of the calendar had lead to increasing  problems, until:

  1. “ ... [Caesar], as pontifex maximus, in his 3rd consulship and that of M. Aemilius Lepidus, ... [added 90 days to this year].  At the same time, so that the mistake would not be repeated in future, ... he shaped the civil year to the course of the sun ... and added 10 [days to the new solar year].  ... Moreover, to take account of the quarter of a day ... [that was needed] to complete the year, he ordered that [a single day should be added to every 4h year.  These new arrangements started] in the 4th consulship of Caesar”, (‘De Die Natali’, 20, translated by Robert Hannah, referenced below, at pp. 915--6).

In other words, what we call the Julian calendar came into effect on 1st January 45 BC, and the first new entry in it would have related to 26th September, the dies natalis of the temple to Venus Genetrix in Caesar’s new Forum. 

Dedication of the Forum Julium (26th September 46 BC)

According to Cassius Dio, after supper on the last day of Caesar’s triumphs:

  1. “... he entered his own forum wearing slippers and garlanded with all kinds of flowers; thence he proceeded homeward with practically the entire populace escorting him, while many elephants carried torches.  For, he had himself constructed the forum called after him, [the Forum Julium], and it is distinctly more beautiful than the Roman Forum; yet it had increased the reputation of the other, which was now known as the Great Forum.  So after completing this new forum and the temple to Venus [Genetrix], he dedicated them at this very time ... ”, (‘Roman History’, 43: 22).

Ludi Veneris Genetricis (September/ October 46 BC)

Cassius Dio  recorded that, having consecrated both the Temple of Venus Genetrix and the Forum Julium, Caesar:

  1. “... instituted many contests of all kinds.  He built a kind of hunting-theatre of wood, which was called an amphitheatre because it had seats all around without any stage.  In honour of [these dedications]  and of his daughter, [see below], he exhibited combats of wild beasts and gladiators”, (‘Roman History’, 43: 22).

Plutarch described these games as follows:

  1. “After the triumphs [of 46 BC], Caesar gave his soldiers large gifts and entertained the people with banquets and spectacles, feasting them all at one time on 20,000 dining-couches and furnishing spectacles of gladiatorial and naval combats in honour of his daughter Julia, long since dead”,  (‘Life of Caesar’, 55:4).

Thus, it seems that these inaugural games combined with funerary games that Caesar held for Julia. 

John Ramsey and Arthur Lewis Licht (referenced below, at p. 184) suggested that:

  1. “The games will have commenced on the ... day [after the dedication of the temple]. ... To judge from the descriptions of their variety and splendour,  ... [they] must have [continued] well into October.”  

They also suggested (at p. 50) that a passage by Nicolaus of Damascus in his biography of C. Octavius (Caesar’s great nephew, usually referred to as Octavian, whom he adopted posthumously - see my page on Octavian (44 - 43 BC)) probably referred to this first exhibition of these games:

  1. “Caesar wished [Octavian] to have the experience of directing the exhibition of theatrical productions (for there were two theatres [in Rome]:

  2. the one Roman, over which he himself had charge: and

  3. the other Greek). 

  4. [Caesar] turned over [the Greek theatre] to the care of [Octavian], who, wishing to exhibit interest and benevolence in the matter, even on the hottest and longest days, never left his post before the end of the play.  The result was that he fell ill, for he was young and unaccustomed to toil”, (Life of Augustus’, 9).

After Caesar’s death, Octavian (now C. Julius Caesar Octavianus, usually shortened to Octavian) held these games in July 44 BC, and it was on this occasion that the famous comet appeared in Rome.  Pliny the Elder recorded that Octavian:

  1. “... regarded this comet as auspicious to [himself] because it appeared during the games that he was celebrating in honour of Venus Genetrix, not long after the death of his father Caesar, as a member of the college that Caesar had founded”, (‘Natural History’, 2: 23). 

John Ramsey and Arthur Lewis Licht (referenced below, at p. 50) argued that:

  1. “Pliny’s statement [about the existence of this college] should not be dismissed lightly.  Octavians’ role in presiding over the Greek theatre at the first celebration of the [games] in 46 BC points to the conclusion that [he] was, in all probability, appointed to the [college] by [Caesar] at that time.  This college presumably had close ties to the gens Julia, since it oversaw the the festival to Venus [as the family’s founder] and it makes sense for Caesar to have included Octavian in it in 46 BC, particular if [he] was perhaps already thinking of Octavian as a potential heir ... ”

Events in Syria (Autumn 46 BC)

Cassius Dio recorded that:

  1. “Q. Caecilius Bassus, a knight, who had fought for Pompey [at Pharslus, had taken refuge] at Tyre [after Caesar’s victory].  The governor of Syria was Sextus Julius Caesar: since he was not only quaestor but also a relative of Caesar's, Caesar had placed in his charge all the Roman interests in that quarter ... on the occasion of his march from Egypt against Pharnaces.  ... [Bassus] seized Tyre with the aid of the forces he [had gathered] and advanced against Sextus’ legions, but was defeated ... [However he persuaded some of Sextus’ men to defect], to the extent that they murdered Sextus with their own hands.  When Sextus was dead, Bassus gained possession of most of his army; ... he took the title of praetor and fortified Apamea, so he could use it as a base for war”, (‘Roman History’, 47: 26: 3 - 27: 1).

Robert Broughton (referenced below, at p. 289) suggested that Caesar had given Sextus command in Syria in about July 47 BC and (at p. 297) that he was killed at some time in 46 BC.  Q. Cornificius, the governor of the neighbouring province of Cilicia, referred to the war in Syria in his letters to Cicero in September - December 46 BC, all of which mentioned the war with Bassus: in his reply to the last of them (which probably dated to December 46 BC), Cicero observed that:

  1. “Your letter tells me that the present war in Syria and the province itself have been entrusted to you by Caesar.  I wish you good luck and success in that responsibility ... But what you say about the possibility of a war with Parthia has alarmed me not a little, for I could guess for myself the [insufficient] size of your forces, and now learn it from your letter.  So I pray that [the Parthian make] no move for the time being, before the legions that I hear are being brought to your support actually reach you.  If you do not have enough troops to engage on equal terms, I trust that you will fail to follow the tactics of [M. Calpurnius Bibulus], who shut himself inside an extremely well-fortified and well-provisioned town [in 51 BC] so long as the Parthians remained in the province”, (‘Letters to Friends’, 206, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2001, at Vol. II, pp. 255-7).

Caesar must have been concerned about the deteriorating situation in the east but, as we shall see, he had to respond first to the deteriorating situation in Spain.

Events in Spain (Autumn 46 BC)

Towards the end of 46 BC, news reached Rome that Q. Cassius Longinus, whom Caesar had appointed as governor of Further Spain, had antagonised his troops to the extent that they had defected to the cause of Pompey’s sons, Cnaeus and Sextus Pompeius.  Other Pompeian exiles joined the rebels, and Cassius was ignominiously drowned as he tried to escape.  According to the now-unknown author of the ‘Spanish War’:

  1. “Caesar, who was now in his 3rd dictatorship and had been appointed to a 4th [see below], had had much business to complete before he took to the road; but this was now disposed of, and he had come post haste to Spain to finish off the war”, ( ‘Spanish War’, 2, translated by A. G. Way, referenced below, at p. 313).

Although dating is extremely complicated at this time, not least because of the recent changes that Caesar had made to the calendar (above), it is usually assumed that Caesar left Rome in November.

According to Cassius Dio, when Caesar :

  1. “... finally set out himself [for Spain, he entrusted] the City to [his master of horse, M. Aemilius] Lepidus and a number of praefecti (some think eight, although six is more commonly believed)”, (‘Roman History’, 43: 28: 2)

Read more

Stewart R., “Seeing Caesar’s Symbols: Religious Implements on the Coins of Julius Caesar and his Successors, in:

  1. Elkins N. T. et al. (editors), “Concordia Disciplinarum : Essays on Ancient Coinage, History and Archaeology in Honor of William E. Metcalf”, (2018) New York, at  pp. 107-2121

Hannah R., “Greek and Roman Calendars”, (2005) London

Sumi G., “Ceremony and Power: Performing Politics in Rome between Republic and Empire”, (2005) Ann Arbor

Gradel I., “Emperor Worship and Roman Religion’, (2002) Oxford

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

Ramsey J. T. and Licht A. L., “The Comet of 44 B.C. and Caesar's Funeral Games”, (1997) Atlanta, Georgia

Rives J., “Venus Genetrix Outside Rome”, Phoenix, 48:4 (1994) 294-306

Fishwick D., ‘‘The Name of the Demigod,’’ Historia, 24 (1975) 624–8

Sumner G. V., “The Lex Annalis under Caesar”, Phoenix, 25:3 (1971) 246-71

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

Broughton T. R. S., “The Magistrates of the Roman Republic. Vol. II : 99 BC - 31 BC”, (1952) New York

Watts N. H., (translator), “Cicero: Pro Milone; In Pisonem; Pro Scauro.; Pro Fonteio; Pro Rabirio Postumo.; Pro Marcello; Pro Ligario; Pro Rege Deiotaro”, (1931) Cambridge MA

Return to Roman History (1st Century BC)