Roman Republic

Caesar’s Invasion of Italy  (11 - 17th Jan. 49 BC)

Adapted from Adrian Goldsworthy (referenced below, 2006, at p. 468)

As noted above, on 1st January, the Senate appointed L. Domitius Ahenobarbus as Caesar’s successor in Gaul.  On 7th January, when Caesar was with his army at Ravenna (which was in his erstwhile province), the Senate passed a senatus consultum ultimum that required him to disband his army on pain of death: should he refuse, anyone of praetorian rank who remained with his army would be subject the same penalty.  Clearly, he now had to make a decision.  Caesar claimed that:

  1. “After learning about these matter, Caesar addressed his soldiers”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 7: 1, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 13). 

Having given his men his version of recent events, he urged them:

  1. “... to protect from his enemies the reputation and prestige of a man under whose leadership they had served the Republic with outstanding good fortune for 9 years, while fighting a huge number of successful battles and pacifying the whole of Gaul and Germany.   A shout went up from the soldiers of the 13th legion (... the rest [of his army] had not yet arrived) that they were ready to protect their commander and the [rebel] tribunes from injury”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 7: 8, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 15). 

Crossing the Rubicon (on or shortly after 10th January 49 BC)

According to Plutarch (1st century AD), at the time that the Senate issued the decree of 7th January:

  1. “Caesar had with him fewer than 300 horsemen and 5,000 legionaries: the rest of his army had been left beyond the Alps, and was to be brought up by those whom he had sent for the purpose.  However, he saw that the beginning of his enterprise ... did not require a large force ... , [and that he]  must take advantage of the golden moment by showing amazing boldness and speed ... He therefore ordered his centurions and other officers, taking only their swords ... , to occupy Ariminum ... , avoiding commotion and bloodshed as far as possible; and he entrusted this force to [Q. Hortensius, the eponymous son of the famous orator].  He himself spent the day in public ... [at Ravenna, before leaving secretly for Ariminum, having] previously ordered a few of his friends to follow him, not all by the same route ... [He stopped] when he came to the [Rubicon], which separates Cisalpine Gaul from the rest of Italy, and began to reflect [on the implications of proceeding]. ...  He also spent a long time discussing his perplexities with the friends who were present, among whom was Asinius Pollio ... But finally, with a sort of passion, as if abandoning calculation and casting himself upon the future, he uttered the phrase with which men usually prelude their plunge into desperate and daring fortunes:

  2. ‘Let the die be cast.‘  

  3. He then hastened to cross the river; and going at full speed, he reached Ariminum before daybreak and took possession of it”, (‘Life of Caesar’, 32: 1-8). 

Given Plutarch’s description of Caesar’s soul-searching at the Rubicon, we might have expected that Caesar himself would have at least mentioned it.  However, all he wrote about this momentous event was that, after his speech to his soldiers (above):

  1. “Apprised of [their]’ goodwill, he set out [from Ravenna] with the 13th legion for Ariminum,..., (‘Civil War’, 1: 8: 1-2, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 15). 

Furthermore, as Jeffrey Beneker (referenced below, at p. 74) pointed out:

  1. “... [although] Cicero’s writings include a negative response to the start of the war and to Caesar’s actions in general, ... they [too] make no mention of the [Rubicon].  

Unfortunately, Livy’s account of these events does not survive.  However, according to the 4th century account of Paulus Osirius, which was largely drawn from Livy:  

  1. “[After] Mark Antony and Q. Cassius ... [had been] barred from the Curia and Forum by order of the consul [L. Cornelius] Lentulus [on 7th January], they set out, accompanied by Curio and [M. Caelius Rufus], to join Caesar.  After crossing the Rubicon river, Caesar, [accompanied by only five cohorts] came to Ariminum ... With these cohorts, according to Livy, he set out to attack the whole world”, (‘History Against the Pagans’, 6: 15: 3).

It seems from this that Livy had probably recorded Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon, but that (like Caesar and Cicero) he had not drawn particular attention to the fact that this crossing arguably marked the start of his ‘attack on the whole word’.  The earliest surviving record of Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon was by Velleius Paterculus (early 1st century AD), who simply recorded that:

  1. “When ... the Senate decreed [on 7th January] that [Caesar] should [return to] the City as a private citizen and should, as such, submit himself to the votes of the Roman people in his candidacy for the consulship, Caesar concluded that war was inevitable and crossed the Rubicon with his army.  Pompey, the consuls, and the majority of the Senate first abandoned Rome then Italy”, (‘Roman History’, 2: 49: 4). 

Asinius Pollio, whom Plutarch (above) mentioned as an eye-witness, was probably one of Plutarch’s sources: as Jeffrey Beneker (referenced below, at p. 74) pointed out:

  1. “Pollio almost certainly described the crossing in some detail [in the book that he added to Caesar’s ‘Gallic Wars’ ], but his lost account may be glimpsed only through the filter of later writers [such as Plutarch], which makes it difficult to discover what significance, if any, [Pollio himself] attached to the event”, (my change of sentence order).   He had clearly influenced Plutarch, and his account (perhaps alongside that of other eye witnesses) presumably also influenced Plutarch’s contemporaries”

  2. the poet Lucan:

  3. “The reddish waters of the Rubicon ... serve as the boundary between the land of Gaul and the farms of Italy.  ... [Caesar’s] cavalry first met the flow, taking position slantwise across the current, lessening its power so that the rest of the army could ford it with ease.  Once Caesar had crossed and reached the Italian shore on the further side, he halted on the forbidden territory and cried:

  4. ‘Here I relinquish peace and the law that has already been scorned [by my enemies], to follow you, my Fortune.  Let me hear no more talk of pacts, I have placed my trust in those for far too long: now I must seek the judgement of war’”, (‘Civil War’1: 213-227); and 

  5. Suetonius:

  6. “It was not until after sunset that [Caesar] set out very privily with a small company, taking the mules from a bakeshop close by and harnessing them to a carriage; and when his lights went out and he lost his way, he was astray for some time, but at last found a guide at dawn and got back to the road on foot by narrow by-paths.  Then, overtaking his cohorts at the river Rubicon, which was the boundary of his province, he paused for a while and, realising what a step he was taking, turned to those about him and said: 

  7. ‘Even yet we may draw back; but once we cross this little bridge, the whole issue is with the sword’ 

  8. As he stood in doubt, he was given a sign: there appeared close by a being of wondrous stature and beauty, who sat and played upon a reed ... the apparition snatched a trumpet from one of [the soldiers], rushed to the river and sounding the war-note with mighty blast, strode to the opposite bank.  Then Caesar cried: 

  9. ‘We should take the course that both the signs of the gods and the false dealing of our foes point out.  The die is cast’”. (‘Life of Caesar’, 31–32). 

The story had certainly grown in the re-telling. 


The Romans had founded the colony at Ariminum (modern Rimini) in 268 BC, on land at the northern extreme of the ager Gallicus, as a bulwark against the Gauls to the north.  It would have been the first settlement of any kind that Caesar would have encountered as he led his army south along the Adriatic coast from Ravenna.  It is unlikely that Plutarch (above) or his source(s) invented the role that Hortensius played in occupying Ariminum.  Nevertheless, it is difficult to see what Caesar would have achieved by the subsequent subterfuge that Plutarch (and a number of other sources) described, and it might have been a later elaboration.  Whatever the true sequence of events, there is nothing in any of the surviving sources to suggest that Caesar had to take Ariminum by force.  It is, of course, possible that he had already reached an understanding with the authorities there during his visit to Cisalpine Gaul some six months before (see the previous page). 

Caesar recorded that, when he reached Ariminum: 

  1. “... he met the tribunes [Mark Antony and Cassius], who had taken refuge with him.  He summoned the rest of his legions from winter quarters [in Gaul] and ordered them to follow [into Italy] immediately, (‘Civil War’, 1: 8: 1-2, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at pp. 15-7). 

It would have taken the tribunes about 3 days to travel from Rome to Ariminum, so Caesar must have arrived at Ariminum on or shortly after 10th January. 

Arretium, Pisaurum, Fanum Fortunae, Ancona and Iguvium

According to Caesar, after the apparent failure of mediation by L. Julius Caesar (the eponymous son of Caesar’s cousin, the consul of 64 BC) and the praetor L. Roscius Fabatus, he:

  1. “... sent Mark Antony from Ariminum to Arretium with 5 cohorts.  He himself stayed at Ariminum with two [cohorts], and began to recruit troops there. He occupied Pisaurum, Fanum, Ancona with one cohort each.  Meanwhile, having been informed that at Iguvium (a town that the [Pompeian] praetor Thermus was holding with five cohorts and fortifying), the attitude of all the inhabitants toward him was strongly positive, Caesar sent Curio with the three cohorts that he had at Pisaurum and Ariminum.  At news of his approach, Thermus, distrusting the community’s attitude, withdrew his cohorts from the city and fled; his soldiers abandoned him on the march and returned home.  Curio recovered Iguvium with great and universal goodwill, (‘Civil War’, 1: 11:4 - 12:2, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 21). 

Caesar now controlled all of the main routes between Rome and Ariminum.


Caesar then moved south into Auximum, which seems to have been the centre of Pompeian resistance north of Rome.  According to Caesar:

  1. “... confident [now] of goodwill in the towns [of Arretium, Pisaurum, Fanum Fortunae, Ancona and Iguvium], Caesar withdrew the cohorts of the 13th legion from garrison duty and set out for Auximum, a town that [the Pompeian, P. Attius Varro] held with cohorts he had brought in.  He was also recruiting troops throughout Picenum by sending senators from town to town.  [However], when they learned of Caesar’s approach, the magistrates at Auximum met as a body with Attius and  told him that the affair was not something for them to decide:

  2. ‘Neither we nor the rest of our townspeople can tolerate that Caius Caesar, a commander who has such important public achievements to his credit, should be barred from the town and its fortifications. Furthermore, you should consider the future and your danger.”

  3. Disturbed by their words, Varus led out the garrison he had installed, and fled.  A few of Caesar’s advance-guard soldiers caught up with him and forced him to stop.  A fight began, but Varus was deserted by his men: some of them went home, and the rest reached Caesar, bringing the chief centurion L. Pupius along as a prisoner.  ... Caesar ... praised Attius’ soldiers, dismissed Pupius, and thanked the people of Auximum, promising to remember their action”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 8: 13, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at pp. 21-3). 

This was apparently the first military engagement of the civil war.  Caesar then:

  1. “... traversed the whole of Picenum.  All the prefectures of those parts received him with the utmost gladness and assisted him with supplies of every kind.  Even from Cingulum, a town that [Titus Labienus - see below] had constituted and built at his own expense, envoys came to him and promised to do his bidding with the utmost eagerness”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 8: 15, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 25).

Titus Labienus, who had been born at Cingulum, had been Caesar’s senior legate in Gaul, but he had defected to Pompey shortly after Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon. 

Pompey and Consuls Leave Rome (17th -18th January 49 BC?)


According to Cassius Dio, Pompey sent L. Julius Caesar (a relative of Caesar) and L. Roscius Fabatu (a praetor) as envoys to negotiate with Caesar.  Pompey himself: 

  1. “ ... set out for Campania before the envoys returned, thinking that he could more easily carry on war there.  He also commanded the whole Senate and the other magistrates to accompany him, ... announcing to them that he would regard anyone who remained behind in exactly the same light as those who were working against him.  Furthermore, he ordered them to decree that public moneys and the votive offering in the City should all be seized, hoping that, by using them, he could recruit a vast number of soldiers”, (‘Roman History’, 41: 6: 1-3). 

Caesar recorded that: 

  1. “Pompey, having left Rome the day before [the consuls - see below], was en route to the legions that he had [previously] received from Caesar, which he had distributed in winter quarters around Apulia.  Recruitment in the City’s vicinity was put on hold: nothing north of Capua felt safe to anyone”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 14: 3-4), translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at pp. 23-5).

It seems that, even at this early stage, Pompey had decided to abandon Rome, at least temporarily.  Most scholars believe that he announced his imminent departure from Rome to the Senate on 17th January, and that Cicero referred to his demeanour at this meeting in a letter that he sent to Atticus on 18th March: 

  1. “I saw [Pompey] on 17 January, thoroughly cowed.  That very day, I realised what he was at. Thereafter he was never to my liking.  He went on blundering, now here now there”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 177, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at Vol. 3, p. 53). 

Lentulus and Marcellus

As noted on the previous page, a sentence in Caesar’s description of the events of 7th January reads:

  1. “The consuls left Rome <lacuna> (another thing that never happened before that occasion) and used lictors in Rome in a private capacity, contrary to every precedent”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 6: 7, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 13). 

Cynthia Damon completed the lacuna as <inauspicato (without taking the auspices)>, but commented (at note 20) that:

  1. “[The phrase] ‘in a private capacity’ [in Caesar’s passage] seems to allude to a constitutional irregularity (e.g., that the formalities pertaining to the consuls’ installation were incomplete), but the text may be corrupt.”

Caesar recorded that, when the news of the fall of Auximum reached Rome:

  1. “... the panic that suddenly hit [the City] was so great that, although the consul Lentulus had come to open the treasury to provide money for Pompey in accordance with the Senate’s decree [of 17th January - above], he fled the city directly after opening the treasury reserve, because false reports [had it that] Caesar was already approaching ... Lentulus was followed by his colleague Marcellus and most of the magistrates”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 14: 1-3), translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 23). 

It seems likely that the earlier of these two passages was incorrectly dated, and that both concerned the events that followed the decree of 17th January.  According to Plutarch:

  1. “... the consuls fled, without even making the sacrifices usual before departure”, (‘Life of Caesar’, 34: 1).

It is possible that  the action that Caesar claimed was unprecedented was the consuls’ failure to sacrifice during the feriae Latinae on the Alban Mount before leaving the City on 18th January (the day after Pompey). 

Domitius and the Fall of Corfinium (21st February 49 BC)

After consolidating his position by incorporating many displaced or deserting soldiers from the senatorial army into his own, Caesar besieged Corfinium: L. Domitius Ahenobarbus, Caesar’s replacement as governor of the province of Gaul, had concentrated his forces there and hoped to receive reinforcements from Pompey in order to halt Caesar’s march on Rome.  Cicero was a close observer of this development.  We know from a letter that he wrote to Atticus on or about 21st January from Formiae, that he had:

  1. “... a fairly quiet job to look after.  Pompey wants me to exercise supervision over all this part of Campania and the sea coast, with general authority over recruiting, etc.  ... I imagine that by now you see the direction of Caesar’s drive, the popular reaction, the state of the whole business (‘Letters to Atticus’, 134, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at Vol. 2, p. 229)

Atticus had remained in Rome, and the two men exchanged what information they had about the rapidly developing situation.  Cicero wrote to Atticus from Campania on 18th February, reporting that he had just received: 

  1. “... a letter to announce that Caesar is camped outside Corfinium, and that Domitius is inside the town, with a powerful army eager for battle. I  don’t believe that [Pompey] will crown all [his recent mistakes] by leaving Domitius in the lurch, [albeit that he has] sent Scipio with two cohorts to Brundisium and written to the consuls that he wished one of them to take the legion raised by Faustus to Sicily.  But, it will be a disgraceful thing to desert Domitius when he is begging for help”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 153, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at Vol. 2, p. 287). 

Cicero could not know that, by this time, Caesar had received the legion that he had summoned from Gaul.  When he wrote to Atticus on 28th February, he referred back to the time of Caesar’s arrival outside Corfinium:  

  1. “Nor can anyone fairly blame me, in this last phase [of the war in Italy], for not going overseas. ... Indeed I could not be expected to guess the plan, particularly as, from Pompey’s own letter, I was firmly under the impression (and I see you thought the same) that he would go to Domitius’ rescue”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 162, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at Vol. 2, p. 321).

It seems that, for many of the leading Romans who opposed Caesar, Domitius’ stand at Cofinium represented their last chance to stop Caesar from taking control of the whole of Italy. Now, some two weeks later, Cicero knew what Pompey had actually decided to do: indeed he forwarded to Atticus copies of two letters that Pompey (who was then at Luceria) had written at that crucial point in the war:

  1. “17th  February 49 BC: Cn. Magnus Proconsul to L. Domitius Proconsul: 

  2. A letter of yours has been delivered to me [today] in which you say that Caesar has encamped at Corfinium.  What I thought and predicted is happening: he is unwilling to join battle with you at present and, having collected all his forces, hems you in, obstructing your road to me and preventing you from adding your own thoroughly loyal forces to the legions here, whose loyalty is doubtful.  I am therefore all the more disturbed by your letter.  I do not have enough confidence in the morale of the men that I have with me to fight a battle on which the whole future of the commonwealth would be staked, and the levies raised for the Consuls have not yet mustered.  Therefore, do your best, even at this stage, if  you can ... extricate yourself and to come here as soon as possible before the entire enemy forces have joined up [with Caesar].  The men from the levies cannot muster here rapidly, and if they did, you will appreciate how little confidence could be placed in troops who do not even know one another against veteran legions”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 162D, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999 at Vol. 2, pp. 333-5).

  3. “18th February 49 BC: Cn. Magnus, Proconsul to C. Marcellus and L. Lentulus, Consuls

  4. “Holding as I do that,  while we are scattered, we can neither be of use to the State nor any protection to one another ... I have ... decided ... to take the force that I have with me to Brundisium, [and] I urge you [both] ... to muster all the troops that you can and come likewise to Brundisium as soon as possible.  ... Please inform our friends of this.  I have sent instructions to Praetors P. Lupus and C. Coponius to join you with such troops as they have”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 162A, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999 at Vol. 2, pp. 325-7).

In other words, Pompey also knew that the outcome of Caesar’a siege of Corfinium would be decisive for control of Italy, but he believed that this battle was already lost.  On 22nd February, Cicero reported to Atticus that:

  1. “I am in suspense, waiting for the outcome at Corfinium, where the existence of the Republic is at stake”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 157, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999 at Vol. 2, p. 297)

After a siege of seven days, Domitius’ army surrendered: Caesar claimed that Domitius had kept the contents of Pompey’s letter from his men while he planned his own escape, but that his officers had discerned his intent, arrested him and then surrendered, following which, Caesar:

  1. “... ordered all senators, sons of senators, staff officers, and men of equestrian rank [in the surrendering army] to be brought before him.  From the senatorial order there were these: L. Domitius, P. Lentulus Spinther, L. Caecilius Rufus, the quaestor Sex. Quintilius Varus, and L. Rubrius, in addition to Domitius’ son and several other young men and a large number of men of equestrian rank and council members whom Domitius had summoned from the towns.  When they stood before him, he protected them from insults and derision by his soldiers.  He spoke briefly about the failure of some of them to show gratitude for the great favours he had conferred, then dismissed all of them unharmed.  As for the 6,000,000 sesterces that Domitius had brought to Corfinium and deposited in the public treasury, although they were delivered to Caesar by the town’s magistrates, he returned them to Domitius  ... And yet. everyone knew that that this was public money and had been given by Pompey for paying the troops.  He ordered Domitius’ soldiers to swear fidelity to himself.   That same day, he struck camp and set out on a full day’s march.  Altogether, he had spent seven days at Corfinium.  Traveling through the territory of the Marrucini, the Frentani, and the Larinates he came to Apulia”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 23: 1-5, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at pp. 35-7). 

On 23rd February, after hearing of the fall of Corfinium, Cicero described his feelings to Atticus:

  1. “What a dishonourable and therefore miserable business!  ... [Pompey first] built Caesar up, then suddenly began to fear him, rejected all terms of peace, made no preparations for war, abandoned Rome, culpably lost Picenum, squeezed himself into Apulia, [and would soon be] off to Greece, leaving us all without a word, without [giving us] any part in so momentous and extraordinary a plan.  Then, out of the blue, comes Domitius’ letter to him and his to the consuls.  It seemed to me as though the light of Honour had shone before his eyes ... But Pompey, waving goodbye to Honour, is making for Brundisium.  As for Domitius, they say that, on hearing the news [that Pompey was not sending reinforcements], he and those with him have given themselves up [and Caesar has taken Corfinium]. A tragic business!”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 158, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999 at Vol. 2, pp. 299). 

It seems that this clemency was part of a deliberate strategy on Caesar’s part: on or about 5th March, he sent a letter to his advisers, Oppius and Balbus, a copy of which fell into Cicero’s hands and was passed on by him to Atticus

  1. “I am indeed glad that you express in your letter such hearty approval of the proceedings at Corfinium. I shall willingly follow your advice, all the more willingly because I had of my own accord decided to show all possible clemency and to do my best to reconcile Pompey. Let us try whether by this means we can win back the good will of all and enjoy a lasting victory, seeing that others have not managed by cruelty to escape hatred or to make their victories endure, except only L. Sulla, whom I do not propose to imitate.  Let this be the new style of conquest, to make mercy and generosity our shield. As to how that is to be done, certain possibilities occur to me and many more can be found. I request you to apply your thoughts to these matters”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 174c, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999 at Vol. 3, pp. 41-3).

Cicero described this (on 13th March) as:

  1. “... a sane letter so far as there can be any sanity in such madness”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 174: 3, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999 at Vol. 3, p. 33).

Events at Brundisium (February - March 49 BC)

Caesar was now effectively in control of Italy, and the main hope of defeating him depended on Pompey’s plan to move the military resources that were still at his disposal to Epirus before Caesar could stop him.


Two pieces of evidence enable us to date Caesar’s movements in the aftermath of the fall of Corfinium:

  1. In a letter that Cicero wrote to Atticus on 2nd March, he observed that:

  2. “... Brundisium is [now] the focus of the whole struggle ... I am racked with suspense on that account.  But, we shall know all before the Nones (7th March), for I see that Caesar left Corfinium on the afternoon of the Feralia (21st February), the same day that Pompey left Canusium at dawn.  In view of Caesar’s marching habits, ... I am that afraid he may reach Brundisium sooner than desirable”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 164, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at Vol. 2, p. 337).

  3. In a letter that L. Cornelius Balbus, Caesar’s agent in Rome, sent to Cicero on 22nd March, he copied the contents of a letter that he (Balbus) and a colleague had received from Caesar:

  4. “Caesar to Oppius and Cornelius: On 9 March, I reached Brundisium and encamped before the walls.  Pompey, who is in Brundisium, sent N. Magius to me to treat of peace.  I replied as I thought proper.  I wanted you to know this at once.  As soon as I see any hope of achieving anything in the way of a composition I shall at once inform you”, (Letters to Atticus’, 181 A, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at Vol. 3, p. 53).

Thus, Caesar began his 460 km march along the Adriatic coast from Corfinium to Brundisium on 21st February and arrived on 9th March.


Three pieces of evidence enable us to date Pompey’s movements after the fall of Corfinium:

  1. In a letter that Cicero  wrote to Pompey on 27th February, he reported that:

  2. “... news arrived simultaneously of the [fall of] Corfinium on the one hand and, on the other, that you had set out for Brundisium”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 161D, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at Vol. 2, pp. 315). 

  3. Caesar similarly recorded that:

  4. “After learning what had happened at Corfinium, Pompey set out from Luceria for Canusium and from there for Brundisium.  He ordered all of the troops from the recent recruiting, wherever they were, to be concentrated [there]”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 24: 1-2, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 37). 

  5. In a letter that Cicero wrote to Atticus on 18th March, he referred back to a letter that Atticus had sent to him: 

  6. “... on the 1st of March, when Pompey had been at Brundisium for four days”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 177, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at Vol. 3, p. 61). 

Thus, when Pompey heard of the fall of Corfinium at sometime before 27th February, he travelled from Luceria, via Canusium, to Brundisium. 

Evacuation of Pompey’s Army 

Three pieces of evidence enable us to date the subsequent events at Brundisium:

  1. According to Caesar, when he arrived at Brundisium (on 9th March):

  2. “He found that the consuls had left for Dyrrhachium with a large part of the army, but that Pompey was still in Brundisium with 20 cohorts”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 25: 1-2, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 39). 

  3. Caesar then described the measures that he took to obstruct Pompey’s plans, observing that:

  4. “When nearly half of Caesar’s barrier was complete after 9 days had been spent on it, Pompey’s ships (had transported the first part of the army to Dyrrhachium) were sent back from by the consuls.   Pompey ... began preparing his [own] departure after the ships’ arrival”, (‘Civil War’, 1: 27: 1-2, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at p. 43). 

Thus, in summary: Caesar arrived at Brundisium on 9th March, but Pompey and the remaining part of his army were able to escape to Dyrrhachium on 17th March.

Caesar’ Response to Pompey’s Escape

Caesar moved quickly to secure control of both Sardinia and Sicily.  This was easily accomplished since, as he himself recorded (at ‘Civil War’,  3: 30-31, translated by Cynthia Damon, referenced below, at pp.  47-9):

  1. M. Aurelius Cotta, the serving governor of Sardinia, had fled to Africa even before his 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 his other legate, C. Scribonius Curio.

Cicero, in a letter that he wrote to Atticus on 25th March, enclosed a copy of a letter that he had received from two of his friends, Matius and Trebatius, informing him that:

  1. “... Pompey left Brundisium with his entire force on 17th  March.  Caesar entered the town on the following day, made a public speech and then left for Rome”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 184, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at Vol. 3, p. 91).

Plutarch explained that Caesar would have liked to have pursued Pompey without delay, but he:

  1. “... was destitute of ships; so he turned back to Rome, having become master of all Italy in 60 days [sic] and without bloodshed”, (‘Life of Caesar’, 35: 3).

In the letter to Cicero of 25th March mentioned above, Matius and Trebatius also told Cicero that Caesar:

  1. “... desires to reach the capital before the Kalends (1st April), to stay there only a few days, and then to set out for Spain”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 184, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at Vol. 3, p. 91).  

Caesar’s Meeting with Cicero en Route for Rome

Cicero decided against leaving Italy with Pompey, and instead moved to his villa at Formiae.  Ominously for him, Caesar arranged to break his journey from Brundisium to Rome there in order to call on him.  In a letter that he 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. III, p. 93). 

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

  1. “My language [during the meeting with Caesar] was such as to earn his 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. III, p. 95). 

Read more:

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

Beneker J., “The Crossing of the Rubicon and the Outbreak of Civil War in Cicero, Lucan, Plutarch, and Suetonius”, Phoenix, 65: 1/2 (2011) 74-99

Goldsworthy A., “Caesar”, (2006) London

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

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