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Cæsar encourages his Men -- Marches to Thessaly -- Pompey encamps at Pharsalus -- Cæsar short of Supplies -- Pompey prefers Delay but is overruled by his Council -- Prodigies before the Battle -- The Armies at Pharsalus -- Allies and Mercenaries

[63] Pompey sent letters to all the kings and cities magnifying his victory, and he expected that Cæsar's army would come over to him directly, conceiving that it was oppressed by hunger and cast down by defeat, and especially the officers because apprehensive of punishment for their bad conduct in the battle. But the latter, as though some god had brought them to repentance, were ashamed of their fault, and as Cæsar chided them gently and granted them pardon, they became still more angry with themselves and by a surprising change demanded that they should be decimated according to the law of their country. When Cæsar did not agree to this they were still more mortified, and acknowledged that he had been shamefully treated by them. They cried out that he should at least put the standard bearers to death because they themselves would never have run away unless the standards had turned in flight first. Cæsar would not consent to this, but he reluctantly punished a few. So great was the zeal excited among all by his moderation that they demanded to be led against the enemy immediately. They urged him vehemently, beseeching and promising to wipe out their disgrace by a splendid victory. Of their own accord they visited each other in military order and took an oath by companies, under the eye of Cæsar himself, that they would not leave the field of battle except as victors.1

[64] Wherefore Cæsar's friends urged him to avail himself of the army's repentance and eagerness promptly, but he said in the hearing of the host, that he would take a better opportunity to lead them against the enemy, and he exhorted them to be mindful of their present zeal. He privately admonished his friends that it was necessary first for the soldiers to recover from the very great alarm of their recent defeat, and for the enemy to lose something of their present high confidence. He confessed also that he had made a mistake in encamping before Dyrrachium where Pompey had abundance of supplies, whereas he ought to have drawn him to some place where he would be subject to the same scarcity as themselves. After saying this he marched directly to Apollonia and from there to Thessaly, advancing by night in order to conceal his movements. The small town of Gomphi2 to which he came refused to open its gates to him, and he took it by storm and allowed his army to plunder it. The soldiers, who had suffered much from hunger, stuffed themselves immoderately and drank wine to excess. The Germans among them were especially ridiculous under the influence of drink. It seems probable that Pompey might have attacked them then and gained another victory had he not disdainfully neglected a close pursuit. After seven days of rapid marching Cæsar encamped near Pharsalus. It is said that among the notable calamities of Gomphi the bodies of twenty venerable men of the first rank were found lying on the floor in an apothecary's shop, not wounded, and with goblets near them, as though they were drunk, and that one of them, like a physician, was seated in a chair and had dealt out poison to them.3

[65] After Cæsar had withdrawn Pompey called a council of war, at which Afranius advised that they should make use of their naval force in which they were much superior, and being masters of the sea should harass Cæsar, who was now wandering and destitute, and that Pompey himself should conduct his infantry with all haste to Italy, which was well disposed toward him and was now free from a hostile army. Having mastered it, together with Gaul and Spain, they could attack Cæsar again from their own home, the seat of imperial power. Although this was the best possible advice Pompey disregarded it and allowed himself to be persuaded by those who said that Cæsar's army would presently desert to him on account of hunger, and that there was not much left of it anyway after the victory of Dyrrachium. They said it would be disgraceful to abandon the pursuit of Cæsar when he was in flight, and for the victor to flee as though vanquished.4 Pompey sided with these advisers partly out of regard for the opinions of the eastern nations that were looking on, partly to prevent any harm befalling Lucius Scipio, who was still in Macedonia, but most of all because he thought that he ought to fight while his army was in high spirits. Accordingly he advanced and pitched his camp opposite to Cæsar's near Pharsalus, so that they were separated from each other by a distance of thirty stades.

[66] Pompey's supplies came from every quarter, for the roads, harbors, and strongholds had been so provided beforehand that food was brought to him at all times from the land, and every wind blew it to him from the sea. Cæsar, on the other hand, had only what he could find with difficulty and seize by hard labor. Yet even so nobody deserted him, but all, by a kind of divine fury, longed to come to close quarters with the enemy. They considered that they, who had been trained in arms for ten years, were much superior to the new levies of Pompey in fighting, but that for digging ditches and building fortifications and for laborious foraging they were weaker by reason of their age. Tired as they were they altogether preferred to perform some deed of valor rather than perish with hunger in inaction. Pompey perceived this and he considered it dangerous to risk everything on a single battle with disciplined and desperate men, and against the amazing luck of Cæsar. It would be easier and safer to reduce them by want as they controlled no fertile territory, and could get nothing by sea, and had no ships for rapid flight. So he decided on the most prudent calculation to protract the war and wear out the enemy by hunger from day to day.5

[67] Pompey was surrounded by a great number of senators, of equal rank with himself, by very distinguished knights, and by many kings and princes. Some of these, by reason of their inexperience in war, others because they were too much elated by the victory at Dyrrachium, others because they outnumbered the enemy, and others because they were quite tired of the war and preferred a quick decision rather than a sound one -- all urged him to fight, pointing out to him that Cæsar was always drawn up for battle and challenging him. Pompey answered along this very line of argument by saying that Cæsar was compelled to do so by his want of supplies, and that they had the more reason to remain quiet because Cæsar was pushed by necessity. Yet, harassed by the whole army, which was unduly puffed up by the victories at Dyrrachium, and by men of rank who accused him of being fond of power and of delaying purposely in order to prolong his authority over so many men of his own rank -- and for this reason called him derisively king of kings and Agamemnon,6 because that general also ruled over kings while war lasted -- he allowed himself to be moved from his own purpose and gave in to them, being deceived now by the god that had misled him on other occasions during the whole of this war. He had now become, contrary to his nature, sluggish and dilatory in all things,7 and he prepared for battle against his will, to his own hurt and that of the men who had persuaded him to it.

[68] That same night three of Cæsar's legions started out to forage; for Cæsar himself approved Pompey's dilatory proceedings and had no idea that he would change, and accordingly sent them out to procure food. When he perceived that the enemy was preparing to fight he was delighted at the pressure which he conjectured had been put upon Pompey by his army, and he recalled all of his forces at once and made preparations on his own side. He offered sacrifice at midnight and invoked Mars and his own ancestress, Venus (for it was believed that from Æneas and his son, Ilus, was descended the Julian race, with a slight change of name), and he vowed that he would build a temple in Rome as a thank-offering to her as the Bringer of Victory if everything went well. Thereupon a flame from heaven flew through the air from Cæsar's camp to Pompey's, where it was extinguished. Pompey's men said that it signified a brilliant victory for them over their enemies, but Cæsar interpreted it as meaning that he should fall upon and extinguish the fame and power of Pompey. When Pompey was sacrificing the same night some of the victims escaped and could not be caught, and a swarm of bees settled on the altar, the type of weakness.8 Shortly before daylight a panic occurred in his army. He himself went around and quieted it and then fell into a deep sleep.

[69] When his friends aroused him he said that he had just dreamed that he had dedicated a temple in Rome to Venus the Bringer of Victory. His friends and his whole army when they heard of this were delighted, being in ignorance of Cæsar's vow, and they went about their work in a reckless and contemptuous way as though it were already accomplished. Many of them adorned their tents with laurel branches, the insignia of victory, and their slaves prepared magnificent banquets for them. Some of them began already to contend with each other for Cæsar's office of Pontifex Maximus. Pompey, being experienced in military affairs, turned away from these squabbles with concealed indignation. He remained altogether silent in hesitancy and dread, as though he were no longer commander but under command, and as though he were doing everything under compulsion and against his judgment; such dejection had come over this man of great deeds (who, until this day, had been most fortunate in every undertaking), either because he had not carried his point when he had decided what was the best course but was about to cast the die involving the safety of so many men and also involving his own reputation, until now invincible; or because some presentiment of approaching evil troubled him, presaging his complete downfall that very day from a position of such vast power. After merely saying to his friends that whichever should conquer, that day would be the beginning of great evils to the Romans for all future time, he began to make arrangements for the battle. In this remark some people thought his real intentions escaped him, involuntarily expressed in a moment of fright, and they inferred that if Pompey had been victorious he would not have laid down the supreme power.

[70] Cæsar's army (for since many writers differ I shall follow the most credible Roman authorities, who give the most careful enumeration of the Italian soldiers, in whom they place most confidence, but do not make much account of the allied forces or record them exactly, regarding them as foreigners and as contributing to them little real assistance) consisted of about 22,000 men and of these about 1000 were cavalry. Pompey had more than double that number, of whom about 7000 were cavalry. Some of the most trustworthy writers say that 70,000 Italian soldiers were engaged in this battle. Others give the smaller number, 60,00000. Still others, grossly exaggerating, say 400,000.9 Of the whole number some say Pompey's forces were to those of Cæsar as one-and-a-half to one, others say that he had two parts out of three. So much doubt is there as to the exact truth. However that may be, each of them placed his chief reliance on his Italian troops. In the way of allied forces Cæsar had cavalry from both Cisalpine and Transalpine Gaul, besides some light-armed Greeks, consisting of Dolopians, Acarnanians, and Ætolians. Such were Cæsar's allies. Pompey had a great number from all the eastern nations, part horse, part foot. From Greece he had Lacedemonians marshalled by their own kings, and others from Peloponnesus and Bœotians with them. The Athenians marched to his aid also, although proclamation had been made on both sides that no harm should be done to them by the soldiers, since they were the priests of the Thesmophoræ.10 Nevertheless, they wished to share in the glory of the war because this was a contest for the Roman leadership.11

[71] Besides the Greeks almost all the nations that one meets in making the circuit of the eastern sea sent aid to Pompey: Thracians, Hellespontines, Bithynians, Phrygians, Ionians, Lydians, Pamphylians, Pisidians, Paphlagonians, Cilicians, Syrians, Phœnicians, Hebrews, and their neighbors the Arabs, Cyprians, Rhodians, Cretan slingers, and other islanders. Kings and princes were there leading their own troops: Deïotarus, the tetrarch of Galatia in the East, and Ariarthes, king of Cappadocia. Taxiles commanded THESSALY & SOUTHERN MACEDONIA

the Armenians from the hither side of the Euphrates. Those from the other side were led by Megabates, the lieutenant of King Artabazes. Some other small princes took part with Pompey in the work. It was said that sixty ships from Egypt were contributed to him by the sovereigns of that country, Cleopatra and her brother, who was still a boy. But these did not take part in the battle, nor did any other naval force. They remained idle at Corcyra. Pompey seems to have acted very foolishly in this respect in disregarding the fleet, in which he excelled so greatly that he could have deprived the enemy of all the supplies brought to them from abroad, and in risking a battle on land with men who boasted that they were inured to every kind of toil and who were ferocious fighters. Although he had been on his guard against them at Dyrrachium, a certain spell seems to have come over him at a time when it would inure most to Cæsar's advantage. Under this spell also Pompey's army was most nonsensically puffed up, and rendered insubordinate to its own commander, and hurried into action without previous experience in war. But this was the ordering of divine Providence to bring in the imperial power which now embraces everything.

1 This agrees with the account given by Cæsar himself of what took place in his camp after his defeat at Dyrrachium. He made a speech to his soldiers in which he dwelt on the great success they had achieved prior to the last battle, and said that if all their efforts had not been equally successful they must repair the defects of Fortune with greater industry. "But whether their own panic," he continued, "or some mistake, or Fortune itself had snatched from them a victory already gained and assured, the utmost effort should be made so that the disaster incurred might be repaired by their bravery. If this were done the loss they had suffered would redound to their advantage, as had been the case at Gergovia (in Gaul), and those who had been timid in fighting before would now go into battle fearlessly." (iii. 73.)

2 This could not have been a small town if it furnished the amount of food and wine which the text implies. Cæsar speaks of it as " oppido pleno atque opulento."

3 This incident contains a whole volume of the horrors of war to non-combatants in the ancient world. Here was a prosperous town of Thessaly blotted out of existence in a few hours' time. Cæsar says that the Thessalians at first espoused his cause but that they turned against him when they heard of his defeat at Dyrrachium. Naturally so. As they had no interest in the quarrel they were bound to be on the stronger side if they knew which it was. Their principal citizens guessed wrong, their town was destroyed, and they committed suicide in consequence. This was only one case among thousands.

4 Both Plutarch and Cæsar give entertaining accounts of what took place in Pompey's camp after Cæsar's retreat. "They cried out," says the former, " that Cæsar had fled. Some wanted to pursue him, others to cross over to Italy. Others despatched their friends and servants to Rome to hire houses in advance near the forum, as though they were about to run for office." (Life of Pompey, 66.) Cæsar's narrative says: "They contended with each other openly about rewards and priesthoods and disposed of the consulship for years to come. Some demanded the houses and goods of men in Cæsar's camp, and there was a great controversy over the question whether Lucius Hirrus, who had been sent by Pompey on a mission to the Parthians, should have the right to stand for the next prætorship while absent. . . . Domitius, Scipio, and Lentulus Spinther had daily disputes over the succession to Cæsar's priesthood and descended to the vilest language, Lentulus claiming it on the score of age, Domitius boasting of his influence in the city and his dignity, while Scipio trusted to his relationship with Pompey. Acutius Rufus even accused Afranius, in Pompey's presence, of betrayal of his army, which he said had been done in Spain." (iii. 82-83.)

5 Literally, " to lead the enemy around from hunger to hunger," ἐς λιμὸν ἐκ λιμοῦ. Mendelssohn prefers to read ἐς λοιμὸν ἐκ λιμοῦ, "from famine to plague," and he refers to Plutarch (Life of Cœsar, 40), who says that it was reported in Pompey's camp that a pestilence had broken out in Cæsar's army in consequence of their unaccustomed diet. There is no authority for this change nor does it improve the text in any way. As Cæsar was living off the country he would be obliged to move frequently "from hunger to hunger."

6 Plutarch says that this nickname was bestowed upon Pompey by Domitius Ahenobarbus, the same who was sent to supersede Cæsar in Gaul and who fell into the latter's hands at Corfinium, and was dismissed with contempt. He was an intense aristocrat, enormously rich, and he hated Cæsar with fury. He was killed in the pursuit after Pharsalus. During the exchange of pleasantries at Pompey's head -- quarters "Afranius, who had been accused of betraying his army in Spain, when he saw Pompey trying to avoid a battle said he wondered why his accusers did not move forward and fight this huckster of provinces." Favonius, who had suggested before they left Italy that Pompey should stamp armies out of the ground, now said: " Gentlemen, we shall not partake of the figs at Tusculum this year." (Life of Pompey, 67.)

7 The text, or at all events the punctuation, is here doubtful. I have followed that of Schweighäuser but his Latin version does not accord with it: Tandem a proposito se moveri passus, deo jam exitium ejus properante, concessit illorum voluntati. Quemadmodum et alias per totum illud bellum contra naturam suam, tardus fuerat et veluti torpidus, sic nunc, etc., i.e.: "Finally allowing himself to be moved from his purpose he yielded to their wish, a god now hurrying him to his doom. As in other matters he had been, contrary to his nature, sluggish and as it were stupefied through this whole war, so now," etc.

8 These prodigies, with some slight variations, are related by Plutarch, by Lucan, and by Florus. "Never," says Florus, "were there more manifest signs of impending ruin."

9 One of the grossly exaggerating writers is Florus, who says: "Never did fortune behold so large a force of the Roman people or so much of their dignity collected in one place. More than 300,000 men were assembled on one side and the other, in addition to the auxiliaries of kings and nations."

10 The Thesmophoræ (law-bringers) were Ceres and Proserpine. They were worshipped together as the goddesses of tillage and civilized life. The Thesmophoria was an annual religious festival at Athens.

11 Schweighäuser says that the meaning of this passage is not quite clear to him. Combes-Dounous renders it intelligibly: "They came to take part in this war merely to have the glory of fighting in a contest where the empire of the Roman people was at stake."

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