previous next

[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 Gomphi1 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.2

1 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."

2 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.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (L. Mendelssohn, 1879)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), GOMPHI
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), METRO´POLIS
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: