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39. After this, Antony put in from Brundisium with his forces, and Caesar was emboldened to challenge Pompey to battle. Pompey was well posted and drew ample supplies both from land and sea; while Caesar had no great abundance at first, and afterwards was actually hard pressed for want of provisions. But his soldiers dug up a certain root, mixed it with milk, and ate it.1 [2] Once, too, they made loaves of it, and running up to the enemy's outposts, threw the loaves inside or tossed them to one another, adding by way of comment that as long as the earth produced such roots, they would not stop besieging Pompey. Pompey, however, would not allow either the loaves or these words to reach the main body of his army. For his soldiers were dejected, fearing the ferocity and hardiness of their enemies, who were like wild beasts in their eyes.

[3] There were constant skirmishings about the fortifications of Pompey, and in all of them Caesar got the better except one, where there was a great rout of his men and he was in danger of losing his camp. For when Pompey attacked not one of Caesar's men stood his ground, but the moats were filled with the slain, and others were falling at their own ramparts and walls, whither they had been driven in headlong flight. [4] And though Caesar met the fugitives and tried to turn them back, he availed nothing, nay, when he tried to lay hold of the standards the bearers threw them away, so that the enemy captured thirty-two of them. Caesar himself too, narrowly escaped being killed. For as a tall and sturdy man was running away past him, he laid his hand upon him and bade him stay and face about upon the enemy; and the fellow, full of panic at the threatening danger, raised his sword to smite Caesar, but before he could do so Caesar's shield-bearer lopped off his arm at the shoulder. [5] So completely had Caesar given up his cause for lost that, when Pompey, either from excessive caution or by some chance, did not follow up his great success, but withdrew after he had shut up the fugitives within their entrenchments, Caesar said to his friends as he left them: ‘To-day victory had been with the enemy, if they had had a victor in command’ 2 [6] Then going by himself to his tent and lying down, he spent that most distressful of all nights in vain reflections, convinced that he had shown bad generalship. For while a fertile country lay waiting for him, and the prosperous cities of Macedonia and Thessaly, he had neglected to carry the war thither, and had posted himself here by the sea, which his enemies controlled with their fleets, being thus held in siege by lack of provisions rather than besieging with his arms. [7] Thus his despondent thoughts of the difficulty and perplexity of his situation kept him tossing upon his couch, and in the morning he broke camp, resolved to lead his army into Macedonia against Scipio; for he would then either draw Pompey after him to a place where he would give battle without drawing his supplies as he now did from the sea, or Scipio would be left alone and he would overwhelm him.

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load focus Greek (Bernadotte Perrin, 1919)
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  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), LUDI
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Caesar, Civil War, 3.48
    • Plutarch, Pompey, 65.5
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (3):
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