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Letter XLIV: ad Atticum 8.12d

Luceria, Feb.17, 49 B.C. Caesar crossed the boundary of his province Jan. 10, 49 B.C. (Nov. 22, 50 B.C. , according to the Julian calendar), with a force of five cohorts, which had increased to 40,000 men by Feb.14, when he arrived before Corfinium. In this town and its vicinity there were thirty-one cohorts (cf. Att. 8.12A. 1), mainly under the command of L. Domitius Ahenobarbus (cf. Ep. 1.3 n.), designated as Caesar's successor in Transalpine Gaul. Confidently expecting the arrival of Pompey, to whom he had sent letters describing his imminent danger, Domitius had neglected all preparations for defense. This letter from Pompey, declining to come to his relief, decided the fate of the town, which was delivered over to Caesar after a siege of seven days. Thus the last obstacle in the way of Caesar's advance into southern Italy was removed. The intense interest with which the Pompeians watched the course of events at Corfinium indicates the supreme importance which they attached to that struggle, and makes this letter one of the most important documents relating to the Civil War. Di immortales, qui me horror perfudit! quam sum sollicitus quidnam futurum sit, writes Cicero (Att. 8.6.3), upon hearing that Corfinium was besieged by Caesar. For the details of the siege, cf. Caes. B. C. 1.19 ff.


implicet: the letters of Pompey contain, as we might expect, many technical military words and expressions. To this class implicare and explicare, which occur five times in his six letters, would seem to belong.

optimorum civium: the troops at Corfinium were made up of recruits from the Alban, Marsian, and Paelignian territory, and represented the most reliable force in Pompey's Italian army.

his legionibus: in 50 B.C. the senate required Pompey and Caesar to furnish one legion each for use in the Parthian war. Caesar obeyed, and Pompey complied by demanding of Caesar a legion which he had previously lent him. Both legions were drawn, therefore, from Caesar's army. They were not used in the Parthian war, but were stationed in Italy. Before their departure from Caesar's camp they had received the gifts of money which soldiers received in case of a triumph. This fact, coupled with their admiration for their former commander, made their devotion to the Pompeian cause doubtful.

consulibus: dat. of advantage.


etiam nunc: although the siege has begun.

explices: cf. implice, 1n.

ad adversarium: the MSS. do not contain ad, but we must either insert it or regard its omission as not unnatural in a letter from Pompey, written in haste. See Crit. Append. Pompey always speaks of Caesar as an adversarius (cf., e.g., Att. 8.12B.1 (bis); 8.12C.1). Probably the senate had not technically declared him an hostis (cf. Schmidt, Briefw. 112).


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  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 8.12
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 8.6.3
    • Caesar, Civil War, 1.19
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