P. Attius Varus, d.45 BC

P. Attius Varus, d.45 BC

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P. Attius Varus, d.45 BC

P. Attius Varus was one of Pompey's generals during the Great Roman Civil War, holding North Africa against Caesar's lieutenants in the first year of the war, thus ensuring that the Pompeian leaders still had a base after their defeat at Pharsalia in the following year.

In the years before the outbreak of the civil war Varus had served as praetor and then as propraetor of Africa. At the start of the Civil War he was posted in Picenum, on the east coast of Italy, at the head of a sizable army. He took up a position at Cingulum (modern Cingoli), before moving to the coast at Auximum (modern Osimo). Caesar, who was advancing down the eastern coast of Italy, decided to move towards Auxiumum to deal with this threat.

Although this was an area that should have been loyal to Pompey, the citizens of Auximum made it clear to Varus that they wouldn't resist Caesar. Varus was forced to abandon his position and attempt to escape to the south. Just after leaving the city Varus's men were caught by Caesar's advance guard, and forced to turn and fight. At this point most of Varus's men deserted him, many choosing to join Caesar.

The news of this setback caused a panic in Rome, arriving as it did just after Pompey had left to join his army in Apulia, at the far eastern tip of Italy (the heel of the shoe). Meanwhile Varus escaped south-east, joining Pompey. When Pompey decided to leave Italy and cross to Greece to raise a larger army, Varus decided to move to Africa. He quickly took control of the province, which was then being ruled by a legate of the current governor, Considius Longus, and used the contacts he had made while serving as propraetor was able to raise two legions.

Soon after this Pompey and the Senate sent L. Aelius Tubero to take over as governor of the province. Varus refused to allow him to land, and remained in control.

Having taken control of Italy, Caesar decided to lead his main army to Spain, while at the same time sending other armies to secure parts of the Empire. C. Curio was given four legions, including two that had come over to Caesar during his march down Italy, and was ordered to clear the Pompeians out of Sicily and North Africa. Sicily quickly fell to him, and he then led two legions over to North Africa.

Varus decided to make a stand outside the city of Utica, believing that Curio's two legions could be persuaded to change sides for a second time. This was not the case, and Varus suffered a minor defeat outside the city (battle of Utica, 49 BC). He was forced to retreat into the city, where he was besieged (siege of Utica, 49 BC).

The siege was lifted by Juba I, king of Numidia, who defeated Curio at the battle of the Bagradas River (49 BC). Most of Curio's men were killed in this battle, but the survivors and those men who had been left at his camp surrendered to Varus. Soon after this Juba arrived at Utica, seized the Roman prisoners and killed them all. Varus was either unable or unwilling to prevent this.

Varus remained in command in North Africa until after Pompey's defeat at Pharsalia (48 BC). While Pompey fled to Egypt and his death most of his surviving senior supports fled to Africa. Scipio took over the supreme command, while Varus was given command of the fleet. He had some success in this role, destroying some of Caesar's ships at Adrumentum, but once again the main Pompeian army was defeated in battle (this time at Thapsus). Varus escaped from this disaster, sailing to join Pompey's son Cn. Pompey in Spain.

At first Varus retained command of his fleet, but he was defeated by C. Didius in a naval battle off Carteia (46 BC), and was forced to move on shore to join the Pompeian army. He was thus present at the final battle of the civil war, the battle of Munda (17 March 45 BC). He was killed during the battle, beheaded and his head brought to Caesar.

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With Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon in January 49 BC, he plunged the Roman Republic into civil war with a clique of Roman senators who were determined to destroy him, under the military leadership of Pompey. [1] Having pushed through Italy in an attempt to reach Pompey and detach him from the Republican leadership, he was unable to prevent them taking ship at Brundisium and fleeing to Epirus. [2] Instead of pursuing them, Caesar decided to deal with the Pompeian forces holding important western provinces. [3] So in March 49 BC, while he marched to Hispania, he sent thirty-one cohorts (the optimate army that surrendered and switched sides to him at Corfinium [4] ) to Africa under the command of Gaius Scribonius Curio to deal with the Pompeian forces there. Prior to Curio's departure, this force was supplemented by an additional legion and 1,000 Gallic cavalry. [5] As Curio had little experience in war, [6] he appointed a trusted military subordinate, Gaius Caninius Rebilus as Curio's legate. [7]

By this point Africa was held by Attius Varus, who, after fleeing from Auximum during Caesar's march through Italy, [8] had made his way to Utica. He found the province in a state of limbo, as the propraetor, Considius Longus, had finished his term as governor and had returned to Italy, and his designated successor, Aelius Tubero, had not yet arrived. [5] Varus had previously been the Propraetor of Africa some years before, and now decided to take possession of the province in Pompey's name. [5] Using his local knowledge, and the local connections built up through his clientela, he managed to raise two legions. When Tubero finally appeared off Utica to take up his post, Varus drove him off and forced him to leave. [5] To further cement his position in Africa, Varus relied on the support of King Juba of Numidia, a client state, whose father owed his position to Pompey, while Juba himself had a personal grudge against Curio, [9] because, as plebeian tribune, Curio had once proposed a law that would have converted Numidia into a Roman province. [5]

In the interim, Curio had crossed into Sicily, forcing out a leading Republican senator, Marcus Porcius Cato, who fled Syracuse on April 23, 49 BC to join Pompey in the east. [7] With the opposition in Sicily suppressed with no fighting, [10] Curio decided to remain there, wanting to hear of developments in Spain before committing himself to the African campaign. [7] It wasn’t until early August that Curio, leaving half his forces in Sicily, embarked from Lilybaeum, and a fleet of one hundred transports and twelve galleys transported two legions and 500 cavalry, [11] and, chasing off the patrolling ships of Lucius Caesar disembarked at Thonara Bay at Cape Bon. [12]

After ordering his fleet to sail to Utica, Curio began his march there around the gulf. Within three days he had reached the southern bank of the Bagradas river. Leaving the infantry there with Rebilus, he took his cavalry and rode northward to scout out a camp near Utica, the Castra Cornelia, [13] situated on a hill to the west of the town. [14] From that position he was able to assess Varus's camp, which was situated next to the town, with his further side protected by Utica's north-eastern wall, while his nearer side was protected by the sea and an outdoor theatre, ensuring that his camp could only be approached by a narrow passage. [14] Turning south, he noticed a stream of fugitives fleeing to the safety of Utica's walls, and he decided to attack the crowds to instil panic. [15] This forced Varus to send 1,000 Numidian troops (600 cavalry and 400 soldiers) to their rescue. The two forces clashed and the Numidians, unused to close fighting, were repulsed, losing 120 men in the process, as the remainder of the troops retreated to the town. [15]

Next, Curio, observing that some 200 ships containing the supplies for Varus's army lay unprotected in Utica's harbour, and that his fleet was already in position, decided to take possession of the supplies. He ordered the captains of the vessels to remove their cargoes and place them on the shore, next to where Curio was planning to make his camp. After threatening to kill them, they complied and promptly set sail after they had emptied their holds. [15]

Returning victorious to his camp on the Bagradas, the legions acclaimed him as Imperator. [15] The next day he ordered his forces to march towards Utica, but instead of heading towards the Castra Cornelia which he had spied out for his camp, he decided to take the offensive and placed himself on a ridge to the south-west of the town. [15] His soldiers were still preparing their camp when patrols reported seeing large Numidian reinforcements on their way, King Juba having sent them to reinforce Varus's position. When they came into view, Curio, who had not bothered to send out scouts, started showing signs of nervousness. [15] He urgently sent out his cavalry to impede the Numidian advance, while he impatiently recalled his legionaries from the trenches and began to line them up in battle formation. [15] His cavalry engaged the Numidians who, approaching in a disorganized fashion, were caught unawares and were dispersed with heavy losses. Before Curio could send his legions in, the Numidian cavalry had escaped from the slaughter, and quickly made their way into the town. [15]

The following night, two centurions, accompanied by twenty-two men, deserted Curio's camp and made their way to Varus. They told him that Curio's troops were deeply unhappy with their commander, and that he should attempt to win them over prior to battle. [16] Varus agreed with this strategy and the following morning, he assembled his troops and led them out of their camp. Curio followed suit. [16] The two armies were separated by a valley some 70 metres (230 ft) in width, between the town and a morass, with Curio's right flank and Varus's left touching by the morass. [16] Varus's brother, [17] Sextus Quintilius Varus, a senator, emerged from Varus's troops and urged Curio's troops not to fight for their commander, but to join their own side. The troops listened in silence, and Varus returned to his camp, with Curio again doing the same. [16] That day, with Curio's men contemplating abandoning their commander, Curio summoned his officers to seek their advice. Some counselled Curio to attack immediately, before mutiny could break out. Others suggested that he wait and let Varus come to him, giving his soldiers time to calm themselves down. Curio rejected both sets of advice and decided to talk to the men directly. [18] Ordering his troops to line up, he reminded them of their oaths to Caesar, and that they had acclaimed him Imperator. By the time he was done, his troops had been brought around to supporting him, and all mutterings subsided. [19]

The next day it was Curio who led his men out for battle, with Varus following. They lined up their troops as they had the day before, on either side of the valley. Although the sides of the valley were only about seven feet high, they were quite steep, [17] so each army waited for the other to commence operations and start crossing the valley. [19] Eventually Varus ordered the Numidian cavalry, with support from lightly armed auxiliaries, to cross the valley. As they proceeded, Curio sent in his cavalry, supported by two cohorts, and they launched themselves at Varus's advancing troops. The Numidian cavalry, already having been beaten two days before, turned around and fled. [19] The auxiliaries in turn were surrounded and slaughtered where they stood. At this point Curio's legate, Gaius Caninius Rebilus, turned to Curio and urged him to take the opportunity and press his advantage. [19] Reminding his men of the oaths they had taken the day before, Curio led the charge. Crossing the valley and scrambling up the enemy embankment, Curio discovered that Varus's men had broken and run. [20] Chasing after them, many of Varus's troops were trampled to death by their own men in their haste to flee, while others were killed by Curio's men. Many never stopped until they reached the town of Utica. [20] Varus was so completely demoralised that he withdrew almost his entire army into the town, leaving only a trumpeter and a few tents behind to keep up appearances. [20] The end result was Varus lost some 600 men, while another 1,000 were wounded Curio's own tally of injured came to 100. [20]

In the confusion of the battle, Curio was urged to take the town before Varus could regroup, but he held himself back, as he did not have the means at hand to undertake an assault of the town. [20] The next day however, he began to form a contravallation of Utica, with the intent of starving the town into submission. Varus was approached by the leading citizens of the town, who begged him to surrender and spare the town the horrors of a siege. [20] Varus, however, had just learned that King Juba was on his way with a large force, and so reassured them that with Juba's assistance, Curio would soon be defeated. [20] Curio heard similar reports and abandoned the siege, making his way to the Castra Cornelia. [21] False reports from Utica about Juba's strength caused him to drop his guard, leading to the Battle of the Bagradas River.

On Behalf of Ligarius

pleads guilty, but guilty of having been on the same side as you, Tubero, and as that very estimable gentleman your father. You must needs therefore plead guilty to your own offence, before you proceed to arraign that of Ligarius.

Quintus Ligarius, when there was as yet no hint of war, left for Africa to serve as legate under Gaius Considius, and in that capacity he acted so greatly to the satisfaction of our citizens and allies, that when Considius left the province the populace would not be contented with the appointment of anyone else as governor. So, after persistent but fruitless protest, Ligarius reluctantly accepted the province, and his administration of it in time of peace was such that citizens and allies alike were delighted with his incorruptibility and honour. War broke out so suddenly 3 that the inhabitants of Africa heard that it was being waged before they learned that it was being prepared. On hearing this, partly with unthinking eagerness, partly with a sort of blind fear, they were looking for somebody who might take the lead first in securing their safety and then also in realizing their desires, while Ligarius, with his eye fixed on home and eager to return to his dear ones, refused to involve himself in any trouble. Meanwhile Publius Attius Varus, who had governed Africa as prepraetor, arrived at Utica. All attention immediately converged upon him. He with significant alacrity seized the government, if that could be called government which was vested in him without official sanction but merely in compliance with the irresponsible agitation of an unintelligent mob. Accordingly Ligarius, since he was 4 anxious to avoid all such embarrassments, on the arrival of Varus remained for a time wholly inactive.

Germanic tribes

The Germanic people appeared for the first time in history in the 2nd Century BC. They were described by their Celtic neighbours as tribes coming from the north and the east. Even Caesar’s knowledge at the time of the »Gallic War« is partly based on information provided by a Celtic Druid.

The name, which is a component of a Germanic tribe’s name, was apparently taken up and generalised by the Gauls and later by the Romans. However, the Germanic people themselves only used the names of the particular ethnic groups and did not see themselves as a unit. Their history was always the history of their own individual tribe.

In the time of the conquest of Gaul by Caesar in the 1st century BC the Romans repeatedly came in touch with the Germanic tribes. They attacked several times towards the south and proved themselves to be serious opponents. Repeatedly, Caesar was able to force them to retreat. Hereby the river Rhine turned out to be not only a geographical border, but also an increasingly important political one.

Smaller Germanic groups existed in the area west of the river Rhine. They were called the »germani cisrhenani«. The largest group was the Eburones. The main Germanic settlements however were situated along the area east of the Rhine up to the North Sea, to Scandinavia, to the Baltic Sea and finally to Bohemia and Moravia. The tribes living here can be divided into larger cultural groups, based on their cultural heritage. These are, for example, the North-Sea-Germanic people, the Rhine-Weser-Germanic people or the Elbe-Germanic people. Within the Germanic tribes warlike conflicts often arose. There were no signs of collective, political cooperation or target-oriented approaches against non-Germanic people. However, they caused diffuse anxiety in the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC and AD because attacks from the northern tribes had resulted in numerous defeats.

Former inhabitants from Kalkriese

The area around Kalkriese was already inhabited by wandering hunters and later by farming settlers since the Stone Age, at the end of the third millennium BC. This is proven by finds from the hunters’ campgrounds and especially from graves. The indications are rather sparse and it is not known if the area was permanently inhabited.

However, traces of residential buildings dating back to the Pre-Roman Iron Age and the Early Roman Imperial Era were found here. The remains of the Germanic settlements were situated on the hillside. There, the sandy ground was dry enough to build houses. Little brooks and wells in the nearby lowland provided the necessary water supply. There was enough fertile farmland. The remnants of houses were in an oval and later in a rectangular shape. They had a double-span interior. It was mainly the dark traces of the support logs in the light, sandy soil which remained. Similar houses existed at that time in today’s Westphalia and the Netherlands. Small rectangular structures of pillars indicate that there might have been storehouses which belonged to the residential houses.

At the time of the Varus Battle, at the beginning of the 1st century AD, the Germanic tribes lived in the region between the rivers Elbe and Weser in loose village-like settlements. These consisted of dispersed, single farmsteads. They were a lot different to today’s densely built-up villages.

A Germanic farmstead was composed of a rectangular residential house, as mentioned above, where humans and animals lived in separated areas. In addition to this, there were various storehouses and adjoining buildings. The arable farm land, the areas used for animal litter and wintertime forage, and the woodland used both as a close and night-time pasture were situated nearby. During the day, the cattle would graze further away at the edge of the forest.

There are not many finds which could provide information about the Later Roman Imperial Era, the Migration Period and the Early Middle Ages. Obviously, only a few people settled in and around Kalkriese during that time. The area might even have been temporarily unpopulated. An increased number of finds indicate that further settlements have existed in the High Middle Ages. They are also mentioned in source material and characterise the settlement on the northern slopes of the Wiehen Mountains down to the present day.

War Council

Pompeian Army
• Leader: Varus
• 5 Command Cards
• Move First

Caesarian Army
• Leader: Curio
• 5 Command Cards

Special Rules
• Julian Legions rule is in effect for both camps.
• A Pompeian cavalry unit that moves down the valley and exits from one of the two hexes indicated at the opposite end, collects one Victory Banner for its show of bravery.
• A Caesarian unit that captures (occupies) the enemy camp hex gains one Victory Banner. If the unit moves off or is eliminated, it no longer counts.

Event #5565: Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Cornelianus Scipio Nasica: 'personally despicable. politically reactionary' triggered war with Caesar

Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Cornelianus Scipio Nasica (c. 100/98 BC – 46 BC), in modern scholarship often as Metellus Scipio, was a Roman consul and military commander in the Late Republic. During the civil war between Julius Caesar and the senatorial faction led by Pompeius Magnus (“Pompey the Great”), he remained a staunch optimate. He led troops against Caesar’s forces, mainly in the battles of Pharsalus and Thapsus, where he was defeated. He later committed suicide. Ronald Syme called him “the last Scipio of any consequence in Roman history.”

Metellus Scipio was born Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica. His grandfather was the P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio who was consul in 111 BC his father Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica (born 128 BC) married Licinia Crassa, daughter of the L. Licinius Crassus who was consul in 95 BC. The father died not long after his praetorship (c. 93 BC), and was survived by two sons and two daughters. The brother was adopted by their grandfather Crassus, but left little mark on history.

Publius Scipio, as he was referred to in contemporary sources early in his life, was adopted in adulthood through the testament of Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius, consul in 80 BC and pontifex maximus. He retained his patrician status: “Scipio’s ancestry,” notes Syme, “was unmatched for splendour.” As Jerzy Linderski has shown at length, this legal process constitutes adoption only in a loose sense Scipio becomes a Caecilius Metellus in name while inheriting the estate of Metellus Pius, but was never his “son” while the pontifex maximus was alive. He was called “Metellus Scipio” but also sometimes just “Scipio” even after his adoption. The official form of his name as evidenced in a decree of the senate was “Q. Caecilius Q. f. Fab. Metellus Scipio.”

Scipio married Aemilia Lepida, daughter of Mamercus Aemilius Lepidus Livianus (consul 77 BC), but was not without rival in the match. The virginal Cato had also wanted to marry Aemilia and lost out in the seduction:

“When [Cato] thought that he was old enough to marry,— and up to that time he had consorted with no woman,— he engaged himself to Lepida, who had formerly been betrothed to Metellus Scipio, but was now free, since Scipio had rejected her and the betrothal had been broken. However, before the marriage Scipio changed his mind again, and by dint of every effort got the maid. Cato was greatly exasperated and inflamed by this, and attempted to go to law about it but his friends prevented this, and so, in his rage and youthful fervour, he betook himself to iambic verse, and heaped much scornful abuse upon Scipio … .”

The couple had one son, a Metellus Scipio who seems to have died when he was only 18.[9] Another son may have been born around 70, or a son may have been adopted. The couple’s much more famous daughter was born around that time as well.[10] Scipio first married off the celebrated Cornelia Metella to Publius Crassus, the son of Marcus Licinius Crassus. After Publius’s premature death at Carrhae, Scipio decided to succeed Caesar as the father-in-law of Pompeius, who was at least thirty years older than Cornelia. The marriage is one of the acts by which Pompeius severed his alliance to Caesar and declared himself the champion of the optimates. He and Scipio were consuls together in 52.

Cicero names “P. Scipio” among the young nobiles on his defense team when Sextus Roscius was prosecuted in 80 BC. He is placed in the company of M. Messalla and Metellus Celer, both future consuls.

Metellus Scipio has been listed as tribune of the plebs in 59, but his patrician status argues against his holding the office. It is possible that Scipio’s ‘adoption’ into a plebeian gens may have qualified him for a tribunate on a technicality. He was possibly curule aedile in 57 BC, when he presented funeral games in honor of his adopted father’s death six years earlier. He was praetor, most likely in 55 BC, during the second joint consulship of Pompeius and Marcus Crassus.

In 53 BC, he was interrex with M. Valerius Messalla. He became consul with Pompeius in 52 BC, the year he arranged the marriage of his newly widowed daughter to him.

Indisputably aristocratic and conservative, Metellus Scipio had been at least symbolically a counterweight to the power of the so-called triumvirate before the death of Crassus in 53. “Opportune deaths,” notes Syme, “had enhanced his value, none remaining now of the Metellan consuls.”

He is known to have been a member of the College of Pontiffs by 57 BC, and was probably nominated upon the death of his adoptive father in 63 and subsequently elected.

In January 49 BC, Metellus Scipio persuaded the senate to issue the ultimatum to Caesar that made war inevitable. That same year, he became proconsul of the province of Syria. In Syria and in the province of Asia, where he took up winter quarters, he used often oppressive means to gather ships, troops, and money:

“He put a per capita tax on slaves and children he taxed columns, doors, grain, soldiers, weaponry, oarsmen, and machinery if a name could be found for a thing, that was seen as sufficient for making money from it.”

Scipio put to death Alexander of Judaea, and was acclaimed Imperator for “alleged” victories in the Amanus Mountains — as noted disparagingly by Caesar.

In 48 BC, he brought his forces from Asia to Greece, where he maneuvered against Gn. Domitius Calvinus and L. Cassius until the arrival of Pompeius. At the Battle of Pharsalus, he commanded the center. After the optimates’ defeat by Caesar, Metellus fled to Africa. With the support of his former rival-in-romance Cato, he wrested the chief command of Pompeius’s forces from the loyal Attius Varus, probably in early 47. In 46 BC, he held command at the Battle of Thapsus “without skill or success,” and was defeated along with Cato. After the defeat he tried to escape to the Iberian Peninsula to continue the fight, but was cornered by the fleet of Publius Sittius. He committed suicide by stabbing himself so he would not fall at the hands of his enemies.

Facing death, Metellus Scipio achieved an uncharacteristic dignity, famously departing from his soldiers with a nonchalant Imperator se bene habet (“Your general’s just fine”). These last words elicited strong praise from the Stoic moral philosopher Seneca:

“Take, for example, Scipio, the father-in-law of Gnaeus Pompeius: he was driven back upon the African coast by a head-wind and saw his ship in the power of the enemy. He therefore pierced his body with a sword and when they asked where the commander was, he replied: ‘All is well with the commander.’ These words brought him up to the level of his ancestors and suffered not the glory which fate gave to the Scipios in Africa to lose its continuity. It was a great deed to conquer Carthage, but a greater deed to conquer death. ‘All is well with the commander!’ Ought a general to die otherwise, especially one of Cato’s generals?[26]

Classical scholar John H. Collins summed up the character and reputation of Metellus Scipio:

“From all that can be learned of this Scipio, he was as personally despicable and as politically reactionary as they come: a defender of C. Verres (In Ver. II. 4. 79–81), a debauchee of singular repulsiveness (Valerius Maximus, 9.1.8[27]), an incompetent and bull-headed commander (Plutarch, Cato Min. 58), an undisciplined tyrant in the possession of authority (Bell. Afr. 44–46),[28] an extortioner of the provinces (BC 3.31–33),[29] a proscription-thirsty bankrupt (Att. 9.11[30]), a worthy great grandson des hochmütigen, plebejerfeindlichen Junkers[31] (Münzer, RE 4.1502) who had led the lynching of Tiberius Gracchus, and a most unworthy father of the gentle Cornelia. Only in the Imperator se bene habet with which he met death is there any trace of the nobler character of his great forebears[32] (Seneca Rhet., Suas. 7.8[33]).[34]

Linderski, Jerzy. “Q. Scipio Imperator.” In Imperium sine fine: T. Robert S. Broughton and the Roman Republic. Franz Steiner, 1996, pp. 144–185. Limited preview online.

Syme, Ronald. “The Last Scipiones.” In The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford University Press, 1989

John H. Collins, “Caesar and the Corruption of Power,” Historia 4 (1955), p. 457, note 64.

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The QFG Historical Database is a research project undertaken by Quantum Future Group Inc. (in short "QFG") under the supervision of senior executive editor Laura Knight-Jadczyk with an international group of editorial assistants.

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This database, The Chronicle of the Fall of the Roman Empire (in short "QFG:COF" ) focuses on a chronological and categorized collection of various environmental and social events that accompanied the Fall of the Roman Empire.

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Random information on the term “ORCA”:

Quintus Valerius Orca (fl. 50s–40s BC) was a Roman praetor, a governor of the Roman province of Africa, and a commanding officer under Julius Caesar in the civil war against Pompeius Magnus and the senatorial elite. The main sources for Orca’s life are letters written to him by Cicero and passages in Caesar’s Bellum Civile.

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Orca is generally regarded as the son of Quintus Valerius Soranus, a partisan of Gaius Marius who was executed during the Sullan proscriptions of 82 BC, allegedly for violating a religious prohibition against revealing the secret name of Rome. The family came from the municipality of Sora, near Cicero’s native Arpinum. Cicero refers to the Valerii Sorani as his friends and neighbors.

Next to nothing is known of Orca’s early career. As praetor in 57 BC, he actively supported Cicero’s return from exile, and in 56, while governor in Africa, he was the recipient of two letters of recommendation from Cicero. Orca and Cicero had close enough relations that they had agreed upon the use of a sign or symbol to mark their correspondence as authentic and trustworthy. Orca then disappears from the historical record for several years. The length of his term in Africa is undetermined the next known governor, P. Attius Varus, was there in 52 and probably earlier. It has been conjectured, though the dating of his governorship might argue to the contrary, that he was among those attending the conference held April 56 BC in Luca by Julius Caesar, Pompeius Magnus, and Marcus Crassus in the company of a number of supporters the three worked out the strategic political alliance that led to the extension of Caesar’s command in Gaul and the joint election of Pompey and Crassus to their second consulship.


Caesar's Civil War resulted from the long political subversion of the Roman Government's institutions, which began with the career of Tiberius Gracchus, continuing with the Marian reforms of the legions, the bloody dictatorship of Lucius Cornelius Sulla, and completed by the First Triumvirate over Rome. The political situation is discussed in depth in the ancient histories of Appian and Cassius Dio. It is also covered in the biographies of Plutarch. Julius Caesar's commentaries offer some political details but mainly narrate military manoeuvres of the civil war itself.

The First Triumvirate (so denominated by Cicero), comprising Julius Caesar, Crassus and Pompey, ascended to power with Caesar's election as consul in 59 BC. The First Triumvirate was an unofficial political alliance, the substance of which was Pompey's military might, Caesar's political influence and Crassus's money. The alliance was further consolidated by Pompey's marriage to Julia, the daughter of Caesar, in 59 BC. At the conclusion of Caesar's first consulship, the Senate, rather than granting him a provincial governorship, tasked him with watching over the Roman forests. Specially created by his Senate enemies, that position was meant to occupy him without giving him the command of armies or garnering him wealth and fame.

Caesar, with the help of Pompey and Crassus, evaded the Senate's decrees by legislation passed through the popular assemblies. The acts promoted Caesar to Roman governor of Illyricum and Cisalpine Gaul Transalpine Gaul (southern France) was added later. The various governorships gave Caesar command of an army of (initially) four legions. The term of his proconsulship, which allowed him immunity from prosecution, was set at five years, rather than the customary one year. His term was later extended for another five years. During the ten years, Caesar used his military forces to conquer Gaul and to invade Britain, which was popular with the people, however his enemies claimed it was without explicit authorization by the Senate. [5]

In 52 BC, at the end of the First Triumvirate, the Roman Senate supported Pompey as sole consul meanwhile, Caesar had become a military hero and champion of the people. Knowing that he hoped to become consul when his governorship expired, the Senate, politically fearful of him, ordered him to resign his command of his army. In December of 50 BC, Caesar wrote to the Senate that he agreed to resign his military command if Pompey followed suit. Offended, the Senate demanded for him to disband his army immediately, or he would be declared an enemy of the people. That was an illegal political act since he was entitled to keep his army until his term expired.

A secondary reason for Caesar's immediate desire for another consulship was that Caesar's 'imperium' or safety from prosecution was set to expire and his enemies in Rome had senatorial prosecutions awaiting him upon retirement as governor of Illyricum and Gaul. The potential prosecutions were clamored by his enemies for alleged irregularities that occurred in his consulship and war crimes claimed to have been committed during his Gallic campaigns. Moreover, Caesar loyalists, the tribunes Mark Antony and Quintus Cassius Longinus, vetoed the bill and were quickly expelled from the Senate. They then joined Caesar, who had assembled his army, which he asked for military support against the Senate. Agreeing, his army called for action.

In 50 BC, at the expiry of his proconsular term, the Pompey-led Senate ordered Caesar's return to Rome and the disbanding of his army and forbade his standing for election in absentia for a second consulship. That made Caesar think that he would be prosecuted and rendered politically marginal if he entered Rome without consular immunity or his army. To wit, Pompey accused him of insubordination and treason.

Crossing the Rubicon Edit

In January, 49 BC, Caesar's opponents in the Senate, led by Lentulus, Cato and Scipio, tried to strip Caesar of his command (provinces and legions) and force him to return to Rome as a private citizen (liable to prosecution). Caesar's allies in the Senate, especially Mark Anthony, Curio, Cassius and Caelius Rufus, tried to defend their patron, but were threatened with violence. On 7 January the Senate passed the consultum ultimum (declaring a state of emergency) and charged the consuls, praetors, tribunes and proconsuls with the defence of the state. That night Anthony, Cassius, Curio and Caelius Rufus fled from Rome and headed north to join Caesar. [7]

On January 10, 49 BC, commanding the Legio XIII, Caesar crossed the Rubicon River, the boundary between the province of Cisalpine Gaul to the north and Italy proper to the south. As crossing the Rubicon with an army was prohibited, lest a returning general attempt a coup d'etat, that triggered the ensuing civil war between Caesar and Pompey.

The general population, which regarded Caesar as a hero, approved of his actions. The historical records differ about the decisive comment that Caesar made on crossing the Rubicon: one report is Alea iacta est (usually translated as "The die is cast").

Caesar's own account of the Civil War makes no mention of the river crossing but simply states that he marched to Rimini, a town south of the Rubicon, with his army. [8]

March on Rome and the early Hispanian campaign Edit

Within a week of passing the consultum ultimum (declaring a state of emergency and outlawing Caesar) news reached Rome that Caesar had crossed the Rubicon (10 January) and had taken the Italian town of Ariminum (12 January). [9] By January 17 Caesar had taken the next three towns along the Flaminian Way, and that Marcus Anthonius (Mark Anthony) had taken Arretium and controlled the Cassian Way. [9] The Senate, not knowing that Caesar possessed only a single legion, feared the worst and supported Pompey, who declared that Rome could not be defended. He escaped to Capua with those politicians who supported him, the aristocratic Optimates and the regnant consuls. Cicero later characterised Pompey's "outward sign of weakness" as allowing Caesar's consolidation of power.

Despite having retreated into central Italy, Pompey and the Senatorial forces actually vastly outnumbered Caesar's single legion, and were composed of at least 100 cohorts, or 10 legions. [10] These included 5 cohorts at Iguvium under Thermus, 10 cohorts under Lentulus Spinther, 6 cohorts under Lucilius Hirrus garrisoning Camerinum, 2 legions of Marsi and Peligni drawn from garrisons at Alba and the surrounding districts that were commanded by Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, 9 further cohorts under praetors L. Manlius and Rutilius Lupus and 5 other legions. Cicero wrote [11] that from the outset Pompey had planned to abandon Rome. As Caesar progressed southwards, Pompey retreated towards Brundisium, initially ordering Domitius (engaged in raising troops in Etruria) to stop Caesar's movement on Rome from the direction of the Adriatic seaboard.

Belatedly, Pompey requested Domitius to retreat south to rendezvous with Pompey's forces. Domitius ignored Pompey's request believing he outnumbered Caesar three to one. Caesar, however, had been reinforced by two more legions from Gaul (the eighth and the twelfth) and twenty-two cohorts of recruits (recruited by Curio) and in fact outnumbered Domitius five to three. Domitius after being isolated and trapped near Corfinium, was forced to surrender his army of thirty-one cohorts (about three legions) following a brief siege. With deliberate clemency, Caesar released Domitius and the other senators with him and even returned 6,000,000 sesterces that Domitius had had to pay his troops. The thirty-one cohorts, however, were made to swear a new oath of allegiance to Caesar and were eventually sent to Sicily under the command of Asinius Pollio. [12] Caesar now had three veteran legions and fifty-three cohorts of recruits at Corfinium. The Caesarian army in Italy now outnumbered the republicans (8:5) and Pompey knew the peninsula was lost for the time being.

Pompey escaped to Brundisium, there awaiting sea transport for his legions, to Epirus, in the Republic's eastern Greek provinces, expecting his influence to yield money and armies for a maritime blockade of Italy proper. Meanwhile, the aristocrats, including Metellus Scipio and Cato the Younger, joined Pompey there and left a rear guard at Capua.

Caesar pursued Pompey to Brundisium, expecting restoration of their alliance of ten years earlier. Throughout the Great Roman Civil War's early stages, Caesar frequently proposed to Pompey for both generals to sheathe their swords. Pompey refused, legalistically arguing that Caesar was his subordinate and so was obligated to cease campaigning and dismiss his armies before any negotiation. As the Senate's chosen commander and with the backing of at least one of the current consuls, Pompey commanded legitimacy, but Caesar's military crossing of the Rubicon rendered him a de jure enemy of the Senate and the people of Rome. Caesar then tried to trap Pompey in Brundisium by blocking up the harbour mouth with earth moles from either side, joined across the deepest part by a string of rafts, each nine metres square, covered with a causeway of earth and protected with screens and towers. Pompey countered by constructing towers for heavy artillery on a number of merchant ships and used them to destroy the rafts as they were floated in position. Eventually, in March 49 BC, Pompey escaped and fled by sea to Epirus, leaving Caesar in complete command of Italy. [13]

Taking advantage of Pompey's absence from the Italian mainland, Caesar marched west to Hispania. Onroute he started the Siege of Massilia. Within 27 days after setting out he arrived on the Iberian peninsula. At Ilerda he defeated the politically-leaderless Pompeian army, commanded by the legates Lucius Afranius and Marcus Petreius. Afterwards pacifying Roman Hispania.

Returning to Rome in December of 49 BC, Caesar was appointed dictator, with Mark Antony as his Master of the Horse. Caesar kept his dictatorship for eleven days, a tenure sufficient to win him a second term as consul with Publius Servilius Vatia Isauricus as his colleague. Afterwards, Caesar renewed his pursuit of Pompey in Greece.

Greek, Illyrian and African campaigns Edit

From Brundisium, Caesar crossed the Strait of Otranto with seven legions to the Gulf of Valona (not Palaesta in Epirus [modern Palase/Dhermi, Albania], as reported by Lucan), [14] prompting Pompey to consider three courses of action: (i) to make an alliance with the King of Parthia, an erstwhile ally, far to the east (ii) to invade Italy with his superior navy and/or (iii) to force a decisive battle with Caesar. A Parthian alliance was not feasible since a Roman general fighting Roman legions with foreign troops was craven, and the military risk of an Italian invasion was politically unsavoury because the Italians, who thirty years earlier had rebelled against Rome, might rise against him. Thus, on the advice of his councillors, Pompey decided to engineer a decisive battle. [ citation needed ]

As it turned out, Pompey would have been obliged to take the third option anyway, as Caesar had forced his hand by pursuing him to Illyria and so on 10 July 48 BC, the two fought in the Battle of Dyrrhachium. With a loss of 1,000 veteran legionaries, Caesar was forced to retreat southwards. Refusing to believe that his army had bested Caesar's legions, Pompey misinterpreted the retreat as a feint into a trap and so did not give chase to deliver the decisive coup de grâce, thus losing the initiative and his chance to conclude the war quickly. Near Pharsalus, Caesar pitched a strategic bivouac. Pompey attacked but, despite his much larger army, was conclusively defeated by Caesar's troops. A major reason for Pompey's defeat was miscommunication among front cavalry horsemen.

Egyptian dynastic struggle Edit

Pompey fled to Ptolemaic Egypt, where he was murdered by an officer of King Ptolemy XIII. Caesar pursued the Pompeian army to Alexandria, where he camped and became involved with the Alexandrine Civil War between Ptolemy and his sister, wife and co-regent, Cleopatra VII. Perhaps as a result of Ptolemy's role in Pompey's murder, Caesar sided with Cleopatra and is reported to have wept at the sight of Pompey's head, which was offered to him by Ptolemy's chamberlain, Pothinus, as a gift.

In any event, Caesar was besieged at Alexandria and after Mithridates relieved the city, Caesar defeated Ptolemy's army and installed Cleopatra as ruler with whom he fathered his only known biological son, Ptolemy XV Caesar, better known as "Caesarion". Caesar and Cleopatra never married because Roman law prohibited a marriage with a non-Roman citizen.

War against Pharnaces Edit

After spending the first months of 47 BC in Egypt, Caesar went to Syria and then to Pontus to deal with Pharnaces II, Pompey's client king who had taken advantage of the civil war to attack the Roman-friendly Deiotarus and to make himself the ruler of Colchis and lesser Armenia. At Nicopolis Pharnaces had defeated what little Roman opposition the governor of Asia, Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus, could muster. He had also taken the city of Amisus, which was a Roman ally made all the boys eunuchs and sold the inhabitants to slave traders. After the show of strength, Pharnaces drew back to pacify his new conquests.

Nevertheless, the extremely-rapid approach of Caesar in person forced Pharnaces to turn his attention back to the Romans. At first, recognising the threat, he made offers of submission with the sole object of gaining time until Caesar's attention fell elsewhere. It was to no avail since Caesar quickly routed Pharnaces at the Battle of Zela (modern Zile in Turkey) with just a small detachment of cavalry. Caesar's victory was so swift and complete that in a letter to a friend in Rome, he famously said of the short war, "Veni, vidi, vici" ("I came, I saw, I conquered"). Indeed, for his Pontic triumph, that may well have been the label displayed above the spoils.

Pharnaces himself fled quickly back to the Bosporus, where he managed to assemble a small force of Scythian and Sarmatian troops with which he was able to gain control of a few cities, but one of his former governors, Asandar, attacked his forces and killed him. The historian Appian states that Pharnaces died in battle, but Cassius Dio says that Pharnaces was captured and then killed.

Later campaign in Africa and the war on Cato Edit

While Caesar had been in Egypt and installed Cleopatra as sole ruler, four of his veteran legions encamped, under the command of Mark Antony. The legions were waiting for their discharges and the bonus pay that Caesar had promised them before the Battle of Pharsalus. As Caesar lingered in Egypt, the situation quickly deteriorated. Antony lost control of the troops, who began looting estates south of the capital. Several delegations of diplomats were dispatched to try to quell the mutiny.

Nothing worked, and the mutineers continued to call for their discharges and back pay. After several months, Caesar finally arrived to address the legions in person. Caesar knew that he needed the legions to deal with Pompey's supporters in North Africa since the latter had mustered 14 legions. Caesar also knew that he did not have the funds to give the soldiers their back pay, much less the money needed to induce them to re-enlist for the North African campaign.

When Caesar approached the speaker's dais, a hush fell over the mutinous soldiers. Most were embarrassed by their role in the mutiny in Caesar's presence. He asked the troops what they wanted with his cold voice. Ashamed to demand money, the men began to call out for their discharge. Caesar bluntly addressed them as "citizens", instead of "soldiers," a tacit indication that they had already discharged themselves by virtue of their disloyalty.

He went on to tell them that they would all be discharged immediately. He said that he would pay them the money that he owed them after he won the North African campaign with other legions. The soldiers were shocked since they had been through 15 years of war with Caesar and they had become fiercely loyal to him in the process. It had never occurred to them that Caesar did not need them.

The soldiers' resistance collapsed. They crowded the dais and begged to be taken to North Africa. Caesar feigned indignation and then allowed himself to be won over. When he announced that he would allow them to join the campaign, a huge cheer arose from the assembled troops. Through that reverse psychology, Caesar re-enlisted four enthusiastic veteran legions to invade North Africa without spending a single sesterce.

Caesar quickly gained a significant victory at the Battle of Thapsus in 46 BC over the forces of Metellus Scipio, Cato the Younger and Juba, who all committed suicide.

Second Hispanian campaign and end of war Edit

Nevertheless, Pompey's sons Gnaeus Pompeius and Sextus Pompeius, together with Titus Labienus, Caesar's former propraetorian legate (legatus propraetore and second in command in the Gallic War), escaped to Hispania. Caesar gave chase and defeated the last remnants of opposition in the Battle of Munda in March 45 BC. Meanwhile, Caesar had been elected to his third and fourth terms as consul in 46 BC (with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus) and 45 BC (sine collega, without a colleague).

  • 49 BC
    • January 1: The Roman Senate receives a proposal from Julius Caesar that he and Pompey should lay down their commands simultaneously. The Senate responds that Caesar must immediately surrender his command.
    • January 10: Julius Caesar leads his 13th Legionacross the Rubicon, which separates his jurisdiction (Cisalpine Gaul) from that of the Senate (Italy), and thus initiates a civil war.
    • February 15: Caesar begins the Siege of Corfinium against Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus who held the city against Pompey's orders.
    • February 21: Corfinium is surrendered to Caesar after a bloodless week in which Ahenobarbus is undermined by his officers.
    • February, Pompey's flight to Epirus (in Western Greece) with most of the Senate, despite Caesar's siege of Brundisium in March
    • March 9, Caesar's advance against Pompeian forces in Hispania
    • April 19, Caesar's siege of Massilia against the Pompeian Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, later the siege was conducted by Caesarian Gaius Trebonius
    • June, Caesar's arrival in Hispania, where he was able to seize the Pyrenees passes defended by the Pompeian L. Afranius and M. Petreius.
    • July 30, Caesar surrounded Afranius and Petreius's army in the Battle of Ilerda
    • August 2, Pompeians in Ilerda surrendered to Caesar
    • August 24: Caesar's general Gaius Scribonius Curio, is defeated in North Africa by the Pompeians under Attius Varus and King Juba I of Numidia (whom he defeated earlier in the Battle of Utica) in the Battle of the Bagradas River), and commits suicide.
    • September Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus, a Caesarian, defeated the combined Pompeian-Massilian naval forces in the naval Battle of Massilia, while the Caesarian fleet in the Adriatic was defeated near Curicta (Krk)
    • September 6, Massilia surrendered to Caesar, coming back from Hispania
    • October, Caesar appointed Dictator in Rome presides over his own election as consul and resigns after eleven days
    • January 4, Caesar landed at Caesar's Beach in Palasë (Palaeste) [15]
    • March, Antony joined Caesar
    • July 10: Battle of Dyrrhachium, Julius Caesar barely avoids a catastrophic defeat by Pompey in Macedonia, he retreats to Thessaly.
    • August 9: Battle of Pharsalus: Julius Caesar decisively defeats Pompey at Pharsalus and Pompey flees to Egypt.
    • September 28, Caesar learned that Pompey was assassinated.
    • Siege of Alexandria
    • December, Pharnaces, King of Bosporus defeated the Caesarian Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus in the Battle of Nicopolis (or Nikopol)
    • December: Battle in Alexandria, Egypt between the forces of Caesar and his ally Cleopatra VII of Egypt and those of rival King Ptolemy XIII of Egypt and Queen Arsinoe IV. The latter two are defeated and flee the city Cleopatra becomes queen of Egypt. During the battle part of the Library of Alexandria catches fire and is partially burned down.
    • Caesar is named Dictator for one year.
    • February: Caesar and his ally Cleopatra defeat the forces of the rival Egyptian Queen Arsinoe IV in the Battle of the Nile, Ptolemy was killed, Caesar then relieved his besieged forces in Alexandria
    • May: Caesar defeated Pharnaces II of Pontus, king of the Bosporus in the Battle of Zela. (This is the war that Caesar tersely described veni, vidi, vici.) Cleopatra VII of Egypt promotes her younger brother Ptolemy XIV of Egypt to co-ruler.
    • August, Caesar quelled a mutiny of his veterans in Rome.
    • October, Caesar's invasion of Africa, against Metellus Scipio and Labienus, Caesar's former lieutenant in Gaul
    • January 4: Caesar narrowly escapes defeat by his former second in command Titus Labienus in the Battle of Ruspina nearly 1/3 of Caesar's army is killed.
    • February 6: Caesar defeats the combined army of Pompeian followers and Numidians under Metellus Scipio and Juba in the Battle of Thapsus. Cato commits suicide. Afterwards, he is accorded the office of Dictator for the next ten years.
    • November: Caesar leaves for Farther Hispania to deal with a fresh outbreak of resistance.
    • Caesar, in his role as Pontifex Maximus, reforms the Roman calendar to create the Julian calendar. The transitional year is extended to 445 days to synchronize the new calendar and the seasonal cycle. The Julian Calendar would remain the standard in the western world for over 1600 years, until superseded by the Gregorian Calendar in 1582.
    • Caesar appoints his grandnephew Gaius Octavius his heir.
    • January 1: Julian calendar goes into effect
    • March 17: In his last victory, Caesar defeats the Pompeian forces of Titus Labienus and Pompey the younger in the Battle of Munda. Pompey the younger was executed, and Labienus died in battle, but Sextus Pompey escaped to take command of the remnants of the Pompeian fleet.
    • The veterans of Caesar's Legions Legio XIII Gemina and Legio X Equestris demobilized. The veterans of the 10th legion would be settled in Narbo, while those of the 13th would be given somewhat better lands in Italia itself.
    • Caesar probably writes the Commentaries in this year
    • Julius Caesar is named Dictator perpetuo ("dictator in perpetuity")
    • Julius Caesar plans an invasion of the Parthian Empire
    • Julius Caesar is assassinated on March 15, the Ides of March.

    Caesar was later proclaimed dictator first for ten years and then in perpetuity. The latter arrangement triggered the conspiracy leading to his assassination on the Ides of March in 44 BC. Following this, Antony and Caesar's adopted son Octavius would fight yet another civil war against remnants of the Optimates and Liberatores faction, ultimately resulting in the establishment of the Roman Empire.

    War Council

    Numidian Army
    • Leader: Saburra
    • No Command Cards
    Roll 2 dice to order units

    Caesarian Army
    • Leader: Curio’s cavalry lieutenant
    • 6 Command Cards
    • Move First

    Special Rules
    • Utica - Delaying Action is best played as a solo engagement, where you are in command of both sides. Only the Roman side, however, will have a hand of Command cards. The Numidian Army, to order units, will roll 2 dice at the start of its side’s turn instead of playing a Command card. The dice roll will determine the type of units that are ordered. The Roman player has the freedom to determine which unit of each type is ordered or selected.
    ◊ Green circle, will order any one green unit to move and combat.
    ◊ Blue triangle, will order any one blue unit to move and combat.
    ◊ Red square, will order any one red unit to move and combat.
    ◊ Leader helmet, will order leader and if he is attached to a unit, the unit is also ordered to move and combat.
    ◊ Flag, one unit is selected to retreat a full move. The Roman player may freely select any one unit, even a unit that has its retreat path blocked, occupies a mapedge hex or will retreat into a mapedge hex with movement remaining.
    ◊ Crossed Swords, one block is removed from any one selected unit.
    As might be expected, the Numidians will be at a severe disadvantage in this battle. They will have none of the advantages conferred by the Command cards, and will be limited to movement, combat, retreat or block loss, depending on the dice rolls.

    Aftermath [ edit ]

    In the confusion of the battle, Curio was urged to take the town before Varus could regroup, but he held himself back, as he did not have the means at hand to undertake an assault of the town. ⎠] The next day however, he began to form a contravallation of Utica, with the intent of starving the town into submission. Varus was approached by the leading citizens of the town, who begged him to surrender and spare the town the horrors of a siege. ⎠] Varus, however, had just learned that King Juba was on his way with a large force, and so reassured them that with Juba's assistance, Curio would soon be defeated. ⎠] Curio heard similar reports and abandoned the siege, making his way to the Castra Cornelia. ⎡] False reports from Utica about Juba's strength caused him to drop his guard, leading to the Battle of the Bagradas River.

    Watch the video: Munda 45 BC - Caesars Last Campaign - Roman Civil War DOCUMENTARY