A leader without an army Greece January August

The report of Curio's defeat was not the only bad news reaching Caesar in late 49, for Mark Antony had suffered a lesser defeat in lllyricum. Even mure serious was a mutiny involving four of his legions, and in particular Legio IX, at Placentia (modern Piacenza) on the river Po. The troops complained that many who had served throughout the Gallic campaigns were now long overdue for discharge, and that no one had yet received the donative of 500 denarii per man (double their annual salary)...

Caesars centurions

No personal account written by an ordinary soldier or junior officer survives for the Civil War. In the surviving narratives only a handful of men from the ranks are even mentioned by name, usually because they performed some conspicuous act of heroism. We know that soldiers were primarily recruited from the poorer classes. In normal circumstances most, if not all, were volunteers, but during civil wars many were probably unwilling conscripts. Soldiering had become a career, but the wages were...

Veni vidi vici the Zela campaign

It was not until late May or early June that Caesar finally stirred himself to move. There was bad news from Syria, and he sailed there with l.egio VI, leaving the rest of his army to garrison Egypt. After the suicide of Mithridates of Pontus, his son Pharnaces had been left with only a small fraction of the old kingdom of Pontus. Seeing the disorder caused within the empire by the Civil War, Pharnaces decided to seize once more the lost territory, and invaded the old heartland of Pontus....

Civil wars and the end of the Republic

At Brutus' insistence the conspirators killed only Caesar. Mark Antony threw off his senator's toga to escape, not realising that he was not in danger, mingling with the crowd as the senators fled in panic. No one seems to have had much idea of what was going to happen next. Slowly and cautiously, apparently realising that there were not gangs of supporters bent on revolution and pillage, the Senate went back to the Capitol and spoke to the conspirators. The value of Brutus' reputation to the...

Crossing the Rubicon

Scribonius Curio

Were it not for the support of my army they would have passed judgement upon me in spite of my achievements.' Caesar looking at the bodies of dead senators after Pharsalus By 50 the mood in Rome was increasingly tense. The fear was similar to that in anticipation of Pompey's return in 62. but probably even worse, for C aesar was perceived now as a more open revolutionary, and his province, with its large, veteran army, lay on Italy's own border. Many Romans feared that this...

An army without a leader the Spanish campaign April August

Sertorian Spanish Roman Army

The main Pompeian army in Spain was at llerda modern L rida commanded by Lucius Afranius and Marcus Petrius. Between them they had five legions, HO cohorts of Spanish auxiliaries - a mixture of both close- and open-order infantry - and 5, XX cavalry. The other two legions, again supported by auxiliaries, remained far to the west in Further Spain under the command of Marcus Terentius Varro. To face the force at llerda, Caesar was able to muster six legions, along with 3, lt XX cavalry of various...

Blitzkrieg the Italian campaign January March

Temple Saturn Plan

The suddenness of Caesar's advance surprised and unnerved his opponents, just as he had intended. I'ompey left Rome in the second half of January, declaring that it could not be defended. He was followed by most of the magistrates, including the consuls, who left in such haste that it suggested panic. Many Romans were still uncertain about just how firmly committed each side was to fighting, and this open admission of military weakness made many wonder whether Pompey could really be relied on...

Curio in Africa springsummer

Roman Legionary Osuna Relief

Curio occupied Sicily without fighting, and then crossed with three legions to Africa, where the governor, Publius Attius Varus had declared against Caesar. The latter was supported by the Numidian Kingjuba, who commanded a large, if sometimes unreliable army. Curio had little military experience -none at all of high command - and was considered brilliant but unreliable by most contemporaries. His army consisted of troops originally raised by the Pompeians who had This carved stone relief from...

Africa December 47April

Roman Elephant

Although the eastern Mediterranean was now settled, many problems had developed elsewhere during Caesar's absence. Cassius's behaviour in Spain had provoked rebellion, while in Africa, Scipio, Afranius, Labienus, Cato and many other die-hard senators had raised an enormous army supported by King Juba. There were also difficulties in Italy, made worse by the lack of communication from Caesar while he was in Egypt. Several of his supporters, notably the tribune Publius Cornelius Dolabella and...

Legion against legion

Republican Roman Army Frieze

Rome's civil wars split the state into factions, and the army with it. Since there were no ethnic, ideological or social differences between the rival sides, it was inevitable -even more than in any other civil war - that the organisation, tactical doctrine and equipment of their armies was virtually identical. The main strength of the Roman army lay in the legions, units with a paper strength of about 5,000. In theory the legions were recruited only from Roman citizens, but during the civil...

He First Triumvirate

Helmet Gallic

For nearly two years Sulla ruled as dictator with absolute power and only laid this down when he went into voluntary retirement. Before he did so, Sulla attempted to restore the Senate's position within the Republic, confirming its traditional powers and filling it with his supporters. He passed a law that was intended to prevent army commanders from following his own example and using their legions outside their own provinces without permission. The career pattern cursus Iwnorum followed by...