Battle of Pharsalus

The Battle of Pharsalus was a decisive battle of Caesar's Civil War. On 9 August 48 BC at Pharsalus in central Greece, Gaius Julius Caesar and his allies formed up opposite the army of the republic under the command of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus ("Pompey the Great"). Pompey had the backing of a majority of the senators, of whom many were optimates, and his army significantly outnumbered the veteran Caesarian legions.

The two armies confronted each other over several months of uncertainty, Caesar being in a much weaker position than Pompey. The former found himself isolated in a hostile country with only 22,000 men and short of provisions, while on the other side of the river he was faced by Pompey with an army about twice as large in number. Pompey wanted to delay, knowing the enemy would eventually surrender from hunger and exhaustion. Pressured by the senators present and by his officers, he reluctantly engaged in battle and suffered an overwhelming defeat, ultimately fleeing the camp and his men, disguised as an ordinary citizen.

Battle of Pharsalus
Part of Caesar's Civil War
Battle of Pharsalus, 48 BC
Date9 August 48 BC
Result Decisive Caesarian victory
Forces of Julius Caesar, including representatives of the Populares Forces of Pompey, including many of the Optimates
Commanders and leaders
Gaius Julius Caesar Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus
Approximately 22,000 legionaries (elements of 9 legions), 5,000–10,000 auxiliaries and allies, and allied cavalry of 1,800 Approximately 40,000–45,000 legionaries (12 legions), 4,200 auxiliaries and allies, and allied cavalry of 5,000–8,000
Casualties and losses
~230 (according to Caesar) 6,000–15,000[1]


A dispute between Caesar and the optimates faction in the Senate of Rome culminated in Caesar marching his army on Rome and forcing Pompey, accompanied by much of the Roman Senate, to flee in 49 BC from Italy to Greece, where he could better conscript an army to face his former ally. Caesar, lacking a fleet to immediately give chase, solidified his control over the western Mediterranean – Spain specifically – before assembling ships to follow Pompey. Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus, whom Pompey had appointed to command his 600-ship fleet, set up a massive blockade to prevent Caesar from crossing to Greece and to prevent any aid to Italy. Caesar, defying convention, chose to cross the Adriatic during the winter, with only half his fleet at a time. As Pontifex Maximus, Caesar was responsible for adjusting the Roman calendar at the end of each year to align it with the rotation of the Earth around the sun. As Caesar had been in Gaul and then occupied by the civil war for years, he had not been able to make this yearly change and over time, the difference between the Earth's rotation. Because of this, the calendar that Rome operated on had grown to such an extent that Bibulus, along with the others who had fled to Greece, believed that it was months later than when Caesar knew it was. As such, this move surprised Bibulus, who believed it was winter, and the first wave of ships managed to run the blockade easily. Now prepared, Bibulus managed to prevent any further ships from crossing, but died soon afterwards.

Caesar was now in a precarious position, holding a beachhead at Epirus with only half his army, no ability to supply his troops by sea, and limited local support, as the Greek cities were mostly loyal to Pompey. Caesar's only choice was to fortify his position, forage what supplies he could, and wait on his remaining army to attempt another crossing. Pompey by now had a massive international army; however, his troops were mostly untested raw recruits, while Caesar's troops were hardened veterans. Realizing Caesar's difficulty in keeping his troops supplied, Pompey decided to simply mirror Caesar's forces and let hunger do the fighting for him. Caesar began to despair and used every channel he could think of to pursue peace with Pompey. When this was rebuffed he made an attempt to cross back to Italy to collect his missing troops, but was turned back by a storm. Finally, Mark Antony rallied the remaining forces in Italy, fought through the blockade and made the crossing, reinforcing Caesar's forces in both men and spirit. Now at full strength, Caesar felt confident to take the fight to Pompey.

Pompey was camped in a strong position just south of Dyrrhachium with the sea to his back and surrounded by hills, making a direct assault impossible. Caesar ordered a wall to be built around Pompey's position in order to cut off water and pasture land for his horses. Pompey built a parallel wall and in between a kind of no man's land was created, with fighting comparable to the trench warfare of World War I. Ultimately the standoff was broken when a traitor in Caesar's army informed Pompey of a weakness in Caesar's wall. Pompey immediately exploited this information and forced Caesar's army into a full retreat, but ordered his army not to pursue, fearing Caesar's reputation for setting elaborate traps. This caused Caesar to remark, "Today the victory had been the enemy's, had there been any one among them to gain it."[2] Pompey continued his strategy of mirroring Caesar's forces and avoiding any direct engagements. After trapping Caesar in Thessaly, the prominent senators in Pompey's camp began to argue loudly for a more decisive victory. Although Pompey was strongly against it — he wanted to surround and starve Caesar's army instead — he eventually gave in and accepted battle from Caesar on a field near Pharsalus.

  Excerpt from Cassius Dio's "Roman History" gives a more ancient flavor of his take on the prelude to the "Battle of Pharsalus":
  [41.56] As a result of these circumstances and of the very cause and purpose of the war a most notable struggle took place. For the city of Rome and its entire empire, even then great and mighty, lay before them as the prize, since it was clear to all that it would be the slave of him who then conquered. When they reflected on this fact and furthermore thought of their former deeds [...41.57] they were wrought up to the highest pitch of excitement....they now, led by their insatiable lust of power, hastened to break, tear, and rend asunder. Because of them Rome was being compelled to fight both in her own defense and against herself, so that even if victorious she would be vanquished."

Date and location

The date of the actual decisive battle is given as 9 August 48 BC according to the republican calendar. According to the Julian calendar however, the date was either 29 June (according to Le Verrier's chronological reconstruction) or possibly 7 June (according to Drumann/Groebe). As Pompey was assassinated on 3 September 48 BC, the battle must have taken place in the true month of August, when the harvest was becoming ripe (or Pompey's strategy of starving Caesar would not be plausible).

The location of the battlefield was for a long time the subject of controversy among scholars. Caesar himself, in his Commentarii de Bello Civili, mentions few place-names;[3] and although the battle is called after Pharsalos, four ancient writers – the author of the Bellum Alexandrinum (48.1), Frontinus (Strategemata 2.3.22), Eutropius (20), and Orosius (6.15.27) – place it specifically at Palaepharsalos. Strabo in his Geographica (Γεωγραφικά) mentions both old and new Pharsaloi, and notes that the Thetideion, the temple to Thetis south of Scotoussa, was near both. In 198 BC, in the Second Macedonian War, Philip V of Macedon sacked Palaepharsalos (Livy, Ab Urbe Condita 32.13.9), but left new Pharsalos untouched. These two details perhaps imply that the two cities were not close neighbours. Until the early 20th century, unsure of the site of Palaepharsalos, scholars followed Appian (2.75) and located the battle of 48 BC south of the Enipeus or close to Pharsalos (today's Pharsala).[4]

The “north-bank” thesis of F. L. Lucas,[5] based on his 1921 solo field-trip to Thessaly, is now, however, broadly accepted by historians.[6] “A visit to the ground has only confirmed me,” Lucas wrote in 1921; “and it was interesting to find that Mr. Apostolides, son of the large local landowner, the hospitality of whose farm at Tekés I enjoyed, was convinced too that the [battle-]site was by Driskole [now Krini], for the very sound reason that neither the hills nor the river further east suit Caesar’s description.” John D. Morgan in his definitive “Palae-pharsalus – the Battle and the Town”,[7] arguing for a site closer still to Krini, where he places Palaepharsalos, writes: “My reconstruction is similar to Lucas’s, and in fact I borrow one of his alternatives for the line of the Pompeian retreat. Lucas’s theory has been subjected to many criticisms, but has remained essentially unshaken.”

Opposing armies

Caesarian army

Caesar had the following legions with him:

However, all of these legions were understrength. Some only had about a thousand men at the time of Pharsalus, due partly to losses at Dyrrhachium and partly to Caesar's wish to rapidly advance with a picked body as opposed to a ponderous movement with a large army.[8] According to his accounts, he had 80 cohorts on the battlefield, about 22,000 men.[9]

Pompeian army

In total, Caesar counted 110 complete cohorts in the Pompeian army, 11 legions consisting of about 45,000 men, although Orosius, following Livy and Pollio, only counted 88 cohorts, and Hans Delbrück suggests that Caesar's count includes detachments at Dyrrachium and elsewhere, leaving only 90 cohorts in the Pompeian army, counting naval support.[10]



The Battle of Pharsalus - initial dispositions
Initial deployment of forces at the Battle of Pharsalus, August 48 BC

On the Pharsalian plain, Pompey deployed his infantry in the traditional three lines of 10 men deep, thusly: Legions I and III were on the left with Pompey himself; at his center were the legions from Syria commanded by Scipio, and on the right, against the Enipeus River, were legions from Cilicia and Spanish auxiliaries. Pompey's cavalry, which greatly outnumbered Caesar's, were commanded by Labienus, a brilliant cavalry commander and Caesar's old lieutenant during the Gallic Wars. They were massed in a single body on Pompey's left flank, together with his auxiliary archers and slingers. Pompey's tactical plan was to allow Caesar's legions to charge while his own stood their ground, reasoning that the enemy would fatigue by charging the double distance, and that his own men would better withstand the pilum toss while stationary. Simultaneously his cavalry would overwhelm the enemy's and then take the legions in the flank and rear — a classic hammer and anvil tactic.

Caesar also deployed his men in three lines, but, being outnumbered, had to thin his ranks to a depth of only six men, in order to match the frontage presented by Pompey. His left flank, resting on the Enipeus River, consisted of his battle worn IXth legion supplemented by the VIIIth legion, these commanded by Mark Antony. The center was commanded by Domitius and upon his right he placed his favored Xth legion, giving Sulla command of this flank — Caesar himself took his stand on the right, across from Pompey. Upon seeing the disposition of Pompey's army Caesar grew discomforted, and further thinned his third line in order to form a fourth line on his right: this to counter the onslaught of the enemy cavalry, which he knew his numerically inferior cavalry could not withstand. This new line he gave detailed instructions for the role they would play, hinting that upon them would rest the fortunes of the day, and gave strict orders to his third line not to charge until specifically ordered.

Progress of the battle

There was significant distance between the two armies, according to Caesar.[11] Pompey ordered his men not to charge, but to wait until Caesar's legions came into close quarters; Pompey's adviser Caius Triarius believed that Caesar's infantry would be fatigued and fall into disorder if they were forced to cover twice the expected distance of a battle march. Also stationary troops were expected to be able to defend better against pila throws.[12] Seeing that Pompey's army was not advancing, Caesar's infantry under Mark Antony and Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus started the advance. As Caesar's men neared throwing distance, without orders, they stopped to rest and regroup before continuing the charge;[13] Pompey's right and centre line held as the two armies collided.

As Pompey's infantry fought, Labienus ordered the Pompeian cavalry on his left flank to attack Caesar's cavalry; as expected they successfully pushed back Caesar's cavalry. Caesar then revealed his hidden fourth line of infantry and surprised Pompey's cavalry charge; Caesar's men were ordered to leap up and use their pila to thrust at Pompey's cavalry instead of throwing them. Pompey's cavalry panicked and suffered hundreds of casualties. After failing to reform, the rest of the cavalry retreated to the hills, leaving the left wing of Pompey's legions exposed. Caesar then ordered in his third line, containing his most battle-hardened veterans, to attack. This broke Pompey's left wing troops, who fled the battlefield.[14]

After routing Pompey's cavalry, Caesar threw in his last line of reserves[15] —a move which at this point meant that the battle was more or less decided. Pompey lost the will to fight as he watched both cavalry and legions under his command break formation and flee from battle, and he retreated to his camp, leaving the rest of his troops at the centre and right flank to their own devices. He ordered the garrisoned auxiliaries to defend the camp as he gathered his family, loaded up gold, and threw off his general's cloak to make a quick escape. As the rest of Pompey's army were left confused, Caesar urged his men to end the day by routing the rest of Pompey's troops and capturing the Pompeian camp. They complied with his wishes; after finishing off the remains of Pompey's men, they furiously attacked the camp walls. The Thracians and the other auxiliaries who were left in the Pompeian camp, in total seven cohorts, defended bravely, but were not able to fend off the assault.[16]

Caesar had won his greatest victory, claiming to have only lost about 200 soldiers and 30 centurions.[17] In his history of the war, Caesar would praise his own men's discipline and experience, and remembered each of his centurions by name. He also questioned Pompey's decision not to charge.[18]


Pompey fled from Pharsalus to Egypt, where he was assassinated on the order of Ptolemy XIII. Ptolemy XIII sent Pompey's head to Caesar in an effort to win his favor, but instead secured him as a furious enemy. Ptolemy, advised by his regent, the eunuch Pothinus, and his rhetoric tutor Theodotus of Chios, had failed to take into account that Caesar was granting amnesty to a great number of those of the senatorial faction in their defeat. Even men who had been bitter enemies were allowed not only to return to Rome but to assume their previous positions in Roman society.

Pompey's assassination had deprived Caesar of his ultimate public relations moment — pardoning his most ardent rival. The Battle of Pharsalus ended the wars of the First Triumvirate. The Roman Civil War, however, was not ended. Pompey's two sons, Gnaeus Pompeius and Sextus Pompey, and the Pompeian faction, led now by Metellus Scipio and Cato, survived and fought for their cause in the name of Pompey the Great. Caesar spent the next few years 'mopping up' remnants of the senatorial faction. After seemingly vanquishing all his enemies and bringing peace to Rome, he was assassinated in 44 BC by friends, in a conspiracy organized by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus.


Niccolò da Bologna 01
14th century miniature by Niccolò da Bologna showing Caesar, the victor over Pompey at the Battle of Pharsalus

Paul K. Davis wrote that "Caesar's victory took him to the pinnacle of power, effectively ending the Republic."[19] The battle itself did not end the civil war but it was decisive and gave Caesar a much needed boost in legitimacy. Until then much of the Roman world outside Italy supported Pompey and his allies due to the extensive list of clients he held in all corners of the Republic. After Pompey's defeat former allies began to align themselves with Caesar as some came to believe the gods favored him, while for others it was simple self-preservation. The ancients took great stock in success as a sign of favoritism by the gods. This is especially true of success in the face of almost certain defeat — as Caesar experienced at Pharsalus. This allowed Caesar to parlay this single victory into a huge network of willing clients to better secure his hold over power and force the Optimates into near exile in search for allies to continue the fight against Caesar.

In popular culture

The battle gives its name to the following artistic, geographical, and business concerns:

In Alexander Dumas' The Three Musketeers, the author makes reference to Caesar's purported order that his men try to cut the faces of their opponents - their vanity supposedly being of more value to them than their lives.[20]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Plutarch Pompey 65.5, Dryden translation: p. 465.
  3. ^ Bellum Civile 3.81–98
  4. ^ Map with conjectured locations, Annual of the British School at Athens, No. XXIV, 1921 [1]
  5. ^ F. L. Lucas, 'The Battlefield of Pharsalos', Annual of the British School at Athens, No. XXIV, 1919–21, pp.34–53
  6. ^ Holmes, T. Rice, The Roman Republic and the Founder of the Empire (Oxford, 1923); Fuller, J. F. C, Julius Caesar: Man, Soldier and Tyrant (London, 1965); Sheppard, Simon, Pharsalus 48 B.C.: Caesar and Pompey – Clash of the Titans (Oxford, 2006)
  7. ^ The American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 87, No. 1, Jan. 1983
  8. ^ "Battle of Pharsalus". Retrieved 2013-06-18.
  9. ^ Julius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Civili,III 89,2
  10. ^ Hans Delbrück, Warfare in Antiquity, p. 545.
  11. ^ Caesar, BC III 92,1.
  12. ^ Caesar, BC III, 92,2.
  13. ^ Caesar, BC III, 93,1.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Caesar, BC III, 93,4
  16. ^
  17. ^ Caesar, BC III 99,1.
  18. ^ Caesar, BC III, 92,3.
  19. ^ Paul K. Davis, 100 Decisive Battles from Ancient Times to the Present: The World’s Major Battles and How They Shaped History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 59.
  20. ^ Dumas, Alexander (2009). The Three Musketeers. Oxford University Press. p. 620. ISBN 0199538468.

Further reading

Battle of Dyrrhachium (48 BC)

The Battle of Dyrrachium (or Dyrrhachium) on 10 July 48 BC was a battle during Caesar's Civil War that took place near the city of Dyrrachium (in what is now Albania). It was fought between Julius Caesar and an army led by Gnaeus Pompey who had the backing of the majority of the Roman Senate. The battle was a victory for Pompey, albeit not a decisive one. The battle preceded the Battle of Pharsalus which was the decisive battle of the Civil War.

Battle of Pharsalus (1277)

The Battle of Pharsalus was fought in late 1277 at the plain of Pharsalus in Thessaly between an invading Byzantine army led by the megas stratopedarches John Synadenos and megas konostaulos Michael Kaballarios, and the forces of John I Doukas, ruler of Thessaly. This was the first major Byzantine campaign against Thessaly after the failure of the previous expedition at the Battle of Neopatras (dated variously to 1273–1275). The battle resulted in a crushing victory for John Doukas: Synadenos was captured, while Kaballarios died shortly afterwards of his wounds.

Battle of Pharsalus (disambiguation)

Battle of Pharsalus or Pharsala/Farsala can refer to:

Battle of Pharsalus, one of the decisive battles of the Roman civil wars, fought in 48 BC between the forces of Julius Caesar and Pompey

Battle of Pharsalus (1277), between a Byzantine army and the forces of the ruler of Thessaly, John Doukas

Battle of Farsala, between the Greeks and the Ottomans in the Greco-Turkish War of 1897

Battle of the Abas

The Battle of the Abas was fought in 65 BC between the forces of the Roman Republic under Pompey Magnus and those of the Albanian King Oroeses during the course of the Third Mithridatic War. The battle took place on a flat plain by the River Abas (likely the modern Alazani), after the Roman forces had only recently crossed over it from the other bank, and with much dense forest nearby. Pompey's victory neutralised the threat of the Albanians rejoining with their old ally Mithridates in his attempts to rekindle his lost war with Rome.

The battle is noteworthy for Pompey's concealment of his infantry behind a screen of cavalry, which would twenty years later be used against him at the Battle of Pharsalus. The near perfect double envelopment Pompey is reported to have here achieved also serves to showcase the high quality of his generalship during the Eastern campaigns.

Brutus the Younger

Marcus Junius Brutus (the Younger) (; 85 BC – 23 October 42 BC), often referred to as Brutus, was a politician of the late Roman Republic. After being adopted by his uncle he used the name Quintus Servilius Caepio Brutus, but eventually returned to using his original name. He took a leading role in the assassination of Julius Caesar.Brutus was close to General Julius Caesar, the leader of the Populares faction. However, Caesar's attempts to assume greater power for himself put him at greater odds with the Roman elite and members of the Senate. Brutus eventually came to oppose Caesar and fought on the side of the Optimates faction, led by Pompey the Great, against Caesar's forces in Caesar's Civil War. Pompey was defeated at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, after which Brutus surrendered to Caesar, who granted him amnesty.

However, the underlying political tensions that led to the war had not been resolved. Due to Caesar's increasingly monarchical behavior, several senators, calling themselves "Liberators", plotted to assassinate him. They recruited Brutus, who took a leading role in the assassination, which was carried out successfully on March 15, 44 BC. The Senate, at the request of the Consul Mark Antony, granted amnesty to the assassins. However, a populist uprising forced Brutus and his brother-in-law, fellow assassin Gaius Cassius Longinus, to leave the City of Rome. In 43 BC, Caesar's grandnephew, Consul Octavian, by then also formally known as Gaius Julius Caesar, immediately after taking office passed a resolution declaring the conspirators, including Brutus, murderers. This led to the Liberators' civil war, pitting the erstwhile supporters of Caesar, under the Second Triumvirate, wishing both to gain power for themselves and avenge his death, against those who opposed him. Octavian combined his troops with those of Antony, and together they decisively defeated the outnumbered armies of Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Philippi in October 42 BC. After the battle, Brutus committed suicide.

Caesar's Civil War

The Great Roman Civil War (49–45 BC), also known as Caesar's Civil War, was one of the last politico-military conflicts in the Roman Republic before the establishment of the Roman Empire. It began as a series of political and military confrontations, between Julius Caesar (100–44 BC), his political supporters (broadly known as Populares), and his legions, against the Optimates (or Boni), the politically conservative and socially traditionalist faction of the Roman Senate, who were supported by Pompey (106–48 BC) and his legions.Prior to the war, Caesar had served for eight years in the Gallic Wars. He and Pompey had, along with Marcus Licinius Crassus, established the First Triumvirate, through which they shared power over Rome. Caesar soon emerged as a champion of the common people, and advocated a variety of reforms. The Senate, fearful of Caesar, demanded that he relinquish command of his army. Caesar refused, and instead marched his army on Rome, which no Roman general was permitted to do. Pompey fled Rome and organized an army in the south of Italy to meet Caesar.

The war was a four-year-long politico-military struggle, fought in Italy, Illyria, Greece, Egypt, Africa, and Hispania. Pompey defeated Caesar in 48 BC at the Battle of Dyrrhachium, but was himself defeated much more decisively at the Battle of Pharsalus. The Optimates under Marcus Junius Brutus and Cicero surrendered after the battle, while others, including those under Cato the Younger and Metellus Scipio fought on. Pompey fled to Egypt and was killed upon arrival. Scipio was defeated in 46 BC at the Battle of Thapsus in North Africa. He and Cato committed suicide shortly after the battle. The following year, Caesar defeated the last of the Optimates in the Battle of Munda and became Dictator perpetuo (Dictator in perpetuity or Dictator for life) of Rome. The changes to Roman government concomitant to the war mostly eliminated the political traditions of the Roman Republic (509–27 BC) and led to the Roman Empire (27 BC–AD 476).

Commentarii de Bello Civili

Commentarii de Bello Civili (Commentaries on the Civil War), or Bellum Civile, is an account written by Julius Caesar of his war against Gnaeus Pompeius and the Senate. Shorter than its counterpart on the Gallic War, only three books long, and possibly unfinished, it covers the events of 49-48 BC, from shortly before Caesar's invasion of Italy to Pompey's defeat at the Battle of Pharsalus and flight to Egypt with Caesar in pursuit. It closes with Pompey assassinated, Caesar attempting to mediate rival claims to the Egyptian throne, and the beginning of the Alexandrian War.

Caesar's authorship of the Commentarii de Bello Civili is not disputed. However, its continuations on the Alexandrian, African and Hispanic wars are believed to have been written by others: the 2nd-century historian Suetonius suggested Aulus Hirtius and Gaius Oppius as possible authors.

Enipeus (deity)

Enipeus, in ancient Greece, was a river god, son of Oceanus and Tethys. Enipeus was loved by a mortal woman named Tyro, who was married to a mortal man named Cretheus. She pursued Enipeus, who refused her advances. One day, Poseidon, filled with lust for Tyro, disguised himself as Enipeus and from their union was born Pelias and Neleus, twin boys. The River Enipeus (now Enipeas) is located in Thessaly, and was a key factor in the Battle of Pharsalus.

Faustus Cornelius Sulla (quaestor 54 BC)

Faustus Cornelius Sulla (before 86 BC – 46 BC) was a Roman senator. Faustus was the only surviving son of the Dictator of Rome Lucius Cornelius Sulla and his fourth wife Caecilia Metella, and thus a member of one of the most ancient patrician families, the Cornelii. After his father's death in 78 BC, he and his twin sister Fausta were brought up by his guardian, his father's friend Lucullus.

Faustus married Pompeia, daughter of Pompey the Great. Faustus accompanied Pompey on his Asian campaigns, and was the first to climb over the walls of the Temple of Jerusalem when it was stormed by Pompey in 63 BC. After his return to Rome, he gave gladiatorial games to celebrate his father in 60 BC. At an unknown time before 57 BC, Faustus Sulla became augur. As moneyer in 56 BC, he issued coinage in honor of his father and his father-in-law. As owner of the central slopes of Mount Falernus, his name became synonymous with the most esteemed wine in ancient Rome, Faustian Falernian.

Faustus Sulla was Quaestor in 54 BC. The senate commissioned him to rebuild the Curia Hostilia in 52 BC which had been burned down after the riots which followed the murder of Clodius. After that the Curia was known as the Curia Cornelia.

His career as an advocate was cut short, however, by the civil war between Pompey and Julius Caesar. He, as Lucullus' ward and Pompey's son-in-law, sided with the former. Faustus was at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, joining the leaders of his party in Africa subsequently. After the Battle of Thapsus, he tried to escape to Mauretania, but was caught and killed by Publius Sittius, a supporter of Caesar, in 46 BC.With Pompeia he had at least two children: Faustus Cornelius Sulla the Younger and Cornelia Sulla (married Lucius Scribonius Libo, who was praetor in 80 BC). From one of whom is presumably descended Faustus Cornelius Sulla Lucullus, suffect consul in 31 AD.

Gaius Cassius Longinus

Gaius Cassius Longinus (Classical Latin: [ˈgaː.i.ʊs ˈʊs ˈlɔŋ.gɪ.nʊs]; October 3, before 85 BC – October 3, 42 BC), often referred to as Cassius, was a Roman senator and general best known as a leading instigator of the plot to assassinate Julius Caesar. He was also the brother-in-law of Marcus Junius Brutus, also a leader of the conspiracy. He commanded troops with Brutus during the Battle of Philippi against the combined forces of Mark Antony and Octavian, Caesar's former supporters, and committed suicide after being defeated by Mark Antony.

Cassius was elected as a Tribune of the Plebs in 49 BC. He opposed Caesar, and he commanded a fleet against him during Caesar's Civil War: after Caesar defeated Pompey in the Battle of Pharsalus, Caesar overtook Cassius and forced him to surrender. After Caesar's death, Cassius fled to the East, where he amassed an army of twelve legions. He was supported and made Governor by the Senate. Though he and Brutus marched west against the allies of the Second Triumvirate, Cassius was defeated at the Battle of Phillippi and committed suicide.

He followed the teachings of the philosopher Epicurus, although scholars debate whether or not these beliefs affected his political life. Cassius is a main character in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar that depicts the assassination of Caesar and its aftermath. He is also shown in the lowest circle of Hell in Dante's Inferno as punishment for betraying and killing Caesar.

Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus

Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus was a Roman general, senator and consul (both in 53 BC and 40 BC) who was a loyal partisan of Caesar and Octavianus.

Domitius Calvinus came from a noble family and was elected consul for 53 BC, despite a notorious electoral scandal. He was on Caesar’s side during the Civil War with Pompey. At the decisive battle of Pharsalus he commanded the center of Caesar’s army. After the battle he became governor of Asia. He tried to oppose the invasion of Pharnaces, the king of Bosphorus, who had taken the occasion of the Roman civil war to invade the province of Pontus; however he suffered a crushing defeat at the battle of Nicopolis in Armenia (December of 48 BC). Direct intervention by Caesar brought a quick end to the conflict, and Pharnaces' army was annihilated at Zela in 47 BC. Despite this failure, he remained a trusted friend of Caesar.

Domitius Calvinus's activities immediately after the death of Caesar are unknown, but in 43 BC he was a strong supporter of Octavianus and participated in the civil war against Brutus and Cassius. During the Philippi campaign in 42 BC, he had to bring reinforcements from Italia to Greece for Mark Antony and Octavianus' army, however his fleet was destroyed by the enemy in the Ionian Sea with the loss of two legions. Despite this defeat he was awarded the honor of a second consulship in 40 BC and was sent by Octavianus as governor to Hispania, where he remained for three years (39 BC-36 BC). Apparently, his military activities in Spain were successful, since he was saluted as imperator by his troops and on his return he was awarded a triumph. He also rebuilt the Regia in the Roman Forum. Although we do not have many facts concerning his further political activities, an inscription shows that in 20 BC he was still alive and a member of the important Arval Brethren priesthood, reserved only for members of the nascent Imperial family and to the emperor's most distinguished supporters.

Although Domitius Calvinus' career does not show any particular ability, either in politics (he obtained his first consulship only after scandalous bribery) or in war (he suffered two major defeats), he maintained an important political role. This was most probably because he was one of the very few Roman nobles to support the Caesar/Octavianus party from the very beginning.

Legio VII Claudia

Legio septima Claudia (Claudius' Seventh Legion) was a legion of the Imperial Roman army. Its emblem, like that of all Caesar's legions, was the bull, together with the lion.The Seventh, the Sixth, the Eighth and the Ninth were all founded by Pompey in Spain in 65 BC. With the Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth legions, the Seventh was among the oldest units in the imperial Roman army. They were ordered to Cisalpine Gaul around 58 BC by Julius Caesar, and marched with him throughout the entire Gallic Wars. The Roman commander mentions the Seventh in his account of the battle against the Nervians, and it seems that it was employed during the expedition through western Gaul led by Caesar's deputy Crassus. In 56, the Seventh was present during the Venetic campaign. During the crisis caused by Vercingetorix, it fought in the neighborhood of Lutetia; it must have been active at Alesia and it was certainly involved in the mopping-up operations among the Bellovaci.

Legio VII was one of the two legions used in Caesar's invasions of Britain, and played a crucial role in the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, and it existed at least until the end of the 4th century, guarding the middle Danube.

Tiberius Claudius Maximus, the Roman soldier who brought the head of Decebalus to the emperor Trajan, was serving in Legio VII Claudia. An inscription in Pompeii revealed that a certain Floronius also served in the seventh legion. The inscription says: "Floronius, privileged soldier of the 7th legion, was here. The women did not know of his presence. Only six women came to know, too few for such a stallion."

Marcus Claudius Marcellus (consul 51 BC)

Marcus Claudius Marcellus was a member of the plebeian gens Claudia of the branch cognomitated Marcellus and a Roman politician.

Marcellus was elected curule aedile in 56 BC. In 52 BC he was elected consul, together with Servius Sulpicius Rufus, for the following year. During his consulship Marcellus proved himself to be a zealous partisan of Pompey and the optimates, and urged the Senate to extreme measures against Julius Caesar, managing to establish that the subject of recalling Caesar should be discussed on 1 March of the following year. He also considered the Lex Vitinia invalid, removing Roman citizenship from citizens of Comum, and caused a senator of Comum, who happened to be in Rome, to be scourged, a punishment Roman citizens were exempted from under the Lex Porcia.Upon the start of the civil war, Marcellus fled Rome with the optimates and joined the Republican Grand Army in Epirus. After the Battle of Pharsalus, Marcellus abandoned opposition to Caesar, and withdrew in an honorable exile to Mytilene, where he was left unmolested by Caesar. His cousin Gaius Claudius Marcellus petitioned the dictator for clemency, as did Cicero in his Pro Marcello. This was granted near the close of 46 BC, though Marcellus did not start out for Rome until the middle of 45 BC. En route near Athens he was murdered by one of his own attendants, P. Magius Chilo, an event that some attributed to Caesar, but Cicero suggested was almost certainly caused by a dispute between Magius and Marcellus.Marcellus was the son of another Marcus Claudius Marcellus, aedile curulis in 91 BC; the brother of Gaius Claudius Marcellus Maior, consul in 49 BC and the cousin of Gaius Claudius Marcellus Minor, consul in 50 BC.

Michael Kaballarios

Michael Kaballarios (Greek: Μιχαήλ Καβαλλάριος) was a Byzantine aristocrat and military leader. In ca. 1277 he was megas konostaulos (commander of the Latin mercenaries). Along with the megas stratopedarches John Synadenos, he led a Byzantine army against John I Doukas of Thessaly, but was defeated in the Battle of Pharsalus and died shortly afterwards of his wounds.

Porcia (sister of Cato the Younger)

Porcia, also known Porcia the Elder (before 95 BC – 46/45 BC) was the daughter of Marcus Porcius Cato and Livia. She was the elder sister of Cato the Younger and the younger half-sister of Servilia, the younger Servilia and Quintus Servilius Caepio. She was the aunt of Marcus Junius Brutus, one of the more famous of Julius Caesar's assassins. She was also the aunt of Porcia Catonis and Junia Tertia. After her parents died, she lived with all her siblings in the household of their uncle Marcus Livius Drusus until his assassination in 91 BC.

She married Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, who was consul in 54 BC and an ally of her brother Cato. Marcus Tullius Cicero claims that Porcia and her husband were in Naples in 49 BC, when her husband was besieged at Corfinium by Julius Caesar. In 48 BC, Porcia lost her husband in the Battle of Pharsalus. Porcia died towards the end of 46 BC to the beginning of 45 BC, her funeral elegy was pronounced by Cicero, who greatly commended her virtues.


Pothinus or Potheinos (early 1st century BC to 48 or 47 BC), a eunuch, was regent for Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator of the Ptolemaic Kingdom. He is most remembered for turning Ptolemy against his sister and co-ruler Cleopatra, thus starting a civil war, and for having Pompey decapitated and presenting the severed head to Julius Caesar.

When Ptolemy XII died in 51 BC, his will stated that Ptolemy XIII and Cleopatra VII were to become co-rulers of Egypt, with the Roman Republic as their guardians. Ptolemy XIII was underage and Pothinus was appointed as his regent. The general Achillas and the rhetorician Theodotus of Chios were also guardians of the Egyptian king. When Ptolemy and Cleopatra were elevated to the status of senior rulers, Pothinus was maintained as the former's regent. Most Egyptologists believed that Pothinus used his influence to turn Ptolemy against Cleopatra. In the spring of 48 BC, Ptolemy, under Pothinus' guidance, attempted to depose Cleopatra in order to become sole ruler while Pothinus planned to act as the power behind the throne. They gained control of Alexandria, then the capital of Egypt, and forced Cleopatra out of the city. She soon organized her own army and a civil war began in Egypt, while Arsinoe IV also began to claim the throne for herself.

Rome was also enveloped in civil war, and after his defeat in the Battle of Pharsalus Pompey sought asylum in Egypt. Initially, Pothinus pretended to have accepted his request, but on September 29, 48 BC, Pothinus had the general murdered, hoping to win favor with Julius Caesar, who had defeated Pompey. When Caesar arrived, he was presented with the head of Pompey, but he responded with grief and disgust and ordered that Pompey's body be located and given a proper Roman funeral. Pothinus had neglected to note that Caesar had been granting clemency to his enemies, including Cassius, Cicero, and Brutus. Cleopatra used Pothinus's mistake to gain favor with Caesar and eventually became his lover.

Caesar then arranged for the execution of Pothinus and the marriage of Cleopatra to Ptolemy. In the very last chapter of Commentarii de Bello Civili, however, it is described that Pothinus arranged for Achillas to attack Alexandria and upon sending a message not to hesitate but to fulfill the plan, the messengers were exposed, whereupon Caesar had Pothinus imprisoned and killed, probably with a knife. His death was shortly followed by the ten-month siege of Alexandria.

Sortes Homericae

The Sortes Homericae (Latin for "Homeric lots"), a type of divination by bibliomancy, was the practice of drawing a random sentence or line from the works of Homer (usually the Iliad) to answer a question or predict the future. Socrates is recorded as doing so in prison to determine the day of his execution, and the practice occurred still in the Renaissance era. In the Roman world it co-existed with the various forms of the sortes, such as the Sortes Virgilianae and their Christian successor the Sortes Sanctorum.

Brutus used this practice, which informed him Pompey would lose the battle of Pharsalus. The emperor Marcus Opellius Macrinus is also known to have used it, drawing Iliad 8, 102-3, informing him he would not last long on the imperial throne.

Titus Antistius

Titus Antistius was a man of ancient Rome who served as quaestor in Macedonia in 50 BC. When the leader Pompey came into the province in the following year, Antistius had received no successor; and according to Cicero, he did only as much for Pompey as circumstances compelled him. During this time, Pompey compelled Titus to coin silver for him.Antistius took no part in the war, and after the Battle of Pharsalus went to Bithynia, where he saw Julius Caesar and was pardoned by him. He died at Corcyra (modern Corfu) on his return, leaving behind him considerable property.

Antistius is known almost solely because of his mention in Cicero's correspondence with Lucius Munatius Plancus.

Venus Genetrix (sculpture)

The sculptural type of Venus Genetrix shows the Roman goddess Venus in her aspect of Genetrix (mother), as she was honoured by the Julio-Claudian dynasty of Rome, who followed the precedent of Julius Caesar in claiming her as their ancestor. Through this historical chance, a Roman designation is applied to an iconological type of Aphrodite that originated among the Greeks.

On the night before the decisive battle of Pharsalus (48 BC), Julius Caesar vowed to dedicate a temple at Rome to Venus, supposed ancestor of his gens. In fulfilment of his vow he erected a temple of Venus Genetrix in the new forum he constructed. Contemporary references identify the cult statue in the temple as by a certain Greek sculptor, Arkesilaos.

Two types, represented in many Roman examples in marble, bronze, and terra cotta, contend among scholars for identification as representing the type of this draped Venus Genetrix. Besides the type described further below, is another, in which Venus carries an infant Eros on her shoulder.

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