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Caesar Versus Pompey Essay

1269 words - 6 pages

The history between General Caesar and General Pompey is greatly known throughout the Roman Empire. The two generals started out as great allies and formed the First Triumvirate along with Crassus. However, with the previous passing of Crassus, the two had faced conflicts. Thus we are faced with the engagement between the two at Pharsalus, which brought an end to Caesar’s Civil War. This engagement shaped the course of history; first of all, it was one of the first civil wars in Rome and all of history for that matter. It was also a battle in which both sides took all necessary precautions before entering a full scale war. In previous wars like the Punic Wars, the Romans would push too far ...view middle of the document...

Eventually Caesar’s growing popularity in Rome became too much for Pompey and he ordered the Caesar return to Rome after disbanding his army and giving up his provinces. However, Caesar was aware of what happened to previous governors when they were ordered home. He would be without army and territory therefore making himself vulnerable to civil and criminal prosecution before he could win an election to hold some sort of power in the Republic. As a result of this, Caesar refused and began a civil war against Pompey with his crossing of the Rubicon. Caesar stated, “Alea iacta est,” or, “The die is cast,” immediately before his crossing. This had an impact on the world by beginning one of the first civil wars in Rome and all of history.

In the beginning stages of the war neither generals were eager for battle. Caesar and Pompey were more worried about having a good sized army that could be supplied, than trying to be the first one to attack the other. Caesar faced the challenge of a long Italian campaign and having to rely on his wheat supply all the way from Gaul. It would have been easy for Pompey to surround him once he was deep enough into Italy due to his superior numbers; this would have left Caesar stranded in Italy, completely surrounded, and without supplies. Pompey, however, did not get the response from the Roman citizens that he expected. Pompey had told his Senate that wherever he stepped citizens would spring up in arms to fight Caesar, but quite the opposite happened. While Pompey was campaigning through rural Italy he came across many farmers who had once served with him, but were unwilling to join him again. This was due to the fact that the only reason they were granted the land was due to Caesar’s land-reform laws. Pompey was now faced with the problem if having 30,000 troops that were raw and inexperienced. The patricians began to panic when Caesar came marching upon them with his seasoned legionaries and abandoned Rome. Eventually, after the two faced both land and naval battles, they met under the Greek sun at Pharsalus. This is how both generals took the necessary precautions before entering the battle, unlike the Punic Wars.

The night before the battle at Pompey’s camp, his men saw a meteor shoot across the sky. Many of them saw it as a bad sign of what a battle would bring to them. After the sighting, when Pompey had retired to his tent for the night, he had a dream of being applauded by Rome’s citizens after dedicating a temple to the goddess Venus. However, he saw this as an ill omen as well, because Caesar’s...

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