The Battles of Philippi (42 BCE):
The Death of the Roman Republic
The battles of Philippi remain one of the best examples of how audacity on the battlefield can influence history. The battles are the climax of the civil war following the assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar in 44 BCE by a band of prominent political figures of Rome; (led by Marcus Junius Brutus (Brutus) and Gaius Cassius Longina (Cassius)) who will be referred to in this paper as ‘the Liberators’. The Battles that occurred on the Macedonian plains from the 1st-21st of October 42 BCE will clearly show that no matter the period of history the battlefield considerations of Political, Military, Economic, Social, and Physical Environment can be exploited to achieve victory.
The Political Situation
The volatile political situation in Rome following the assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar (Caesar) was complex. Competing Caesarian and ‘Liberator’ factions were deadlocked by popular perceptions of Caesar and the legal ramifications of declaring him a tyrant. A compromise was struck to remove the shadow of guilt from the assassins while declaring all of Caesar’s acts as legal. By compromising all Roman nobles in power would retain the positions granted by Caesar; specifically Caesar’s great nephew and adopted son Gaius Octavius the Younger (Octavian) to keep the titles granted to him in Caesar’s will. (Dando-Collins, 2010) The Triumvirate , a trilateral commission of pro-Caesarian forces would win the battle and ultimately change the course of western history. This Political compromise set the conditions for the battle to come.
The Triumvirate forces were at a slight military advantage of ‘the Liberators’. The legions of the Triumvirate were drawn from hardened veterans of Caesar’s campaign in Gaul as well as new levies of Roman citizens from Italy. The presence of both Mark Antony and Lepidus brought considerable military experience to bear. The Legions of the ‘Liberator’s’ factions were drawn from eastern provinces, mainly Syria and Asia. New levies for “Liberator’ forces consisted of local forces who were considerably less trained than their western counterparts. Brutus and Cassius were also political leaders who held little military experience. (Dando-Collins, 2010) Although the armies that met several times in early October were similarly equipped and structured, training and experience at would carry the day for the Triumvirate forces.
Economics, as always, would play an important role in the lead up to the battle. Brutus expended most of his available assets providing public games in attempt to win the support of the Roman population. When he was exiled to the east by Triumvirate forces he found himself in no position to raise an army. Brutus would fund himself by levying taxes in the provinces in the name of the Senate, as well as intercepting caravans laden with treasure (Plutarch, 2009) heading to Rome. Without...