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  • Title: Life of Caesar
  • Editor: John D. Cox

  • Copyright John D. Cox. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: Plutarch
    Editor: John D. Cox
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Life of Caesar

    39

    XXXIX.In the mean time Antonius arrived, and brought with him the rest of his army from Brundusium.

    Caesar's dangers and troubles in the realm of Epirus.

    Then Caesar, finding himself strong enough, went and offered Pompey battle, who was passingly well lodged for victualling of his camp both by sea and land. Caesar on the other side, who had no great plenty of victuals at the first, was in a very hard case: insomuch as his men gathered roots, and mingled them with milk, and eat them. Furthermore, they did make bread of it also; and sometime when they skirmished with the enemies, and came along by them that watched and warded, they cast of their bread into their trenches, and said that, as long as the earth brought forth such fruits, they would never leave besieging of Pompey. But Pompey straitly commanded them, that they should neither carry those words nor bread into their camp, fearing lest his men's hearts would fail them, and that they would be afraid when they should think of their enemies' hardness, with whom they had to fight, sith they were weary with no pains, no more than brute beasts.

    Caesar's army fled from Pompey.

    Caesar's men did daily skirmish hard to the trenches of Pompey's camp, in the which Caesar had ever the better, saving once only, at which time his men fled with such fear, that all his camp that day was in great hazard to have been cast away. For Pompey came on with his battle upon them, and they were not able to abide it, but were fought with, and driven into their camp, and their trenches were filled with dead bodies, which were slain within the very gate and bulwarks of their camp, they were so valiantly pursued. Caesar stood before them that fled, to make them to turn head again, but he could not prevail. For when he would have taken the ensigns to have stayed them, the ensign-bearers threw them down on the ground: so that the enemies took two and thirty of them, and Caesar's self also escaped hardly with life. For, striking a great big soldier that fled by him, commanding him to stay and turn his face to his enemy: the soldier, being afraid, lift up his sword to strike at Caesar. But one of Caesar's pages, preventing him, gave him such a blow with his sword that he strake off his shoulder. Caesar that day was brought unto so great extremity, that (if Pompey had not either for fear, or spiteful fortune, left off to follow his victory, and retired into his camp, being contented to have driven his enemies into their camp) returning to his camp with his friends, he said unto them:

    Caesar's words of Pompey's victory.

    "The victory this day had been our enemies', if they had had a captain that could have told how to have overcome." So when he was come to his lodging, he went to bed, and

    Caesar troubled in mind after his loss.

    that night troubled him more than any night that ever he had. For still his mind ran with great sorrow of the foul fault he had committed in leading of his army, of self-will to remain there so long by the sea-side, his enemies being the stronger by sea, considering that he had before him a goodly country, rich and plentiful of all things, and goodly cities of Macedon and Thessaly: and had not the wit to bring the war from thence, but to lose his time in a place, where he was rather besieged of his enemies for lack of victuals than that he did besiege them by force of arms. Thus fretting and chafing to see himself so straighted with victuals, and to think of his ill luck he raised his camp, intending to go set upon Scipio, making account, that either he should draw Pompey to battle against his will, when he had not the sea at his back to furnish him with plenty of victuals; or else that he should easily overcome Scipio, finding him alone, unless he were aided.

    Pompey's determination for the war.