What do you like about the ISE? What could we do better? Please tell us in this 10-minute survey!

Start Survey

Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • 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    Not Peer Reviewed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

    44

    XLIV.and his tents in his camp were already overthrown, when his scouts came in with great speed, to bring him news that his enemies were preparing, themselves to fight. Then was he very glad, and after he had made his prayers unto the gods to help him that day,

    Caesar's army and his order of battle, in the fields of Pharsalia.

    he set his men in battle ray, and divided them into three squadrons, giving the middle battle unto Domitius Calvinus, and the left wing unto Antonius, and placed himself in the right wing, choosing his place to fight in the tenth legion. But seeing that against that his enemies had set all their horsemen, he was half afraid when he saw the great number of them, and so brave besides. Wherefore he closely made six ensigns to come from the rereward of his battle, whom he had laid as an ambush behind his right wing, having first appointed his soldiers what they should do when the horsemen of the enemies came to give them charge.

    Pompey's army and his order of battle.

    On the other side Pompey placed himself in the right wing of his battle, gave the left wing unto Domitius, and the middle battle unto Scipio his father-inlaw. Now all the Roman knights (as we have told you before) were placed in the left wing, of purpose to environ Caesar's right wing behind, and to give their hottest charge there, where the general of their enemies was: making their account, that there was no squadron of footmen, how thick soever they were, that could receive the charge of so great a troop of horsemen, and that at the first onset they should overthrow them all, and march upon their bellies. When the trumpets on either side did sound the alarm to the battle, Pompey commanded his footmen that they should stand still without stirring, to receive the charge of their enemies, until they came to throwing of their darts.

    An ill counsel and foul fault of Pompey.

    Wherefore Caesar afterwards said, that Pompey had committed a foul fault, not to consider that the charge which is given running with fury, besides that it giveth the more strength also unto their blows, cloth set men's hearts also on fire: for the common hurling of all the soldiers that run together, is unto them as a box on the ear that sets men on fire. Then Caesar, making his battle march forward to give the onset, saw one of his captains (a valiant man, and very skilful in war, in whom he had also great confidence) speaking to his soldiers that he had under his charge, encouraging them to fight like men that day. So he called him aloud by his name, and said unto him: "Well, Caius Crassinius, what hope shall we have to-day? how are we determined, to fight it out manfully? " Then Crassinius, casting up his hand, answered him aloud: "This day, O Caesar, we I shall have a noble victory, and I promise thee ere night thou shalt praise me alive or dead." When he had told him so, he was himself the foremost man that gave charge upon his enemies, with his band following of him, being about six score men; and making a lane through the foremost ranks with great slaughter, he entered far into the battle of his enemies, until that, valiantly fighting in this sort, he was thrust in at length into the mouth with a sword, that the point of it came out again at his neck.

    The battle in the fields of Pharsalia.