Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Plutarch
Editor: John D. Cox
Not Peer Reviewed

Life of Caesar



Caesar's journey into Africa against Cato and Scipio.

After the battle of Pharsalia, Cato and Scipio being fled into Africa, king joined with them, and levied a great puissant army. Wherefore Caesar determined to make war with them: and, in the middest of winter, he took his journey into Sicily. There, because he would take all hope from his captains and soldiers to make any long abode there, he went and lodged upon the very sands by the seaside, and with the next gale of wind that came, he took the sea with three thousand footmen and a few horsemen. Then having put them a land, unawares to them he hoised sail again to fetch the rest of his army, being afraid lest they should meet with some danger in passing over; and meeting them midway, he brought them all into his camp. Where, when it was told him that his enemies trusted in an ancient oracle, which said, that it was predestined unto the family of the Scipios to be conquerors in Africa: either of purpose to mock Scipio, the general of his enemies, or otherwise, in good earnest, to take the benefit of this name (given by the oracle) unto himself, in all the skirmishes and battles fought, he gave the charge of his army unto a man of mean quality and account, called Scipio Salutius, who came of the race of Scipio African, and made him always general when he fought. For he was eftsoons compelled to weary and harry his enemies, for that

Caesar's troubles in Africa.

neither his men in his camp had corn enough, nor the beasts forage, but the soldiers were driven to take sea-weeds, called

Alga and dog's-tooth given to the horse to eat.

Alga: and (washing away the brackishness thereof with fresh water, putting to it a little herb called dog's-tooth) to cast it so to their horse to eat. For the Numidians (which are light horsemen, and very ready of service) being a great number together, would be on a sudden in every place, and spread all the fields over thereabout, so that no man durst peep out of the camp to go for forage.

Caesar's dangers in Africa.

And one day, as the men of arms were staying to behold an African doing notable things in dancing and playing with the flute (they being set down quietly to take their pleasure of the view thereof, having in the meantime given their slaves their horses to hold) the enemies stealing suddenly upon them, compassed them in round about, and slew a number of them in the field, and chasing the other also that fled, followed them pellmell into their camp. Furthermore, had not Caesar himself in person, and Asinius Pollio with him, gone out of the camp to the rescue and stayed them that fled, the war that day had been ended. There was also another skirmish where his enemies had the upper hand, in the which it is reported that Caesar, taking the ensign-bearer by the collar that carried the eagle in his hand, stayed him by force, and turning his face, told him: " See, there be thy enemies."