Civil War 49-45BC

Notes on the Civil War

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Motives for Caesar crossing Rubicon

1. Revenge for 'chasing' tribunes out of Rome.

2. Cicero: tribunes were never in dangeer- Caesar staged this to provide an excuse.

3. Sacrosanctity of tribunes not really issue for Caesar.

4. Insufficient funds to carry out Caesar's grandiose schemes:

  • had sent booty back to Rome
  • Paying off Curio's debts
  • 250 drachmas to each of Pompey's soldiers of borrowed legion
  • Broke into treasury on taking Rome 49BC

5. Indignity of prospect of prosecution

6. No indication that Caesar conciously aimed for civil war- last resort- defence of his honour.

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Who was responsible?


  • Led troops across Rubicon
  • Commited treason
  • Perhaps hoping for a quick political coup resulting of consulship in 48BC


  • Main aim ostensibly preventing Caesar becoming his equal
  • Didn't want civil war
  • Refused to accept Curio's compromises
  • Attempting by refusal to force a peaceful back-down from Caesar whilst maintaining supremacy.


  • Mainly eager to prevent conflict
  • Small group of lonng-term enemies of Caesar not willing to compromise
  • Wanted descruction of Caesar
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Stages of the Civil War- Caesar crosses Rubicon

  • Pompey and Optimates unprepared.
  • Ahenobarbus fails to intercept Caesar- surrendered with 3 legions- evacuation of Pompey and Allies from Italy.
  • Pompey leaves for Greece with majority of senators.
  • Caesar attempting to make personal contact with Pompey and Pompey refuses.
  • Caesar didn't follow to Greece immediately- raided treasury
  • Cicero didn't accompany Pompey- very distressed, urged to join Caesar but felt obliged to continue support for Pompey.
  • Declined direct appeal to join Caesar at Rome
  • Sailed to Greece late to join Pompey after three months.
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Stages of Civil war- Greece

  • Caesar took decision to secure Spain before following Pompey to Greece- avoid 2-fronted war.
  • Drove out Pompey's commanders (Afranius and Varro).
  • Took control of grain supplies of Sardinia and Sicily.
  • 48BC- elected consul and set out after Pompey.
  • Initially attempted a blockade from Dyrrhachium then moved inland to Thessaly and Pompey followed stealthily.
  • Pharsalus- 48BC
  • Pompey flees to Egypt where he was murded when he got there.
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Stages of Civil War- Egypt and Asia

  • Caesar involved in 2 campaigns: had followed Pompey to Egypt to prevent him building new troops and renewing the war.
  • Was swept up in dynastic problems of Ptolemy and Cleopatra and help Cleopatra gain control of Egypt.
  • Summer 47BC- returned to Rome via Syria and Asia Minor- reorganised provincial administration, dealt with unruly Pharnaces.
  • Returned to Rome in time to settle a mutiny of veterans following Pharsalus.
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Stages of Civil War- Africa

  • End 47BC- Africa to crush remainder of Pompey's supporters.
  • Scipio Metellus, Afranius, Labienus, Cato and Pompey's two sons leading resistance, supported by King Juba of Numidia.
  • Two forces met at Thapsus- Caesar's troops out of hand- high blood shed.
  • All bar Pompey's sons and Labienus dead (Cato=suicide)
  • 4 triumphs in one month on return to Rome.
  • Only brief spells spent in Rome, but enough for Caesar to enact reforms, building programmes, be appointed dictator at certain points and accept honours.
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Stages of Civil War- Spain

  • Pompey's sons and Labienus in Spain.
  • Culminated in 45BC with battle of Munda- only Sextus Pompey of the Pompeian forces escaped alive.
  • Caesar's last war.
  • Took the title Parens Patriae
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Stage of Civil War- General

  • Proved himself, through fighting through over the majority of the Mediterranean, that he was the most successful general.
  • Returned to Rome to great acclaim and honours.


Meanwhile, following Pompey's death, Cicero reconcils with Caesar, but withdraws from public life spending most of his time writing.

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