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Great Roman Civil War 49–45 BC

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The civil war in ancient Rome lasted from 49 to 45 BC and was one of the last major internal conflicts in the Roman Republic before the establishment of the empire. It began with the clashes between Guy Julius Caesar (100-44 BC), his political supporters (populists) and loyal legions against the optimas led by Gnaeus Pompey the Great.

The fighting lasted four years in the territory of many Roman provinces: Italy, Africa, Illyria, Egypt, Spain, Achaea. The victory was won by Caesar, which allowed him to receive the status of a lifelong dictator. Despite the fact that a year later he was killed, these events subsequently led to the fall of the republican system and the establishment of the monarchical power of Octavian Augustus, the adoptive son of Caesar.

Background of the war

The brilliant results of the first Gallic expeditions greatly increased the prestige of Caesar in Rome. The Senate opposition against the triumvirate, however, did not doze.

The Syrian Consulate of Crassus ended in his death. Pompey remained in Rome, where, after his consulate, complete anarchy began, perhaps not without the efforts of Julius Caesar. Anarchy has reached such proportions that Pompey was chosen in 52 BC as a consul without a colleague. The new rise of Pompey, the death of Pompey’s wife, Caesar’s daughter (54 BC), a number of his intrigues against the growing prestige of Caesar inevitably led to a rift between the Allies.

In the year 51 BC, the happy ending of the Gallic wars gave Caesar the opportunity to act again in Rome. He asked the Senate, seeking from them a formal recognition of the privilege, the continuation of the proconsulate at least in the part of the province until January 1, 48 BC. The Senate refused, and this raised the issue of appointing a successor to Julius Caesar.

After a heated protest, Antonius Cassius, Celius Rufus, and Curio left the Senate and secretly flew to Caesar. In the further meeting outside the walls of the city, in the presence of Pompey and Cicero, Italy declared a martial law. The commander-in-chief was in fact, Pompey. The whole thing was now how Caesar would react to this. Ceaser had no other choice and had to move his army into Italy.

 Pompey leaves Italy

Pompey began preparations for the evacuation of his supporters to Greece. Pompey counted on the support of the eastern provinces, where his influence was great. Rapid developments in the first phase of the war caught the population of Rome and Italy by surprise. Many Italians supported Caesar, for they saw in him the continuer of the work of Guy Maria and hoped for his protection. The support of the Italians by Caesar greatly contributed to Caesar’s success in the first stage of the civil war.  Caesar had no opportunity to pursue Pompey.

The war in Greece

Quite unexpectedly, on November 6, 49 BC Caesar sailed with 6 legions and captured Apollonia and Oric. Afraid of Pompey’s arrival of the reserve from Thessaly, Caesar sent some of his troops against him, and with the rest tried to block Pompey. Pompey breached the blockade and inflicted a severe defeat against Caesar. After this, Caesar could only remove the blockade and leave for a connection with his Thessaly army. The superiority of forces was on the side of Pompey, but the training and spirit are entirely on the side of the army of Julius Caesar. The battle (June 6, 48 BCE) ended in the complete defeat of Pompey; the army almost completely surrendered, Pompey fled to the nearest harbor, from there to Samos and, finally, to Egypt, where he was killed, at the order of the king. Caesar pursued him and appeared after his death in Egypt.

The struggle of Caesar with the last Pompeyans

Caesar arrived in Egypt a few days after the murder of Pompey with only 4,000 soldiers.  His stay in Egypt was delayed due to the unfavorable wind, and the dictator tried to seize the opportunity to solve his acute need for money.  While Caesar was in Egypt, supporters of the defeated Pompey gathered in the province of Africa. They were supported by the Numidian king Yuba. Opponents of the dictator offered to accept the command of Cato, but he refused, referring to the lack of experience of the consulate. The troops of the defenders of the republic were headed by Metellus Scipio, a consul.

After several months of staying in Egypt, Caesar in June 47 BC left Alexandria but headed not to the west, where his opponents concentrated their forces, but to the north-east. Despite urgent matters in Asia Minor and the West, Caesar from Egypt goes to Syria, where, as the successor of the Seleucids, rebuilds their palace in Daphne. In July, he left Syria, quickly coped with the rebelling Pontic king Pharnac and hurried to Rome, where his presence was urgently needed.

Soon, in several legions in Italy began unrest: soldiers, among whom there were many veterans of the Gallic War, demanded immediate demobilization and payment of salaries. Caesar managed to restore the favor of soldiers.

Caesar began a campaign against the Pompeians in Africa.  On April 6, 46 years BC at Thaps, a decisive battle took place between Caesar and Scipio, and Yuba. Many commanders of the army of Scipio fled the battlefield. The ship with Metellus Scipio was intercepted, and the general, contrary to the declared policy of mercy, was executed at the direction of Caesar.

In the capital, he held four triumphal processions in a row – for defeating the Gauls, Egyptians, Pharnaces, and Yuba. However, the Romans understood that, in part, Caesar celebrates the victory over his fellow countrymen. The four triumphs of Caesar did not end the civil war, as the situation in Spain remained tense.

Caesar hardly managed to restore order in Spain by sending his legates there.  Because of the worsening of the situation, the dictator decided in November to go to Spain personally to quell the last hotbed of open resistance. By this time, however, most of his troops had already been disbanded after arriving in Spain, the opponents collided in the Battle of Munda. Gnaeus Pompeius the Younger who fled from the battlefield was overtaken and killed, and his head was delivered to Caesar. Sextus Pompey barely managed to escape and even managed to survive the dictator. After the victory at Mound, Caesar celebrated his fifth triumph, and he was the first in Roman history to triumph in honor of the victory of the Romans over the Romans.

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