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This new line he gave detailed instructions for the role they would play, hinting that upon them would rest the fortunes of the day, and gave strict orders to his third line not to charge until specifically ordered. There was significant distance between the two armies, according to Caesar. Also stationary troops were expected to be able to defend better against pila throws. As Caesar's men neared throwing distance, without orders, they stopped to rest and regroup before continuing the charge; [20] Pompey's right and centre line held as the two armies collided.

As Pompey's infantry fought, Labienus ordered the Pompeian cavalry on his left flank to attack Caesar's cavalry; as expected they successfully pushed back Caesar's cavalry. Caesar then revealed his hidden fourth line of infantry and surprised Pompey's cavalry charge; Caesar's men were ordered to leap up and use their pila to thrust at Pompey's cavalry instead of throwing them.

Pompey's cavalry panicked and suffered hundreds of casualties. After failing to reform, the rest of the cavalry retreated to the hills, leaving the left wing of Pompey's legions exposed. Caesar then ordered in his third line, containing his most battle-hardened veterans, to attack. This broke Pompey's left wing troops, who fled the battlefield. After routing Pompey's cavalry, Caesar threw in his last line of reserves [22] —a move which at this point meant that the battle was more or less decided.

He ordered the garrisoned auxiliaries to defend the camp as he gathered his family, loaded up gold, and threw off his general's cloak to make a quick escape. They complied with his wishes; after finishing off the remains of Pompey's men, they furiously attacked the camp walls. The Thracians and the other auxiliaries who were left in the Pompeian camp, in total seven cohorts, defended bravely, but were not able to fend off the assault.

Caesar had won his greatest victory, claiming to have only lost about soldiers and 30 centurions. He also questioned Pompey's decision not to charge. Ptolemy, advised by his regent, the eunuch Pothinus , and his rhetoric tutor Theodotus of Chios , had failed to take into account that Caesar was granting amnesty to a great number of those of the senatorial faction in their defeat.


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Even men who had been bitter enemies were allowed not only to return to Rome but to assume their previous positions in Roman society. Pompey's assassination had deprived Caesar of his ultimate public relations moment — pardoning his most ardent rival. The Battle of Pharsalus ended the wars of the First Triumvirate.

The Roman Civil War, however, was not ended. Pompey's two sons, Gnaeus Pompeius and Sextus Pompey , and the Pompeian faction, led now by Metellus Scipio and Cato, survived and fought for their cause in the name of Pompey the Great. Caesar spent the next few years 'mopping up' remnants of the senatorial faction. After seemingly vanquishing all his enemies and bringing peace to Rome, he was assassinated in 44 BC by friends, in a conspiracy organized by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus.

Paul K. Davis wrote that "Caesar's victory took him to the pinnacle of power, effectively ending the Republic. Until then much of the Roman world outside Italy supported Pompey and his allies due to the extensive list of clients he held in all corners of the Republic. After Pompey's defeat former allies began to align themselves with Caesar as some came to believe the gods favored him, while for others it was simple self-preservation.

The ancients took great stock in success as a sign of favoritism by the gods.

Pharsalus 48 BC: Caesar and Pompey – Clash of the Titans

This allowed Caesar to parlay this single victory into a huge network of willing clients to better secure his hold over power and force the Optimates into near exile in search for allies to continue the fight against Caesar. In Alexander Dumas ' The Three Musketeers , the author makes reference to Caesar's purported order that his men try to cut the faces of their opponents - their vanity supposedly being of more value to them than their lives.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other battles that took place at Pharsalus, see Battle of Pharsalus disambiguation. This article includes a list of references , but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. August Learn how and when to remove this template message. Caesar's Civil War. This section does not cite any sources.

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    Views Read Edit View history. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Part of Caesar's Civil War. Date 9 August 48 BC. Palaeopharsalos Greece.

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    Forces of Julius Caesar , including representatives of the Populares. Forces of Pompey , including many of the Optimates.

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    Gaius Julius Caesar. Within weeks he had overrun Italy, helped by the fact that Pompey, the overall commander of the forces opposed to him, had withdrawn to his power base in the east. Caesar then mopped up opposition in Spain before crossing to Macedonia in January to take on Pompey himself. After an initial defeat at Dyrrachium in modern-day Albania , where his attempt to capture the enemy supply base ended in abject failure, Caesar moved his army then moved on again.

    And he kept his word. Caesar himself later recalled that Crastinus was the first man to run forward on the right, followed by a hand-picked force of volunteers.

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    He was eventually felled by a sword thrust that went into his mouth and came out the back of his neck. Caesar had an extra reason to watch their advance, for they were led by Titus Labienus, his old second-in-command in Gaul who had angered him by defecting to Pompey.

    With an advantage in numbers of about seven to one, the result was never in doubt, and Labienus duly pushed back the Caesarean cavalry who had ridden to oppose him. When Caesar finally ordered his third line to join in the attack, Pompey realised that the battle was lost. With his allies streaming back in disorder and his legions slowly but surely giving ground, he abandoned the field and rode back to the temporary safety of his fortified camp.

    Meanwhile, the pursuit went on until nightfall. It had been a stunning victory. Assignations and Assassinations: After the destruction of his army at Pharsalus, Pompey fled to Egypt. If he thought that it would provide him with a secure bolthole while he rallied his supporters, he was badly mistaken.