Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Caesar after Dyrrhachium

History books don't usually run through the details of Caesar's life. They only lay out the big stories — conquest of Gaul, crossing the Rubicon, Cleopatra, and the assassination. Here we have recently discussed the Battle of Dyrrhachium, an under-reported event, so I'm going to carry on a detailed chronology from there.

Caesar was busy the last three years of his life, yet there is mystery embedded in his activities. What was he trying to accomplish? Did he have a plan? How did he intend to solve the problems of the Republic? We don't have the answers, but it's interesting to look at the hints he gives us.

Caesar believed he could win the civil war by defeating his friend Pompey. Dyrrhachium had been a draw, but a month later when Caesar prevailed at Pharsalus, Pompey fled to Egypt. The latter was murdered upon his arrival based on the Egyptian's mistaken notion it would benefit them to demonstrate allegiance to Caesar. When Caesar arrived in Alexandria four days later, following a month of tribute collecting in Anatolia, he was shown Pompey's head and was not pleased. The Egyptians had ruined his opportunity to humiliate a defeated enemy by taking him back to Rome and, more importantly, crossed the line by murdering a senior Roman leader.

But Caesar still needed money and assumed the role of arbiter over the dispute between Cleopatra and her brother to gain position in the battle for control of the Egyptian treasury. Once Cleopatra became his mistress, Ptolemy and his minions rebelled, were defeated, and the king was killed. The end result was an alliance with Egypt, rather than annexation, because Caesar knew he could not trust any governor to manage an Egyptian province.

Via http://www.mikeanderson.biz/2012/09/caesar-after-dyrrhachium.html