CHAPTER XXXIII. CAESAR'S OPERATIONS IN EGYPT, ASIA, AFRICA, AND SPAIN.
Pompey, in his flight from Pharsalia, hastened by the shortest way to the sea, and, seeing a vessel weighing anchor, embarked with a few companions who had accompanied him in his flight. He went to Mityléne, and from there to Egypt, hoping to obtain an asylum with the young PTOLEMY; but he was seized upon his arrival, and beheaded, 28 September, 48.
Just before his death Pompey had completed his fifty-eighth year. "Though he had some great and good qualities, he hardly deserved the surname of GREAT. He was certainly a good soldier, and is said to have excelled in all athletic sports, but he fell short of being a first-class general. He won great successes in Spain, and more especially in the East; but for these he was, no doubt, partly indebted to what others had already done. Of the gifts which make a good statesman, he had really none. He was too weak and irresolute to choose a side and stand by it. Pitted against such a man as Caesar, he could not but fail. But to his credit be it said, that in a corrupt time he never used his opportunities for plunder and extortion."
Meanwhile Caesar, pursuing his victory with indefatigable activity, set sail for Egypt. Upon his arrival the head of his enemy was brought to him. He turned from the sight with tears in his eyes. The murderers now saw what would be their fate. Ptolemy was at variance with his sister, the famous CLEOPÁTRA, Caesar sided with her. The inhabitants of Alexandría revolted, and besieged Caesar in the palace; but with a handful of soldiers he bravely baffled their attacks. Setting fire to the neighboring buildings, he escaped to his ships. Afterwards he returned and wreaked vengeance upon the Alexandrians, establishing CLEOPÁTRA upon the throne (47).
Satisfied with this vengeance, Caesar left Egypt, and went to Pontus, where PHARNACES, son of Mithradátes, was inciting a revolt against Rome. Caesar attacked and defeated him at ZELA (47), with a rapidity rendered proverbial by his words, Veni, vidi, vici, I CAME, I SAW, I CONQUERED.
He now passed quickly down the Hellespont, and had landed in Italy before it was known that he had left Pontus. During his absence from the capital there had been some minor disturbances; but the mass of the citizens were firmly attached to him. Few could distrust the genius and fortune of the irresistible conqueror. In October of 48 he had been made Dictator a second time, and appointed Tribune for life.
Caesar's return in September, 47, was marked by no proscription. He insisted that all debts should be paid, and the rights of property respected. He restored quiet, and after a brief stay of three months prepared to transport his army to Africa. The army was in Campania, but discontented and mutinous because of not receiving the expected privilege of pillage and plunder. They refused to move until certain promised rewards were received. The Tenth Legion broke out into open revolt, and marched from Campania to Rome to obtain their rights. Caesar collected them in the Campus Martins, and asked them to state their grievances. They demanded their discharge. "I grant it, citizens" (Quirites), said the Imperator. Heretofore he had always addressed them as "fellow soldiers," and the implied rebuke was so keen, that a reaction at once began, and they all begged to be received again into his service. He accepted them, telling them that lands had been allotted to each soldier out of the ager publicus, or out of his own estates.
Africa must now be subdued. Since the defeat and death of Curio, King JUBA had found no one to dispute his authority. Around him now rallied all the followers of Pompey, Metellus Scipio, Cato, Labiénus, Afranius, Petreius, and the slain general's two sons, Sextus and Gnaeus Pompeius.
Utica was made their head-quarters. Here Cato collected thirteen legions of troops of miscellaneous character. Raids were made upon Sicily, Sardinia, and the coasts of Italy. Caesar's officers, if captured, were put to death without mercy.
Cicero alone of the old Pompeian party protested against such cruelties. He remained in Italy, was denounced by them as a traitor, and charged with currying favor of the Dictator.
Caesar sailed from Lilybaeum (December 19), effected a landing near Leptis, and maintained himself in a fortified position until he formed useful alliances among the Mauretanians. Many Roman residents in the province came to him, indignant at Metellus Scipio's promise to Juba to give the province to him in case of success. Many deserters also came in, enraged that precedence was given to Juba over Scipio in councils of war. But the enemy's army was kept full of new recruits sent from Utica by Cato.
For three months Caesar failed to bring on the desired engagement; Scipio had learned caution from Pompey's experience at Pharsalia. Finally, at THAPSUS, one hundred miles southeast of Carthage, April 4, 46, the armies met. Caesar's men were so enthusiastic that they rushed to the charge with one impulse. There was no real battle, but rather a slaughter. Officers and men fled for their lives. Scipio was intercepted in his flight and slain. Juba and Petreius fled together, but, finding their retreat cut off, engaged, it is said, in mortal combat; when the first, Petreius, fell, the other threw himself on his own sword. Labiénus and the two sons of Pompey managed to escape to Spain. Afranius was captured and executed.
Cato, when he heard of the defeat, retired to his chamber in Utica, and committed suicide.
Thus ended the African campaign.