Formal Debate Challenge - Pompey v Caesar

Sep 2018
96
Roman Empire
I don't have quarrels with his antiquity books as a whole, I just don't agree with every printed word. More so, when it comes to troop strengths, at this point in my studies I'm automatically cautious with anyone who discounts historical sources by any means and tries to replace those number with their own. Say there were almost surely less then reported. I'm fine with that. Replace one number with their own, they're full of crap. And that's where Delbruck comes in. I was doubtful of the authenticy of his works, especially when I read more about ancient logistics as a whole and what they were actually capable of doing. When I find out later that one of the key individuals, who basically invented the modern art of ripping to shreds the accuracy of historical sources, had one of the biggest biases there ever was, as not only his own reputation hinged on him believing he was right, but the future and safety of his nation, then I become doubly doubtful.

Remember the account of Caesar bridging the Rhine? 19th century historians utterly discounted it as complete rubbish, impossible. Until it was proven it was capable. These same individuals discounted Troy (until it was found), and a thousand and one other ancient sources, all because they personally didn't want to believe something was possible that they couldn't imagine.

Also, whatever Delbruck was, professional military historian, academic lecturer extraordinaire on modern politics, strategy and operational thinking, he wasn't a classicist whose education focused on antiquity. Like everyone back then, he received the standard classical education, which included Latin and Greek, allowing him to read the sources in the original language. He had access to some very in depth secondary sources as Germany in the 19th century was the hotbed of analyzing Roman history. But it was an entirely separate field from what he studied, taught, lectured, wrote about.

And to be honest, anyone who reads the original ancient sources, which make little mention of Marius' military reforms besides a few blatant ones, is not going emphasize the revolutionary aspect of Marius, that's a modern invention by modern historians. I have a feeling another German is responsible for that one some time in the 19th or early 20th century, a trained classicist, someone published and famous, who everyone else has been repeating to the point that anyone who discounts it seems like a heretic or a genius. Me included. After getting "bit by the bug" of Roman history, I started reading about ancient Rome on internet forums while reading various modern secondary sources (Goldsworthy, Connolly, etc). It was only after I started reading the primary sources themselves that I realized that many modern historians are flat out wrong in conclusions they make.

That would actually make a great journal paper. Track the history of the modern concept of the Marian Reforms, to the point of trying to find where the crap that is on the Wikipedia page originated.
Marius didn’t outright revolutionize things on his own, but he was an important part of the process that led the Roman army from being a group of conscripts deployed by maniples to being a professional army adopting the cohort division. He was the first to make military service officially available to everybody and he was the first to make the eagle the official symbol of the legion. The main sources on Marius we have left are Plutarch (I bet the old man would have a good laugh if he knew that), a biographer, and Appian, whose work is more dedicated to social issues that anything else, it’s hardly surprising neither dwell to much on Rome’s military system. Marius wasn’t as fundamental to the evolution of the Roman army as some modern scholars made him out to be, but he certainly was a turning point to its history.
 
Jul 2016
8,941
USA
Marius wasn’t as fundamental to the evolution of the Roman army as some modern scholars made him out to be, but he certainly was a turning point to its history.
This is what I was talking about. A few parts of what you wrote isn't backed up by any ancient sources, its analysis by modern historians (specifically the reforms of the cohortal system, or the fact that Marius was the first to allow Capite Censi to join). Another is that after Marius Rome was still not a professional army and was made up largely of conscripts forced by law to show up for a dilectus; and none of Marius' armies (Jugurthine, Cimbri, and Social wars) were long standing/professional, all were discharged after each conflict ended, as were nearly every other (besides a few exceptions) up until Augustus.

And Sallust is actually one of the best sources for Marius, half of his three books on the Jugurthine war focus on Marius' command and the conduct of the war in a very accurate description (at least as good as Caesar's commentaries in terms of depth); besides that Sallust was a military man, a general under Caesar Dictator and later governor of Africa Province under Augustus, which meant knew what he was talking about and knew the lay of the ground too (which few others historians, ancient or modern, can attest). He's also the first one that writes about a shift in legion organization between maniple and cohorts, during the Battle of the Muthul River in 109 BC (which Marius was a legate and Metellus was commanding) Sallust's narrative changes mid-battle to focus on Roman cohort maneuver and not maniples, and from that point forward (to include when Marius takes command) seems to focus on cohorts.

From that point in accounts of Roman battle during the Social Wars, Mithridatic Wars, etc., there seems to be an emphasis placed on cohorts. Some modern historian figured Marius did it, but the reality is there are no accurate/detailed sources describing Roman warfare in the mid to late 2nd Cent BC besides some individuals like Plutarch who are largely ignorant of many military matters. Polybius wrote at the time but was writing of things that had happened a hundred years ago, generalized a lot for his Greek audience to get to the meat of the matter, why Rome was able to take over the known world and defeat the Greeks (something they apparently couldn't figure out at the time, still considering Romans as barbarians).

At some point and time a classics historian in the late 19th or early to mid 20th century, focusing on Rome, created the narrative of the vastly expansive Marian Reforms and a whole lot more of Roman military history, included a whole lot of nonsense that no ancient source actually credits, not by a long shot. Many today, who have no idea who originally came up with the idea (Pretty sure not Mommsen but somebody did it), repeat it to the point its pop culture consensus, made worse in the age of the internet, which is great for spreading false information. So much of modern history is crap, everyone needs to be taken with a large grain of salt.

Including Delbruck.
 
Jul 2017
2,281
Australia
The ancient sources also have to be taken with a large grain of salt. Brunt for example has pointed out how authors like Plutarch and Appian simply used nominal strengths for legions to calculate army sizes. Any work proving some point or another is going to be subjective relative to the author and his interpretation of the sources. As I said, I don't blindly agree with Delbruck on everything, I was simply pointing out that he was heavily influential in multiple areas of military taxonomy, perhaps one of the most influential.
 
Jul 2016
8,941
USA
The ancient sources also have to be taken with a large grain of salt. Brunt for example has pointed out how authors like Plutarch and Appian simply used nominal strengths for legions to calculate army sizes. Any work proving some point or another is going to be subjective relative to the author and his interpretation of the sources. As I said, I don't blindly agree with Delbruck on everything, I was simply pointing out that he was heavily influential in multiple areas of military taxonomy, perhaps one of the most influential.
By chance do you actually own Brunt's book? I wish I did, but closest I ever came was a few afternoons at a university library trying to speed read it while taking notes. :(
 
Nov 2011
1,002
The Bluff
Props to anyone willing to spend that much on a book, you really take history seriously!!!
Any wonder he can't afford the $230AUD for From Cyrus to Alexander!! The price of such academic books, aimed at a small (non "Harry Potter") distribution, really beggars belief at times. I bought From Cyrus near a decade ago for $110AUD. Unless one has access to an academic library, a passion for history can be an account draining exercise. I've always been a physical reader: book in hand rather than read online. Something to do with age I'd imagine. The Salaminia library contains much but there comes a time when one realises that such investment in physical books is not a superannuation fund!

Brunt's Italian Manpower is available online but you'd need access to an academic library to read it. It is not downloadable, only able to be read online via the library portal, hence the $530AUD price tag. That said, many other such books are electronically available nowadays and you never know until you look or ask.
 
Jul 2017
2,281
Australia
I've decided to write some general notes on the battle of Pharsalus in the context of the campaign between Pompey and Caesar. I want to clear the air with aspects of the battle and the events leading up to it. In my mind, Pompey's decision to pursue Caesar inland after Dyrrachium was a deliberate, weighted and intentional military choice made by Pompey himself; which was meant specifically to fight a pitched battle with Caesar. In a way, I want to defend Pompey's decisions throughout the campaign itself, from his crossing to Greece to the aftermath of the battle of Pharsalus. In the campaign, Pompey displayed, to my mind, relative parity with Caesar in generalship despite having spent more than a decade out of military affairs and not having access to his Spanish veterans and commanding mostly Greek conscripts sprinkled with some old veterans. Since we base much of our understanding of the events around Caesar himself, and historians who drew heavily on Caesar, there will evidently be discussion on Caesar's tendency to lay down Pompey's deeds whilst exaggerating his own. Luckily, we have the testimony of who is likely Pollio, one of Caesar's generals, a firsthand witness of the campaign and the battle of Pharsalus who acts as a relatively decent counterbalance for certain points; though we can discern sometimes when he appears to be incorrect. As mentioned above, the scope of this short work will be from Brundisium to the aftermath of the battle of Pharsalus. The issue of Italy and Pompey would require far more extensive research that is not relevant to the campaign itself, rather it focuses on Pompey's decision after the occupation of Italy by Caesar. Moreover, these notes will attempt to portray the campaign from Pompey's perspective, something completely new and a method that has helped me view Pompey's situation in new ways and has given great insight for me personally. I intend to post these notes as a continuation of this thread as a study into the generalship of Pompey relative to that of Caesar's. Any feedback or contentions are welcome.

PART I - THE EVENTS LEADING UP TO PHARSALUS

At Brundisium, Pompey had managed to concentrate 5 legions, perhaps approaching a strength of 20,000 heavy infantry (providing each legions had an average strength of about 4,000). These composed the two veteran legions (I and III; formerly Caesar's and both had served in Gaul) and three newly formed legions from the levies of Southern Italy. Scholarship from Mommsen all the way down to pro-Caesarian authors like Goldsworthy do not debate in anyway the unreliability of Pompey's newly formed legions, and to an extent as well the potentially doubtful loyalty of the two veteran legions. By this point, Pompey had already publicly declared his intent to evacuate Italy. Three legions and the refugee Senate had embarked already to Dyrrachium when Caesar at arrived at Brundisium with 6 legions. Pompey remained behind with two legions, and skillfully extricated the rest of his army. His operations in doing so were energetic and impressive. Caesar attempted to close up the harbor by constructing two moles on either side, and placed artillery on them. Pompey responded by outfitting merchant vessels and led them against Caesar's engineers and soldiers in an attempt to stop the moles being constructed. When the transport ships returned, Pompey had his soldiers suddenly abandon the walls and embark, Caesar's men followed only to be delayed by a system of booby traps and entrenchments, retarding the pursuit of his troops, and thus Pompey was able to extricate his entire army bar two ships which were captured.

Arriving at Brundisium, Pompey set about raising an army from his clients in the east. He raised four more legions from resident Italians; one was formed from the conjoining of two weakened legions from Cilicia, another from reenlisted veterans in Greece and Macedonia, and two from levies in Asia, all of which were brought up to strength via fresh levies in Epirus and Greece, presumably also from local Italian residents, as Greek auxiliaries are clearly distinguished separately from them. The average size of these legions is difficult to determine, and relies heavily on speculative deductions and/or retrospective analysis. In the case of the latter, the process is to take the average cohort strength of Pompey's army at Pharsalus and retrospectively apply a derivative of that. For now, I will be using the analysis provided by Peter Brunt in Italian Manpower and Hans Delbruck in Warfare in Antiquity, both of whom, in my mind, provide the best coverage of the numerical estimates (Goldsworthy simply recounts Caesar's numbers without question, as do most historians). Using an average of 400-450 men per cohort gives a range of approximately 36,000-41,000 infantry. For the moment, the number of auxiliaries and horse are not very important, only the fact that it was considerable for a Roman army. But this wasn't the entire army, Pompey also summoned Scipio and the two garrison legions from Syria, which were yet to arrive. He therefore had 9 legions with another 2 on their way. This would give Pompey a strength of 11 legions with 45,000-50,000 heavy infantry. Caesar had formed many new legions and had at his disposal about 20 along with considerable Gallic auxiliaries. Pompey was always outnumbered by Caesar in a grand strategic sense. Even further, Caesar had the benefit of unified command, of which Napoleon would remark is the most important thing a general can have. Although Pompey was elected supreme commander of Senatorial forces some time after crossing to Greece, he still had to, at least to some extent deal with the Senators and knights in his party. Though as I will attempt to prove, the effect these men had on Pompey's actual military decisions was probably heavily exaggerated by Caesar and others as a good storytelling element. Moreover, Pompey didn't have many reliable troopers besides his two veteran legions, the others were a sporadic mix of old and young men. Besides this he hadn't had a command in well over a decade. On the reverse, Caesar had spent the last decade conquering Gaul, and his legions were extremely loyal to him. Although the 7 legions Pompey had in Spain during the outbreak of the war were his own, they appear to have been kept under-strength and out of practice. We can therefore conclude that Caesar had advantages in recent experience/practice; a unified command; loyal legions who had served with him for ten years and arguably time in his favor. Following on the from the last point, Pompey needed time to train and bloody his army. Not even Caesar himself dares question the rawness of Pompey's legions on multiple occasions, even after fighting had occurred between the two armies. Even before Pharsalus, Caesar said that he planned to keep moving from place to place in order to put Pompey's inexperienced legionaries into unusual fatigue that his own veterans were experienced with.

Winter was approaching, and Pompey was heading to Dyrrachium and Apollonia to winter his army when he received news that Caesar was in Greece with an army, capturing Apollonia and other vital cities along the coast in Epirus with great speed, as these cities and their people refused to get involved. More importantly, Caesar was making a dash for Dyrrachium, a large city on the coast north of Caesar's position that was the center of Pompey's supply depots. It's importance can be seen by the extreme measures Pompey took to prevent Caesar from reaching it. Upon hearing of Caesar's landing and actions, he made forced marches by both day and night to match Caesar, so much so to the distress of the soldiers that they began to desert from their colors and lost cohesion in their formations in both armies (stemming from Pollio); though the effects of Pompey's forced marches could possibly have been exaggerated by Caesar, as he makes no mention of the effects on his own troops, where another source more than likely to be Pollio says that Caesar's troops were similarly affected. Regardless, Pompey had the larger, and therefore slower, army, and his almost panicky and wild race to protect Dyrrachium paid off when he got there before Caesar. From his actions the importance of Dyrrachium is clearly identified. It contained many of the supplies Pompey had gathered for his army, such as clothing, food, weapons, armor, other war equipment and perhaps even part of or most of the money he had levied in the east to pay his troops with. It was therefore of critical importance that it didn't fall into Caesar's hands. With that, all the resources that Pompey had painfully gathered from his eastern clients, or at least the majority of it, would be lost. From there, Pompey would be forced to withdraw into the east proper, though he would find it significantly more difficult to extract resources from depleted allies. In Asia Minor, heavy taxes had been laid on the populace. The capture of Dyrrachium would also separate Pompey from his fleet. If his fleet were to link up with him in the east, perhaps one of the coastal ports in Thrace, Caesar would then be free to move troops between Italy and Greece. In reality, Pompey relied on the depot at Dyrrachium from where he stored most of the resources he had extracted from his clients for the campaign, and presumably it was to be a base from which to conduct amphibious invasions of the grain producing areas under Caesar's control: Africa and Sardinia, and perhaps even Spain as well in an attempt to win over Pompey's former veterans.
 
Jul 2017
2,281
Australia
One of the criticisms found regularly of Pompey around this juncture is why he didn't attack Caesar when the latter only had half of his army. This has no grounds, Pompey was already moving into winter quarters when Caesar landed in Epirus. Winter was quite impractical for campaigning, and it restricted the capability and range of operations considerably. There was also, apparently, between the two parties some hope that Caesar and Pompey would be reconciled via negotiations. During the winter, Pompey was sending letters to his admirals reproofing them on having let Caesar cross, and that they should under no circumstances let the other half do the same. It was actually proving to be massive strain on the fleet to maintain the blockade, the crews would have to put ashore regularly, and Caesar was making every effort to prevent them from landing, forcing them to retreat to their base in Corcyra often. It should be remembered, then, that a naval blockade in antiquity was difficult, and one or two winds could allow an army to pass from Italy to Greece in midwinter within twenty-four hours.

Hans Delbruck describes the situation during the winter between the two armies, "And so the two commanders stood fast, confronting each other without fighting. Pompey was waiting for Scipio's legions in order to gain a sure superiority and for the summer in order to make use of his fleet. Caesar hoped that his generals would bring over to him the second half of his army from Brundisium." (529f) By around the end of winter, Antony decided to make a crossing with four legions and 800 cavalry, which managed to evade Pompey's fleet and landed near Lissus, "It does seem astonishing, however, that Caesar risked ordering that part of the army that had been left behind to proceed with the crossing and that the latter succeeded." (Delbruck, 530). Antony's crossing was incredibly lucky for Caesar, as summer and the campaigning season was approaching. Both Pompey and Caesar observed Antony's fleet around the same time, having seen the ships sail past Apollonia and Dyrrachium. Both set out to find Antony before the other on the same day from their winter quarters along the Apsus. Pompey had the convenience of a quicker route, as he didn't have to make a longer circuit to find a ford in order to cross the river. He made forced marches to reach Antony, and when he got close he set up an ambush; keeping his men close to camp and preventing fires from being kindled. But Greeks passed this information onto Antony, who sent messengers to Caesar and remained in his camp. Thus, Caesar was able to effect a junction with Antony, and Pompey was forced to withdraw. We must ask why. The army brought across by Caesar was seven legions and 600 horse with minimal baggage. The size of this legionary force was probably 20,000 strong, as Napoleon thought, or about 3,000 per legion. Goldsworthy's figure of 15,000 is far too conservative, and would mean an average legionary strength of about 2,000, which is way too extreme despite the stripped conditions the veteran legions were in at Brundisium from long service, disease and forced marches. We also know directly from Caesar himself that at the battle of Pharsalus two legions were so under-strength that together they formed a full legion; hence such a depleted legion appears to have been the exception, not the norm. For Antony's force, Caesar tells us he brought four legions: three of veterans and one of recruits, and 800 cavalry. Plutarch says 20,000 infantry, but this is likely a paper strength. Regardless, we can be confident that these legions, which would have had time over the winter to prepare would be considerably stronger than the ragtag force Caesar brought with him, and could be counted at an average 4,000 men per legion, meaning Antony brought with him some 16,000 infantry. With the junction of Caesar and Antony, Caesar now had about 36,000 infantry, about the same as Pompey, the difference being that Caesar's troops were far better in terms of quality.

Being unable to intercept Antony despite forced marches and a carefully laid ambush, Pompey recognised that the junction of his enemies threatened him. At this point, he would not be able to accept a decisive battle with such an inferior army, and opted instead to force Caesar to break up his army. Pompey promptly withdrew to Asparagium, near Dyrrachium, from where he could use his depots and fleet to supply his army. Caesar, on the other hand, didn't have the means to supply his inflated army, and was placed into a difficult position. He detached 15 cohorts into Hellas, and 20 cohorts into Macedonia in order to gain supplies and attempt to intercept the two legions under Scipio on their way to reinforce Pompey. Caesar decided to attack Pompey's supply base at Dyrrachium; making an awkward march that Pompey at first didn't expect its true intent. Once he did realise, he followed Caesar via forced marches. Although Caesar reached the town in time, Pompey's van was in view, and Caesar was therefore unable to prosecute an attack on the town itself. Pompey, with his naval superiority dug into the beach. From there he could communicate and use the stores from Dyrrachium, and in addition he ordered his navy to procure grain from Asia, Egypt and other provinces under the control of the Senatorial Party. Pompey had about 35,000 infantry to Caesar's 25,000 or so, and in no way had a decisive numerical advantage to counterbalance the quality of Caesar's veterans. In reality, Caesar's race to Dyrrachium had achieved nothing except perhaps to occupy Pompey's attention, as Pompey could still access Dyrrachium via the sea, and Caesar was still forced to keep three and a half legions detached.

Caesar decided to besiege Pompey, who refused battle on the basis of his inferiority in infantry. And why would Pompey accept a battle at this juncture? He had two legions yet to arrive, and he only had a moderate numerical advantage. If anything, although he had failed to reach Dyrrachium before Caesar, he had been quick enough to prevent his opponent from seizing the town, and with foodstuffs in short supply by land, Pompey could comfortably wait until his reinforcements arrived before challenging Caesar. Even if Scipio's legions were intercepted and destroyed, Pompey could at any time embark his army and attack Africa, Sardinia and Spain. A further analysis of Pompey's situation shows that although Caesar was in a desperate situation, Pompey's wasn't that much better. Pompey could hope to add some two legions to his army, whereas Caesar had three and a half in Hellas and Macedonia, his total infantry forces were in parity with Pompey's, though Caesar's were very superior in quality. What's more, there's no telling when more of Caesar's legions would join him through Illyria or from Brundisium, whereas Pompey had only eleven legions all told. That Pompey decided to wait at Dyrrachium and allow Caesar to besiege him is telling. If Pompey attacked Africa, Sardinia and Spain, Scipio would be cut off and either destroyed or held up by a detachment of Caesar's, whilst Caesar himself, with eleven legions could easily force a rapid passage through Illyria back to Italy, and the balance again would be even. But that course of action was a risk. A common misconception is that Pompey was an organiser that dreaded tactical engagements, but the fact that he decided to await chances to make a decisive engagement in Greece tells otherwise. Moreover, Caesar was attempting undertake a siege with a smaller force, and if Pompey could maneuver correctly and extend Caesar enough, he could probably counterbalance his opponent's veterans with a concentrated breakthrough. Delbruck's analysis again, in my mind best represents the situation:

Caesar's actions, however, probably gave Pompey the idea that there were still greater chances of success offered him here. The army with which Caesar was carrying out the siege was smaller than Pompey's army. With the help of his ships, the latter could attack the besiegers in their rear at any time. We may give such an experienced commander as Pompey credit for recognizing what advantages were offered him by Caesar's excessively daring venture and for deciding, instead of that other far-reaching plan, to make the most, first of all, of the present situation and keep his army and fleet together. All the ability of Caesar's veterans still did not finally prevent a large-scale attack by the Pompeians with the help of their ships from succeeding. Caesar's army was attacked simultaneously on three sides, from Pompey's camp, from the beach, and from the rear, suffering a defeat with heavy losses, and its fortifications on the south side, where they extended down to the beach, were broken through.
 
Jul 2017
2,281
Australia
Many have come to attack Pompey's decision, following the dispersal of Caesar's army, not to immediately pursue the routing forces and complete the victory, so-to-speak. But as Caesar himself points out, the reversal of events was so sudden that it seemed suspicious for Pompey, a man who had campaigned for six years against Sertorius, a lover of ambuscades and trickery. Pompey was too experienced to dash blindly at a routing enemy under suspicious and not wholly certain circumstances, hence hindsight has blinded many who have attempted to attack Pompey on these grounds. Caesar collected his entire army and sent out his baggage train, sick, and wounded secretly to Apollonia, detaching one legion for the protection of it. He then set out with his army as quickly and secretly as possible. When Pompey saw this he decided to leave his baggage and pursue Caesar and catch him on the march, and sent out his cavalry to delay his enemy. Caesar's rearguard of horse, intermixed with light infantry was able to repel Pompey's cavalry. Caesar set up in his old camp, and Pompey likewise, at Asparagium. Unfortunately, some of Pompey's men took it upon themselves to lay down their arms and make an excursion back to Dyrrachium to collect their baggage. Caesar saw this and marched away whilst Pompey was unable to follow. Pompey followed via forced marches for four days before relenting. Caesar had got away, and it was time to rest his troops and devise his next course of action carefully.

Pompey left 15 cohorts in Dyrrachium and moved with the rest of his army to try and cut off and destroy Domitius and his two legions, who had been maneuvering around Scipio's two legions. Domitius was fortunately warned of Pompey's advance at the last minute and linked up with Caesar; Scipio with Pompey. Now both men had eleven legions under their command in the theater of operations. Of these, various cohorts were missing from either army. Pompey had fifteen at Dyrrachium, Caesar had eight distributed in his ports in Epirus, and another 15 still in Hellas. Caesar moved inland into Thessaly, with corn ripening he was now able to locally sustain his army without much trouble. At this juncture, Pompey made the intentional move of following Caesar for the decisive battle. Caesar himself notes three different options Pompey could have taken, in his mind: that Pompey would move to Italy, that he'd attack Caesar's depots in Epirus, or that he would pursue Caesar. Delbruck believes that the second option was by far the best. Personally, I believe that the accusations that Pompey wanted to wear Caesar down in a slow campaign of attrition is false for two primary reasons; the first and most important is that all the surviving source material on this campaign is pro-Caesarian, or at the very least from the Caesarian viewpoint. The sources that Appian and Plutarch worked off were Pollio and Livy, and there doesn't seem to be any source that was indirectly used by one of these authors from the Pompeian camp. Goldsworthy wrote "It is hard now to say whether Pompey or Caesar was the better general. The vast bulk of our evidence comes, directly or indirectly, from Caesar's version of events." Therefore, all the claims that Pompey was reluctant to fight a battle, and that the Senators and knights goaded him into a confrontation in opposition to the "better" and safer strategy of wearing Caesar down comes purely from the testimonies of Caesar and Pollio, his general. This leads to the second reason: that if Pompey really wanted to wear Caesar down, his best option was, as Delbruck said, to attack Caesar's supply depots. One may argue that after Pompey followed Caesar into Thessaly, he put off fighting the battle for many days, but Delbruck has answered this: "That the battle still did not develop at once, when the two armies were again in sight of each other, was due only to the fact that each side, thinking that the enemy was now at last ready for battle, was seeking for itself a favorable position and hoping that the enemy would allow himself to be drawn into battle there." It must be remembered that Caesar still had fifteen cohorts in Hellas that would soon join him, and possibly two legions via Illyria. Furthermore, there was no telling if or when more of Caesar's legions would march overland via Illyria or attempt a crossing from Brundisium. Time was against Pompey. His forces weren't going to get any larger, and the longer Caesar was allowed to roam around Greece, his generals and legions elsewhere were consolidating their hold on the provinces. Not only that, but if Caesar were to link up with the fifteen cohorts in Hellas, or about 5,000 men, Pompey's moderate numerical superiority would further diminish. With the recent victory at Dyrrachium and the concentration of all his legions, it was time to end the war before Caesar received any more help, or his other generals made any more progress in consolidating the provinces under Caesar's name. This is why Pompey, under his own calculations and intentions, followed Caesar into Thessaly to seek a decisive engagement.

The numbers for the battle of Pharsalus are typically drawn from Caesar himself, Delbruck notes:

Caesar himself states that he had only 22,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry, whereas Pompey on the other hand had 45,000 infantry and 7,000 cavalry. If we immediately add to this the point that Caesar claims to have won his victory with a loss of only 200 men, whereas 15,000 Pompeians are supposed to have remained on the battlefield, then one could give credence to such strengths, as long as one is still willing in general simply to repeat the numbers in the sources without questioning them; it is somewhat astonishing, however, that these numbers even today are still zealously defended.

Even Brunt in his monumental and important work Italian Manpower sees fit to modify Pompey's army, but not Caesar's, claiming that Caesar was more likely to overstate enemy strengths, but does not realise that Caesar is also just as likely to minimise his own strength. Pollio's testimonies through Orosius and Eutropius are extremely helpful, though Pollio can't be considered as an objective source. For example, he states through Orosius 4,000 of Caesar's soldiers killed at Dyrrachium during the final battle, whereas Caesar claims 1,000. Caesar's claim is clearly the correct one, or even better closer to the correct figure, as 4,000 casualties along with wounded (perhaps double that number in addition) would have crippled Caesar and paralysed him. This is perhaps where Appian's heightened sense of achievement on Pompey's part comes from. But we cannot deny that Pollio was at the battle of Pharsalus, and he can't be dismissed. Again, Caesar's version of events is the only other version, no source goes back to Pompey's camp. Caesar had, as victor and essentially emperor of the Roman Republic a great degree of license to claim as he wished, couple with the Roman tendency to view the victors as without question the greater means that Caesar actually becomes extremely questionable when it comes to his account.
 

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