Stakes & Fangs26

( iii )

Drusus Claudius’ Histories: ‘Caesar’s Civil War, pt. 1’


‘Caesar’s Civil War, pt. 2’ (1,416 words)

Battle of Pharsalus

Myth of Bellerophon

Mark Antony

Myth of the Chimera

Battle of Actium

Pelasgian and Paladins

The Battle of Pharsalus

Was one of Julius Caesar’s most important battles, fought in 48 BC. It was the turning point in the civil war and Caesar would go on to take control of the empire that had been under a Republican government previously for hundreds of years.

Until then much of the Roman world outside Italy had 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. For others it was mere self-preservation.

The decisive battle in 48 BC in central Greece Caesar formed up against Pompey Magnus. Pompey had the backing of a majority of the Senators of whom many were ‘optimates’ and his army significantly outnumbered the veteran Caesarian legions.

This battle resulted in a decisive Caesarian victory.

Pompey was later assassinated in Ptolemaic Egypt by orders of Ptolemy XIII. The battle of Pharsalus is also called “the battle in Thessalia” by Caesar himself. On the Pharsalian plain Pompey Magnus deployed his men in the traditional 3 lines of 10 men deep.

At his center were the legions of Syria commanded by Scipio, on the left was Pompey himself and to the right was the Spanish auxiliary up against the Enipeus River. Pompey’s tactical plan was to allow Caesar’s legions to charge while his own men held their ground, reasoning that the enemy would fatigue by charging the double distance, and he was figuring that he would be in a better position to withstand the ‘pilum’ toss while remaining stationary. Simultaneously—in a classical hammer and anvil tactic—his cavalry would in theory overwhelm the enemy’s cavalry and then take the legions present in the flanks and the rear.

Pompey’s men were ordered at a depth of 10 men; Caesar had deployed his men in depths of only 6 men, his left flank was commanded by Mark Antony. Caesar himself took his stand on the right across from Pompey.

Seeing that Pompey’s army was not advancing, Caesar’s infantry under Mark Antony started the advance. The armies clashed and as Pompey’s infantry fought the Pompeian cavalry on his left flank was ordered 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 ordered his men to leap up and use their ‘pila’ to thrust at Pompey’s cavalry, who panicked and suffered hundreds of casualties.

After failing to reform, the rest of the cavalry retreated to the hills and left the left-wing of Pompey’s legions exposed.

This broke Pompey’s left-wing troops who fled the battlefield.

After routing Pompey’s cavalry Caesar threw in his last line of reserves and the battle was at this point more-or-less decided. Pompey ordered the garrisoned auxiliaries to defend the camp as he gathered his family, loaded up gold, and throwing off his generals cloak to make a quick and undetected escape.

Caesar had Legions who were veterans of the Gallic Wars, and though they were outnumbered and under-stocked they managed to pull a victory over their rival, effectively annihilating him.


He was “the greatest hero and slayer of monsters…before the days of Heracles,” and his greatest feat was slaying the chimera, a monster that Homer depicted with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail…”

Etymology: “projectile, dart, javelin, needle, arrow, bullet,” are suggested possibilities.

Bellerophon’s journey began in the familiar brave hero’s journey sort of way, this time with an exile: he murdered either his brother, or a shadowy “enemy,” or a ruler of Corinthians, “Belleron,” and so he went to another kingdom and sought redemption of a kind through their king.

After being sufficiently cleansed of the crime, and after all seems to be going well and good, the king’s wife then seems to have taken a fancy to him, and when he rejects her she accuses Bellerophon of trying to ravish her.

This judgement gets passed around a bit, but the gist of the punishment came down to a suicidal sort of quest: to kill the chimera. This fire breathing monster had terrorized the nearby countryside.

It was told to Bellerophon that he would have need of Pegasus. To obtain the services of the untamed winged horse, Bellerophon was told to sleep in the temple of Athena.

While Bellerophon slept he dreamed that Athena set a golden bridle beside him, saying “Sleepest thou, prince of the house of Aiolos? Come, take this charm for the steed and show it to the ‘Tamer thy father’ as thou makest sacrifice to him of a white bull.”

It was there when he awoke. Pegasus had to be reached while it drank from the well. He was told which well, too—the never-failing Pirene on the citadel of Corinth. Other accounts say that Athena brought Pegasus already tamed and bridled, or that Poseidon the horse-tamer brought Pegasus, but once Bellerophon mounted his steed he flew off to where the Chimera was said to dwell.

Mark Antony

Born in 83 BC from a family that was rich, but not respected, however his mother was a cousin of Julius Caesar who around this time was just a teenage boy that nobody would knew would one day be dictator.

Mark Antony became seasoned in gambling, drinking, and debauchery which naturally lead to debt. Once his debt had reached what would be millions today, at around age 20, he left to Greece in order to study philosophy.

A Roman general eventually convinced Mark Antony at 26 years old to join in the conflict in Syria, but he always had a love for Hellenistic culture after his stay.

It turned out Antony was great at war.

Mark Antony would go on to meet Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, the future Emperor Augustus, Cicero, and in basically a who’s who of the romanticized ancient world he even crossed the Rubicon with Caesar, for which we today have the phrase “now I’ve crossed the Rubicon.” As a cavalryman in Syria he distinguished himself again and again as he also did later on while in Egypt when the Romans were invited in to crush the rule of Ptolemy XII. He later helped conquer Gaul. His father was known to be an incompetent general, but Mark Antony managed to find his way to the pinnacle of world events of his time.

Anthony was still in miserable exile in Gaul, and there he may have stayed had not Julius Caesar decided to drop by to see him on his way back to Rome.

After everything had gone down and Caesar had been killed, Antony was off to Alexandria, following his lover Cleopatra, and some of that love for Hellenistic culture he had had in youth was maybe rekindled in Egypt.

In 36 BC Mark Antony invaded Parthia. It was a symbolic public relations move because in 53 BC Parthia had humiliated Rome. Julius Caesar had actually been preparing to attack before his assassination, and at this time Mark Antony was beginning to deal with his rivalry with the young Octavian back within the politics in Rome. The young man had curried favor with the people and Senate of Rome for seeking revenge on the assassins of Caesar, and was within his bounds as hereditary lineage was concerned. Mark Antony had sent ships in exchange for legions, but it became clear no legions would be given and the ships had been instead looted.

Mark Antony invaded Parthia expecting easy victories in 36 BC but encountered extreme weather conditions. The weather was so bad it killed about one fourth of his troops, and he was forced to retreat without encountering a single battle, and the botched campaign was so humiliating that Antony seriously considered suicide.

He instead simply slugged back to Alexandria, and into Cleopatra’s arms.

Everything crumbled for Antony in 32 BC when the young Octavian stormed into the sacred Temple holding Antony’s will and read it, breaking a taboo of Roman etiquette, however, it said that Mark Antony had intended to give all his estate to Cleopatra and her sons. This was a fear the Roman people had had to begin with, so for Antony to so boldly go ‘native’ was seen as treason.


The Slaying of the Chimera

When Bellerophon arrives in Lycia the Chimera was truly ferocious, and he could not harm the monster even while riding the flying-horse Pegasus. He felt the heat of the Chimera expelled, and in that instant he was struck with an idea. He got a large block of lead and mounted it on his spear. Then he flew head-on towards the Chimera, holding out the spear as far as he could. Before he broke off his attack he managed to lodge the block of lead inside the Chimera’s throat. The beast’s fire-breath melted the lead, and blocked it’s air passage.

The Chimera suffocated and Bellerophon returned to the king, but the king however was unwilling to credit his story.

A daunting series of further quests ensued: including getting sent against the Amazons, who fought like men, he was sent against pirates and princes, and when the assassins sent against him were too much he called for the assistance of Poseidon, who flooded the plain behind Bellerophon as he approached.

As Bellerophon’s fame grew so did his arrogance. Bellerophon felt that because of his victory over the Chimera, he deserved to fly to Mount Olympus. However, this act of hubris angered Zeus and he sent a gadfly to sting the horse Pegasus, causing Bellerophon to fall off the horse and back to earth. Pegasus continued his flight to Olympus and completed it, to which Zeus then used him as a packhorse for his thunderbolts.

The replacement of Bellerophon by by the more familiar culture hero Perseus was a development of Classical times that was standardized during the Middle Ages and has been adopted by the European poets of the Renaissance and later.

Drusus Claudius’ Histories: ‘Caesar’s Civil War, pt. 2’

The Battle of Actium


The name ‘Pelasgian’ was used by Greek writers in the classical times to refer to populations that were the ancestors or forerunners of the Greeks.

In general, ‘Pelasgian’ has come to mean more broadly all the indigenous inhabitants of the Aegean Sea region and their cultures. An ancient etymology based on mere similarity of sounds linked the word to the word for “stork,” and postulates that’s they were migrants, like storks, possibly from Egypt, where they nest. The comic play-write is Hellenic culture Aristophanes deals effectively with this etymology in his comedy ‘The Birds.’ In the play, one of the “laws of the storks” is that grown-up storks must support their parents by migrating elsewhere and conducting warfare.

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