Pompey the Great

The Battle of Dyrrhachium. July 10, 48 BC.

The Battle of Dyrrachium (or Dyrrhachium) on 10 July 48 BC was a battle during Caesar’s Civil War that took place near the city of Dyrrachium (in what is now Albania). It was fought between Julius Caesar and an army led by Gnaeus Pompey who had the backing of the majority of the Roman Senate. The battle was a victory for Pompey, albeit not a decisive one. The battle preceded the Battle of Pharsalus which was the decisive battle of the Civil War. Caesar did not immediately give chase to Pompey and instead consolidated power in Rome and Italy. He had other problems as well; Pompey had left him with no ships to cross the Adriatic, and Spain had begun to mobilize against Caesar. After gathering the remainder of his forces from Transalpine Gaul he marched into Spain and subdued enough of ...

Battle of Pharsalus – August 8, 48 BC

Pharsalus, modern-day Farsala, is a city in central Greece, in southern Thessaly. It was the site of one of the most important Roman battles – the climactic clash between Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great, on August 9, 48 BC. When Caesar crossed the Rubicon River with Legio XIII Gemina, a treasonous act in January of 49 BC, he knew he was declaring war against the Senate and the optimates. Although he was heading from Gaul to Rome with only one legion, it was enough to force Pompey and most of the Senate to flee to Greece. Caesar didn’t have the resources to chase them, so he worked to strengthen his forces and through Spain gained the fleet he needed. Pompey had the backing of most of the Senate and had a far more substantial number of troops to command. However, the army Caesar did have...

The Parthian Shot – May 6-8, 53 BC

The town of Carrhae was the site for the battle between the Parthians under Orodes II and Romans under Marcus Licinius Crassus in 53 BC. This battle was the most celebrated episode of all Parthian history, according to a chronicler of the events. This historian’s name is unknown, but the events were apparently recorded impartially and in ways to show what was happening on both sides. The Romans were successfully expanding the boundaries of the Republic and kept their eyes on the East. Lucius Licinius Lucullus invaded the Armenian Kingdom to Tigranocerta, its capital, in 69 BC, during the Third Mithradatic War. Lucullus appealed to the Parthian king, Arsaces XVI, to remain neutral as the Roman pursued Tigranes II, King of Armenia, establishing the Euphrates River as the boundary to Parthia....

Ptolemy XIII – March 25, 47 BC

At the time, Cleopatra VII Thea Philopater was coregent with her father, Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos Theos Philopater Theos Philadelphos, before his death. During Spring, 51 BC, Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopater succeeded his father, and became co-ruler with his sister, Cleopatra, as per Ptolemy’s will, executed by the Roman Senate. Cleopatra married her co-ruler brother, and their leadership roles reversed in October, 50 BC. Since Ptolemy was only 11 or 12 at the time, the eunuch Pothinus was appointed regent for him. Cleopatra was seven years older than her brother and over the next two years her influence as queen grew steadily – her portrait appeared on coinage, whereas Ptolemy’s name didn’t appear on official documents. In Spring, 48 BC, Ptolemy and Pothinus attempted to depose Cleopatra, b...

The Second Triumvirate – November 11, 43 BC

Octavian had been involved in conflicts with Marc Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, but in October of 43 BC, they decided to meet to unify their power. Officially ending the Roman Republican period, they met near modern-day Bologna on November 11, 43 BC, to draft the Lex Titia, creating the legally established Second Triumvirate when signed into law two weeks later. The term was for five years, at which time it would be reviewed and renewed. The Triumvirate, which held supreme authority, was officially titled Triumviri Rei Publicae Constituendae Consulari Potestate, translating to “Three Men for Confirming the Republic with Consular Power”. The titles are shown on coins as III VIR R P C and the name of the triumvir. Before the new alliance began, their parts of the Roman World were split...

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