|The Story of the Romans|
|by Helene A. Guerber|
| Elementary history of Rome, presenting short stories of the great heroes, mythical and historical, from Aeneas and the founding of Rome to the fall of the western empire. Around the famous characters of Rome are graphically grouped the great events with which their names will forever stand connected. Vivid descriptions bring to life the events narrated, making history attractive to the young, and awakening their enthusiasm for further reading and study. Ages 10-14 |
THE BATTLE OF PHARSALIA
WHEN Cæsar reached the port of Brundisium he found that
there were not vessels enough to carry all his army
across the sea. He therefore set out with one part,
leaving the other at Brundisium, under the command of
his friend Mark Antony, who had orders to follow him
as quickly as possible.
Instead of obeying promptly, Mark Antony waited so long
that Cæsar secretly embarked on a fisherman's
vessel to return to Italy and find out the cause of the
delay. This boat was a small open craft, and when a
tempest arose the fishermen wanted to turn back.
 Cæsar then tried to persuade them to sail on, and
proudly said: "Go on boldly, and fear nothing, for you
bear Cæsar and his fortunes." The men would
willingly have obeyed the great man, but the tempest
soon broke out with such fury that they were forced to
return to the port whence they had sailed.
Bust of Cæsar.
Shortly after this, Mark Antony made up his mind to
cross the sea, and joined Cæsar, who was then
besieging Pompey in the town of Dyrrachium, in
Illyria. To drive the enemy away as soon as
possible, Pompey had destroyed all the provisions in
the neighborhood. Cæsar's men suffered from
hunger, but they were too loyal to desert him. To
convince Pompey that the means he had used were of no
avail, they flung their few remaining loaves into the
enemy's camp, shouting that they would live on grass
rather than give up their purpose.
Cæsar, however, saw that his men were growing ill
for want of proper food, so he led them away from
Dyrra-  chium into Thessaly, where they found plenty to eat,
and where Pompey pursued them. Here, on the plain of
Pharsalia, the two greatest Roman generals at last
met in a pitched battle; and Pompey was so sure of
winning the victory that he bade the soldiers make
ready a great feast, which they would enjoy as soon as
the fight was over.
Pompey's soldiers were mostly young nobles, proud of
their fine armor and good looks, while Cæsar's
were hardened veterans, who had followed him all
through his long career of almost constant warfare.
Cæsar, aware of the vanity of the Roman youths,
bade his men aim their blows at the enemies' faces, and
to seek to disfigure rather than to disable the foe.
The battle began and raged with great fury. Faithful
to their general's orders, Cæsar's troops aimed
their weapons at the faces of their foes, who fled
rather than be disfigured for life. Pompey soon saw
that the battle was lost, and fled in disguise, while
Cæsar's men greatly enjoyed the rich banquet which
their foes had prepared.
Unlike the other Romans of his time, Cæsar was
always generous to the vanquished. He therefore soon
set free all the prisoners he had made at Pharsalia.
Then, instead of prying into Pompey's papers, as a mean
man would have done, he burned them all without even
glancing at them. This mercy and honesty pleased
Brutus so greatly that he became Cæsar's firm
Pompey, in the mean while, was fleeing to the sea. He
had been surnamed the Great on account of his many
victories; but the defeat at Pharsalia was so crushing
that he was afraid to stay in Greece. He therefore
 with his new wife, Cornelia, and with his son Sextus,
upon a vessel bound for Egypt.
As he intended to ask the aid and protection of
Ptolemy XII., the Egyptian king, he composed an
eloquent speech while on the way to Africa. The vessel
finally came to anchor at a short distance from the
shore, and Pompey embarked alone on the little boat in
which he was to land.
Cornelia staid on the deck of the large
vessel, anxiously watching her husband's departure.
Imagine her horror, therefore, when she saw him
murdered, as soon as he had set one foot ashore. The
crime was committed by the messengers of the cowardly
Egyptian king, who hoped to win Cæsar's favor by
killing his rival.
Pompey's head was cut off, to be offered as a present
to Cæsar, who was expected in Egypt also. The
body would have remained on the shore, unburied, but
for the care of a freedman. This faithful attendant
collected driftwood, and sorrowfully built a funeral
pyre, upon which his beloved master's remains were
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