Beyond the Boundaries of Fantasia: An ancient imagining of the future of leadership

Everybody wants to join Caesar (1:00)

It is one thing to conquer enemies; it is another to attract enemies to your side. Allegiance is particularly tricky during civil war; if a Roman army slaughters another Roman army, then the victor wins by killing Roman soldiers.

During his account of the war against Pompey (Bellum Civile), Caesar is careful to present himself not only as an enemy (and conqueror) of Pompey (as we have seen in an earlier module), but also as a friend to Rome at large.

Listening for Leadership

Caesar, Civil War 1.5

For these reasons everything is done in hurry and confusion. Caesar's friends are allowed no time to inform him, nor are the tribunes given any opportunity of protesting against the peril that threatened them, nor even of retaining, by the exercise of their veto, the most fundamental of their rights, which L. Sulla had left them, but within the limit of seven days they are compelled to take measures for their own safety, whereas the most turbulent of the tribunes in earlier times had been wont to regard with apprehension the conclusion of at least eight months of administration. Recourse is had to that extreme and ultimate decree of the senate which had never previously been resorted to except when the city was at the point of destruction and all despaired of safety through the audacity of malefactors: "The consuls, the praetors, the tribunes, and all the proconsulars who are near the city shall take measures that the state incur no harm." These resolutions are recorded by decree of the senate on January 7. So on the first five days on which a meeting of the senate could be held after the date on which Lentulus entered on his consulship, except two election days, decrees of the severest and harshest character are passed affecting Caesar's imperial command and those highly important officials, the tribunes of the people. The tribunes at once flee from the city and betake themselves to Caesar. He was at that time at Ravenna and was awaiting a reply to his very lenient demands, in the hope that by some sense of equity a peaceable conclusion might be reached.

Caesar, Civil War 1.19-20

19. When the dispatch was read Domitius, concealing the facts, asserts in a public meeting that Pompeius would quickly come to their aid, and exhorts them not to lose heart, but to prepare whatever was required for the defence of the town. Privately he confers with a few of his friends and determines to adopt the plan of flight. As his looks belied his words, and all his actions were marked by more haste and timidity than he had usually shown on the previous days, while, contrary to his custom, he conversed much in secret with his own friends by way of taking counsel, and shunned general deliberations and gatherings, concealment and dissimulation were no longer possible. For Pompeius had sent back word that he would not utterly imperil the whole situation, and that it was not by his advice or consent that Domitius had betaken himself into the town of Corfinium, and bade him therefore come to him with all his forces if there should be any opportunity of doing so. This, however, was being rendered impossible by the blockade and investment of the town.

20. When the intentions of Domitius had been divulged, the troops who were at Corfinium draw apart in the early evening and thus hold a conference among themselves by means of the military tribunes, centurions, and the most respectable men of their own class. They say that they are being invested by Caesar; that his siege works and fortifications are almost completed; that their leader Domitius, in confidence and reliance on whom they have remained steadfast, has abandoned them all and is meditating flight; that they are bound to consider their own safety. The Marsi at first disagree with them and occupy that part of the town which seemed the most strongly fortified; and so great a dissension arises among them that they attempt to engage in hostilities and to fight out the issue, but soon after, messengers having been sent to and fro, they learn the facts, of which they were unaware, about the proposed flight of L. Domitius. And so all unanimously surround Domitius, who had been brought out before them, and guard him, and send envoys out of their number to Caesar, saying that they are ready to open the gates, to do his bidding, and to give up L. Domitius alive into his hands.

Caesar, Civil War 1.60

Meanwhile the inhabitants of Osca, and those of Calagurris who were politically associated with them, send envoys to him and promise to do his bidding. These are followed by the people of Tarraco, the Lacetani, the Ausetani, and a few days afterwards the lllurgavonenses, who border on the River Ebro. He begs all of these to assist him with corn. They promise to do so and, collecting all the pack-horses available, bring it into camp. A cohort of the lllurgavonenses also goes over to him on ascertaining the intention of their state and transfers its colours from its quarters. A great change of fortune rapidly follows. The bridge being completed, five important states brought over to his side, the corn supply made easy, the rumours about the auxiliaries of the legions which were said to be coming with Pompeius through Mauritania being suppressed, a number of more distant communities desert Afranius and take the side of Caesar.

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