Tuesday, January 11, 2005

On this day in military history....in 49 B.C.

On this day in military history….in 49 B.C. Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon and begins the Roman Civil War. Before crossing the Rubicon, Julius Caesar had just spent the last 10 years subjugating Gaul (France) and invading Britain, and due to these victories, he was immensely popular in Rome. His popularity was a threat to the Roman Senate and it's leader, Pompey the Great, so Caesar was ordered to return to Rome and disband his armies, since his term as Proconsul had expired.

There was an ancient law stating that for any general to cross the Rubicon (a small river close to present day Rimini, Italy) with a standing army was considered treason. Whether Caesar feared that going to Rome without his army would result in his death or because he thought that he should be emperor due to his military victories, whatever the reason, he crossed the Rubicon with his famous Tenth Legion and plunged Roman into Civil War. As he crossed the river, history tells us that he uttered the Latin words, “Alea iacta est” (“The die is cast”). For the next four years, from Italy, to Greece, to Egypt, to Africa and finally to the final battle at Munda, near Osuna in southern Spain, Caesar and Pompey (or his sons), fought each other across the entire Mediterranean basin. For the Romans, this was the first World War.


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